Battle-Tested Love (Battle for Love #2) by Lynda Bailey
All she wanted was a little adventure…
Darcy Williams is desperate for some relief from her ho-hum life, but getting kidnapped by an outrageously handsome man isn’t at all what she had in mind. She needs to keep it together long enough to escape. Because escape is what she wants, right?
He’s a nice guy doing a bad thing for a really good reason…
Ben Gallagher loves his baby sister, Ana, more than anything. So, when she’s date raped by the mayor’s nephew, Ben has no problem sending said nephew to the ER. Now Ana’s gone missing and Ben will stop at nothing, nothing, to find his sister and ensure her safety—even if that means carjacking and kidnapping an innocent woman.
Things spiral from bad to worse…
When Ben is injured protecting Darcy from some thugs, he has to trust her if he’s going to get to Ana. And he has to ignore the passion Darcy stirs in him. Darcy learns Ben is actually a good man, one she’s starting to have feelings for. Can their fledging relationship stand the test of time —and the law?
Date of Release: September 2013
Escape, not love, is the only thing on Darcy Williams’ mind when she gets kidnapped and taken out of Carson City, Nevada by a handsome but dangerous-looking man who takes her car to get to his intended destination, Oregon. However, everything changes, when her abductor becomes her protector and saves her from the clutches of some lecherous men with plans to harm Darcy.
Ben Gallegher doesn’t need Darcy, only her car, but he isn’t the type of man to walk away from a woman being hurt, even though intervening may thwart his plans to reach his sister, Ava whose life has been threatened. When Ben intervenes and attacks the men, giving Darcy the chance to escape to safety, she realizes that Ben isn’t the bad guy he appears to be, and she believes whatever he’s done must be for a good reason. The tables turn when Darcy rescues a severely beaten Ben and decides to help him even though aiding him may make her an accessory to his crimes as well.
Darcy and Ben are two well-developed, very likeable characters who gained my compassion and support very early in the book, in part because the story is narrated from both of their POVs. Darcy is feisty, and she challenges Ben at every turn, refusing to be a passive victim. Ben likes her tenacity but refuses to let her deter him from getting to Ava, and Darcy can’t seem to stop the strong physical reaction she has around Ben, aka Mr. Hottie, even though he did take her against her will and is running from police. In another time, another place, under much different circumstances both privately imagine being in a relationship. Their time together shows they are good for each other’s self-esteem and they work to help each other overcome personal insecurities.
Although Ben and Darcy initially fight the attraction they have for each other because of their precarious circumstances, they eventually give in to their desire during the brief down time Ben needs to heal before he can travel again. Darcy knows her time with Ben will soon come to an end and most likely she will never see him again. She wants to be close to him, and their first time together surprised me by the unexpected outcome. However, I like that Darcy puts her emotional feelings aside and continues to do whatever she can to help Ben because she believes it’s the right thing to do.
The danger escalates as they get closer to Oregon, leading to a very suspenseful climactic situation that ends up separating them much earlier than I anticipated. From this point on, the action fizzles out and focuses more on how the previous events have made Darcy a much stronger young woman, willing to finally stand up to her domineering family. I really enjoyed this book until the end. Although some readers may like the conclusion, I felt the story wrapped up much too quickly, and some aspects of the book are still unresolved, such as Ava’s situation. Will her story be continued in the next book, since this is a series? I really hope so because it’s one I’d like to read.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
3 1/2 shining suns
“I’ve got an idea,” she said. “Why not tie me to a tree and leave me here? It’d be tomorrow before anyone found me.”
He cupped her elbow to angle her into the seat. “That’s not gonna happen.”
She spun which again planted her body tight to his. He stifled a growl and none-too-gently pushed her into the car.
“But why not? You’d be days gone and I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone where you went. You could ditch my car and steal another one. It’s the perfect plan. You don’t have to hassle with me and I don’t have to be kidnapped.”
He re-tied her hands. “It’s not the perfect plan.”
“Really?” Her mocking tone shredded his nerves. “Give me one reason why you can’t leave me here.”
He leaned an arm on the top of her car. “I won’t give you one reason, I’ll give you two. One, I don’t make a habit out of stealing cars.” His jaw clenched harder at her unladylike snort.
“And two, I know this area. I used to hunt chucker round here. No one would find you for days. And with all the fires, you’d be a sitting duck for a hungry, displaced bear or bobcat.” He clicked her seatbelt into place then firmly closed the door in her face. He got behind the wheel and turned the key.
She twisted to face him. “Let me get this straight, you won’t leave me here because you’re thinking of my safety?”
He backed down the road. “Something like that.”
“Dude, your logic is seriously warped.”
“Maybe, but I’m sticking with it.” He steered the car onto the paved road and headed toward the expressway onramp. “And stop calling me dude.”
“What’s the matter, dude?” she sneered in an exaggerated California accent. “Don’t you like the name?”
“No. So knock it off, lady.”
“Don’t call me lady. I’m twenty-four not eighty-four. Might as well call me ma’am.”
“All right, lady. Tell me your name.”
“You first, dude.”
Ben chuckled. He couldn’t help it. This lady was spunky and tenacious and not at all afraid to challenge him—even in this situation. He wondered how things would have progressed between them had they met in a social setting rather than in this trying situation. “Ben. My name is Ben.”
He took his eyes off the road to stare at her. She shrugged. “I took a shot.”
“So what’s your name?”
She stared out the passenger window. “Darcy.”
“Okay, Darcy, this is how it’s gonna work. I’ll let you go just as soon as I can, but I can’t have you going to the police or reporting your car stolen. Just think of this as an unexpected road trip.”
“Don’t suppose you’ll tell me where this little road trip ends?” Bitter sarcasm coated her words.
He accelerated her sub-compact onto the six-lane highway. “Nope.”
“And there’s no way I can convince you to let me go.”
“In other words, I don’t have a choice.”
“In other words, you don’t have a choice.”
I’ve always loved stories. Especially love stories. Growing up in the Midwest, I’d make up stories to my favorite TV shows – usually westerns.
As I got older, the stories didn’t relent. In fact, they only got stronger, the characters more insistent, until I had no choice but to put it all on paper. It’s become an obsession for me. One that I love.
When not sitting at my computer, I spend my time working as a substitute teacher and fitness instructor. Guess you could say I’m an equal opportunity “persuader” of the young and, ahem, not so young.
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