Even in the darkest of shadows, love can light the way.
Nicholas Graham is caught in the middle: of his family, of his desires, of his own unhappiness. After he meets Winnie Watson, his self-imposed curmudgeonly existence pales in comparison to spending time with her. He wants to be with her, to get to know her. She is a beacon to all the secret cravings he has controlled. Until now.
Winnie Watson endured, and survived, a horrendous childhood that would give others nightmares. She started over, a new name, a new goal in life. Then she met the Grahams and everything went sideways. She’s done the unthinkable and struggles to accept it. She wants to forget it all again, but the specter of Nicholas Graham, physical and in her dreams, won’t let her move on.
Caught between their needs, their wants, and what the world will allow them, Nick and Winnie are doomed from the moment they met. However, love will teach them that even the biggest obstacles can be overcome if you believe in love .
This blurb came from the author’s website.
Last year I reviewed Vaughn, book 4 in the Circle Eight series and enjoyed it as I did the previous installments. Nicholas met Winnie during some rather tense times in Vaugh and had a chance to see who they could be as they worked to help their family succeed. Yet the two of them parted, each thinking they were not good enough for the other while knowing they had glimpsed something wonderful. When I found out Nick and Winnie were getting their own story I couldn’t resist. This review is going to be shorter than my usual reviews because it is going up several days before its official release.
Initially I struggled immersing myself in this story because the conflict was all self inflicted but then things changed. Lang added external conflict to the mix and suddenly I could understand where their mutual angst originated and I began cheering them on. Nicholas needed someone who wouldn’t let him wallow in the inner workings of his thoughts. Winnie needed to be loved for who she was regardless of the choices and circumstance of her childhood. One of the things Lang appears to have specialized in with this series is heroines with unusual pastimes or pasts who refuse to be regulated by what society has said they should be. I thought it was great to see Winnie own her past and refuse to be dragged down by it but try to make things better for others. And Nicholas supported her as he understood the pain of her past. Their slow progression from physical attraction to self-realization to open love was extremely moving.
Nick and Winnie’s romance was set against the mystery of an event in her past. They had to work their way through emotional highs and lows, hopes and fears, anger and sadness along the way and realized having a partner made things much more bearable. I enjoyed watching each take turns encouraging and supporting the other. Even if sometimes it appeared as if they were provoking anger instead of providing comfort. I loved how it took both Nick and Winnie to piece together the entire story and a willingness to accept help when it was offered to succeed.
In addition to the primary romance and mystery, Nicholas included the start of a secondary romance. I am hoping to see that romance play out as the focus of an upcoming installment because the drama and potential angst should be very entertaining. Once I got past the set-up for this story I found it very engrossing. Lang has continued to find ways to keep Circle Eight feeling fresh even though the problem that started this series was solved a couple of installments ago. As I said earlier I am looking forward what comes next.
I give Nicholas a B