Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “By all means, keeping trying. No one likes a quitter.”
A single act of rebellion takes a dark turn when the president’s daughter is kidnapped. Grace Reeves has spent her whole life doing what she was told. Everything from her clothing to her dates have been hand picked to further her father’s political career. When she slips her security detail for a moment of peace, she never expected to be kidnapped and at the mercy of a group of criminals, hell-bent on making her pay for her father’s mistakes.
Reid Alastair has spent the last eleven years in prison plotting his revenge. When the opportunity arises for him to escape, Reid grabs it and runs to the one place he knows he can hide out till the heat wears off. Reid is shocked and dismayed when he arrives at his brother’s hideout and finds the president’s daughter chained to a bed.
Grace knows instantly that Reid isn’t the same as the men who kidnapped her but the attraction she feels towards him spells even more danger for her. Reid convinces his brother to let him take care of Grace and he spirits her away to another location. Grace expects Reid to let her go but he has other plans for her. Plans that will finally allow him to take care of the man who sent him to prison. But the long days and even longer nights alone with Grace chips away at his resolution to keep her safe and clean from his touch. When the time comes to make a choice, Reid will have to decide if his revenge is worth losing the woman who has claimed his heart.
Hell Breaks Loose is the second in Sophie Jordan’s romance suspense series that revolves around a group of incarcerated felons and the woman who free them from their demons. One aspect I enjoy about this series so far is that Jordan doesn’t attempt to evoke our sympathy for these heroes in the beginning. They aren’t innocents. While some may not have committed the crime that landed them at Devil’s Rock Penitentiary, they definitely have done things that would have led them there eventually.
This installment gives us Reid’s story. We met Reid briefly in book one, All Chained Up. He was the leader of the prison gang who took Knox, the hero of All Chained up, and his brother in and helped them survive prison. When Reid starts a riot to cover his escape, it grows out of control and the fallout is not pretty. Reid is hurt and while in the hospital recovering, he learns of the president’s daughter’s kidnapping. He decides to use the country’s focus on her to cover his own escape.
Reid is a sexy, intelligent, quiet man whose guilt and shame over his childhood and incarceration is a shroud he wears like a second skin. He and his younger brother Zane are the products of an abusive drug riddled home. Reid spent most of his childhood and teenage years raising his brother and trying to keep his drug addicted mother alive. Their grandfather did the best he could, taking them for weekends and summers but when he passed away, they were left to rot in their own personal hell. A misguided fascination with an older gangster who appealed to then seventeen-year-old Reid’s need for a family figure drags Reid and his brother into a world of theft, drugs, and murder. When Reid attempts to get him and his brother out from under this man’s thumb, he finds himself in prison, convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. His escape has only one outcome. To permanently take care of the man who set him up and then back to prison forever. Falling for a pretty kidnap victim is not in his plans.
He was nothing but a walking ghost. A ghost with nothing left to lose.
Grace Reeves seems to have had a childhood everyone wants. Rich, pampered, and able to have her heart’s desire. Only the reality is much different. Grace, the only child of the president of the United States, has always been used as a pawn in her father’s political sphere. Every minute of her life weighed against how it will help her father and mother further succeed. Grace has been manipulated by multitudes of people, never able to live her life on her own terms. Awkward and intelligent, Grace comes off extremely innocent and naive. A complete doormat. But once she finds her backbone, she gives as good as she gets. She is determined to survive any way she knows how. Falling for an escaped prisoner is definitely not in her plans.
I’m not yours. I’m not property.
I saw some similarities between Hell Breaks Loose and All Chained Up. The protagonist’s personalities and emotional make up along with the push and pull of the romance follow a similar path. While Jordan did a good job of convincing me of the romance in the first book, ex-convict finds love and redemption, this particular trope was harder to sell in here due to the circumstances surrounding it. Reid isn’t an ex-convict, he’s an escaped prisoner. Grace isn’t with him by choice, she is an unwilling captive and he further exasperates the situation with his own agenda. This places even more stress on the questionable HEA. A darker and more forbidding tone penetrates this storyline, eliciting some conflicting feelings.You aren’t sure in the beginning how far Reid will go to execute his plan for revenge and if Grace will be his salvation or the final nail in his coffin.
Sometimes sacrifices needed to be made for survival
The romance itself is very slow to build; plagued by class differences, guilt, personal demons, and the elephant in the room. Jordan takes her time here with this couple, an issue I had with book one. The narrative is both external and internal, letting us see all their thoughts and concerns. Some humor flows lightly throughout the story, giving us minute reprieves from the overall seriousness.
Jordan addresses the issue of Stockholm Syndrome and works it out in a believable manner. Grace may think he’s hot and not as degenerate as the others but she never forgets she is a prisoner and that his attractiveness doesn’t immediately spell freedom or even safety for her. The repeated thoughts of Reid about his being without a woman for eleven years and primed for action made me wonder about his attraction at times.
Reid and Grace open up to one another (and us) in their solitude, allowing us to see their evolution from adversaries to allies. We learn not only what they both have dealt with growing up from an emotional standpoint but the strides they are making to overcome it. Grace is growing stronger by the minute, ready to stand up for herself while we see that Reid hasn’t spent all his time in prison stewing in his anger. He has worked on bettering himself, if only for his own self-worth. Tangible chemistry, anger laced banter, and sharply honed sexual tension keeps the reader on edge, wondering what will push his couple over the edge and into bed. When they tumble over the edge together, this reader was satisfied and frankly relieved. The tension was KILLING ME.
He wanted every moment with her imprinted on his mind, branded there forever so he had something to take out and hold when he was alone […] where he’d lost himself in a woman who made everything else in the world fade away.
The ending is where the story let me down. A series of anti-climatic events that fizzled out like defective fireworks. I don’t want to spoil but what I was expecting was a series of booms with incredibly defiant showers of heat and colorful sparkles and instead got the $10 “everything must go” special from Jim’s discount fireworks stand. It was just too perfect and pat.
Regardless of the issues I had, Jordan sold me on the romance, giving me a love story with two engaging characters who make it work despite all the odds. I am looking forward to reading the next story in the series, Fury on Devil’s Rock, which is North’s story (Knox’s brother). It releases January 2017.