Thursday, March 9, 2017

Jill Sorenson - Badlands

Every day, bodyguard Owen Jackson puts his life on the line — and keeps his feelings for Penny Sandoval locked away. Assigned to protect Penny's father, a presidential candidate, Owen can't get emotionally involved. That is, until Penny and her young son, Cruz, are abducted and taken deep into the California badlands.
Owen knows the bleak territory from his childhood. Worse, he knows the gang leader making ransom demands — his own brother, Shane. When a terrified Penny escapes into the desert with Cruz, Owen has to save her: from the elements and from the gang in close pursuit. Owen has hidden the darkness in his past from Penny. Now his only chance of keeping her alive is to let her see the man he really is — even if it means losing the only woman he'll ever want.

Comment: This is the third story in the Aftershock series by author Jill Sorenson. I liked the previous two books, I think the plots were quite original in their way and while getting to know those protagonists, we were also told about Owen and Penny, two characters strongly active in the first book. We've been aware of the attraction between them and now it was finally their awaited story.

Owen is an ex convict with a sweet and fair soul who simply got mixed in problems he couldn't avoid or situations he didn't fully control. He paid his dues, he got his lesson learned while at prison and he just wants to live his life in peace now. He proved his value during the earthquake that brought him to Penny's group and now his life is more or less organized but he still thinks he isn't good enough, much less to be with Penny.
Penny is a teenager mom, she loves her son dearly but she feels like her parents still control too much of her life. She grew up a lot since she was a mother at 17 but now that some years have gone by, she knows two things, she will protect her son and she loves Owen.
Dealing with a kidnapping is stressful and can be dangerous, but will Penny and Owen finally come together?

I liked this story, I think the expectations readers have come to hope for were met well enough. I really liked how the romance progressed and how people from different spectrum of society can find common ground and be happy. I think this is one of the best things about these stories, how different people somehow find their other half in someone apparently not the one they should be attracted to.

The greatest strength of this story is the main couple. We are aware of both their low self esteem feelings and how things just don't happen easily for neither, despite the different status in life they have. There's a certain realistic flavor here that I appreciated a lot when it came to their relationship.
Owen in particular is a fascinating character, the things he went through, even his darkest confession closer to the end of the book didn't demote him as a character or as someone we can consider worthy of a good HEA or love. I really think Owen is the best character in the series and I was very happy he could own his happiness and try, despite all the negative aspects of his past.
Penny is a likable character, I liked how she wasn't just cruising through life, she had a purpose, she was still naive despite what she saw and along with Owen's vulnerability, they became the best couple.

The plot isn't too complex but the scenes we go through give us glimpses of the character's thoughts, including a pretty good idea of the bad guy's background and reasons. Thankfully it's a third person narrator so to my personal taste it was good we didn't spend too long on this, things happen very well involved with the main romance taking center stage. But we still get to understand why some things happen and, as always, we get to understand too nothing is ever only black and white, there are shades of color that justifies - or not - some actions. It was good to have several layers to be "studied" while moving along the story.
And, as it has become a habit, we have a sort of secondary romance - which I definitely don't consider a romance but offers some other notions - to, in my opinion, work almost as a counterbalance to the main one.

I enjoyed reading this story, I especially loved rooting for Owen and wishing he got all the best. A great example of a story not featuring an alpha male type but someone we can connect with and whose sensitivity makes us want to see him succeed.
I hope the last story is as intriguing.
Grade: 8/10


  1. I really liked this one too. I so anticipated this book - which is always a double-edged sword because as the reader my expectations are through the roof and you wonder how the author is possibly going to be able to deliver.

    1. I found this trilogy (so far I've read 3) much better in terms of characters and plot than some of her other single titles, simply because these books don't have silly teenagers where a secondary romance would focus in.