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“I know it’s quick, and it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but with who we are? Who we’ve lost? I love you, Matt. I’m keeping you. I always figured somebody was meant for me, and when I found him, I’d know it. The second I saw you in the alley, something in me recognized you.” – Laney Jacobs

I knew it, I KNEW IT that Matt would be a delight to read about! Man, I nearly died with Shane’s story, but in this case, there’s no “nearly” – I could very well be sitting in Heaven right now, sipping tea with Saint Peter, the way my heart all but flew out of my chest!

Matthew Dean, the eldest of the Gray brothers, always knew that, in order for his brothers to stay alive, he must be every part the invincible big brother they all thought him to be. Now, with questions about Jory’s status raising – possibly false – hope in his brothers, and the time pressing down on all of them, he must hurry to find Dr. Peters, one of the surgeons who helped plant the deadly chips that threaten the brothers in their spines. He has neither the time nor the mind to develop feelings for the barkeep he uses for his cover. But the Gray brothers were always weak when it came to soft women, and Laney Jacobs is every bit soft and kind, inside and out. Laney thought she had managed to escape the horror that was her early years as a doctor. She left her name and identity behind, starting anew at a small town named Charmed, where her bar is more than enough to keep her safe and stable. When she takes an ex-marine called Matt in and cares for his wounds, proceeding to hire him, she has no idea what she’s getting into. Her heart wants the man to stay, but as she later finds out, they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. Because Laney’s past is more strongly connected to Matt’s than they thought – and the secrets and lies they both told each other are bound to make things deadly between them. Can they learn to accept what they have been before the Commander takes them both back?

I’ve said before how rare it is for me to find a couple that I love from both sides. I usually find something to bother me even if I have liked a character – not that it’s bad, flaws make fictional people more realistic. But in Matt and Laney’s case, I loved even their flaws. They complimented each other – the ultimate Alpha male and the ultimate sweetheart of a woman. I know it sounds sort of chauvinistic, but I really think they made each other look even better when they acted their respective parts in their – kinda fucked up – relationship.

Matt was my favorite of the brothers. I loved him from the moment he walked into that bar in Shane’s book, and fell for him even harder when Josie KOed him by calling him “big brother” – the guy is an uber Alpha, completely over the top, but the minute a doe-eyed woman talks about family and shows kindness or needs protection, he’s like this big, fluffy marshmallow! Particularly covered with hazelnuts, because he doesn’t lose toughness in battle. Mmmm, makes me drool just by thinking about it! (Matt, I mean, not the marshmallow, though I wouldn’t mind having a bite from both)
While in bed, his superior-male side shone even brighter – and no, I still don’t consider myself a sexist. With a guy like Matt, it’s hard to feel like you’re cheating on your feministic theories by admitting to being a weak little woman in need of such a man. I’m not even ashamed to confess that! If you read the book and you see just how much of the “ULTIMATE MAN” Matt is, you’ll understand. The fatherly super-soldier was pretty tough, but when it came to lovemaking, he was THE master! Ordering Laney around (I swear, when he repeated slowly “Open. Your. Legs.”, I instinctively opened mine before reading about Laney doing the same!), talking in a way that would make a nun blush and then fan herself, being demanding and controlling… I don’t like when a guy gets bossy, but Matt pulls it off rather nicely. Oh, and he liked describing what he would do to Laney beforehand – in perfect detail. Sweet Lord!!!

Yeah, he did have his asshole moments. But was it wrong of me to swoon even during those? I was like “I want to hit you on the head with a pan” a second before I started “…and then I’m probably gonna beg you to screw my brains out, Mattie, damn you!”. See what I mean? No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get myself to hate him!

And Laney, oh, Laney was the ultimate female. Not in the way I usually like my heroines to be – badass and sarcastic and cynical Alpha females, like Moira, or Kate Daniels, or Parker Brown, or, hell, Josie from Shane’s book – but in a sweet, completely girly way. She was capable of surviving, but the woman’s nature screamed for a guy to wrap her up in a blanket and tuck her into bed. Sweet, kind, giving, caring, and sensitive – there wasn’t a moment when my heart didn’t cry out for her, even when I had found out who she really was. Her phobia was a nice plot twist, one that worked perfectly in Zanetti’s favor to tell the story – another reason for her to be protected. And her ways of dealing with Matt when he was being an asshole were a)bitch-slap him or b)yelp, try to run, and then fall flat on her face. ADORABLE! Make no mistake, though, she was not the annoying damsel in distress we female readers hate so much. She was just so feminine, it made even me want to do the honors of keeping her safe from the world.

It only stands to reason how she and Matt fit so well together. Yin and Yang at its finest, purest form, people!

I can’t wait to read Nate’s story – I found I liked him better here than I did in the previous book. And seeing as my cousin has bombarded me with possible theories on Jory’s current status, I’m all fired up – damn, May seems such a long time from now…

PS: Is there a way to let me know just how big the penis of a stegosaurus is? Zanetti seems pretty obsessed with this particular dinosaur’s genitals… 😛

“I love completely, Laney, and I’m sure it’s a pain in the ass. You have my heart and always will.” – Matthew Dean