I’m going to kick this off with a plea, read this series, The Forbidden Heart series by Alisha Rai. It’s beautiful, she’s a fabulous writer and her stories are so special. Start with HATE TO WANT YOU, you can see my review here – go on, I’ll wait while you read it.
The first book in this series sets up the convoluted family dynamic between the town’s Kane and Chandler pillars of the community. It’s tricky, it’s at times ugly and it is as everlasting as it is long and twisted. I can’t stress enough the importance of reading these books in order, I mean, once you get started you’ll quickly realize it isn’t a hardship at all! Jackson Kane, our hero in WRONG TO NEED YOU is Livvy’s twin brother. Back when everything fell apart, Jackson was accused of a crime he did not commit. It forced him from the town he grew up in and away from the woman he loved. Sure, it was a bit of an unrequited love situation but still, it cut him deep when he left. Sadia Ahmed married Jackson’s brother, who is now dead. The history here is tangled and messy but Jackson and Sadia were best friends from a very early age. She is now financially strapped, juggling her intense extended family while making life beautiful for her young son. Parents are full of sacrifices so their offspring never have to feel the pain and distress they are in, amIright? Jackson comes back to town and immediately sees Sadia’s struggle, even though no one else seems to notice – and sets about making her life a little easier for as long as he can.
There are a couple of things in this series that Rai does so incredibly right. First up, her character development is spot on. It’s fascinating to watch these folks unfold – so many freaking layers to explore, there’s never a dull moment. For example, Jackson is this huge beast of a man but he’s painfully shy and introverted. Add that to the fact that his has been terribly wronged in life and man, you get a fella with some serious walls up around his heart. Then you have Sadia. She’s from a family of women that know how to put the pressure on each other. Family dynamics, birth order, familial expectations – oh man, the pressure, it’s intense and so realistic it’ll make you sweat for her! Sadia is such a wonderfully multidimensional character, you’ll fall in love with her from page one. I also love a woman that isn’t afraid of her sexuality – Sadia has that trait in spades, even in the face of certain judgment from loved ones. Secondly, the pacing and layout of this story is nothing short of captivating. There’s a lot to unpack in this book – the larger story is still developing and the rival families are still sorting out their problems, all while Jackson and Sadia are finding their way back to each other. I also love how our main characters from book 1, Livvy and Nicholas are still proving, declaring, sorting out their love. I’m here to tell you, Alisha Rai is not going to give you a magic peen to make all of your problems go away – she’s going to make you work for it.
Now, don’t get it twisted, Rai gives good peen to the pages – the boning is spectacular and it is integral to the pacing of the story. Sex makes you feel better, for sure, but it rarely fixes everything, that’s just how it is and Rai uses it expertly to move us along on our journey with these characters. Sadia has a little kink in her (don’t we all…) and Jackson is more than willing and able to accommodate.
Our secondary and tertiary characters help form the larger plot of the town. The third and I do believe final book in this series, HURTS TO LOVE YOU comes out March 27, 2018, and it is a must-read for me. I’ll be sad to see this town go but man, these folks have been through a lot, it’ll be great to see all of the layers peeled back so everyone can finally get the HEA they so richly deserve. You’ve got me on the hook, Alisha Rai, give me more!
Smooches,Tags: 5 stars, Alisha Rai, Contemporary, diverse characters, Forbidden Hearts series, POC, scandal, second chance