Sometimes the wrong choice can be just right . . .
Fun and fearless, Cora Lewis knows how to keep her tattooed “bad boy” friends at the Marked in line. But beneath all that flash and sass is a broken heart. Cora won’t let herself get burned again. She’s waiting to fall in love with the perfect man—a baggage-free, drama-free guy ready for commitment. Then she meets Rome Archer.
Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He’s stubborn, rigid, and bossy. And he’s returned from his final tour of duty more than a little broken. Rome’s used to filling many roles: big brother, doting son, supersoldier—but none of those fit anymore. Now he’s just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the dark demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer through it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes a blinding flash of color in a sea of gray. Perfect may not be in the cards, but perfectly imperfect could just last forever . . .
Even though this book is the third book in the Marked Men Series by Jay Crownover, it can be read as a standalone, however given some of the topics discussed throughout Rome I would highly suggest reading Rule (book one) prior to heading in to this story blind.
To be completely honest, I can say I loved Rule with ever fiber of my bones. Rome, being Rule’s older brother, had a part in book one and this being his own story I was extremely excited to learn more about this hot piece of military man.
Rome has just returned home after his time serving in the US Army is over and faced with a daily task of fighting off war memories, along with other haunting images from his past become almost too much to take. He’s returned home not the same man as when he left. Constantly moody and relying on a bottle of vodka to ease his inability to take care of the memories as well as his family leads him down a path he never expected to turn.
“I got used to everyone needing me, to them relying on me, and now that I wasn’t needed anymore I simply just didn’t know what to do with myself. That honestly terrified me more than any war zone or bar brawl with armed bikers ever could” – Rome
After an unsuccessful Fourth of July party with friends and family, he pissed off one little hot headed pixie who had no problem telling Rome exactly what she thought of him and where he could take his “Captain No-Fun” attitude. In walks Cora, the pixie headed, tattooed front desk operator at the Marked shop. She’s all spunk on the outside but totally afraid of her ability to ever love another man again after a past love left her in a way she thought she’d never get over and striving to find “Mr. Perfect“.
“I couldn’t believe that crazy little sprite had the nerve to dump beer on my head. First of all, she barely camp up to my shoulder, and second of all, she looked like a walking, talking piece of candy. Everything about her was so colorful it almost hurt to look at her.” -Rome
After having his initial run in with Cora and leaving the family party with a bang, he turns up to a dive bar to wallow in his despair even more. Little did Rome know that this random dive bar would have such a major impact on his life and future. After a run in with a local biker gang lands him in the hospital, Rome is then forced to apologize for his recent behavior to not only his brother, Rule, but also Cora. He’s also left with a debt to pay to Brite, the bar owner, whose bar he caused quite a bit of destruction in while fighting the biker prospect.
Rome spends much of his afternoon talking with Brite about his time in Afghanistan, but getting loaded in the process. Brite is forced to call Marked to look for Rule to come pick him up, however, everyone is unavailable, except for Cora. Given their recent interactions Cora would like nothing better than to avoid this situation all together. However these two may have tried to avoid each other, but when two people are forced together for all the wrong reasons, sometimes those people are the one’s who might help you heal the past you so desperately can’t get over.
Time passes and unlikely situations arise between Cora and Rome, both of whom still continue to struggle with their pasts, but find that together they start to heal one another.
“You are so much better for me than a bottle of vodka every night. I can’t be perfect for you, but I can be someone you rely on, someone you want to keep around even though it isn’t always going to be easy.” -Rome
“He always tells me I color his entire world, but he did the same things for me. If what I felt for Jimmy in beige, then what I feel for Rome is a damn box of Crayola crayons.” – Cora
I will not go into much more detail other than this without giving away many of the key plot points you need to find out on your own. I will say this much, however slow going I thought the first 20% of this story was for me, I can only say it picked up incredible steam once Cora and Rome started to do their “thing” and all the cast of characters started interacting. There’s steaminess, there’s tension, more action, and there is a whole lot of Rome without clothes on to make any girl swoon!
Rome was so scarred inside, but willing to give Cora every ounce of his heart, while Cora needed a little pushing from an unexpected visitor in order to realize what may have been imperfect before could be another version of perfect altogether.
The last 25% of this story really took off running and I loved every single minute of it. I wish I could say what happens, but that would seriously ruin all the fun of just getting to that moment in this story. My heart was pounding and I didn’t know what was going to be the end result, but even though the ending was there, without a major cliffhanger for Rome and Cora, you will be left with an anxious feeling to get your hands on the next book in this series because of the big reveal in the epilogue. No, I’m still not going to tell you. You’ll just have to trust me to tell you that Rome and Cora are in a good place at the end of this book, but just getting there can be a little rough and bumpy.
About the Author
I’m supposed to share interesting details about myself so that my readers get to know me so here we go in no particular order: I’m an natural redhead even though I haven’t seen my real hair color in years, I’m a big fan of tattoos and have a half sleeve on either arm and various other pieces all over the place, I’ve been in the bar industry since I was in college and it has always offered interesting insight into how men and women interact with each other, I have 3 dogs that are all crazy, I live in Colorado and love the snow, I love music and in all reality wish I could be a rock star not a writer or a bartender but I have zero talent so there is that. I love to write, love to read and all I’m interested in is a good story with interesting characters that make the reader feel something.