I can’t seem to quit Gena Showalter’s Original Heartbreaker series, even though I thought it was only going to be three books long. CAN’T LET GO is book number 5 in the series and unlike its predecessor, I am not mad about it! We met our main characters, Jude and Ryanne in Can’t Hardly Breathe, it was definitely one of those instances where I felt secondary characters were the bigger stars of the book. Yep, the whole time I read Daniel and Dorothea’s story, I kept looking for Jude and Ryanne in the scenes. I’m pleased to announce, CAN’T LET GO brought me closer to The Closer You Come feelings of series love. Let’s talk about Jude and Ryanne…
Jude Laurent suffers from almost crippling PTSD. His story is one of the hardest and saddest ones I’ve read yet. He was injured on the battlefield, lost the lower portion of his leg to an IED and while he was recovering from that, his wife and young twin daughters were killed by a drunk driver. Jude will break your heart, he is so broken and lost he honestly doesn’t know what to do with himself. Clearly, he’s a very good man, anyone can see his capacity to love and care is in there but he is so traumatized the thought of feeling anything ever again leaves him terrified. It is going to take a special kind of strong woman to get past the walls Jude has put up.
Ryanne Wade’s life has never been easy. Her mother was easy…it has been rumored Ryanne’s easy apple didn’t fall far from that easy, round-heeled tree…but don’t believe everything you hear. Ryanne chose to live with one of her mom’s ex-husbands instead of continuing the life of constant disruption her mother promised. Ryanne’s stepdad owned a bar on the border of the small town of Strawberry Valley. She’s funny, quick-witted and easy with a flirtatious smile but she is not her mother and no one should ever think that about her. A new bar across the street is run by a very shady character who will stop at nothing to make his competition disappear. And I mean nothing! I’ve read a nice assortment of books lately that make no bones about crafting the villain as the irredeemable character he should be, Showalter pulls no punches with the depth of our bad guy’s filth.
Ryanne caught Jude’s eye the very first time he begrudgingly walked into her bar. After losing his entire family to a drunk driver, Jude has some well placed, if not a bit misguided, issues with anyone that slings drinks for a living. Ryanne starts off behind the eight ball so to speak but Jude just can’t seem to walk away from the light that shines from her. Jude has been in the dark for so long, he never thought he’d see light again and he sure as hell doesn’t think he deserves it. His protective gene runs deep with Ryanne and it’s a good thing because the bad guy is out to get her. His struggle is real, it’s raw and I promise you – it will gut you. He doesn’t sleep well, and he spends an inordinate amount of time sitting in his car crying or in his driveway under cover of night because his grief paralyzes him in misery. I’m warning you right now, Jude will make you cry. He will fuck up with Ryanne repeatedly but you won’t hold it against him because he is one of the most broken characters I’ve read in a very long time. His pain is exhausting for the reader and it’s exactly how we should feel. Showalter doesn’t go the easy route and have Ryanne’s magic vag cure him, nope…nothing even close to that happens so don’t go into this book expecting an easy resolution. You won’t find it – the road to HEA for Jude and Ryanne is one painful step forward and three devastating steps backward throughout this entire book. Normally the back and forth would frustrate me but Showalter crafts this tale in such a way that it reads as an organic transformation you just have to watch and can not rush.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, The Original Heartbreakers have been a roller coaster of hit or miss for me. There’s something about these characters I just can’t quit and I’m so happy I stuck with it. The next book has potential to rip our hearts to shreds too – with a heroine recovering from years of domestic abuse and a hero suffering from PTSD and intense family issues – well, I’ll bring the tissues. Can’t Get Enough comes out December 5, 2017.
Smooches,Tags: Contemporary, PTSD, scandal, small town, suspense, widow