Giving It Up by Amber Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the blurb:
Allie prowls the club for a man who will use her hard and then ditch her. Hey, it's not rape if she wants it. Instead she finds Colin, who looks tough but treats her tenderly, despite her protests.
He tempts her, but kindness and a few mindblowing orgasms aren't enough to put her back together again. Allie has no hope for a real relationship. Two years ago her best friend betrayed her in the worst possible way – she’d be stupid to trust a man again. Besides, she has her daughter to think of, the only good thing to have come from that dark night.
But when her rapist returns, threatening her sanity and custody of her daughter, Allie turns to Colin. Under his protection and patient touch, Allie begins to heal and learns to hope. Colin’s no saint, though, and his criminal past draws danger of its own. Allie must fight to protect her child and the man she loves, hoping her newfound power will be enough to save them all.
It took me a day to figure out what I want to say about this book.
It ain't your typical erotica/romance, that's for sure. It'll pull you out of your comfort zone. It'll make you scratch your head in confusion, grit your teeth and ball your fists in anger. It'll make you worry and rant and shake your head in disbelief. The heavy and dark topics covered in the plot are not what you'd expect in a romance novel. It's not a light-hearted, feel-good story, with lots of steamy scenes.
In short, this is a book you ought to read.
Amber Lin weaves a gripping tale in her story about Allie Winters, a young woman, the victim of acquaintance rape, struggling to come to grips with the trauma. She's got trust issues, thinks all men are alike and only after one thing, and this leads her to seek out would-be rapists in dark bars once or twice a month. She has convinced herself that she doesn't deserve better anyway. Allie's journey from barely coping to starting to heal is at the center of this book, as is her relationship with Colin Murphy, who quietly, without many words, shows her that not all men are scum, and that allowing yourself to open up and trust is not always going to come back to bite you in the butt.
When she first meets Colin, a somewhat mysterious restaurant owner, she's doing what she has been - seeking out a man in a bar who'll give it to her, rough and unapologetic, because that's what men do, in Allie's mind. When Colin refuses to treat her that way and instead applies gentleness and loving care, it startles and unhinges her. He wants to see her again, but her low self-esteem doesn't allow her to see what's in front of her, and she refuses his offer. Fast forward a month or so, and Allie is again in the bar, on the prowl. This time, the man that approaches her is exactly like what's she looking for, but when she goes with him, she suddenly realizes that what Colin gave her is so much better. For the first time, she doesn't want to be pseudo-raped.
When Colin comes to her rescue, Allie allows herself to begin a relationship with him, and that's where the story really takes off.
We are introduced to Bailey, Allie's 2 yo daughter, who is the result of the acquaintance rape. Faced with a possible custody battle from the father (the best friend-turned-rapist), Allie turns to Colin for help. We hear about Allie's somewhat absentee father (a truck driver), and we meet Shelly, Allie's best friend, a prostitute, who would do anything to support her and help her heal.
Due to this story being told through Allie's eyes, we never really "know" what's actually going on, as the mysteries pile up. Allie has trust issues, and those issues escalate the plot as the book progresses. The reader is allowed to speculate (I loved that), though by the ending, when everything is explained, a lot of my speculations turned out to be wrong.
I loved that, too.
The characterizations were excellent. There was depths to all of them, and they kept surprising me with their actions and reasons behind their actions.
The writing is spot-on for a young woman with severe trauma and trust issues, struggling to keep her daughter and herself supported. I was able to emphasize with Allie throughout, and I found myself rooting for her and Colin, and Shelly, too.
Giving It Up is a great book, one that will keep you on your toes until the end. It will engage you emotionally, and I found that I was really vested in these multi-dimensional characters.
3.75 stars, rounded up to 4.
I received an ARC from the author in exchange for a review. This did not influence my opinion of this book.
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