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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

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"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Untouched by Lauren Hawkeye

Untouched (Contemporary Romance) (Florence, Arizona Book 1) - Lauren Hawkeye

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Alexa was in a horrific car accident a year ago and is still healing mentally from it.  Unable to fully comprehend the trauma, she has blocked out what happened to her but little snippets have been trying to break free lately.  When a half-sister comes out of the woodwork Alexa decides a change of scenery is needed and decides to visit Ellie hoping to get to know her.  Alexa's over protective mother is against the idea, so much so that Alexa wonders what secrets her own mother is keeping from her.  When Ellie's husband has a family emergency the half-sister Alexa was hoping to get to know leaves town and dumps her flower business on Alexa.  Already overwhelmed with repressed memories trying to break through, Alexa stays in the town that she was born in and holds more truths and secrets than she is prepared for.
Nate may completely remember his trauma but it doesn't make it any easier.  While on duty and chasing down a suspect, his partner was shot and died in his arms.  Now this former cop is working as a correctional officer and fighting his demons.  When Nate meets Alexa’s gaze across the diner, something calls out to him.  They're both shrouded in the dark but see just enough light in the other to grasp onto and begin to believe there is hope.
 
Alexa is an artist (I wonder if the author is too) and the writing and how she sees the world is reflected in that.  The way things are described involve a lot of color schemes and almost take on a murky dreamlike state.  This sets the tone for a mysterious dark story while also adding to the feeling of Alexa's confusion and lost like state.  While it sets a good tone for the type of story this is, it also creates a slower pace and you lose a bit of crispness.  There are three main story threads, Alexa's confusion due to a traumatic event, the secrets Alexa's mother is keeping from her, and Nate.  The romance between Alexa and Nate is a bit of insta-love and because of this it causes a feeling of it could be any two desperately needing people coming together; are Alexa and Nate meant to be together or is it right place right time?  Their pain and outreaching do create an intense relationship, though.  Alexa and Nate's relationship suffered from too many story arcs, the secret about Alexa's father could have been left out as it didn't really add to the story.  
 
The story is mostly told through Alexa's eyes and she was a compelling character.  She has her moments of weakness (you're searching for answers and yet you're not going to read a hidden book?) but ultimately pushes through.  I didn't quite feel like I fully knew her as she herself was searching for her memories and identity but as the reader's leader she had a secure presence.  As I mentioned, the mysteriousness behind Alexa's lost memories are the driving point for this story and Nate's character takes somewhat of a hit because of this. He is the dark and broody character who is alluring but I never completely felt like I had a grasp of him.  His wounds are up front and center and become his sole representation making him very one dimensional.  The ending featuring their relationship also wrapped up pretty quickly and a dose cheesy.  Ultimately, I'm not sure what a happily ever after would look like for these two once they are not tumbling in their anguish together.
 
This is the second in the series but can definitely be read as a standalone as the first novella was about Alexa's sister Ellie and she only plays a small part in this one.  This book also has a couple drawings in it (Alexa’s sketching) that were a great addition and visually helped the reader get further into the story. Subsequently, there were times that in making the style mysterious, it made the story vague and confusing but if you're looking for a different toned unhurried paced book, this has quality writing.