Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: ARC, NetGalley
Also by this author: Fighting for Flight (Fighting, #1), Fighting to Forgive, Split, Fighting for Honor, The Final Fight
Wrecked is the new standalone novel of deliciously dark, deeply emotional contemporary romance from J.B. Salsbury, the New York Times bestselling author of Split and The Fighting Series.
When you can’t trust yourself, how can you ask anyone else to?
It’s been months since Aden Colt left the Army, and still the memories haunt him. When he moved into a boat off the California coast, he thought he’d found the perfect place to escape life.
Then Sawyer shows up, and turns his simple life upside down.
Beautiful and sophisticated, she seems out of place in this laidback beach town. Something is pushing her to experience everything she can—including Aden. But as much as he wants her, starting a relationship with Sawyer puts them both at risk.
For Aden, the past doesn’t stay there; it shows up unexpectedly, uncontrollably, and doesn’t care whose life it wrecks.
Wrecked is the story of secret identities, secrets, and lies between Sawyer, posing as her sister, and Aden, determined to get the truth. Aden has returned from Afghanistan bitter and out for revenge. After betrayal cost him several soldiers in his unit, Aden is devastated. Sawyer has promised her sister Celia to honor her dying wish and assume Celia’s identity and have a little fun. As you can imagine, when these lives collide, will everyone end up wrecked or is it possible to survive?
Sawyer has a fairly severe case of OCD. She feels that she gave her grandmother the flu, and that caused her to die. So, she is cautious about germs, but also becomes a list maker. Her behaviors are not your ‘classic’ OCD of cleaning or obsessive washing, but its noticeable to those who know her well and you can see how it impacts her daily life. Celia is the total opposite. She was a free spirit, roaming around the country and enjoying life. She is social and has lots of friends. For twins, they have nothing in common outside their looks. I think I understood Sawyer quickly and really connected with her as a character. She doesn’t want to ‘be’ her sister, but she can’t tell her no. She is determined to do this for Celia even though its incredibly difficult for her.
Aden is suffering from PTSD and its heartbreaking. His guilt is crushing and Salsbury does an amazing job at showing the reader that pain and anguish. He has such survivors guilt over what happened, and he has not handled it well.
As Aden and ‘Celia’ get to know each other, they fall in love. But, with all the secrets and lies between them, you can see the writing on the wall as to how this could implode. As Aden’s PTSD gets worse and Celia’s illness progresses, the story started to break my heart a bit. Thankfully, I know Salsbury will piece it back together.
- POV: dual 1st
- Tears: yes
- Trope: secret identity
- Triggers: View Spoiler »Aden has a PTSD flashback that might be upsetting to some readers. Also, Celia dies of cancer. « Hide Spoiler
- Series/Standalone: stand alone
- Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »no « Hide Spoiler
- HEA: View Spoiler »yes with a beautiful epilogue! « Hide Spoiler
Oh no, fuck no!
I thought he was kidding. I should’ve known better. Aden’s intentions with me since I stupidly boarded this boat have been my torment for his enjoyment. He loved watching me squirm over the bait tank and when I proved I wouldn’t shy away from a challenge, he pulled out the big guns. From his flirty smiles to his teasing touches, he’s discovered my weaknesses and is exploiting them for his own entertainment.
Now this? Raw fish probably still warm from fighting for its life.
And now I’m God knows how many feet above water sitting on a two-seater bench held up by rusty ladders and staring down a piece of glistening pink meat.
“You have to eat it, it’s a rite of passage.” He offers the meat to my lips and I quickly turn my face away.
“I’m really not hungry.” As if the idea isn’t enough to turn my stomach, watching him clean the fish before sectioning off enough for lunch wasn’t much of an appetite builder.
“Of course you are.” He brings the piece to his own mouth and takes a bite, closing his eyes with a moan as he chews.
I feel a rush of bile hit my throat, or maybe it’s beer, either way it’s warm and it burns. “That’s disgusting.”
“You’re telling me you don’t like sushi?”
My eyes widen. Sawyer would say she’s never had sushi. But Celia’s a different story. She ate a live cricket in the eighth grade on a dare. She didn’t even flinch. “I like sushi, just not directly from the…um…source.”
“Doesn’t get fresher than this.” He takes another bite and I can’t deny that his response to eating it does give it some appeal.
“I think I need soy sauce or that green stuff.” What’s it called?
“Just try it.”
“I really don’t want to.”
“Oh come on.” He smiles in that cute crooked way that makes my heart dip and dive. “Live a little.”
I chew the inside of my mouth debating the cost/benefit of taking a bite of this fresh-out-of-the-ocean fish. On one hand, I’ll impress Aden. That in and of itself is worth the ick factor. But what if I throw up all over his boat? Is the chance of impressing him worth totally humiliating myself? I groan when I realize what I’m doing, exactly what I swore I wouldn’t do. I’m making an internal pros and cons list. I close my eyes and steel my resolve and my spine. Don’t think, just decide. I pop open my eyes followed by my mouth.
“Yeah?” He stares at my parted lips.
I nod, hoping he’ll hurry before I change my mind.
Lifting the rose-colored flesh forward, he places it between my teeth. It’s a small bite so I close my lips around his fingers expecting him to pull away…but he doesn’t. For a moment I’m suspended in his gaze, totally stuck while his hot fingers rest between my lips. This should be grossing me out; after all, I watched him gut this fish with his bare hands and to wash off all the blood he merely dipped them into the ocean. But all the thoughts of raw fish and a stranger’s finger do nothing to stave off the warmth blooming in my belly. My tongue pulls the meat deeper into my mouth, brushing against the rough pad of his forefinger. He bites his lip but finally drops his hand.
He watches intently while I chew and swallow.
“How was it?” His voice is low and gruff.
Lost in the heated moment, I barely tasted it. “Good.”
His hand cups the back of my head and he pulls me toward him, stopping just short of our lips touching. “I can’t fucking take this anymore.” His breath is sawing in and out, bursting against my mouth with impatience. “Let me.” It’s a demand, not a question.
A kiss. I don’t need to channel Celia or flip a coin…I know what I want.
I lick my lips and close the slight distance between us.