Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christie's Review: Always Been Mine by Victoria Paige


Title:Always Been Mine
Series: Always #2
Author: Victoria Paige
Release Date: January, 2015
Rating:4 stars
Cliffhanger: No

Beatrice Porter swore she would never fall in love with a man like her father. For years she watched her mother self-destruct in bitterness, married to someone who only lived for his job. Gabriel Sullivan was such a man—a Navy SEAL, a man who put duty and country above all else. Yet falling in love with him was inevitable. She thought their relationship could work until he’d left her one night with a broken heart and her pride in tatters.

Three years later, he’s back and he wants a second chance.

Having committed atrocities for the greater good, Gabe has nothing left but darkness inside him. The only flicker of light is the memory of Beatrice—a woman embedded deeply under his skin.

Winning her back won’t be easy for she has erected walls that only the toughest of SEALs can hope to scale.

When Beatrice finds herself at the center of a deadly game, Gabe discovers the eerie similarities of the killer’s MO to a former assassin.

Discovering a link to the past, a truth that may cost him the woman he loves, distancing himself may be the only option to save Beatrice, but he is done walking away.

Gabe just needs to convince her this time he is all in, and a future with her is the only redemption worth having.

First off, let me start by saying that although this is technically a standalone, I highly suggest reading book one before you start this. If you don't, I have doubts that you'll be able to get through this comfortably. The characters and plot overlap and are pretty tightly interwoven together making it necessary to brush up on the events and backstories that are introduced in book one. I suppose you could attempt it, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Moving on, I had quite a difficult time sinking into this story initially. I would say the first half of the book was slow moving and I was finding it hard to connect with the MCs. I'm not saying I disliked them, but honestly, my feelings were somewhat indifferent. I just wasn't feeling a lot of intensity. And looking back, I think the reason for that was that all my focus was centered on the intricate plot and all the players involved. The detail involved in the story overshadowed the couple's reconciliation and cause a bit of a disconnect.

In book 1, we're already told that Beatrice and Gabe had an affair that crashed and burned in the past. Gabe disappeared one day and no one had seen him for three years. He's an ex-Navy SEAL and now did black ops missions for her father, Admiral Benjamin Porter (recruiter and strategist for the CIA).

It's also discovered in book one, that Gabe had been sent by her father to go deep undercover into the Russian Mafia to pose as an enforcer to bring down some highly dangerous criminals. The thing is though, he did more than pose as an enforcer. He became one. Highly feared, and highly lethal. And he saw and did things in those years that he can't reconcile with his real self. He's not even sure who he is anymore. He finds himself slipping subconsciously into his enforcer persona and he's not sure how to let the past go for good.

Now, his duty is done and he's back. His first and only goal is to make amends for how he left her cruelly without any warning or explanation. He promised her forever but that only lasted until he was called to duty. It was everything she experienced growing up with her father all over again, and she was completely shattered when he left.

Now, he had to earn her forgiveness, and hope she'd take him back. She didn't know it yet, but he wasn't giving her a choice.

But she's a strong and independent woman, and she picked up the pieces and carved out a career setting up security for high level politicians. I loved her strength and bravery, it was something that really endeared her to me. I don't care at all for weak heroines, it's a huge turn-off so in this case, I was happy she lived up to my expectations. She held her own with this tough, overbearing, and jealous alpha and her stubborn side prevented him from controlling her like his instincts were pushing him to do.

He was a possessive son of a bitch, and he wanted more. The fates must be laughing down on him because he had to go and fall in love with the most stubborn and independent woman on the planet.

He was also very sweet and clearly completely obsessed with her and willing to do anything to make amends.

After taking down Zorin Bratva, a russian arms dealer in book one, everyone thought things had cooled down and things could go back to normal. Gabe could acclimate himself into normal society and win back his woman. Well, of course it wouldn't be that easy. This time around, they're fighting the clock to prevent deadly bio weapons from being sold to the Russians. Not only that, as the Admiral's daughter, Beatrice has become a target-she's his one weakness and there isn't a shortage of men willing to exploit that.

Around the 50% mark, the book finally picked up for me and I was able to immerse myself more easily into Beatrice and Gabe's relationship. It could have been Gabe's passion and intensity that won me over. He was completely dominating and overbearing and panty meltingly hot.

"That attitude is sexy, and it makes me hard as hell. But it's only because I can't wait to fuck it out of you." His hands fisted her panties and ripped them off.

The action, as in the last book was done with precision and the pace escalated in the second half enough to keep me hooked until the end. Overall, I liked this couple, but I didn't love them. And even though I read the first book, I struggled to keep all the characters straight in my mind and remember the detailed events that occurred. However, I think this author has great talent, and even though I didn't like it as much as the previous book, I still thought it was well written with a lot of decent steamy scenes. The pacing wasn't completely smooth all the way through for me personally, but in the end, I was happy. The epilogue in particular really was exceptional. It was the perfect wrap up to Gabe and Beatrice.


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