My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.
This review may contain spoilers for WRECKED, the first book in the Barnes Brothers series. You could read RAZED as a standalone, but you’d lose a lot of context that reading the first book provides.
RAZED continues the story of Zane Barnes and Keelie Jessup that began as a secondary plot in WRECKED, and fills in the backstory of why they were unable to take the next step toward each other before now. Zane has loved Keelie for years but much like Abby in WRECKED, Keelie is mostly unaware of this devotion, only recently discovering that her crush on his brother Zach was entirely misplaced. When Zane finally makes his move at Abby and Zach’s wedding, Keelie responds positively at first, yet it still takes a few more months after that before they start dating. But each must resolve painful issues from the past before they can have a happy future together.
Although I was pleased that Zane and Keelie finally got to have the romance in RAZED that was only teased about in WRECKED, I began to resent any time the story was focused on characters and events that didn’t include the two of them together. It was obvious over the course of the book that Keelie was running away from something terrible, and as that thing got closer to finding her again, I had to resist being distracted by wondering what it could be, especially as it began to take up a substantial amount of the story. By the time the secrets were all exposed and Keelie was facing them head-on, I was simultaneously rooting for her to prevail and wondering when we were going to get back to her and Zane. Then when the overall story finally all came together and I was completely on board with where the romance was fitting in as the couple said their ‘I love you’s, it was abruptly over. (I know I’m biased when it comes to epilogues, but if ever a book needed one, it’s RAZED.)
Even though RAZED might not have been the completely easy read that WRECKED was for me, it’s still a worthy follow up to that story and an essential read for anyone who loves the first book and wants to see what happens next with the Barnes brothers and everyone in their world. I’m looking forward to reading BUSTED and hope that it provides the closure for Keelie and Zane that I would have liked more of in RAZED.