Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I need to save myself.”
Jack gave up everything to repay his father’s debt and keep his brother safe. Forced to play enforcer for the mob, Jack lives day to day alone with no hope of redemption. When a young woman comes into his life, bringing with her the light and warmth he’s missed for so long, he grabs on to her with both hands. He knows he should send her far away from him but for a brief moment of time he wants to pretend he has the right to a life with her.
Abby has always been the flighty one. The dumb one. Forever being rescued by her twin. Currently working as a shot girl for a liquor promotion company, she finds herself drawn to a mysterious man whose good looks and lack of interest only fuels her desire for him. He warns her to stay away, that she doesn’t want any part of him or his world, but she pushes her way in anyway and soon learns what Jack was trying to tell her. Now, she’s on the run with a secret and target on her back.
Jack let her leave to save them both, but when he discovers she is carrying his child, there is nothing or no one that will keep Jack from finding her and taking what’s his.
Ho boy. Gangsters, unplanned pregnancies, road trips, and two confused souls provide the base for Molly O’Keefe’s emotionally dark and bittersweet Baby, Come Back. Baby, Come Back is the sequel to Bad Neighbor. Though this book stands well on its own, I recommend reading in order as book one sets up the arc and gives readers the background needed in order to understand book two.
Molly O’Keefe doesn’t write easy. She has a gift for digging down deep into her characters and peeling back the layers to reveal their truth-regardless if it’s good or bad. Her stories engage because she doesn’t take the road most traveled but chooses to go her own path and give readers realistic romances with flawed characters, difficult situations, and bad choices. Romances where the couple must work at the relationship where no guarantees are offered.
Jack and Abby have each chosen certain paths in their lives and have paid a heavy price for them. When we first connect with them in book one, our impression wasn’t favorable. Jack comes off as a huge nasty threat and Abby as a manipulative narcissist. However, as we get to know them and hear the whole story in their own words, we see the truth of what happened and why. Jack never meant to be an enforcer for the mob. In college and working towards his degree, he was forced into the life after he discovered his father’s body and the huge debt he owed. The message was clear. His father’s debt was now his and unless it was paid off, he may find his younger brother’s body next.
I was a brother once. A son. A student. And despite the last two years and the sickening darkness overtaking me, I clung to the idea I was still a brother. A son. A student.
Abby is a contradiction Sexy, flirtatious, and fun, she stereotyped by many as a pretty but dumb blonde. Something even she’s guilty of thinking sometimes. Sheltered by her twin sister Charlotte growing up, Abby was able to skirt through life with few issues but it fueled her insecurity. Deep down, Abby is more than that. She’s smart, funny, fierce, and realistic. She’s made some mistakes in the past but she knows she can have better life. She just needs to stay on track. And if that means using her looks and body to get her there…so be it.
I looked hot in this dress. My makeup was perfection. My hair, too. This was me. I had this shit in the bag. And the men staring at me to prove it. To remind me. To show me, when I wasn’t sure or forgot who I was. What my value was. And if that made me sad? If I wanted more?
I’d get over it.
I’d start the party.
It was what I was good at.
Your heart hurts as you watch this couple dance around one another; two people struggling to keep their secrets and lies safe from prying eyes and listening ears. Dark, edgy, and emotionally turbulent, Jack and Abby must decide if the love they so desperately want is worth the pain that will come from reaching for it. O’Keefe writes the narrative in the past and present from dual POVS. This not only allows us to see get to know Jack and Abby intimately but also watch the growth of them individually and as a couple.
Abby has no idea why Jack blows so hot and cold with her but she can’t stay away. He is under her skin too deep. Jack pushes Abby away while holding tight to her at the same time. His emotions are a dark, sticky mess that lights up the story in bright bold neon. She is his savior and tormentor. She is everything he even wanted and knows he can never have.
“This is a warning, “ he said. “Keep your head down. Stop talking to me and don’t think about anything but leaving.”
“I shouldn’t think about you?”
He pulled on my hair, like his fingers twitched out of his control. “This isn’t a game, princess. I don’t exist for you. You don’t exist for me. Not even a little.
I admit I enjoyed watching Abby chase Jack without being written to lose herself respect for the sake of the story. To often it’s either the hero doing the chasing while pushing the boundaries or the heroine is allowed to chase by must pay the price through humiliation or embarrassed. O’Keefe finds the perfect balance as Abby flirts and tempts Jack without losing her identity.
The bold and explosive chemistry between them drenches the story and is delicious to behold when highlighted against the dangerous unpredictability of their relationship. Sexy bittersweet love scenes capitalize on their compatibility. Though their relationship begins on a strict sexual only note, the fall from lust to love was short and brutal.
No more absolution. No more forgiveness. This was a kiss with need and hunger and pain in it. It was too much almost, like hearing something so honest it hurt. It was a kiss that rocked me backward. […] Oh my God, I thought, dimly in the very back of my head, the only place I could still think in words. This man will ruin me.
Though the focus stays predominantly on Jack and Abby, I enjoyed seeing Charlotte and Jesse again and we are given a lovely epilogue showcasing both couple’s futures. O’Keefe retells a few pivotal scenes from Bad Neighbor, allowing us to see them again from Jack’s POV and experience the emotions behind his actions. O’Keefe’s growth of Jack and Abby as individuals is potent as they come to accept they deserve more, to be happy, and make the courageous decision to grab hold the brass ring.
“Your love has tremendous value. Your love might be the most valuable thing I have. “
Once again Molly O’Keefe blows the curve by writing a beautifully complex and intriguing romance that will appeal to all fans who enjoy the ride of a hard-won HEA.