Author: Tara Sivec
Series: Playing with Fire #3
Published by Self-Published
Release Date January 21, 2014
Genres: Mystery/Suspense, New Adult Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase From: Amazon US
Purchase From: Barnes & Noble
“Worn me down like a road. I did everything you told. Worn me down to my knees. I did everything to please.”
Austin Conrad has never taken his personal life seriously. As a Navy SEAL, he spends all of his time in dangerous, life-threatening situations. The only way to leave behind the horrors he’s seen throughout his career, is to turn it all off when he gets home. He’s too much of a playboy to settle down; even if he did find a woman he could stand to be around for more than one night, he would never taint her life with the demons of his past.
When his best friend and SEAL team member, Brady Marshall asks him to keep an eye on his baby sister, Gwen, Austin figures it will be a walk in the park. The only thing Austin likes more than flirting his way under a beautiful woman’s skin, is walking away with a smile on his face. Austin never expects that the single mom and her little girl will be the ones getting under his skin.
Gwen Stratford knows all too well about living in a nightmare. After taking her daughter and fleeing from her abusive husband in the middle of the night several months ago, she’s worked hard to get her life back on track and forget about the man who tried to break her. Growing up under the iron thumb of her parents and then moving right on with a man who ruled their marriage with his fists, Gwen is finally able to breathe and live her life the way she wants.
When scary, mysterious things begin to happen to Gwen and her daughter, she realizes you can never outrun your past; it always has a way of catching up with you. As she struggles with the desire to keep her newfound independence, she knows she won’t be able to protect herself and her child alone. She’ll need to lean on the one man who drives her crazy.
Can Gwen really put her trust in a man who thinks life is one big joke, or will he be just another man in her life who tries to wear her down?
It’s always easy to judge other people when you have no idea what kind of life they live behind closed doors, when you’ve never walked one footstep in their shoes or when you’ve never given your heart to a man you believed when he told you it would never happen again.
So I absolutely adored A Beautiful Lie. I was completely engrossed with Because of You. When I found out there would be a third book and that we would get to know over the top Austin, I was over the flipping moon! When I saw the cover adorned with purple? Love at first sight! From the few snippets we get of Gwen in the last book, I knew that this would be a hard read; an emotional read. It would be frustrating and heartbreaking and infuriating and fantastically phenomenal. I knew there was other choice for it NOT to be, because that is the level of expertise I have come to expect from Tara Sivec. Once again, I was treated to an emotional fuck-fest of a rollercoaster, a ride in which I never wanted to get off. My only disappointment is that since I read all three books back to back, I now have to wait for the next one. But thus is the plight of a book lover. One thing’s for sure; these books and characters are permanently engrained in my soul, and I’ll never evict them.
Gwen’s mouth is the sweetest thing I’ve ever tasted and I want more.
Worn Me Down is the story of Gwen, Austin, and Emma. Gwen is the sister of Brady and Austin is one of Brady’s SEAL team members. Emma is Gwen’s daughter from her estranged marriage. Fleeing an abusive marriage, one in which no choices she made in life were her own, she is trying to start over in Nashville. Staying with her brother has given her the first semblance of security she’s felt in over ten years. Brady leaves to go out on tour with Layla, and not wanting to leave his sister alone while she is going through a nasty divorce, he asks his buddy Austin to come keep an eye on her and her daughter. That’s all the details you get folks. The rest is up to you to experience. Here is how I felt.
I knew from the first moment she called me an ass that kissing her would be like a fiery explosion, neither one of us surviving without getting burned.
From the first few pages, in which we are foreshadowed in what is to come at the end, I knew that Sivec was going to rip my heart out and do a little happy dance on it. Here was a woman, who when you really think about it, never even stood a chance in life. Living under her parent’s thumbs for her entire youth and then going straight into a house ruled by her husband’s literal iron fist. Add a child to that volatile equation, and Gwen saw no way out. Let me say right now: I absolutely despise when others look upon people in this situation, judgment oozing from their pores, and ask the one question that they think would be obvious; why didn’t you just leave? What they don’t seem to realize, is that it isn’t as easy as it seems to an outsider. More often than not, the abuser apologizes after the fact, and is immensely remorseful. Not to mention the emotional torture that the victim is put through. They are beaten and belittled, many times within an inch of their life, to a point where they simply cannot see a way out. It becomes second nature to expect this treatment. So basically what I am trying to get across is that until you are IN that situation, don’t you dare say what you would and wouldn’t do. Everyone’s situation is completely different, and when you have no outside support system, not to mention children to think about, many factors come into play.
Despite all this, Gwen still has this fire within her. She has a will to survive, a drive to do better and be better for her daughter. Her strength and intensity drives this book and I absolutely adored her. She is snarky, and even though life has given her a raw deal, she hasn’t given up. She’s a fighter, and one of the strongest characters I’ve ever read.
Austin was an enigma wrapped in a delicious package, sealed with a steel bow. A former foster kid, he didn’t know how to love. He was never given a chance to be a child, so what would he be able to give one in return? Even though we got glimpses into who he was, I wish we had gotten more. I am logical enough to realize though that more story would have meant more drama and strife for the characters though, so I am happy with how and where it ended. Try as he may, when love comes knocking at your door, or rather when you go knocking at it, it will knock you on your ass! The chemistry between these two, though they tried with everything in them to deny it, was off the charts. Finally on her own, Gwen grew a backbone and wasn’t going to take crap from any one any longer. Oh how I loved their fighting. I know that sounds ridiculous to say, but when you fight fair, it’s hilarious! These two pushed and prodded at boundaries within each other, bringing them to the edge. Bringing them so close to insanity there was just never a chance that they wouldn’t eventually collide. And when they did…. Whew. Claws came out, in the best possible way, and walls were dropped. The intensity that Austin displays when he truly believes in something is a wonder to behold. This man protects with everything he has, and he will literally make you swoon out loud. I don’t know if that’s possible, but this man can accomplish it.
Sometimes even when you’re so quiet you could disappear, that’s when they hurt you the most.
One of my favorite parts of this book was getting to watch a grown man crumble at the hands of a six year old. The scenes between Austin and Emma were my absolute favorite. There is nothing hotter that watching a grown man fall in love, in a fatherly way, with a child that isn’t biologically his. Add in the fact that Austin thinks he is unqualified for the position; the fact that he just naturally does it will make your heart burst. Their interactions were so completely innocent, as if they BOTH were children, learning life together. Sivec seriously will make your ovaries burst. You’ve been forewarned!
For the first time in years, I don’t feel the need to cover myself, hide my scars or look away in embarrassment – I feel beautiful with Austin.
Honestly, I could gush about this book all day, but to do that, you will have to read it first. Just know that the emotions coursing through my veins were endless, as were the tears. Panty melting, tremor induced scenes were bountiful, but in the meat of the book was pure heart. There were raw characters that I have come to realize are so completely unique in the way Sivec writes. These characters appear in your world and you wonder how they weren’t there all along. I look forward to the conclusion of the series but at the same time I am willing to wait. For if I prolong it, they won’t truly ever go away, right?
A Beautiful Lie ~ Book One
He saw her first, but his friend made the move.
She settled for the safer choice, but her heart knew the truth.
They love, they crave, they lie.
Garrett McCarthy, Annabelle Parker, and Milo Roberts were as close as friends could get. They shared in each other’s joy during graduations, promotions, and engagements. They consoled one another through heartache and loss.
When one of the friend’s life is tragically cut short, it’s up to the two left behind to pick up the pieces and find out the truth – no matter the cost. As they slowly start to uncover the nature of his deception, and the very powerful people behind it, they begin to question everyone and everything, even themselves.
Everyone has secrets – some do it for love while others do it for power. Those secrets can change perceptions, alter reality and sometimes destroy lives.
What do you do when you find out your whole life has been a lie?
Because of You ~ Book Two
Brady Marshall has made a career of playing it safe. When he decides to do something rash and becomes a Navy SEAL, he thinks he’s finally escaped the rigid structure of the high society life his parents forced down his throat. All he does is trade in one set of rules for another. He follows military protocol to a T, but it still results in the death of an entire team of Navy SEALS and puts his best friends directly in harm’s way. He’s struggled to stay afloat and not drown in grief, guilt, and booze, but he’s losing that battle quickly. When his baby sister flees her abusive husband and shows up on his doorstep with his young niece in tow, he has no choice but to clean up his act. He will stop at nothing to protect them and never let them down again, even if it means taking a job that goes against everything he believes in. If protecting a pop star princess who thinks she’s better than everyone means he can keep a roof over their head, what other choice does he have?