Easton’s Claim by Kaylea Cross

Easton’s Claim by Kaylea CrossEaston's Claim by Kaylea Cross
Series: Colebrook Siblings Trilogy #3
Published by Kaylea Cross Inc. on September 27th 2016
Pages: 166
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Piper Greenlee is desperate to get out of Sugar Hollow. After her ex-husband’s notorious scandal and their subsequent divorce, her life and reputation are in tatters. Not to mention the disturbing feelings she’s started to have for a longtime friend recently. She’s ready to leave all that behind, start over somewhere far away and reinvent herself.

But the past isn’t done with her yet. When it lands on her doorstep this time, the consequences could prove fatal. She has no choice but to turn to the one man in town she knows can protect her…the man she’s not ready to face her true feelings for.

DEA FAST agent Easton Colebrook has loved Piper for years and been forced to stay silent. It killed him to stand back and watch her marry the wrong man, but now that her divorce has been finalized and she’s had time to heal, he’s making his move. The problem is, she’s determined to see him only as a friend, and worse—Wyatt’s little brother.

When he arrives home after another rotation in Afghanistan, Easton is ready to put his plan into action. Then he learns that Piper is planning to move halfway across the country, forcing him to act immediately. Before he can tell her how he feels, her ex drags her into a potentially lethal situation. Easton steps in, vowing to protect her at all costs. But in order to finally claim the woman who’s owned his heart for as long as he can remember, he and Piper will have to outsmart a deadly enemy hell bent on exacting his revenge.

This is a hard review to write, particularly because I’ve been following Kaylea Cross for a long time. Questioning the level of my boredom and the quality of writing with her recent offerings hence, were never things I thought I’d be doing. First off, the good: there’s action and there’re bodice-ripping equivalent scenes that well, abound. Even then, I found myself skimming those because I swear I’ve come across similar scenes somewhere in her other stories.

Going into Cross’s latest novella however, only solidified the feeling of how much I loved her previous books (Titanium and Bagram), because those had more sensitive writing and characters—particularly her male protagonists—carved from more nuanced and tender subtlety than sliced and turned out from the latest mass-produced tray of tacky hero-offerings.

Easton Colebrook fits the latter to a T: a cookie-cutter romantic lead that could be transplanted and shifted around from Cross’s recent books to be the stand-in hero for any of those indistinguishably. Military trained, works with an elite fighting force, indulges in flings then backtracks and says only the woman he’s meant to be with matters most (with such wonderful, tested and tried commitment levels clearly) and suddenly develops Neanderthal traits such as wanting to ‘claim’ her and ‘make her his’ where she’s concerned because she’s the only one that he’ll commit to. I cringed my way through these phrases in the previous book and several others before that; I cringed even more here, unconvinced that these suggest the heroine is special and thus commitment-worthy. That the compromise and sacrifice Piper Greenlee has to make to be with him while he happily stays with the job he loves piled on the doubts.

Admittedly, tackling friendship to love, or in this case, unrequited love, is a challenging one. How an author tackles the awkwardness in the shift, while providing a believable explanation for sexual attraction that suddenly develops when there was none when they were friends, or even how the characters’ history together add to the value of them being together are essentials for me. For now, whether this book satisfies these croteria is still an internal debate that’s raging on in my head.

Diehard Cross fans will adore this, of course. But the long and short of it, I hate to say I’m disappointed but will likely stay this way until Cross rediscovers the classier style and characters of the books I loved.