Hers to Tame delivers on the expectations Morgan has built up in this and her related series. There’s plenty of snappy dialogue and a strict code of honor, but the book also shows what family should be like, whether found or born into.
There’s a large cast, new members added onto those we met in the first book. We even get a glimpse of the prospect for the next book, something I guessed from her introduction before skimming the teaser chapters in the back. In general, I prefer smaller casts because there are fewer people to keep track of. With Morgan’s stories, I don’t care. Each person is distinct enough and/or referred to in context that I have no trouble knowing who I’m reading about.
Oh, and there’s a second chances element to this story, which I enjoy. Though the time between the first and now is only seven months, it’s seven months too long for Kir, no matter how much he tries to deny it. Cassie hasn’t forgotten their encounter either and is haunted by how she let rumor scare her off without giving him the chance to explain.
The book offers complex characters with encounters full of subtext and layering. Neither of the main characters approach their lightning attraction without baggage to wade through, nor are they willing to accept this without questioning.
Cassie is an investigative reporter who is good at her job, though she doesn’t love it. Despite the differences between approach and philosophy to American expectations, Kir is a leader in Sergei’s bratva, or Russian mafiya. Theirs is not an easy connection to weather without consequences, and the consequences are life altering, especially for Cassie.
Watching their relationship develop and struggle through barriers is fun, profound, and surprising at various points. I enjoyed the teasing Kir suffers from Sergei and Roman and how Cassie’s aunt meddles. There are several detailed, open-door, intimate encounters with the strengthening of their connection and knowledge woven into those scenes. As has been Morgan’s habit, with one exception, there’s a brush of risque activities mentioned, but only that.
Nor is the only plot their relationship, though there’s enough going on in the clash of culture and expectation to fill the book on its own. The story starts with tragedy, and Cassie helps Kir investigate the possibilities at great personal cost. The seeding is well done enough for me to notice the details and put together theories, but not to have the answer. Not only that, but Cassie is a part of the mystery from start to finish. She’s a partner rather than a decoration, something I’ve appreciated from the first Morgan romance I read.
The writing is full of beautiful subtext in both words and body language, something that brings us closer to the characters. The body language also carries off the ribbing from Kir’s brothers without having to set out the situation more obviously. The plot is solid, actions affect the characters, and both main characters must change and adapt.
This is another strong novel from an author I count on to deliver a tale worth reading. Her books offer a solid love story where honor might skirt the law of the land, but you’re never in doubt as to the reasons people act or the righteousness of their responses.
P.S. I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review. It will be available for purchase on March 16th, but can be pre-ordered at many of the major stores.