Series: Renegades #3
on July 12th 2014
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After a tragic incident in Afghanistan leaves Master Sergeant Nathan Ryker the only man standing in his tight-knit team, he spirals into an alcohol-and-sex induced escape. A call from his lifelong buddy pulls Ryker from the shadows with a request for help with his stunt company’s latest blockbuster. If Ryker can survive the next three weeks of leave and get back to his remaining men, he might just be all right. But a sexy woman who can take his mind off his trauma is too hard to resist, and when he hooks up with Renegades’ sultry, snarky office manager, his sanity takes a backseat to his first glimpse of a future he isn’t sure he deserves.
Still reeling from a bitter romantic betrayal, Rachel Hart wants nothing more than an uncomplicated hookup. So when the mysterious Nathan seduces her with a little dirty talk and one delicious kiss, Rachel drowns all her good sense in a Mandarin and soda and gives herself over to a night of sexual bliss. But her memories tarnish in the morning light when Rachel discovers his real identity and his link to Renegades. Her job and her friends are the only thing holding her life together, and she won’t be ruined by one sultry night with this damaged and dangerously sexy man.
I regretted this the moment I was a quarter way through the book and yes, I know this probably places me at the rank bottom about my feelings about erotica comprising a bastard of a male protagonist, hell-bent on self-destruction by alcohol and screwing as many women as he can and a jaded woman done with relationships. Yet, I tried to struggle through, skimming when I could, searching for some redemptive part of the story that would help me go on.
I failed, miserably.
But with every review that helps to refine my own tastes in what I want to read, I’ve always known that hot (but shallow) sex has never been enough without character depth or at least, with characters that I like and can root for together. Physical compatibility ranks low for me at this point in time, since most male protagonists meld together as one nameless, faceless character with six-pack abs, chiselled features and a height that rarely goes under 6 ft. To be even cruder, physical compatibility, when watered down, is still a basic matter of ramming pointed object A into empty hole B, which all characters get done.
I’d come into ‘Ricochet’ expecting some kind of raw, emotionally-packed drama of a damaged man whose time with a woman helps change things. But I got an utterly selfish arse instead, who sets out to deliberately deceive the female protagonist so he can get yet another one-night stand in, even though he was ‘fresh’ from screwing so many other women in the last city he was in.
The push-pull continued, with some bumps here and there with Ryker generally being unapologetic for his horrifyingly reprehensible behaviour without seeking help for it…while knowing well enough that the cracks in his head can’t be solved by drinking and fucking. But what bothered me most is that with this adamant belief that he is too far gone for therapy, Ryker has a manipulative streak that allows him to continue with a heroine who is somewhat sympathetic enough to forgive him for his indiscretions and gives him too much leeway up until the point where you know it’s merely a matter of time before she gets burnt.
With this trajectory in mind, the ending is predictable to a fault and what really remains is the extent to which grovelling happens. When it finally comes, I cringed at the pathetic, embarrassing attempt and felt that Ryker and Rachel were seriously better off separately. There isn’t an immediate cure for PTSD obviously, as ‘Ricochet’ shows, but this happens too little, too late for me when all that’s left in my mind is a male characters who shouldn’t really be let off the hook so easily because he is, for me at least, beyond redemption.