by Charlotte Stein
Series: Dark Obsession #3
Published by the Author (Self-Published) on February 14, 2017
Sub-Genre/Theme: Contemporary, Erotic
Format: ARC, Ebook
Source: The Author
Buy: Amazon, B&N
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I received an advance copy of this book from The Author.
What if your worst nightmare was the only thing you wanted?
Lydia worries she'll never recover from a violent assault at the hands of an intruder. Therapy isn't working and her friends aren't a comfort. All she can think about is how helpless and afraid she was.
Then she meets Isaac.
He's everything she wants to be: cool, calm and controlled. Trauma doesn't seem to affect him. Emotions don't bother him. And best of all, he's prepared to teach her. He shows her how to fight. How to defend herself. How to guard her heart.
But Isaac soon finds he can't guard his heart from her. She's starting to make him see all the things he's been missing, in his closed off and far too brutal life. The only problem is:
He has a terrible secret.
And if he lets himself give in to the desire that's building between them, her world may well be torn apart again.
Here’s the thing about Charlotte Stein’s books: they’re just so damn good. I savored my read of Never Better, a slow burn romance that masterfully builds a sense of longing and intensity between its main characters.
Never Better is book #3 in Stein’s Dark Obsession series, but each is a standalone. In this book, Lydia is the victim of assault after a home invasion in which she was nearly killed. Consequently, she’s left traumatized and constantly afraid. She fears interacting with strangers, of course, but also recoils from receiving physical touch from loved ones.
Lydia begins attending a therapy group, where she meets Isaac, a mysterious and intense man to whom she’s drawn immediately. As Lydia and Isaac form a friendship, Lydia begins letting down her guard and opening up to another person for the first time since her assault.
In turn, Isaac helps Lydia gain a sense of empowerment. He begins teaching her self-defense, which not only builds up her self-confidence but also her trust in him. It’s clear that Isaac feels protective of Lydia, but for some reason he holds her at arm’s length for much of the book–despite the growing attraction between them.
Isaac is basically a romance reader’s dream. A tortured, conflicted hero who has a love for romance novels and who’s fiercely protective of the heroine? Yes, please.
I’d definitely call their romance a slow burn, and it’s ultimately a satisfying one at that. Isaac has reasons for holding himself at an emotional distance from Lydia, but eventually she weakens his resolve and he gives in. Always present is Stein’s deep point-of-view, which drew me in to Lydia’s consciousness as well as Isaac’s motivations once his secrets are revealed.
Lastly, the unique, unexpected ending made me smile. Never fear, the ending is still a happy one, but one that definitely left me craving more.
Never Better is another fantastic read from Charlotte Stein, whose stories always manage to put my emotions through the proverbial wringer and lovingly dust them off when it’s all over. I highly recommend this book.
Rating: 5 stars