In his Hands by Adriana Anders
Series: Blank Canvas, #3
August 1, 2017
Reviewed by Sheena
Abby Merkley has been a member of the Church of the Apocalyptic Faith since she was a child, and there’s no way out―except death. She will fight the odds to survive, but there’s no one in the world she can trust, nowhere she can run that the cult can’t find her…until her handsome, brooding neighbor takes her into the safety of his arms.
Luc Stanek craves a quiet life. But he doesn’t hesitate when a desperate woman lands, bloodied and branded on his doorstep. Soon he finds himself drawn into her chaotic world, caught in the center of an apocalyptic war…and determined to save the fierce beauty no matter the cost.
Favorite Quote: One side of his mouth lifted—the side with the scar—and, oh goodness, it was a dimple. What kind of trick was it that this big, burly man had to suffer through the indignity of a dimple? And much, much worse was her having to suffer through that smile.
The Blank Canvas series is comprised of wounded, scared yet strong characters with interminable spirits. In His Hands is book 3 and there we meet Abby and Luc. Abby is a young woman, recently widowed and desperate to escape the cult that has been her home since she was a young child and since her mother married their leader. Since her controlling and abusive husband’s death, Abby has contemplated escape, the timing becoming ever direr the closer she gets to being reassigned a new husband and cementing her future as a life long fixture in the cult. She has an affinity and touching connection to a mentally disabled boy, Sammy, whom she has vowed to take with her when she escapes. Her only hope is the lone mountainside neighbor she’s been watching and whom she has worked up the courage to approach for a job. Given the lowly job of monitoring the cult perimeter fencing, Abby cuts a hole in the fence and makes her way to her only hope, Luc.
Luc is a grumpy Grape Man, as Abby comes to affectionately think of him. Only in my head, he is grumpy and growly in a very unsexy way. Luc is a maimed, vineyard/grape farmer who has taken to a mostly isolated life. He checks all the sexy grumpy, mountain man hunk boxes. He’s got scars and a missing appendage, he is brawny and burly and bearded (I think) he is also a Frenchman with a killer accent (mon cheri’) who isn’t into intrusion and getting to know, or even talk to people. Annnnnd he is also boring as hell.
As a matter of fact, so is Abby. And so is everything else. I was bored to tears. My tears were bored to tears. Things didn’t pick up until about 24% and even then, there was something missing. I knew next to nothing substantial about Luc, besides some random flashbacks and a completely random visit from his sister toward the end. Apparently, Luc was cut out of the family wine business, and grows grapes instead, and hurt himself with fancy shears, and remembers his grandfather fondly. *shrugs*
The cult angle felt flawed though I have no first-hand experience to glean from. Abby’s cult dynamic felt off and while the author captured the creeptastic aspect of the dooms day cult and the evil that men do, there were too many oddities and unrealistic conveniences (even when suspending reality- because duh, fiction) for me to fully buy into Abby’s background and story.
Regardless of my misgivings, and bored tears, I’ve read a book in this series before so I held fast to the belief that things would turn around and lucky for me, my hope was not in vain. Despite his gruff rebuffs, Abby burrowed deep in his bones and he not only provided work for her, he fell in love with her. His heart, unused to the protective and deeply entwined emotions, watching him shed his rough exterior while handling Abby with the patience and care she needed was enjoyable. As I anticipated, as the story moved on, things began to happen and my bored tears dried and while not wholly invested, I was adequately interested in what sort of HEA would be in store.
What was it about her that got to him? He didn’t get off on innocence or freshness or whatever it was. No, it wasn’t her innocence, but rather her thirst for experience that he liked. Her desire to obliterate that innocence. God, whatever it was, it was dangerous. And while he’d planned to give her more work, he knew that wasn’t a good idea. In fact, he should never have let her in at all.
But aren’t we glad he did!
When Abby makes a dangerous miscalculation and expresses one unwelcome idea too many to her stepfather and mother, her secret daily escapes to Luc’s farm are discovered and the men in the cult, led by the truly awful leader (and her step father) Isiah, abuse her in the worst way, leaving her beaten, scarred and branded. She risks her life once again to get to Luc’s safe arms and he rescues her once and for all, ultimately taking her to town and finding her help and a support system that she couldn’t have dreamed of. Abby stands on her own, makes her own way for a short time before her conscience calls for her to risk her life to save her beloved friend, Sammy. She also seemingly forgets all about Luc until he risks his life to come see her (seriously, not even a phone call??) and they both risk it all for Sammy and to take down Isiah and the doomsday clan once and for all.
There is an HEA and some touching moments. There is some really well done sensual moments and a story of survival that should not be ignored or marginalized. Abby survived a horrible ordeal and came through stronger in the end. I respect her perseverance, love, and loyalty to Sammy and the others who could not truly fend for themselves. Abby was an interesting heroine, aside from knowing she had a crappy life, like Luc, I didn’t really get to know her well. Character dimensions were a definite obstacle in this novel. You know about these characters, but you never really get to know them.
There is truly an art to writing darker, touching romance and Anders is definitely onto something.
All things considered, when I reflected, I found that my original thought after reading book one in this series, Under Her Skin, applied to In his Hands just as well:
“A little something was missing for me. But I could not put it down and that counts for something”
Previous Adriana Anders Reviews: Under Her Skin