I am so, so happy to be on the blog tour for Karina Halle’s latest, The Debt. This is a special book, y’all. I’m glad I get to share my thoughts on it with you.
The Debt by Karina Halle
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: August 29, 2016
Format: eARC, 264 pages
How I got it: From the author
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
Her life changed in an instant.
And he's the only one who could have prevented it.
Jessica Charles shouldn't have even been in London when the unthinkable happened.
She should have been back at home in Edinburgh, perhaps hanging with her boyfriend, having drinks with her sister or doing yoga with her group of friends. She should have been going on in her normal, dependable life as always.
But on that fateful day in August, when a mentally-ill ex-soldier opened fire in public, Jessica's world changed forever.
Now single and crippled from the gunshot wounds, Jessica finds herself scared and alone, losing faith in herself and humanity with each agonizing moment that passes.
That is until a stranger enters her life. A stranger who makes her live again.
Keir McGregor has always been the strong, silent type. Throw in tall, dark, and handsome and you've got pretty much the perfect Scotsman.
Except Keir is anything but perfect. He's got a past he's running away from and a guilty conscience he can't seem to shed. But the more time he spends with Jessica, the more he falls in love with her.
And the more his secret threatens to tear them apart.
He may have been a stranger to her.
But she’s never been a stranger to him.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Debt was a total experience. I started the first chapter over my lunch break while sitting in my office. The beginning was so tense. I KNEW what was coming. What I didn’t know is how it would affect me. I was literally shaking while I was reading. I had tears in my eyes. It was so realistic it was almost impossible not to put yourself in Jessica’s shoes. It all took my breath away. I knew then this was going to be a special book, one that I would love… even if it was tough to read.
The first chapter was undoubtedly the most painful part of this entire book. The rest of it isn’t all sunshine and roses, because that would be unrealistic, but none of the rest of it had me feeling like that first chapter. It did, however, make me feel all kinds of other feels. I was rooting for Jessica and Keir before I even knew the full truth of how their lives were interconnected, before I even knew either of their full stories. They were both strong, if damaged, characters and they both needed someone to lean on. I loved how that brought them together. Of course, things weren’t perfect. I was worried about how the secrets and lies would impact them, and while I’m not going to get down into the weeds of the plot, I’ll just say that it was handled realistically. (That doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.)
While The Debt is a standalone, I have to say I was selfishly glad to see some of my favorite couples from Karina’s other novels show up at various points. It’s always great to catch up with beloved characters long after their books have ended. I’m not sure if Karina plans to write books for any of the other characters we’ve met in this world, but I hope she does. I’ve fallen in love with each and every one of them and would always be happy to have more.
This was just a phenomenal book all the way around. Even if you’ve not read any of Karina’s books, pick this one up. It’s a beautiful book about healing, second chances and what happens when you find the person who makes you want to have it all.
But of course the truth is that my armor has chinks. My heart has cracks. And the steel is corroding at the edges.
“I’ll do whatever you want me to. Just say the words, little red. You want me to kiss the whisky off your lips, I’ll do that. You want me to slip my fingers between your legs, I’ll do that too. I’m at your beck and call, every inch of me.”
I want to believe that in time, Keir will be mine, more than just body, but in heart and soul. That he’ll trust me with his darkness. I want nothing more than to shine light on it and love him anyway. Love.
“I love every broken part of you and how well it fits with every broken part of me.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” he says. “Sit. I’ll get you another drink.”
“It’s getting late,” I say feebly but I sit down anyway, my leg giving a protest of pain.
“You need something for that?” he says, noticing my wince.
“The scotch will do fine,” I tell him quickly, not wanting him to make a fuss. “But really, I should go.”
“Why?” he asks from the kitchen. I hear the top pop off the bottle, the slosh of liquid in the glass. “Where do you have to be?”
I have to think about that for a moment. He comes over and holds out the glass. “I won’t keep you here if you don’t want to be here. But if you do want to be here, you don’t need to make any excuses.”
I take the glass from him, holding it delicately in my fingers. He stands over me, a massive wall, waiting for some kind of response.
“I just…” I begin. “I…” I take a sip for bravery. Swallow. “I’m not very good at this.”
“Good at what?”
“At…this. Being with a man.”
When he doesn’t say anything to that, I look up at him. He’s got a peculiar smile on his face, his brows raised. “You call this being with a man?”
I clear my throat, feeling my cheeks grow hot. “I mean. I’ve told you before –”
“Yes, how you don’t do relationships, how you don’t do sex.”
“I never said I don’t do sex,” I remind him quickly.
His eyes never stop searching my face. “Then what is it? What are you afraid to say?”
I have the sudden urge to flee and I know it must show because he suddenly points at me and says, “Don’t you dare say you have to go again. I want you to go back to what you said, that you’re not good at this. What is this? Us? You and me? There’s nothing mystifying about you and me, Jessica. You know quite well how I feel.”
I stare at him in shock. I do? “How?”
He looks off with an air of impatience. “I invited you to dinner, you turned me down.”
“But then you said just as friends.”
“And I meant it. But there are different types of friends. It’s up to you to decide what kind we are.”
I put my drink down with a clunk. “Holy pressure.” And now it’s not just my face going hot but my entire body, flushed from head to toe.
“You’re on fire, little red,” he says, his gaze skirting over my limbs in such a hungry way I can almost feel them on my skin. “I have to say, I like this look on you. Hot and bothered.”
“Back with the innuendos again,” I comment but my voice is weak.
“No, no innuendos this time. You came looking for me tonight not because you wanted to confess but because you want something from me. What is it? What do you want from me? What do you think I can give you?”
Jesus. This is so utterly unnerving. His words slice right through me, his eyes still peeling under the layers, trying to get at something I’m not even sure of myself.
If I lie, he’ll know. I can only be honest with him.
“I want…” I take in a deep breath, my eyes breaking away. “I want…company.”
“Company?” He sounds surprised.
I nod. “That’s the truth. I’m lonely. And I’m afraid. And I’m tired of being both those things. I want to be with someone who makes me forget who I am. You make me feel fearless in a way I didn’t think possible.”
There. That’s the truth. Most of it. It hangs in the air, thickening the tension like flour to stock.
He sits down next to me, has a mouthful of Scotch. “Wow,” he says, running his hand over the beard on his jaw. “And here I was thinking you wanted my cock.”
I burst out laughing. So does he, a big wonderful bellow. The tension in the room eases up a notch.
“Sorry,” I tell him when I catch my breath. “I guess they can both mean the same thing.”
He sucks in his lip briefly, his eyes taking a lustful turn. “If you want it to.” We stare at each other for a few heavy beats. Then his focus trails back to my gaze and he says, “Why don’t you stay over?”
And there I have it. The chance to know what those full lips would feel like on mine, what his skin would taste like. I swallow hard.
Have you read The Debt?
Any of the other (loosely connected) McGregor men books?