My rating: 4 of 5 stars
**FLAWED LOVE is a standalone second chance romance with a HEA**
Rainer Torrence is everything I could have wanted in my life and more.
He became my best friend when I was Thirteen years old.
From then on, we were inseparable. He was my first love and my first heartbreak.
But I always thought it was forever.
Until his Father died and things went bad.
Then suddenly, he disappeared.
Ten years and I didn’t see or hear from him.
Then came the call I’d be praying for– he was back in town.
Only the man I remembered is not him.
This man is quiet, deadly, and so incredibly beautiful.
He also doesn’t remember me.
He looks into my eyes, and he sees nothing.
So, I let him believe I’m just a girl that walked into his bar.
I let him believe I’m just a friend.
I let him use me on the cold, dark nights.
I let him believe that I am as emotionless about our relationship as he is.
I just let the secret go on and on.
But all secrets have an end, don’t they?
Believe it or not, this is my first Bella Jewel book. I know, shocking right! But from the moment I first read the blurb, I couldn’t wait to read the book. It was just so intriguing that I had to sit down with it.
I was hooked from page one. This book utilizes the past and present format. Each chapter takes place in a different time. Rainer and Emy have been best friends for years and the book starts when they were in high school, just before things start to change between them. In the present day, it’s been 10 years since they’ve seen each other. Emy hears that Rainer is back in town and goes to see him. Well, as the blurb indicates, he doesn’t recognize her. This actually was an issue for me. Not so much that she wasn’t recognized, but that she thought he should recognize her. She went from having short blonde hair to long brown hair. She was a tom-boy in high school, wearing jeans and t-shirts to dressing more girly in dresses and heels. Add to the fact that she introduces herself as Mali and there’s no way that he would connect today’s “Mali” with yesteryear’s Emy. So it irritated me a little that she was so upset that he didn’t immediately look at her and recognize her. Even her bff said that if she saw Emy/Mali as she was then, she wouldn’t recognize her. So obviously she had changed…a lot. So her expectations were a little high.
I have to say that I loved the chapters that dealt with the past…at first. They had depth and connection and showed not only the physical attraction but the actual emotional connection between Emy and Rainer. While the modern day story was good, and they had great physical chemistry, I didn’t quite feel the depth of emotional connection between them. I think I just needed more; more time with them in “today”, them spending more time together, talking more, connecting more…I just wasn’t convinced of their current connection based on anything but the past; and that’s saying something because Rainer didn’t know who she was for almost 70% of the book. My issue with the past chapters came toward the end of the book. Rainer got into some trouble and was trying to push Emy away and unfortunately the chapters just felt a little chaotic and vague, and that was understandable since they were from Emy’s POV and she didn’t know what was going on with Rainer. But compared to the other past chapters, they were just lacking.
My biggest issue came with Pippa (friend of Rainer’s) and Rainer’s relationship. For me, because I didn’t feel like Rainer and Emy got enough time together in the current day story, and I had a hard time feeling like there was more than just a physical relationship, I came to hate Pippa. This is also due to the lack of time spent on Rainer’s past, the bridge/missing part that spans when he left Emy and when the modern day story picks up. Yes, Rainer tells her what happens, but without his POV, we never really see how he’s dealing with it, if he’s fighting with himself over his feelings for Mali and/or Pippa or that he’s even developing feelings for Mali. It was established that he was in love with Pippa, and jealous of her boyfriend. And there was more than one occasion where he told Pippa that she would always be his number 1. So I came to hate her. She was perfectly nice and sweet and pleasant and she wanted to be friends with Mali, but she was also jealous of Mali’s relationship with Rainer and she would get upset when she saw physical evidence (i.e. a kiss or evidence that they’d had sex) and run out. And of course, Rainer would run after her, leaving Mali. There did come a time where Mail gave him an ultimatum and the turnaround was so quick that I was left wishing for his POV (once again) to really feel his choice. Another instance where his POV would have been welcome was when he finally found out that Mail was Emy. I would have loved to see/feel his reaction. But this also goes along with another issue I had…when he showed up at Emy’s house, she gave in WAY to easy to him. He should have groveled and had to work harder for her.
Overall, I really did enjoy the book. I couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait for the next book in the series and to go back and read book 1.
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