Review – Jagged (Whiskey Sharp #2) by Lauren Dane

Reviewed by: E

Vicktor Orlov took one look at the wary gaze and slow-to-trust personality of the deliciously sexy and fascinating Rachel Dolan and knew he wanted more than just a casual friendship. But as a natural protector, he also knew bossiness and overprotective maneuvering would push her away rather than draw her close. He’ll use every tool in his easygoing arsenal to convince her to take a chance on them.

Rachel’s flourishing new career as a tattoo artist has brought color back into a life previously damaged by a series of bad choices and violence. She knows she can trust Vic—it’s herself she’s not sure of. She doesn’t want to be caged or controlled. Doesn’t want to be protected so much she has no ability to make her own choices.

And damn if the man doesn’t know it.

When Vic finally drops all pretenses of “just friends” and focuses all his careful affection and irresistible seduction on her, Rachel knows she’s falling hard for the laid-back pretty-boy Russian she discovers has a relentlessly steel spine when it comes to her.

And she can’t resist.
This blurb came from Goodreads

After reading Unraveled in January and seeing the hints of budding romantic interest between Vicktor and Rachel I was really excited to see where they could go. I was also wondering how Dane would handle Rachel’s long-term aftermath and continuing recovery as she moved forward in her new life. In addition, I also wanted to see how the Dolan sisters would manage to remove their poisonous father from their lives after his horrible statements regarding Maybe and the ugly reason for his mistreatment of her. Dane answered all of my wonderings and at the same time provided a story which got me right in the feels. It was as if she reached inside, pulled out all of my emotions, mixed them up, and put them back in the right way. Dane didn’t shy away from the ugly nature of some people and how everything they do they justify as right nor did she shy away from permanent changes creating a new normal after extreme trauma. Together this provided a full-well rounded story with complex and complicated characters who sucked me in and never let me feel like their experiences were cheapened for thrills.

Vicktor and Rachel were both interested in each other and had been for a while but neither one was willing to take the first step. Vicktor in part because he was waiting for Rachel to heal enough and also because getting romantically involved would mean something serious so he wanted to make sure he was ready to take that step. Rachel was also thinking about the possible implications of getting involved with Vicktor because he wasn’t going to be someone she could use as a surface tension release and then go about her business. Any movement past friendship would require her to let him inside mentally and emotionally, thus risking additional hurt. Then came a certain confrontation in the previous book which shook up the status quo and put a few things into a different perspective.

I absolutely loved how Vicktor, while determined, was patient, slow-moving and took the time to check-in with Rachel every step of the way to ensure she was right there with him as their relationship progressed. He showed an awareness of and care for her without a need to coddle, smother, or discount Rachel’s strength. He was secure enough to let her take the lead and handle her father’s actions while providing support and venting to his cousin when he needed to let things out. And I also really loved the fact that he was a baker, so many things about that combination of art, science, and care for others always gets me.

Rachel was a great character too. She survived and was victorious in a situation where others didn’t. Then she practically reinvented herself and refused to allow her past to limit who/and what she could be. I cheered each time she demonstrated her internal strength and also cheered when she showed she could expose her vulnerability around those she considered emotional family. Her interactions with each were different but they still showed equal amounts of strength and openness. She also showed her care for others and in some ways was very willing to take more than her share of guilt for other’s actions.

I really enjoyed watching Rachel and Vicktor together. They balanced each other’s introspective tendencies and extended their individual protective natures to each other’s respective families. Throughout Jagged woven in the growth of their relationship was a definite give and take on both sides as they each bore their own sense of familial guilt and had demons to deal with. It was really good to see individual improvement as a result of their relationship showing while they were complete separately, they were more together.

I really enjoyed Jagged and I think it was well worth the wait and my own personal mental build-up. I did get the feeling however, these first two installments were really one complete story which makes me wonder how tight the connection will be with Dane’s third installment coming out in a few months. I also wonder what or who the main external conflict will focus on. As usual Dane remains on my auto-buy/read list and I am looking forward to her next release.
I give Jagged an A

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