Note: This ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
"I don't deserve you."
I rest my hand on his chest. I've never felt his heartbeat in my dreams. "You really don't." I grin through my tears.
He smiles back. It's sad and filled with uneasiness. "Can I keep you anyway?"
If you're looking for an offbeat romance novel with added elements of intrigue and suspense, you need not look much further than Jewel E. Ann, my go-to author for quirky, witty stories that never cease to enthrall and entertain me. Her latest standalone, Scarlet Stone, was above and beyond anything I was expecting when I originally read the synopsis for it. The eponymous heroine was a main character unlike any other and she's paired with a man whose statuses as antihero and hero shifted more than once and it wasn't just to make sure if you were paying attention or not. That's the thing with this author's books: I have no other alternative but to give it my full attention because tales like Scarlet and Theo's deserve a hundred percent of my focus. Yep, this book is that good.
Scarlet Stone was on the cusp of having the kind of life other women would have killed for: she was engaged to a man she loved and who loved her as much in return; she had a father who would have sacrificed himself for her, and she was about to start a legitimate job, one that would have put an end to her being in the family business--thievery. All that changes without warning and Scarlet chooses to leave her life in London behind and heads to Savannah, Georgia, the place where she was born but has no memories of. She meets a guy on the plane who agrees to rent her a room in a house that already has one occupant--Theodore Reed. He's rude, surly, and makes it clear he doesn't want Scarlet around. Hell, she would daresay that the stubborn man hates the fact Scarlet exists.
Trying to become Theo's friend begins to feel like an exercise in futility but just when she least expects it, Scarlet manages to break through his rough and tough exterior. Their first physical encounter means nothing, or so Theo makes sure to remind her, but there's no denying that they want more than one shot at satisfying their baser needs. However, Scarlet and Theo are keeping their respective cache of secrets, secrets that have spurred them into making life-altering choices that have placed them on seemingly self-destructive paths, depending on who you ask. Soon, it becomes clear that theirs aren't the only secrets that are waiting to be unearthed, and once those old, dark secrets come to light, there may be no turning back for either one of them...even if it means the end of them.
Scarlet, Scarlet, Scarlet. This woman is an oddity in the current fictional world I find myself wading in regularly, and I mean that in the best way possible. She makes decisions that may not make sense to many, but she does them because that's what she believes is best for her and for those closest to her. It doesn't matter if you agree with those decisions; what matters is that once she's begun her journey, she chooses to continue on her path but refuses to drag anyone down with her. There isn't much that I would call "usual" about her and she proves that "unusual" can, indeed, be a good thing. She's so damn unique and even when Theo treats her like crap, she strives to smile through it. She's a genuine person who loves completely and doesn't hesitate with those she cares about.
Theo rubbed me the wrong way in the beginning but I knew there was a reason why he was the way he was, though I would never excuse his terrible behavior. The man was such an enigma, but once he shared his demons, my heart broke for him. I would probably feel and react the way he did had I been through what he experienced, but Scarlet was good for him, even if it took him months to realize it. Or maybe he did realize it and he simply didn't want something good to affect him because he was so focused on his end goal. But goodness, how I loved Theo and Scarlet together. There was nothing easy about their love story and maybe not everyone got a happy ending (poor Daniel, Nolan, and Oscar) but what mattered most was they all lived. Five-plus stars for Scarlet Stone. ♥
Release Date: 10 December 2016
Date Read: 09 December 2016
Learn more about Jewel E. Ann.