Image from Fantastic Fiction
Series: Marked men #1
Author: Jay Crownover
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 30 Dec 2012
Source: Bought – Ebook
Synopsis from Fantastic Fiction
I loved Rule Archer since the first moment I ever laid eyes on him. He was everything I shouldn’t want and the only person I went out of my way to not try and please. He only saw me as a brat, as an entitled, stuck up princess but worse than that all he saw when he looked at me was his deceased twin brother’s girl. It broke my heart because as much as I had loved Remy Archer there was never anything romantic between us and no matter how hard I tried to convince myself that loving Rule was a terrible idea, my poor heart just wouldn’t listen. We tolerated each other, barely. We forged an uneasy alliance until one night I had too much to drink and changed the way we were forever. Suddenly life long secrets were no longer hidden and the one thing I always wanted for myself seemed obtainable as long as I was willing to go through hell to hold onto it.
Shaw Landon was a class act and I had no idea what to do with her. She was tied to my family, tied to the person that was my other half so I tolerated her and her haughty attitude because I didn’t have any other choice. What I didn’t know was that a short skirt and too many cocktails on her birthday was going to change my outlook on her for the rest of my life. Some people thought I hid behind all my tattoos and piercings, that I tried to distance myself from my dead twin, Shaw saw through it all and wasn’t scared of what was underneath.
We weren’t supposed to be together, weren’t supposed to be anything except uncomfortable acquaintances but that all changed in the blink of an eye. Now I had to figure out just how a girl like her and a guy like me were supposed to be in love without destroying each other. Add in her custom made ex and two disapproving sets of parents and the whole situation sounded to me like it was more trouble then it was worth.
Recommended for mature readers due to sexual content, language and drinking.
Told in dual first person narrative; Rule is very head-strong, independent and stubborn. He has always been this way even as a child causing friction in his family relationships. Relations with his mother further deteriorate following the death of his twin brother. Rule exasperates the problem by his natural inclination to rebel, appearances suggest that Rule enjoys irritating people. Rule is far deeper than people give him credit for.
Shaw, on the other hand, does everything to try to please people even if it isn’t what she wants. Her parents, while wealthy, are cold people and she lacks affection and a nurturing environment. Best friends with Rule’s twin brother, Remy, since they were 14 but in love with Rule from the same age. Everyone assumed Remy and Shaw were a couple and they did nothing to dispel this assumption as it provided a form of protection for the both of them.
The way in which Rule’s mother treats him as a result of the depression she suffers with the grief of losing Remy is truly heart-breaking. Rule feels he is unworthy of love and pushes anyone away that tries to get close. He also carries a lot of guilt over Remy’s death.
Shaw’s capacity for love shines through the narrative, its almost as if she has enough love for the both herself and Rule. The description of her feelings was so powerful it felt like a physical blow to the stomach. Knowing she loved Rule for so long and all the things she has had to witness as a result pulls at the heart-strings.. You feel just how confused she is regarding her feelings for Rule and how hurt she has been by his actions.
The way in which both of them have grown-up together has shaped their lives; the memories that are woven into the story bring the characters to vivid life within the imagination.
The peripheral characters are all wonderful and really add depth to the story; proving that you can make your own family by surrounding yourself with the people that not only suit you but they understand and accept you without judgement.
Both narrative voices really stand out, they both lack confidence in themselves at a fundamental level and the ingrained belief they have that they are basically unlovable is tragic to witness. The narrative shows that emotional trauma suffered as a child leaves internal scars on the adult we become.
The plot is multi-layered combining romance and thriller with the portrayal of grief tearing both individuals and families apart. The character development is the main focus and is quite stunning in its fruition. Proving that no matter what you should just be the person you want to be and not try to please everyone else. People who genuinely love you will do so without you having to change a single thing about yourself.
The story provided a wonderful sense of optimism. The idea that love can provide comfort and security and therefore build self confidence (happy sigh).