Ultimate Sins (Callahans)
St. Martin's Press / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital
Three men, bound by blood, will stop at nothing to protect the women who have stolen their hearts and who they have claimed as their own—no matter what the price.
Ex-Marine Crowe Callahan has only had one obsession in life: Amelia Sorenson. She is the only one who has ever gotten under his skin. However, she is also the daughter of his family’s sworn enemy: a man who has sought to destroy the Callahans for generations in order to further his own nefarious agenda.
When Amelia put herself on Crowe’s side and in Crowe’s bed, she became her father’s enemy as well. When Wayne Sorenson escapes capture, both Amelia and Crowe know it is only a matter of time before he resurfaces to exact his revenge. Now Crowe will claim Amelia in order to bait a killer and end things once and for all. But can he protect the woman he can’t seem to live without from one of the deadliest enemies he has ever known? And will he survive if he can’t?
Crowe Callahan's story is finally told in Ultimate Sins, the fourth book of Lora Leigh’s Callahan series. Readers of this series have seen glimpses of Crowe in prior novels, and so we already knew his heart belonged to Amelia Sorenson. Theirs is a sad story of love discovered early, only for them to be torn apart due to horrific external circumstances.
Crowe Callahan is a hardened man. Losing the majority of his family at a young age, he’s been unable to forget the early brutality that defined his upbringing. As he’s grown older, the horrors shifted to include another monstrosity that plagued him in that he and his cousins were the focus of a crazy rapist serial killer who targeted the women they were involved with romantically. Crowe is naturally beyond cautious when getting involved with any woman for fear she will be the next one to lose her life simply for having been with him.
When Crowe realizes the depth of his feelings for Amelia during their brief clandestine relationship, he pushes her away in order to protect her from a predator. His decision to conclude their relationship, without revealing the true reason, devastates her.
That meant any woman the Slasher learned he or his cousins were with became a target. Amelia would become a target if he didn’t stay away from her. Because each time he held her the possessive, dominant male he was found that it was becoming impossible to release her once morning arrived.
Years later, they’ve reconnected as part of a plan to draw out the killer. While readers of The Callahan series already know that Crowe is in love with Amelia even though they’re not truly together, what readers don’t know until this novel is the depth of courage and character that Amelia has, as well as the sacrifices she’s made for love. She was in love with Crowe when he left her and has been more or less emotionally broken from events during their separation. There’s an emotional resonance to her actions that winds through every page, intertwining angst, suspense, and romance well. She's had to make difficult, heartbreaking choices and been a victim of various cruelties from a previous husband and her psychopath father. To me, Amelia was a woman who loved strongly and enduringly, but spent years fearing the consequences of having love and showing love. Sometimes I just wanted to reach through my e-reader and hug her.
Ultimate Sins is a romantic suspense with a lot of angst, but I appreciated that factor because it added weight to the protagonists’ interactions. With the horrors and injustices they respectively endured, I wouldn’t expect a glossing over of them clawing their way back to each other. Their every interaction is layered with the pain of two people who love each other, but have boulders on their respective backs. Crowe is a stubborn alpha male, firm in his belief he’s knows what is right and willing to run roughshod to have something be exactly as he wants it. Amelia, though somewhat broken, still has a core of intransigence that causes her to do what she thinks is right, much to Crowe’s dismay and frustration.
There are moments of levity and passion in the novel as well, including a fun scene of another guy flirting with Amelia that made me giggle. Plus, Amelia and Crowe are passionate people who use their lust for each other as a way to hide saying what they feel for the other person fairly frequently. Amelia and Crowe are a good match, and their story is engrossing.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Ultimate Sins by Lora Leigh, out August 26, 2014:
Miss_D has been reading romance books for over 25 years. A native Californian making her way in the Big Apple, she likes to spend her downtime relaxing in front of the TV, chatting with friends, sitting in Central Park and playing beach volleyball. Miss D can be reached via Twitter @bonobochick.