AUTHOR: SHERRI HAYES
Details: no. 3 Finding Anna
Received from Writer's Coffee Shop
Own / Kindle
For the last two months, Brianna has discovered something she never thought she would again. Hope. After the horror of being Ian’s slave for ten months, a fate she never imagined she’d escape, it feels as if she is living a dream. She has freedom she hadn’t expected to have again, and she wakes up every morning not fearing what the day will bring. There is also Stephan. The man who saved her from the daily torture she had to endure at the hands of Ian and his friends. The same man who makes her heart race with just the thought of him. Life is good.
Outside forces are determined to conspire against them, however. When Brianna’s father shows up on her doorstep, it sends her world spiraling out of control. He brings with him new information about how Brianna ended up in Ian’s clutches, but will it make a difference? Will Stephan be able to find a way to make Ian pay for all he made Brianna suffer?
As Brianna and Stephan try to find out the truth, their relationship is tested. She is forced to face her past head on, and deal with the ugly reality of what happened to her. Will Stephan’s love be enough to see her through her newest challenge, or will the fragile trust they’ve built come crumbling down around them as the truth makes itself known.
This is the third book in the Finding Anna quartet and really shouldn’t be read unless you’ve read the first two books, “Slave” and “Need”.
Brianna has come a long way since Stephan rescued her. While she is still easily scared and has little or no self-confidence she does feel completely safe with Stephan and trusts him implicitly. The arrival of her father on Stephan’s doorstep almost manages to set her back to the scared and withdrawn girl she was only a little while ago. But once that threat appears to have been dealt with Brianna and Stephan are able to continue on the slow but steady road to her recovery.
And Brianna is making real progress. While she is still deeply insecure she is slowly starting to trust that Stephan really does want the best for her. And though she may not always like his methods, she knows that his demands on her are made only to help her. Watching Brianna while she discovers that being intimate with a man - having sex with Stephan - was pleasurable and rewarding rather than demeaning and painful was beautiful. The moment when she realizes that she loves him put a huge smile on my face.
“Swallowing I looked into his eyes. What I saw only confirmed what I already knew. I’d do anything for him. Be anything he needed me to be.”
Something I really appreciate in these books is that the author takes her time. There are no miracle cures in this story. Hopefully the last book will proof that love does conquer all, but the first three books show us that it is a long way to recovery. Brianna has been through a soul-shattering experience that left her fearful, prone to panic attacks and withdrawn. It is taking lots of time, patience and love to get her to build up her sense of self again, to give her the confidence she needs to face the rest of her life and to make her belief that she is good enough; good enough for Stephan and good enough in her own right. It is a psychological journey fraught with fear and pain but one that shows that with love and patience overcoming the unthinkable is possible.
Too many authors take short-cuts when dealing with a scenario like this. Too often I have read about broken and scarred characters who meet their true love and almost instantly put their past behind them. Sherri Hayes, thankfully, doesn’t. She takes the reader along the road Brianna has to travel and shows us the tiny steps she takes towards trust and love. She is not afraid to tell her story slowly, at a pace that matches Brianna’s progress and includes all the inevitable set-backs she encounters.
Stephan is an equally realistic character. While, for a long time, it seems that maybe he is too good to be true, this book shows he is “only” human after all. He makes mistakes while trying to help Brianna and he has his own fears and insecurities. He needs Brianna to guide him as much as he needs to help her. The result is a heartbreakingly realistic and beautiful story that will have you smiling and crying, hoping for the best while fearing the worst and rooting for Stephan and Brianna all the way.
Another thing that really works for me in these books is that it gives a wonderful insight into the world of BDSM. It doesn’t shy away from exposing its evil excesses while showing that in its true form it is all about love, communication and trust. Because there are characters in this book of both the BDSM and Vanilla variety, the reader sees both the prejudices against the lifestyle and the beauty of what it is when indulged in by two loving partners. And because Brianna, as a result of her horrendous experiences in the past, has to be introduced to all the various aspects of this relationship at a very slow pace, the reader is eased into the concept as well.
I’m really glad this book didn’t end on a heart-stopping cliff-hanger like “Need” did. While it certainly ends on a crucial plot point and does leave the reader with a desperate need to find out what is going to be happening next, there is no sense of doom this time, only a profound sadness, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
Having said that, I’m not going to enjoy waiting for the final installment in this series. I read somewhere that Sherri Hayes hopes to have it out in the first half of 2014 and I can only hope that by that she means January 1st. Because everything in this book indicates that the final installment is going to be intense and filled with developments. A lot still needs to happen if Stephan and Brianna are going to find their happily ever after, and keeping in mind the ending of this book, the road there is going to be anything but easy for this couple.
Sherri is the author of five novels: Hidden Threat, Slave (Finding Anna, Book 1), Need (Finding Anna, Book 2), Behind Closed Doors (A Daniels Brothers Novel), Red Zone (A Daniels Brothers Novel), and a short story, “A Christmas Proposal.” She lives in central Ohio with her husband and three cats. Her mother fostered her love for books at a young age by reading to her as a child.
Stories have been floating around in her head for as long as she can remember; however, she didn’t start writing them down until she turned thirty. It has become a creative outlet that allows her to explore a wide range of emotions, while having fun taking her characters through all the twists and turns she can create. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found helping her husband in his woodworking shop.
Click her name to visit Sherri Hayes’ website.