June 22, 2015

REVIEW: Safe at Last (Slow Burn #3)

Safe at Last (Slow Burn #3), by Maya Banks
Publish Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Avon
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: adult suspense/paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon
* Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) They say young love doesn’t last, but a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with unique abilities and the hometown golden boy were determined to defy the odds. For Zack Covington, Anna-Grace—his “Gracie”—was the one. Until one night forever alters the course of their future, when a devastated Gracie disappears without a trace, leaving Zack to agonize over what happened to the girl he loved. As the years pass, his desperate efforts to find her uncovered nothing.

Now working for Devereaux Security, he stumbles across a painting featuring a special place only he and Gracie would know. The image is too perfectly rendered for it to be coincidence. His Gracie must be alive. When he finally tracks her down, he is shocked—and heart-broken—to discover the wounded shell of the girl he once knew and still loves. Her psychic gifts are gone, and worse, she believes he betrayed her all those years ago.

Zack has enemies, and once his weakness is discovered, Gracie becomes a target for revenge. He’ll have to save her before he can earn her trust and her love. And he vows they’ll never be torn apart again.

SAFE AT LAST is the third book in Maya Banks' suspenseful Slow Burn series, which seems to be focusing on women with extraordinary powers as they navigate their dangerous lives with the help of the men associated with Devereaux Security. This book focused not on a Devereaux brother, but on a key member of their team and the girl from his past that he thought dead. 

Zack has always been the quiet, intense brooding member of the Devereaux Security team. He has known love and lost it, when his college girlfriend who he planned a life with simply disappeared. He assumed she had been kidnapped and died, but he still never stopped looking for her. And, he never found anyone new to love. Unexpectedly, one day, he sees her in an art studio, and what should've been a great joy for both of them turns into horror. Gracie is not only not happy to see Zack, but she's terrified of him. As Zack tries to figure out why, he's also trying to protect her from his enemies - a difficult thing to do when Gracie doesn't want to be near him. On top of that, he ability to read minds appears to be missing. Zack is fighting against time as he works to regain Gracie's trust, and hopefully, her love.

Zack has been one of my favorite side characters since book one. He has always been very serious about his job, and he has always had a soft spot for women who were hurt. I loved the dichotomy that is Zack. He's big and scary and brooding and intense, and yet you tell him there is a women in trouble and he will drop everything in order to help her. How could you not love a guy like that? You always got the sense that there was a story there with him, but you didn't know what it was until now because Zack doesn't talk much, especially about himself. 

As it turns out, he was deeply in love once, and one day he came home from college to find she had simply disappeared. He searched absolutely everywhere all over the country and never found her. And, finally, he had to move on with his life, but he never forgot her, and he never fully gave up on finding her. That kind of dedication is exactly what I would expect from this man. To be the object of his focus has got to make a girl feel cherished and special. 

Except, when he finally does find Gracie, she is absolutely terrified and horrified by his presence. Zack has no idea why, either. All he knows is that he went to college and everything was fine. He came home, and she was gone. Zack asks her again and again why she's so afraid of him. Why did she leave him? Where has she been? What did he do? These are all legitimate questions and ones that he absolutely deserves an answer to. 

And, he is where I ran into problems. I had a very hard time liking Gracie or appreciating where she was coming from. I get that she thought he had done something horrible and that she thought she had irrefutable proof. But, every time Zack approached her and asked her for answers, she refused to give them to him. She just professed that he knew what he did, and she wasn't going to relive it for him. Now, for a man she supposedly loved enough to want to marry at one point, why on Earth would she not want to at least give him a few minutes of conversation to clear the air? If she was so afraid of him, she could have someone else present. And, besides all that, from the very beginning, Zack seemed genuinely confused by her reaction, and he was always trying to ensure her safety, especially once the bad guys showed up on the scene.Gracie really treated him badly, and when Zack was so wonderful, it made her actions that much more rude and hateful.

Despite that, my favorite part of the whole book came at the end when the three women with abilities - Ramie, Ari and Gracie - team up to take down the baddies that threatened another member of the Devereaux team. To start with, they all really put their overprotective men in their places. Now, I love an alpha protective male, but it's super fun to see these guys' women tying their hands. 

And then, when it comes time to storm the hideout, the girls really kick some ass together. Ramie finds the enemy, Ari gets them in and Gracie directs the efforts. They worked well together, and it really was an awesome display of girl power. 

There comes a point where Zack needs to ask himself if he can live without Gracie since it seems she will never get over whatever it is she thinks he did. And then Gracie must ask herself if she can forgive both Zack and herself when the entire story is revealed. These two most definitely had a hard road to get back to one another, and it was full of the worst kinds of betrayals you could imagine. 

Gracie's mind-reading ability is really downplayed in this book. Her ability was missing for most of the book, and when it came back, it wasn't used a lot. Also, there isn't a lot of heat in Safe at Last, since Gracie spends 95% of the book at odds with Zack. Even so, there's no denying the sexual and emotional tension between the two of them whenever they're together. And that, coupled with the promise of things to come, kept me pressing on. There was a lot of scenes with Caleb and Beau Devereaux too, as well as their women, so that was awesome. Safe at Last was another exciting and intense installment in Maya Banks' Slow Burn series.

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