5 star book review for Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh, now available in stores.
[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I need to begin this review with a confession: I’m not really a fan on the New Adult genre. But the thing is I really, REALLY want to be. I adore the idea of reading stories about older high schoolers, college students, and adults in their early 20s; however, I’m rarely able to find a novel that can execute such a story in a compelling way. More often than not, NA books I read are an odd combination of YA and intense erotica, which leave me feeling confused and awkward.
But every once in awhile, I have the fortune of coming across a book exceeds my highest expectations and reminds me why NA is so popular. Caged in Winter is 1,000% this book. From the first sentence to the very last word, this book has me riveted. The writing is exceptional, the characters are genuine and sympathetic, and the plot is robust and well-paced. I love every moment of Winter and Cade’s story, and gladly give this 5 stars.
We begin with Winter Jacobson as she’s counting down 76 days to her college graduation. Winter has been having a pretty difficult time. She’s a full time student, but also spends most evenings working at the local pub as a waitress. Winter’s boss is a jerk, she’s living paycheck to paycheck, and has no family. In the midst of these hard times, Winter has hope! She’s about to get her degree in web design and will be able to get a higher paying job in a field she loves. But still…76 days…
One night at work, there’s a customer that’s getting pretty handsy, which isn’t unusual. Winter figures that she’ll just keep her cool, play coy, and collect her tip. But her plans are dashed when a superhero-wannabe swoops in, beats up her customer, and Winter is left with 17 cents and no way to buy groceries. Obviously, Winter is upset and she definitely lets her would-be savior know it. But what she doesn’t know is that Cade Maxwell has been intrigued with Winter since he entered the bar that night. And now that he’s on her radar, Cade has no intention of backing out. Winter has been getting by just fine. But there’s something about Cade’s persistence, kindness, and protective nature that makes her want to invite him into her most private places, even when she’d rather be on her own.
I adore Winter. She’s spunky, strong-willed, and extremely independent-minded. But let me be clear, she’s not exactly an easy character to get to know. Like for Cade, it takes awhile for the reader to figure out her motivations and why she resists relying on anyone other than herself. Winter’s tenacity is mostly admirable, but sometimes annoying, especially when she puts her mind to avoiding Cade…
…darling Cade *swoony sigh* What can I say that can fully encompass how wonderful he is? Cade is tall, stacked, tatted up, and has the motorcycle to boot. But he’s also a chef-in training, a sweet brother to his little sister Tessa, a loving uncle to his niece Hayley, and a potentially attentive and generous boyfriend if Winter would let him!
I love how Cade is determined to get Winter to give him a chance. He shows up at the pub after her shift ends because he doesn’t want her walking to the bus stop by herself at night. And when Winter finally does give in, Cade cooks her amazing homemade meals and takes her out on the sweetest dates. Cade knows that he has to take things slow with Winter to show her that he wants more than just sex–so he’s patient when she’s skittish, he encourages and reassures her when she has doubts, and when the relationship does become physical, Cade is beyond tender:
“She does that to me. Makes me lose sight of everything but her–her eyes filled with a light only I can seem to bring out, her lips curving into a smile, her body under my hands–until I’m consumed by her…
…Seeing her like this, completely unguarded, utterly open, is my new favorite side of her. She’s always beautiful, especially when she has that fire in her eyes, but seeing her like this, eyes glazed in pure bliss, body boneless and vulnerable beneath me, nearly does me in. That she feels comfortable enough, safe enough, with me to let go like this makes me feel fifty fucking feet tall…
…I’ve never seen anything as sexy as Winter when she comes. She loses all inhibitions, the shadows I see lurking in her eyes are suddenly gone. She’s free and she’s gorgeous and she’s mine.”
Cade is so good to Winter, and there are times that I get frustrated with her when she pushes him away. But as soon as I start to get upset, I reign it in. While the reader knows, implicitly, that Cade’s intentions are pure, Winter has no reason or prior experience to expect that she can trust him. And even though they enjoy being together, Cade’s desire to protect Winter can trespass on her determination to handle her own affairs. This impasse is definitely an obstacle they face as they decide if can be together longterm.
Besides Cade and Winter’s relationship, Caged in Winter also has some pretty great secondary characters. I’m particularly interested in learning more about Jason and Tessa in the next book. And I’m also glad that Winter has at least one friend in Annette.
The ending is lovely, yet realistic, and worth the previous heartache and uncertainty. BRAVA Brighton!
I wholeheartedly recommend Caged in Winter to those who enjoy New Adult and contemporary romance. This book will have you swooning and smiling and rooting for Cade and Winter the whole time.
I’m so glad that I won an ARC from Brighton. This is the first novel of hers that I’m reading, but it certainly won’t be the last. Make sure to add Caged in Winter to your Goodreads TBR shelf and grab your copy today!