My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review at The Romance Evangelist.
After experiencing one of my biggest book hangovers ever with Jackie Ashenden’s first book in the Lies We Tell series, TAKING HIM, I knew I would be in for it with HAVING HER, and boy howdy, was I ever right. In this second book, we get to see what happened after Kara, Ellie’s best friend, suddenly excused herself from the bar at the comic convention they were both attending in a scene from the previous book. We already know how things went down with Ellie and Hunter — now it’s Kara’s turn with Ellie’s super hot but totally disapproving brother, Vin. And as wonderful as TAKING HIM was, HAVING HER manages to be even better.
Kara may put up an aggressive front against the world at large, but it’s all just to protect herself from more heartbreak after her trust in love and family was shattered at the hands of her alcoholic mother. Since then, it’s been easier for Kara to put others off than to let them close enough to reject her first. But that’s made it difficult for her to accomplish her new self-imposed task of finally losing her virginity, despite her multiple attempts to pick up a strange man for just that purpose. Picking up guys was easy; it’s what to do with one once she had him that still had Kara stumped. At least she knew that Ellie’s brother Vin would always be there to rescue her, even when she didn’t want him to. Especially then. But when Vin insists on picking Kara up at the door of yet another random guy who’d expected more than she was prepared to offer, she realizes that the answer to her problem is right in front of her. Vin.
When Vin and Ellie’s mother became seriously mentally ill and their father did his disappearing act, it was up to Vin to keep his baby sister safe. Now, years later, protection mode is all that Vin seems to know how to do well. He’s also convinced himself that he’s just like his rotten father, that he could never truly love another person. Despite all this, Vin still finds himself drawn to Kara, even as everything she does grates on him. The crazy clothes, the ever-changing hair colors, the insistence on constantly placing herself in what he considers dangerous situations…it’s enough to make a man insane. So when Kara sets her sights on him as the man to relieve her of her virginity, he refuses outright, only agreeing after she goads him beyond his otherwise iron control. Vin makes it clear that this will be on his terms only, and love should not be expected or given. But Kara needs someone to take charge, and Vin is just the guy to do it. Things between them seem to be progressing nicely, until the day when an unexpected event changes the nature of their relationship forever. That’s when Vin and Kara must each face what damaged them in the past if they want to embrace the happiness they both deserve in the future.
When I say this HAVING HER was an emotional read for me, I mean it was all cheering, laughing, yelling, swooning, and crying in large amounts. Jackie Ashenden knows how to make you feel for her characters in a way that pulls at your heart without piling on the drama in outrageous ways or unbelievable amounts. Yes, Kara and Vin both had traumatic childhoods, and yes, it’s messed them up in ways that kept them both from being able to reach out to anyone else until now. But the emotional moments in HAVING HER come from the intimate scenes where their hearts and souls are exposed to each other, not from wallowing in overwhelming grief at what’s already past. This book is a true erotic romance, in that the intimate scenes between its hero and heroine are essential to the plot and character development in every way. It’s only through kinky sex that Kara and Vin can even begin to learn to communicate with each other, and it’s the result of their sexual relationship that forces them into deciding whether to commit to each other fully, or to walk away from their first, and possibly last, chance at true love. I was so drained by the time they reached their happy ending that all I could do was grab a box of tissues and cry it all out. In a good way, mind you. In a very good way. I don’t know if Jackie Ashenden has other books planned for this series, but I know I’ll be the first in line to read one. I may have recovered from this book by then.