Genres: Contemporary Romance
He hated that f*cking word.
When their parents got married, the only thing Caleb Luxan had in common with Wren Brashill was that they both hated their parents. When he was sixteen, Caleb discovered Wren's closely guarded secret and vowed to protect her: from that day forward she became the reason for every decision he made.
Jealousy and long-suppressed desire overpowered Caleb's fierce protectiveness and they spent one forbidden and unforgettable night in each other arms, but the aftermath left Caleb panicked, Wren heartbroken, and their relationship in shambles. In the time since that fateful night, he’d only seen her once and had only managed to make the situation even worse.
The sudden death of his estranged father calls Caleb home and face-to-face with Wren for first time in years. He is presented with a choice that forces him to confront the painful memories of his youth and his many regrets with Wren.Like it or not, his father's last, hard lesson, will demand Caleb deal with his long denied emotions for Wren, or let go of her forever.
One Step Closer is my first Kahlen Aymes book! Its step siblings with a bit of a second chance romance thrown into the mix as well.
Wren and Caleb became step siblings when Caleb was a teen and Wren was 12. She was painfully shy and withdrawn. Caleb eventually finds out it is due to her mothers horrible treatment of Wren and he takes over as big brother, protecting her and getting her back into ballet classes. Then, he leaves for college.
He returns one night after finishing college and Wren is now 18. There is drinking and bad decisions being made all around. He ends up taking Wren’s virginity (this is all in the prologue so no spoilers really). Then he leaves her. I mean, he gets up, gets on a plane and leaves without a word!
The story is told in a series of present time and flashbacks. I liked this set up because it didn’t bore you with ALL the details from the past at one time. You get snippets as the story progresses. Caleb and his dad have a seriously messed up relationship. After what happened between them, Caleb and Wren have a pretty messed up relationship too! One thing I was NOT keen on was Caleb’s girlfriend. She comes home with him for his father’s funeral. Now, you know that he and Wren are like meant to be. So, I hated Macy (the girlfriend) instantly. But, I also hated that Caleb strung her along. If he wants to be with Wren, then dump Macy. Even if she was a bitch, no one deserves to be a second place prize for someone. Her games are so obvious that I was annoyed with Wren for not seeing through her and even more annoyed with Caleb for not cutting the bitch loose! Put her ass on a plane back to Cali!
Aside from that issue, I enjoyed the story. Its angsty (most of the drama coming from the relationships between Macy/Caleb and Wren/Caleb) so be sure you are in the mood for an angsty read!
- POV: 3rd person omniscient (so, you get a peek into everyones thoughts)
- Tears: no
- Trope: step siblings, second chance
- Triggers: View Spoiler »Wren was verbally abused by her mother « Hide Spoiler
- Series/Standalone: stand alone
- Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »no « Hide Spoiler
- HEA: View Spoiler »yes « Hide Spoiler
From One Step Closer:
Caleb’s muscled frame was rigid and as Wren looked at him, she studied his profile, and could feel his coiled tension. The fingers in his right hand curled into a fist. “I was so mad. So many times, I wished he’d been the one to die.” His voice was full of pain, as the words tore from him. “I fucking hated him with every breath I took. You saw how much.”
Wren nodded, though he didn’t see her acquiescence. She knew what he went through growing up when they had formed an affable alliance against their parents. She hated her mother at least as much as Caleb hated his father and she understood his anger and pain; then the apathy that became a welcome alternative. They’d been unlikely allies against a common enemy.
“Maybe I deserved his indifference.”
Wren got up and went to Caleb, standing behind him as he stood still as stone, and staring out the window. Her heart ached with love and grief for Caleb. She wanted to touch him; to offer reassurance, to take away the ache in his voice and heart. Without considering her actions, her arms slipped around his waist and she pressed up against his strong back and leaned her head against him, between his shoulder blades.
Caleb was massive in comparison to her, and she was like a flower curling around him. Her hands fanned out against his hard stomach, her fingers finding the definition of his abs beneath his shirt. “Stop, Cale. I won’t let you do this to yourself. Your dad wouldn’t want that. None of it was your fault.” Her arms slid fully around him and held him tight against her body. “I can’t bear it. You’ve had enough pain. Enough.”
Caleb sucked in a deep breath, the action bringing her even closer. He could feel every curve of her body pressed so closely against his back. He could feel her breathing, could feel how she shared his pain. His hand came up and he ran the flat of his hand from her elbow down to her hand, and then wrapped his fingers around hers.
“When did you turn into the strong one?”
Wren’s arms tightened around him. “When I met you. ”
“Oh, Wren.” Should he just spill his guts? Would it fix everything? “I’ve got so much to say to you. How long can you stay?”
She nodded against him, unwilling to end the contact between their bodies; needing the closeness as much as he did.
He wanted to apologize for how he acted the last time he’d seen her, he wanted to say a hundred things… he needed her forgiveness.
“How long do you need me?”
In that moment a miracle happened; a sort of beautiful irony that taunted Caleb with it’s fragileness. It was as if he’d never screwed everything up between them. But would it stay this way?
How long do I need you? Caleb thought. His heart raced to the point of exploding, and he wondered if Wren could feel it.