Still Beating by Jennifer Harmann
Romantic Suspense/Dark Romance
December 20, 2020
Review by Jen
Still Beating is a heart-breaking, uncomfortable, provocative and brilliant read. This book has been making the rounds in a few of my book groups for the last few months. I finally decided to give it a try.
Warning, many, many triggers, including rape.
Cora is at a bar celebrating her sister Mandy’s birthday. Cora ends up staying out late, well past when her sister and friends left and she decides to call a cab to take her home. She quickly realizes that her wallet was stolen and she needs to call a friend for a ride. It’s super late and she’s got limited options. Cora calls Mandy’s fiancé, the guy she hates most in the world, Dean. She’s known Dean for fifteen years and they’ve never gotten along. But, she knows he’ll get up and come help her. Dean picks her up and off they go, sparring and insulting each other on the car ride home. When red lights follow Dean and pull him over, the nightmare begins and Cora and Dean find themselves chained in a basement by a deranged killer.
Cora and Dean have no way out. They’re stuck with each other in the worst of circumstances. Every day is violent, ugly, and hopeless. The first part of the book is a truly horrific situation. Slowly they start to rely on each other, talk through their memories, give up their truths and find moments of escape from the horrors they’re forced to endure. For me, this wasn’t a true dark romance because their love wasn’t ever dark. They argued and pranked each other for years prior to their abduction, but Dean wasn’t a bully and he wasn’t the one that took Cora captive.
Eventually, they do get out and have to deal with what happened, what they said to each other, their family, the spotlight, and most of all, Cora’s sister Mandy. This part of the book was agonizing and desperate. Cora and Dean changed. They shared something that no one else can possibly ever understand and they both struggled with what they are now to each other. It’s not hate, and did they ever REALLY despise each other? They’re also not friends. Their chemistry is explosive and their feelings are real.
Dean and Mandy are still engaged. What are Cora and Dean? They each develop coping mechanisms that aren’t healthy.
I knew going in there was an HEA. It’s an emotional, painful, hopeful and raw journey to get there.