Torn by Carian Cole

Torn by Carian ColeTorn Series: Devils Wolves #1
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing on August 29th 2016
Pages: 420
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He’s loved me since the day I was born.
He’s taken care of me.
He’s awakened me.

Tor. My father’s best friend.
Fifteen years older than me, he’s always been my protector.
The one I should never, ever want.
But I was born to be his.

She’s always loved me.
She’s shattered me.
She’s healed me.

Kenzi. My best friend’s daughter.
I held her the day she was born, and I never let go.
She’s forbidden to me. But she’s the only one that really gets me.
We’re slowly being torn apart by everything we love.
Everything we want.
Everything we desire.

And now I want the one thing I can’t have... I want her.

‘Torn’ left me torn, in several ways I’m not sure I can fully articulate. In essence, it questions the notion of the forbidden in relationships, striking this precarious balance between love of the comfortable kind that becomes an almost unrecognisable emotion when attraction and desire add fuel to a bond that started in the cradle and stretched an amazing 18 years. That there is an age-difference of 15 years between this pairing is inconsequential insofar as Tor’s and Kenzi’s relationship started out more familial than romantic from the day she was born and that really, is the crux of the issue that the book spends most of the time dealing with.

Clearly there is more than a hint of the taboo here which I was way more comfortable (and welcomed, even) with than my usual player/womaniser triggers. And it kept me on a high that didn’t quite fade until the last quarter, but more on that later. There was never a time it felt unsettling really, because Cole quite skilfully teases out every nuance and angsty moment of the evolving relationship, opting for a slow and more believable burn (with dialogue accurately reflecting their mental states and age difference) right up to the point where the uncle/niece/godfather/charge relationship fractures. Throughout the various obstacles they faced as they struggled with their attraction, both Kenzi and Tor never quite stopped being appealing: I admired Kenzi’s surety and maturity as much as I did Tor’s complete devotion to her. Most of all, it was admirable to see how they treated each other as equals in spite of their age difference, with only the dreaded big reveal looming ever closer.

But what failed to make this a thoroughly satisfying read was the ending quarter of the book after their relationship had been blown open and the separation Kenzi insisted on thanks to a flaky friend’s equally flaky advice. Or at least I’m affected enough by it to give it a star less.

I’m not entirely sure if this separation is a device intended to create conflict or additional tension but it seemed rather unnecessary for ‘added perspective that only time can give’ so to speak, especially since both Kenzi and Tor never wavered about wanting to be together. That Kenzi learned she’d always loved him – and him her – at the end of six months apart wasn’t in any way a fresh revelation, instead merely reinforcing how they didn’t need to be apart for a period of time to ‘find herself’ away from people who’d known her all her life. It simply felt as a way of placing a final obstacle to a HEA which was way overdue, even with an epilogue that seemed desperate to provide closure after this particular let down.