I have to say from the outset, that I've really enjoyed this series so far. I am really amazed at how much I have come to care for these characters. And, honestly, I didn't think that Sarina Bowen would be able to do anything nearly as good as the first book in the series, but she's proved me wrong time and time again.
But here's the thing. I wasn't all that interested in Bella's character. Was I "slut-shaming" (for the record, I don't like the term because I feel like it is doing the very thing that you say you shouldn't do) her? I don't think so. That's not why I didn't like her. She just wasn't someone that I connected to or thought of as having any depth.
And, I think that I should have realized the author was going to make me eat my words...again. And eat those words, I did. This book was powerful. It was thought-provoking, it made me gut-check my own feelings several times, and it seemed fitting for today, right now, when we are having conversations in the U.S. about men of privilege and how they treat women.
So, we had all of these things going on in this story and that is not even dealing with the love developing between Rafe and Bella which was so sweet. And that's why this book resonated with me the way that it did. We have Bella,who has been just violated in a way that I am sure she didn't see coming, her life is a mess and she doesn't know if she will ever be able to look at the world the same way again. But, in the midst of that, something so sweet and pure grows out of it. Isn't that they way it always works? I'm just glad that she got her act together to see it for what it was before she pushed Rafe away for good (but knowing his stubborn behind, we wouldn't have let her push him away).
I was so wary about the story because some people were turned off by the way that Bella responded to "the thing" (I don't want to give away too much). They didn't feel that she was strong enough, but I think that's tone deaf. No one can say how they would respond to something like that. I think that the author gave the story a lot of authenticity by the way Bella's character responded.
Ultimately, I thought this was an amazing story. It's probably my second favorite of the series, the first book still holds the title for my favorite of the series. I never would have thought that any book about Bella would be so good. So, thank you Sarina Bowen for making a believer out of me.