My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.
This review may contain spoilers for DISARM, the first book in this series. You should not try to read ARREST as a standalone, as it assumes you are already familiar with events of the previous book that are not always fully explained in this one.
I enjoyed reading June Gray’s DISARM romance novelettes after they were released as a full length book back in 2013, so when that book was acquired by a major publisher, I was happy that there would be two more books in the series. ARREST picks up where DISARM left off, with Henry and Elsie newly married and embarking on the rest of their Happily Ever After together. But just because they got past all their previous obstacles doesn’t mean that there aren’t new ones now that they are finally married. The primary source of their problems now is Henry’s new career as a law enforcement officer. It was bad enough when he was still in the US military and being sent into a war zone for months on end. Now Elsie has to worry about him every day and night, forever dreading a future where he doesn’t come home safely at the end of his scheduled shift. Their shared adjustment to this new reality, combined with his reaction to Elsie’s independent career as a web designer and the usual dips and bumps that happen in a marriage, constantly threaten their happiness even as they both know that they could never survive away from each other. The story of ARREST is how each crisis in Henry and Elsie’s marriage ultimately makes them stronger together, and better able to deal with whatever life throws at them next. But the journey isn’t easy and when Henry begins to rely on his old destructive coping mechanisms, it will take both of them working as hard as they can to get to the true happy ending they’d thought they already had on their wedding day.
As much as I enjoyed the previous book, the way Henry was always retreating from Elsie when he was upset did get to be tiring after a while, so I was worried that I might not be as sympathetic to him when all the new bad things started happening to them both in ARREST. However, I was quite happy to be proven wrong in my concern, as it appeared that Henry has indeed grown emotionally since then. The love he and Elsie have for each other is never questioned, and it never wavers. But as they and we already learned before, love isn’t enough to keep them together if they can’t communicate and compromise, and in ARREST, Henry and Elsie must both relearn those painful lessons if they’re going to stay married and happy together.
ARREST also has the advantage of hanging together better as an complete story from the start, as opposed to the previous title. We are shown once again how their past continues to affect their present, but also how they are aware of how easily they could fall back into a vicious cycle of hurting each other, however inadvertently. Being able to see Henry and Elsie take real steps toward a fully reciprocal relationship made reading through all their pain and sadness worth it for the true happy ending awaiting them both. ARREST is an excellent example of how the “marriage in trouble” trope can be realistic without being too depressing. But I’m relieved that the next story in the series will be about someone else, so I can be content in the knowledge that Elsie and Henry have finally earned their HEA and won’t have to suffer any longer.
Sensuality level: 3.5