Wanting him was wrong, but it felt so right…
Social worker Quinn Keller sees the best in people…and the worst. When she rescues a prominent businessman’s battered wife, Quinn is targeted by the woman’s violent husband. Her only option is to place her safety in the hands of Ranger Jace Hyland—tattooed, scarred, incredibly hot…and the brother of Quinn’s deceased fiancé. An entirely different kind of dangerous!
Quinn is the woman Jace has always wanted—and she’s strictly hands-off. But keeping her safe means taking her to his small apartment…and his bed. So for one unforgettable night, Jace will give in to the temptation he can no longer resist. One night of forbidden hunger. One night he prays will be enough to satisfy a lifetime of longing….
In Testing the Limits, we meet Quinn Keller, a counselor at a nonprofit that helps people in trouble, particularly abused women. One of her current cases is Caroline, who is trying to escape her abusive but wealthy, well-connected husband Everett Warren. After getting Caroline to a safe house, Quinn herself becomes the target of Everett’s ire, which quickly turns into threats and intimidation. She needs some protection, so she turns to Jace Hyland, bad ass military brother of her deceased fiance. Even at the start of the book she’s powerfully attracted to Jace but thinks that attraction is one sided. Naturally, it’s not! Jace not only thinks she’s the hottest thing on Earth, but he’s actually in love with her and has been for years. However, as you can imagine, the shadow of his brother looms large between them. Neither can let go of their guilt and regret easily, but neither can they deny the intense feelings between them.
This isn’t the kind of book where we find out that the dead fiance actually was a horrible guy, nor is it the kind of book where he’s a saint. There’s a bit of nuance to his portrayal, which I appreciated. There’s no doubt that Quinn loved her fiance deeply and that they would have had a happy marriage if he hadn’t died from illness, but she and Jace are also clearly compatible in a way she and her fiance weren’t. There’s no value judgment made there–neither brother is “better” for Quinn.
It takes Quinn and Jace a while to stop comparing, though. Quinn, understandably, feels a bit confused and conflicted over her attraction and burgeoning feelings for Jace. It’s completely believable that she would be feeling unsettled and fearful as her heart basically restarts again. And Jace carries around a metric ton of guilt over his brother’s death, in part because Jace is the kind of guy who sees everyone’s problems as his own and in part, I think, because he is still alive loving Quinn while his brother was denied that opportunity. Really, though, I think Jace was simply filled with intense grief that he lost his little brother, but he channels that into guilt over his role and over his feelings for Quinn, who he was attracted to even before his brother’s death. There are lots of complicated, messy emotions in this book! It never feels over the top, though, and for a relatively short book I think it’s all handled believably.
One twist in the book that seems wholly unnecessary is that Jace is an amature MMA fighter. I get that it’s supposed to show how he’s a bad ass and he’s so tortured that he gives little thought to his personal safety, but it’s not explored fully. There’s a scene near the beginning of the book, where Jace brings Quinn with him to a big fight he’s been training for. Quinn is horrified by the violence of it and by the chances Jace is taking (since he only has one kidney and therefore probably shouldn’t be risking injury to it). But that’s really the only time it comes up in the book. It felt kind of forced in there to me, as if someone thought “Hey, MMA fighters are hot now. I should add one to this book!” We already know Jace is tough because he’s in the military and he’s this big, tattooed protector; he didn’t need to be involved in MMA, too. I would have rather seen more of Jace and Quinn exploring their feelings and negotiating their new relationship.
Still, I enjoyed this book. While it wasn’t exactly a weighty story, it did pack more emotional punch than one might expect from a short Blaze title. Combine that with a little bit of suspense and some well done steamy encounters, and I’m a happy reader.
Grade: 4 out of 5