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Thursday, October 24, 2013

ARC Review: Mine to Keep by Cynthia Eden


I’m an avid fan of Cynthia Eden’s romantic suspense titles. She’s one of my top three authors in this genre, and she has a fantastic voice for dark romantic suspense: her stories are fraught with pitch-perfect suspense, compelling, emotionally intense, and HOT. What started as a standalone novella to tide her readers over until her next full-length romantic suspense novel whilst she focussed on paranormals and Harlequin Intrigue titles has turned into a new series that is sure to be hugely successful. MINE TO KEEP is book #2 in the series and follows up on and completes the story arc that was introduced in MINE TO TAKE. While MINE TO KEEP can be read and enjoyed as a standalone, it’s definitely a more satisfying experience after the ‘prequel’ novella.

My biggest issue with the (already excellent) first instalment in possessive-billionaire-with-a-dark-side Trace Weston and seemingly-sweet-young-thing-who’s-survived-hell Skye Sullivan’s story arc was the limited character development stemming from the novella length. In this full-length follow-up, Ms. Eden greatly expounds on that and does what she does best: create a darkly intense hero who’s alpha to the max and consumed by his love for his woman. Trace is a perfect example of the type of hero that’s all the rage in romance right now: impossibly attractive, ridiculously rich at a young age, and with a fierce protectiveness that frequently crosses over into possessiveness and a need for control. There is nothing novel about Trace, but Ms. Eden’s knack for putting her characters through hell and wringing every drop of emotion from characters and readers alike turns the tired ‘billionaire sex god with a dark past and deep secrets’ trope into a thrilling read. The first time around, I found Trace to be a touch too domineering; now, with a better understanding of his character and his secrets, I think he’s mellowed a bit and his protectiveness of Skye is almost endearing. Yes, he’s still ├╝ber alpha and will do anything in his power to keep Skye from harm, but he doesn’t come across as dictatorial and I thoroughly enjoyed watching him learn to let her spread her wings lest his need to protect her smothers her. Skye’s character walks a fine line between strength and codependency, a survivor of a tough upbringing and a brutal trauma at the hands of a stalker who relies on Trace to steady her. I found her to be much less of a scared pushover this time around and liked seeing her assert herself more in her relationship with Trace: pushing back when his protectiveness makes her feel trapped, demanding to know his past so there are no secrets between them, and encouraging him to let go and give in to his animalistic passion instead of always being so controlled with her in the bedroom.

Speaking of the bedroom… be sure to keep a fan handy, because the love scenes are frequent and HOT! The sexual chemistry between Skye and Trace is palpable and scorching, and they often communicate best with their bodies. Ms. Eden is a master at writing love scenes that are both emotionally intense and worthy of erotic fiction, but these scenes never feel superfluous (my major gripe with a lot of erotica). Trace is convinced that his passion is too much for Skye to handle and always holds himself back, so watching him finally give in to it and realise that it won’t break Skye will have you reaching for a figurative postcoital cigarette. And a fan and/or fire extinguisher. Masterfully layered in with all the sexytimes is a surprisingly unpredictable and intense suspense plot that initially felt like a retread of the original plot in MINE TO TAKE but that turned into a rollercoaster of a thrill ride where everyone is a suspect and you don’t know whom to trust when ghosts from Trace’s mysterious past come calling and killing. Ms. Eden also introduces a great cadre of secondary characters that, whilst inevitably the protagonists of future books, add depth to the story and the characterisations and function as much more than future-book fodder. I absolutely loved Noah York, was thoroughly intrigued by Drake Archer, and cannot wait to see more of Detective Alex Griffin in subsequent books.

MINE TO KEEP is a fantastic addition to the Mine series and definitely recommended for fans of Ms. Eden’s work and/or dark romantic suspense. As always, Ms. Eden’s writing is spot on and delivers a perfectly paced story that will keep you guessing and frantically turning pages until the end. Trace and Skye are superbly written love-them-or-hate-them characters that will leave no one indifferent, and the host of secondary characters introduced in this novel add a second tier of terrific stories to look forward to. I cannot wait for the next instalment, MINE TO HOLD, at the end of October to learn Noah York’s story!

**ARC provided by NetGalley**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |



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