4 star book review for Love the Way You Lie, a contemporary romance/erotic novel by Skye Warren–now available at bookstores and retailers.
[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first came across Skye Warren’s work a few years ago when I read her Beauty Series of erotic novellas (which I TOTALLY recommend). Those stories drew me in immediately: delicious angst, SEXY romance, and a hero/heroine that faced adversity and came through on the other side bruised, but open to love.
Skye’s latest Stripped Series incorporates all of these elements and adds a certain rawness that breaks your heart…but there’s hope. Her characters struggle, but little by little we watch them heal and find happiness. It’s painful, yet it’s beautiful too.
Honor and Clara’s story actually begins in the prequel novella Tough Love where we first meet the Moretti sisters. Focussing on Clara’s POV, we learn that she’s 15 (the younger of the two) and her father is big mob boss in Las Vegas. Since he has no sons to take over the “family business”, he forges an alliance with Byron Adams, a dirty cop with powerful connections and money. Honor is engaged to Byron, but endures quite a bit of abuse at his hands. Clara notices the bruises her sister tries to hide and the pain in her eyes. But Honor bears it; she believes she doesn’t have a choice. However, the straw that breaks the camel’s back surfaces when Honor finds out that Byron has plans to marry Clara to one of his buddies. It doesn’t matter that Clara is practically a child and very much in love with with her best friend Giovanni (the son of one of her father’s made men).
Honor refuses to have her younger sister end up like her, trapped in a relationship with a violent man. So on the night of her engagement party, with Gio’s help, Honor and Clara flee.
Love the Way You Lie picks up a six months later with Honor’s POV. She and Clara are now living (hiding) in West Virginia and Honor is working at a local strip club, The Grand. She believes that her mother (who disappeared years ago) has a special connection to the town, and Honor hopes to find out more.
She suffered with Byron, both physical and sexual abuse. Her father was fully aware and never raised a hand to defend her. As a result, Honor is very jaded and mistrustful. She believes that if her father or Byron ever find her, she’s as good as dead. So Honor (now Honey) keeps her head down, goes the work, and takes care of her sister. But her routine is shaken up one day when a new customer comes in and SEES her. Kip is immediately drawn to Honey. But besides sex, he wants to know her, to protect her. Honor keeps her cards close to her chest; however, little by little they each start to open up.
From the very beginning Honor’s situation shatters my heart! She’s gorgeous and has so much grit and fortitude, but life just keeps beating her down. First with losing her mother, then her father and Byron. Honor doesn’t believe very much in her own self-worth. With that said, she’s no victim. Every time Honor is knocked down, she gets right back up:
But it’s hard to die, to lie down and let it happen. Not to fight. Not to reach toward the surface for air when you’re drowning. It’s almost impossible. I’m proof of that.
What motivates Honor more than anything is her love for Clara. She’ll do absolutely anything to make sure her sister is safe and happy, even if it comes at the cost of Honor’s own happiness. With that said, she’s able to find a little joy in her dancing:
This is the best part, reveling in the burn of my muscles, the slide of the metal pole against my skin and the cold, angry rhythm of the song. It’s not like ballet, but it’s still a routine.
And Honor is GOOD. It’s probably one of the first things that catches Kip’s attention the first time he walks into The Grand:
“I wanted to touch you since I first saw you walk onto the stage. Whether I have to pay of not, whether you return the favor or not…”
Kip is hot, stacked and muscled up, and persistent. He wants Honey and is willing to so whatever it takes to have her…and the sex is INTENSE:
“I want to fuck you with my fingers. I want to play with your clit until you come. Or maybe I’ll slide my tongue over your pussy until you’re crying loud enough for the whole club to hear, hmm?”
All the air rushes out of me. I don’t know why it’s so shocking. A blowjob is way dirtier than what he’s asking for. But I’ve never had a man want to get me off.
HOT HOT HOT! But physical attraction isn’t their problem (as you can probably tell!). It’s getting to the deeper stuff that’s an obstacle for both Honor and Kip. Early on, he starts to fill a gap in her life. Kip protects Honor, but more importantly, provides her with the means and confidence to protect herself. Beyond that, Kip nurtures Honor’s soul—she treats her with a kindness and consideration she’s never known and even encourages her love for dancing. Honor responds to Kip, but something still holds her back. How does she know that she can truly trust Kip with her secrets…with Clara?
No spoilers, but suffices to say that Honor isn’t the only person in this relationship with secrets. And when we learn the full truth about Kip, Honor, and the Moretti family it is SHOCKING…as in I did NOT see it coming and my mind was blown! There’s an HEA, which is all the more sweet because of all the difficulty Kip, Honor, and we endure to attain it.
If I am to offer any critique, at times the prose can get repetitive (lots of flinching). And I know this is Honor’s story, but I really, REALLY, REALLLLLLLLY want to find out what (if anything) happens between Clara and Gio! Do they meet again later in life? I’m begging and pleading with Skye to please give us their novel/la!
I recommend Love the Way You Lie to those who enjoy darker contemporary romance and are in the mood for something with grit and angst. This will totally hit the spot! Add this to your TBR list on Goodreads and make sure Skye Warren is on your radar!
ALSO, book 2 in the Stripped Series, Better When it Hurts, will be out on June 4!
Many thanks to the author for providing review copies.