Monday, January 6, 2014

Reviews: Otherwise Occupied & Otherwise Unharmed (Evan Arden Trilogy #2 & #3) by Shay Savage

Otherwise Occupied (Evan Arden Trilogy, #2)

Publication Date: June 17th 2013
Purchase Link: Amazon 

About the Book:

Evan Arden is a hit man for a Chicago mob boss. He lives his life day to day with the company of his dog, Odin. He has to work hard to get back into his boss’s good graces, but the target proves to be difficult. As demons of his past begin to haunt him, he seeks the comfort of sleep from an unlikely candidate, but will confiding in her be his undoing?​

​He’s struggling to forget his past, and keep himself Otherwise Occupied.

My Thoughts:
I read Otherwise Alone (book #1) back in October which is basically a novella (56 pages, my review) but an absolute must before picking up the next in the series. It was HOT!! And I completely fell for Evan and Lia as a couple.

*****Spoilers if you haven't read the Otherwise Alone*****

Otherwise Occupied was gritty, and in parts completely mortifying, but extremely addictive.

Evan is back from his exile from in the Arizona desert and working again for his Chicago crime boss, Rinaldo. Still, memories of his short time with Lia cloud his mind, but he believes that can never be. Instead he tries to put her out of his mind and focus on getting back into the good graces of Rinaldo. His boss quickly assigns him a difficult task, but in the meantime Evan’s stability is deteriorating. His PTSD from his time in the military is back in full force causing him to lose sleep and mental calm.

“You endured most than men ever will,” Rinaldo said quietly. “You’ve had it worse than anyone you ever killed. They died quick and easy. You’ve been dying since they brought you home.”

Evan seeks distraction in the arms of Bridgett a hooker who looks very similar to Lia, and you just know things will not end well.

I have to say I was equal parts fascinated and horrified reading about Evan’s life. You understand why his the way his is being raised without much love in a convent and then experiencing the nightmare with he was a POW during his time in the military, but still, his attitude at times was shocking. I do think that some of it was a shield he didn’t know he put up for protection, an unconscious survival choice. That, IMO, becomes very evident by the end.

I was disappointed we didn’t get Lia for the majority of the book; really it’s their relationship that drew me to this series in the first place, so to have her absent did not make me happy. To rub that in even more was his interactions with Bridgett. Every time they were together I kept my guard up, not wanting to fall for her or them as a couple because I was rooting for Lia and Evan to be reunited. I was torn about how Evan treated her, because I didn’t want him to get attached to her but at the same time I couldn’t help but feel so very sorry for Bridgett and everything that happened to her. Evan bears a lot of responsibility for that situation.

There was a complete shakeup by the end and I’m so happy I had the next book on deck to dive into immediately. I needed to find out how this all played out!

4 Suns

Otherwise Unharmed (Evan Arden Trilogy, #3)

Publication Date: December 5th 2013th
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

About the Book:

After Evan Arden was imprisoned by the enemy for a year and a half, he returned from the desert as a military hero. He’d suffered some minor injuries during his captivity, was discharged from the Marines with just a touch of shellshock, but was considered otherwise unharmed. Now he wonders how he ended up where he is now – incarcerated in Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center for using his sharpshooting expertise to take out the neighborhood park with a high-powered sniper rifle and multiple rounds of ammunition.

Lia Antonio, the woman he rescued from the desert heat the previous year, is the only person who can bring him out of his sleep-deprived psychosis and mounting PTSD. When she does, Evan knows he can’t just let her go again. He’s never considered leaving the business before – who retires from the mafia? – but he’s determined to get both Lia and himself out of harm’s way.

Evan faces forces from multiple directions as a deal to get him out of jail turns more deadly and dangerous than he ever could have imagined. With a three-way mob war on the horizon and the feds holding evidence over his head, Evan has no choice but to throw himself into the middle of another war-zone.

In his efforts to make things right in his own mind, Evan crosses the wrong man and finds himself on the business end of the cross-hairs. With his observation skills and intelligence, he tries to keep a step ahead of his former co-workers, but this time, it isn’t just his own life on the line – he’s got to protect Lia from the man who once called him son.

My Thoughts:
Otherwise Unharmed was an amazing, and exciting conclusion to the trilogy, really, I couldn’t have asked for a better one!

*****Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the previous books*****

The story picks up immediately where Otherwise Occupied left off with Evan having breakdown after the betrayal of Bridgette and subsequent events, buying him a trip to prison. I wondered how things would all work out! Of course, this is the moment Lia finally finds him, but no worries, not much can keep Evan down!

Lia is like a life-line and a calming force in Evan’s life and with her presence he can finally get some much needed sleep and focus on getting his life back together.

Her fingers tugged gently through the strands of hair just behind my right ear, and it was as if each stroke over my scalp was removing pieces of the pain, the guilt, and the damage inside my brain.*

Good thing because while Evan’s in prison he approached by other parties that lay on the pressure to come up with evidence against his crime boss Rinaldo, or else. With Lia being in the picture, that “or else” is a real and damaging threat. Evan’s not about to lose her now that she’s back in his life again, and he’ll do just about whatever it takes to keep her safe while figuring out a way for them to be together permanently. Evan hopes that once Lia finds out the truth of his life, she’ll want permanent with him.

This was an action packed, and nail biting conclusion! Not a dull moment, I tell you! Being inside Evan’s head is fascinating, and I couldn’t help but fall for him completely in this final book. He is the complete anti-hero, doing things that no one could condone, shocking things. Especially in the last book, but after knowing everything he went through, for his country no less, and even before that, I couldn’t hold it against him!

As for Lia and Evan, I was in complete heaven that they were back together! Her reactions to Evan’s truths are believable and she wasn’t a pushover just because of her strong feelings for him. Yet, she was able to see the big picture and the good man deep down.

“You’re warm,” she said as her body pressed against mine, “and you’re so smart. You’re gentle, and strong, and handsome. You’re compassionate and self-sacrificing.” -----*

“You are perceptive,” she continued. “You always know exactly what I want and need. You’re loyal and brave. You have endured so much—far more than any one person should ever have to face—but you kept going.”*

I loved this riveting series! Evan Arden was a complex, imperfect, and yet magnetic character and I’m sorry to say goodbye. At this point, anything Shay Savage writes will be on my automatic buy list!

4.5 Suns

A copy was provided by the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

*Quotes taken from an uncorrected proof and may have changed in the final copy.

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  1. Okay, I skimmed these since I haven't read the novella. Buuuut....your exclamations have me super interested in this series. You think it's something I would enjoy?

    1. I'm not sure, Andrea. I'll have to find out what you think of the anti-hero type of guy. I will say the series is addictive and pretty flipping hot! :)