While reading this I had one face in my mind that would go perfectly with the hero of this book:
Connor before he was taken
Right. I digress.
Alina left her Colombian home to run from the grasp of an evil drug lord. She sees the world through the lens of her camera so she is hired to go to Afghanistan and report about an orphanage. A wayward soccerball introduces her to one of the soldiers who is supposed to take her there.
Connor is almost done with his deployment and soon he will join a special force. Before leaving he has to take some journalists to the orphanage close to their camp. When he meets Alina he is instantly smitten. Their whirlwind romance is cut short when Alina's past catches up with her and she leaves without a trace and only a note.
Years later Connor wakes up in a cell. He is being tortured and drugged. The drug deletes his memory extinguishing the loyal, upstanding good man that Connor used to be. In his stead is a killer, cold without emotions and with nothing to lose. Until he is captured by the special force unit he used to work for. His former comrades wean him off the drug but he is volatile and full of rage. A raging storm that can only be calmed by Alina, who he saved from her abusive husband. The druglord who erased his memory.
"Don't give up on me, Alina."
After what this hero went through you can completely understand that he is broken, and sometimes he seems beyond repair. You wonder how somebody can come back from that. The Connor from the beginning is quick to smile, playful, loyal, fearless and proud. He makes Alina feel safe and gives her sweet. With the return of his memories that comes pure torture - the man he used to be can't live with the things he did while he was under the influence of the drug. He is trapped in a prison he builds around his mind to not lose it completely, setting himself up for the danger of losing the one person he loves above all. His initial reaction when cornered is to rage and then run.
Emotions were like a tornado whirling with no clear destinaton or end, but precise in its destruction.
But there is also courage and persistence which eventually and together with Alina's love takes him on the path to healing. The love he feels for Alina before his capture is also different, lighthearted and sweet, while the one after is darker, desperate. It was physically painful to watch him struggle with the agony because he was incapable of controlling his rage. Some may find it creepy but I loved how protective he was of Alina. He put Alina above everything and everyone else. She was the dominant thought.
"I'll look after you. Couldn't look after you for eleven years. Now I can."
Interestingly Alina was a little bit too bland for me right at the start, I thought she would be a doormat. After the first two books in the series I shouldn't have doubted Nashoda Rose to give me a strong heroine. Allina started to shine during the course of the story. Alina is sweet and confident in herself, her backbone is quiet and comes out unexpected.
"Fuck you, Connor. You want to see me, then get un-lost"
Her love for Connor is pure, innocent and unconditional and she puts up one hell of a fight against Connor's demons. There is no situation in which she even thinks about walking away, she was there whenever Connor felt the need to leave. I loved that about her.
Together they make a steamy mixture, their sexual encounters are never free from sorrow, there is always an edge to it. In the lighter moments there is some sweet and funny banter. There is a pig called Bacon and I got a kick out of that name, and a goat called Rocket and that one makes for some hilarious moments. The epilogue is epic, it was completely satisfying and left me wishing for more about this group of friends.
The last installment of the Unyielding series kicks you right into places where it hurts most. I had a lump in my throat, a knot in my gut and was bawling my eyes out in quick succession only to start again with the lump in my throat. Nashoda Rose knows how to grab my heart and squeeze out emotions like an orange. I hope this isn't the last we hear from Vault's Unyielding Riot.
"Living is one big spin of the wheel, baby. Might as well enjoy the ride until it stops."