Stark World #3


J. Kenner

✮✮✮ 3 STARS ✮✮✮

Outwardly, Noah Carter is riding high as the tech world’s hottest new genius. Inside, he’s still reeling from the abduction of his wife and baby daughter eight years ago, and then the devastating discovery of his child’s body. For years, he kept up hope that his wife was alive, but now that she’s been declared legally dead, he’s thrown himself even more deeply into his work, cutting himself off from emotional ties because they just hurt too damn much.
Then he meets Kiki Porter, an eternal optimist with a killer work ethic and dreams of fronting a band. And everything changes. Even though he tries his damnedest to fight it…
Sexually, they are combustible together. But their true fire is emotional, though it is a slow to burn. But once it lights, it is all consuming. The relationship grows emotionally, the sex is hot, things are good.
But just when it’s looking like they might have a real future together, the past comes back to haunt them. And Noah’s going to have to decide what he’s willing to give up for love … 

After Wicked Grind and Wicked Dirty I was very much looking forward to Wicked Torture. There were hints sprinkled in the second installment of the Stark World – I knew that Noah would have to work through some of the tragic events of his life. What the blurb doesn’t say is that this is a second-chance romance.

Noah and Kiki were both likable, no – lovable, characters. Noah is the epitome of a good man. He always wants to do right by people. He is honest to a fault and caring. He had always been Kiki’s champion, supported her and empowered her to do what she was best at. And then he dropped her. He knows when he left her more than ten years ago he did right by the mother of his child but not by her and it has been eating at him ever since. He wants her back but he knows that their experiences have changed them and he has a lot of Kiki’s resentment to overcome.

“So I’m telling you right now, Kiki, I want more. I want it all. And I’m not a man who settles. Not anymore.”

Kiki…she was a lovely heroine. I know there is a but in there. The problem I had was that she was described as character with a quick temper but that was inconsistent with the way she let things happen to her, the way she let Noah go. She was passive when Noah left her which I thought was a pretty understandable reaction given the circumstances. What I didn’t like, however, was that the author laid blame on her doing so. Seeing how Noah didn’t involve her in his decision I wouldn’t have fought for him either.
Generally, Kiki didn’t seem to me all that hot-headed except maybe in the beginning. She was scared to get hurt, yes, but that was only natural given her past of people leaving her behind.

Not to fall. Not to hope. I did all those things before, and then he left, taking my heart with him. He left, just like I’d known he would. Just like everyone does.

The story lost me towards the end – while it was pretty predictable the whole time the last couple of chapters really irritated me.
History repeated itself and I hated, HATED that Noah made the same mistake yet again. He excluded Kiki and just went on to do what he thought was for HIM the right thing to do without taking the heroine’s feelings into account. There was ZERO growth with him, and considering that he had ten years to think about his mistakes he didn’t learn a thing. And the decision to do right by Kiki didn’t come by itself – it took a third party to push him in that direction and I hated that, seriously, at least I wanted him to see his mistake. It pained me because I really loved Noah.

“The world doesn’t care what I think, and the people in it make decisions without me. My world changes, and I don’t get a say in it.”

One more thing that was a little unbelievable was how fast Kiki gave into the hero. She kept saying that she’d never let him hurt her, that there was no chance in hell that they’d ever be more again. It took two weeks for her to change her mind. Two weeks.

I loved the first two books in this series but this one just didn’t live up to my high expectations. I have come to love J. Kenner for her endearing characters you can only root for, the drama that was never over the top – just enough that you could feel the anxiety. This time I’m a bit disappointed. It happens and you can’t love them all.

Having said that I did enjoy some of this story!

As per usual, when I’m not entirely happy with a book I urge you to read other reviews and make up your opinion based on all of them. Although it didn’t work for me you might love it!

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