Evangeline “Evie” Outlaw has been living in emotional limbo ever since the love of her life, Brody Outlaw, up and left her with triplets to raise on her own in a hostile and unwelcoming town. Now her boys are men and independently carving out their own lives, but still living under the shadow of her husband’s lineage. The terrible Outlaw curse.
It isn’t until River Pearl Sutton comes crashing into her son Braxton’s life that Evie gets a wake-up call in the form of intensely sexy Winchester Sutton, River’s uncle. A sophisticated, international food critic. He’s a man that is hard to ignore with his soft, slow accent, his ice blue eyes that are full of fire, and a body that makes her remember what it was like to be desirable.
But, Win is a Sutton and she married into the Outlaw curse, a woman who spawned the Outlaw Unholy Trinity, a woman who is still technically married. She’d held onto the memory of Brody for thirteen years, never giving up hope he would come back, never believing that he left her voluntarily.
But Win is flesh and blood real, pursuing and charming. Can she find the kind of deep, abiding love she had for Brody?
Or will her loyalty and the bias gossip of the town tear her apart.
Can she finally again find love?
If you have followed the Hope Parish series from the beginning, you know Zoe Dawson doesn’t give her characters an easy road but she has been particularly evil to poor Evie Outlaw.
In just her late thirties, Evie Outlaw has had her share of hardships and then some. Her beloved husband, Brody disappeared when her triplets were just six years old, her last name is Outlaw and that is a curse in Suttontowne and, she has, as a matter of necessity learned to rely on herself and her sons and no one else over the years. Loneliness and heartache was easy to keep at bay when she had three rambunctious and rebellious boys at home but since her triplets have begun making their own way in the world and finding their mates, Evie has been feeling the emptiness and loneliness quite acutely.
A brush with death has left Winchester Sutton yearning for the home and family he left behind years ago. As a travelling food critic, Win has travelled the world and though he has had his fair share of flings, he has never found the woman to change his wandering ways. Within minutes of his arrival in Suttontowne the woman meant to change Win’s world pulls into his driveway with his beloved niece, River Pearl. Evie Outlaw is the single most stunning woman Win has ever seen and he doesn’t give a damn what his family or the town has to say about a Sutton and an Outlaw being together! All Win has to do is convince Evie 🙂
Win and Evie together are a little like two teenagers finding love for the first time. Win is absolutely certain of his feelings for Evie but knows she is not to be pushed. Evie is scared to death to let go of her past, to move past the loss of her husband and, to become involved with the one family that hates hers more than most. Being with Win is exciting as he is educated, well-travelled, devastatingly handsome, kind, funny and, caring but he is also a Sutton and not her husband. Evie wants to be with Win but her long years of necessary isolation and self-preservation have taken a toll and opening up to Win is damn-near impossible. Luckily, Win is a very persistent and patient man.
The Bottom Line: If ever there was a person to root for and love, Evie Outlaw is it!! The huge level of crap Suttontowne has unjustifiably put she and her family through is as unconscionable as it is abhorrent but Evie has only ever held her head high and acted with dignity. No matter how awesome Win is – and he is! – Evie is the highlight of this read and I so thoroughly enjoyed her well-deserved story. In terms of the plot, Dawson once again delivers a huge plot in a short amount of space. There are not only novella-specific plot lines but also tie ins to Braxton and River Pearl’s full-length novel, A Perfect Dilemma. The combination is absolutely seamless and for followers of the series, this read is an expansion and different perspective on the last full-length novel in the series. In all, Finally Again is an excellent addition to this series.
Decon West arrives at Columbia University to start his freshman year. But New York City is like an alien planet to him and even though he’s a fish out of water, he takes it in stride. He expected to be homesick. He expected to find the city chaotic. What he hadn’t expected was that the girls would be so aggressive, throwing themselves at him. But, there’s only one woman he’s interested in tracking down and that’s Minnie Tattersall.
Minnie dodged the bullet and resisted the temptation of eighteen-year-old Deke West when she was visiting Suttontowne. Now she’s hard at work on the upcoming collection she and Verity Outlaw will be showing at Fashion Week. She also finds it hard work to get Deke off her mind, but easy to remember that he’s much too young for her. It isn’t until he shows up at the show, and accidentally lands on the runway modeling their clothes that things begin to heat up for them. It’s clear to Minnie that Deke doesn’t much care that he’s taking the New York City fashion scene by storm. He’s hell-bent on breaking down her barriers and having her. How will she resist?
Deke West is the epitome of a southern gentleman at only 18 years old. He has the accent, he has the manners and, he has the charm. He also has something that has plagued him for most of his life, runway worthy looks. While most guys would kill to have Deke’s striking features, Deke is smart enough to know that beauty is only skin deep and it’s what’s inside that really counts. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the same values as Deke and he has spent the bulk of his life feeling like an object rather than a person.
Minnie Tattersall is exactly what Deke wants. She is beautiful, curvy, intelligent, funny and, a very successful clothing designer. As if all those things weren’t enough, Minnie also rescued Verity Outlaw when she was just Verity Fairchild and alone and pregnant in New York City. Minnie is the total package but Deke knows she is going to a tough nut to crack. Minnie’s mother, a hugely successful actress is notorious for her dalliances with much younger men and Minnie wants nothing to do with such associations and scandals. Deke has a plan!
When Deke moves to New York City to attend Columbia University, he knows he will have opportunities to see Minnie. Once he gets her to admit her feelings for him, it will all be smooth sailing. In an effort to support Verity and Minnie during Fashion Week, Deke goes to their show and in a HUGE case of mistaken identity, Deke is suited up and walking the runway. His devastating good looks light the fashion world on fire and within days, Deke is at the forefront of Minnie’s world. It’s pretty hard to ignore that 🙂
Minnie is absolutely attracted to Deke and when he totally blows away the competition at her fashion show, she really sits up and takes notice. Deke is everything Minnie could ask for in a man but she has a very, very hard time getting past his age and what the public perception of their relationship would be. Her solution is to keep Deke as her secret toy and while that is fine for a while, Deke has more respect for himself than be treated as a dirty little secret.
The Bottom Line: You all know how much I love this series and Zoe Dawson and this read is no exception. BUT, there is a little extra here that really takes this read to a whole new level for me. We often hear about women being/feeling objectified but rarely do we hear about this from the male perspective. This is the element that I liked the most about this read as it is not necessarily unique but also something that is so rarely explored in romantic reads. Despite Deke’s age, he is fully aware of his position regarding his looks, his body and, his expectations for how others treat him. Deke is unrelenting on these issues and demands that others treat him respectfully and as a human being rather than a sexual object. He is never an asshole about his beliefs and positions but respectful and firm. Even though Minnie is also a part of this story and, she is delightful, Deke really takes over for me and I am totally OK with that 🙂
P.S. Dawson throws in a little added bonus is this read with a second plot line involving Deke’s roommate, Travis and his good friend, Emmy. Travis and Emmy’s story shows up as chapters in between Deke and Minnie’s story and works well as a counter-balance to Deke and Minnie. Travis and Emmy’s story is so sweet and an excellent addition to Beauty Shot.
Rory Finnegan had one goal when he got out of the Marines. Find a place where he can settle down and open a tattoo parlor. That’s when his best friend Ethan Fairchild suggests he come to Suttontowne in the Louisiana bayou. It’s there that Rory gets a job bartending for Braxton Outlaw and runs smack full force into gorgeous, too young for him, Savannah Hawkins. To make matters worse, she’s got an over-protective mother and an upper-crust boyfriend. It would be smart he steered clear. But Marines like Rory don’t back down easily, especially after he gets much too involved with the southern beauty.
Savannah Hawkins is not sure what she’s going to do with her life and is quite sick of having everyone dictate to her, especially her family. When she gets a load of pierced, tattooed and gorgeous Rory, her interest goes off the charts. Complication like life decisions and a pre-selected husband seem inconsequential when she gets to know this scarred and battle-hardened warrior. Will she discover the answers she needs or will her coming of age tear her heart apart?
My kryptonite is a tatted up good guy with a naughty/slightly dirty edge and that is exactly what I got in Rory Finnegan. Rory has been around the Hope Parish series since pretty close to the beginning and with his strong, silent type thing going on, I have been sort of lusting after him and anxiously awaiting his book. So. Worth. The. Wait.
Rory Finnegan has lost damn near everything he has ever held dear including his mother and his home. After leaving the Marines Rory settled in Suttontowne because that is where his brother in arms, Ethan Fairchild is from and, quite frankly, he had nowhere else to go. Despite being an outsider, Suttontowne has been good to Rory and if everything goes according to plan, he won’t be a bartender for much longer but the proud owner of his own tattoo parlor. Savannah Hawkins is not going according to plan . . . .
Savannah Hawkins has never had to worry about her life’s path because her horribly controlling, domineering shrew of a mother has it all planned out. At 16 Savannah was pledged (read: basically engaged) to Gray Lancaster and once he has graduated from West Point, Savannah will simply follow him around the world and be the perfect wife. As far as Savannah’s mother is concerned, there is no need for Savannah to have an education, there’s no need for her to have a job and, there is no need for her to look at any boy other than Gray. There are three very significant things Savannah’s mother hasn’t factored in: 1) Rory Finnegan; 2) Savannah loving her job with Boone Outlaw and; 3) Savannah growing a spine and making her own decisions about her life.
With far more age and life experience than Savannah, Rory knows he is a bad bet for her but he can’t seem to shake the southern belle. As Rory begins to make headway with his tattoo parlor and really put down roots in Hope Parish, staying away from Savannah becomes increasingly more difficult. Rory is absolutely terrified of hurting and/or scaring Savannah with both his age and his life experiences. Like his past, Rory’s sexual desires and needs run toward the dark side and Savannah is just so young. As luck would have it, Savannah is mature beyond her age and when she is able to really focus on her wants and desires and not her mother’s she knows in her soul she is meant to be with Rory and nothing he can say or do will keep her from him.
The Bottom Line: For such a short read, Mark Me is filled with drama!! Savannah’s mother is a truly wretched human being and her control over her daughter is frightening. Savannah is a likeable character but she becomes truly loveable when she grows a backbone and stands up to mother. In that moment, Savannah blossoms and becomes a woman capable of standing on her own two feet. For as much as I like Savannah, Rory is the highlight of this read for me. He is beautifully broken but the key to his salvation is simply allowing an 18 year old southern belle into his life and his heart. Rory is absolutely convinced he is too dark and too deviant for the youthful Savannah but what he discovers is, his girl has fire and spirit and likes to walks on the dark side. Despite their age difference, Rory and Savannah are a beautiful pairing and make Mark Me one of my favorite Hope Parish reads to date.
Zoe Dawson is the alter ego of Karen Anders, award winning, multi-published author. Her writing journey started with poetry and branched out into fiction. With a couple of college English courses under her belt, she penned a historical, then moved onto contemporary romance fiction. Today, she is happy producing romantic suspense, romantic mystery, urban fantasy and paranormal novels. The words feed her soul and the happily ever afters feed her heart.