Jordan Steele’s life began when he was ten. When he was taken from his parents and a house that was never a home. When he met his brothers, the other lost and abandoned boys in his group home. When he learned what friendship and family and love looked like.
Now he’s made good, touring the world with the band he and his brothers formed in that crowded group home. No one but his found family really knows the man under the fame and fortune, the scars he hides behind the rockstar lifestyle. Until he sees her through the windows of the National Ballet, dancing, and suddenly the world doesn’t seem so dark.
Aleksandra Artemov ticks all the ballet boxes. Father a legendary Kirov dancer. Check. Prepping since birth for classical ballet. Check. Compulsive control over the food she eats. Check. Principal dancer at The National Ballet of Canada. Check. But what she craves is freedom.
She craves Jordan.
Everything about him should terrify her. His size, his tattoos, his edge. But he doesn’t. He stirs her very soul. Jordan has nothing but himself to offer her, and he’s never been good enough for anyone. Can he figure out how to face his own demons before he loses his light for good?
Source: Netgalley and purchase
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Welcome back to the boys of Preload!!
Jordan Steele has lived what is, by any standard, a hard life. All he really remembers about his childhood is being locked in an attic out of the way of his junkie parents. He often starved, was often far too hot or cold for any level of comfort, and was frequently the target of his father’s violent outbursts. At age ten, Jordan was finally taken from the home and placed in a group home. While this may sound a bit like from the frying pan and into the fire, the group home was the best thing that had ever happened to Jordon. It was in the group home that Jordan learned about love and friendship, and found his love of music.
Fast forward . . . . . .
As an adult, Jordan still deals with the demons of his past. Those bastards are Godzilla sized and haunt nearly every aspect of his life. Jordan still sleeps in an attic, he channels his anger into his music, and he can’t sleep at night until he knows all the other members of his band, Preload are safe and secure. The thought of being separated from his bandmates (all guys from the same group home) terrifies Jordan and he just doesn’t know how to deal with the fear. Problem is, he’s going to have to figure it out soon because since Dred, the band’s lead singer is moving into a home he bought for himself, his fiancé, and infant daughter. It is with this knowledge gnawing at him that leads Jordan out into the night and to Alex.
Alex, or Aleksandra, is a ballerina with the Canadian National Ballet and is the most stunning creature Jordan has ever seen. Their first “meeting” isn’t a meeting at all, but a moment when Alex finds Jordan watching her dance through the studio window. Though neither can explain why, there is a connection made and that connection is strengthened a few days later when Jordan drops off access to music he has written specifically for Alex. For Alex’s part, Jordan is something she never expected to have. As a principal in a major ballet company, Alex spends the vast majority of her time training. She dances for hours on end every day and in her limited free time, she is abused by her father. Though Alex owns and pays for the home she shares with her father, he rules the roost with an iron fist. He is critical, unkind, controlling, and both physically and mentally abusive. Until Jordan, Alex thought there would never be an end to her situation, a possibility of a bright future where she not only makes her own decisions, but enjoys the life and gifts she’s been given.
Between Alex’s home and work situation and Jordan’s monster issues, a normal relationship just isn’t in the cards. Jordan has no idea how to be in a relationship and often falters or simply runs when Alex tries to get too close. Opening up to someone about his past is not something Jordan has ever done, but Alex makes him want to try. Alex’s own struggles begin to manifest in a very obvious way which creates even more problems for the young couple. To get to an HEA, both are going to have to accept that they can’t always control every situation and they are going to have to rely on others for help from time to time.
The Bottom Line: I am so damn excited to see this series take flight! The Preload series is a spin-off of the wildly popular (and one of my favorite!) Second Circle Tattoo series. From the beginning, Reclaiming Jordan is an angst-filled read about two totally lost souls who seemingly have it all. On the surface, both Jordan and Alex appear put together and confident, but on the inside, they are two steaming hot messes!! Because of their respective issues with abuse, it seems natural they would find and be able to understand one another far better than anyone else ever could. The road is so very rocky and sad, but in the end, they are able to find the forever kind of happiness each so desperately wants and deserves. My only complaint about this book is how abruptly it ends. Even with the epilogue, I still felt like I was missing something. For example, what happens to Alex’s dad? This didn’t keep me from enjoying the book, and this isn’t my first rodeo with Scarlett Cole. I suspect she will answer all my questions as the series moves forward. For once in my life, I’m OK with waiting 🙂
Excerpt from Jordan Reclaimed (Book #1: Preload Series):
He got it.
He finally got it.
He got why John Lennon left the Beatles for Yoko.
He got why Dred wrote a love song for Pixie.
From the moment Jordan’s lips touched Lexi’s, he couldn’t imagine anything else feeling and tasting quite so perfect for the rest of his life.
He ran his tongue along the seam of her lips and she groaned, opening for him. He thrust his hands further into her hair as their tongues touched. She tasted of wine and sweetness, and he couldn’t get enough.
While her eyes were closed, his were open, unwilling to miss a single moment of what was happening between them. He angled her head, and she rose up on her toes to meet him. He thought he was going to faint as the blood rushed from his brain to his cock, which ached for contact.
Lexi’s arms wound their way around his waist, her hands finding the way under his leather jacket and sweater to rest upon his back. Skin on skin. How he wanted them to be. Naked. Exposed. Nothing between them as he made love to her in a huge bed that they could stay in for days.
Except he didn’t have a huge bed. And he didn’t have the kind of room she deserved to stay in. He had an attic. And a box under his bed that held his most treasured possessions that nobody else would understand. A secondhand copy of Scales, Chords & Arpeggios, and the first birthday card he ever received from Maisey and Ellen. Random shit nobody else would care about.
Jordan pulled away slowly and looked carefully at Lexi. Her lips were pink and plump, her cheeks flushed, her eyes wide.
“Jordan,” she whispered.
“I gotta go. Bye, Lexi,” he said. He needed to get home and then drink enough to forget about her. Banish the stupid idea swirling around in his mind that they could have any kind of relationship. He should never have kissed her. It was hard enough to walk away before, but now that he had a clearer idea of what it was he was actually walking away from, it hurt all the more.
“Wait,” Lexi said as she grabbed his arm.
The small voice in his brain told him to keep walking, but he couldn’t. Instead, he turned to see what she wanted.
Lexi grabbed a pen from her purse, the one she had given him to sign the napkin in the restaurant. She reached for his hand and turned it over so his palm was facing up and quickly scribbled something on it. When she was done, she stood on her tiptoes again and kissed his cheek.
Weakness was a new sensation, but he felt it down to his boots as, against his better judgment, he leaned his cheek ever so slightly toward her lips.
“Good night, Jordan,” she said and bounced up the porch, grabbing her hat from the chair where Jordan had tossed it.
She paused in the doorway to wave good-bye and then closed the door silently shut.
Only when he was certain that she was definitely gone did he allow himself the luxury of seeing what she had written on his hand. It was a phone number. Despite himself, he felt a murmur of excitement that she found him worthy of a second date.
Jordan turned toward home. As snow began to fall again, he hurriedly made the short hike across the Don Valley river and ravine to his neighborhood, trying to halt the avalanche of emotions because of ten hand-scribed digits. Copyright © 2017 by Scarlett Cole
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