He lost to her twice and it nearly consumed him. Now, it's time for another game. And this time, he won't let her go so easily. Val's not just fighting for her friends' lives this time: She's fighting for her own, too.
Warning: Contains rape, rape triggers, non-con, elements of BDSM, violence, and content not appropriate for those under 18.
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I really enjoyed this book. I liked the first two a lot, but this one was better in many ways. The style of the writing had improved (not that it was bad in the first two, it wasn't!) and the character development was well done. That had gotten much better in book two as well, but I feel like it was great in this book. New characters Mary, and Jade, had tons of personality, and it was easy to get to know them and understand them. I quickly fell for Jade, and I loved how realistic Mary came off, trying to be a supportive roommate but also containing the self preservation gene. The few times we POV jumped in this book, it was certainty necessary, and always entertaining. I didn't feel like any POV we experienced was just tossed in there to take up space, like unfortunately I did with a few of the jumps in book 2. This was all together a tighter, better composed story, with only a few minor issues that I found.
One of those is the that there's still a lot of sugarcoating going on. This being the final book, there are some things I'd like a bit of closure on. I understand they may be a prequel in the works (which would be awesome!) or something of the likes, but even if it's something that takes place after this book, there are still things that can't be explained there. For instance, weeks would jump by in a sentence. Just a sentence. Example: "Days passed, then weeks, and Val did not catch a single glimpse of the grandmaster". Ok...why? It just doesn't make sense to me that he'd show up, then let that much time pass while he did....what? It seems like pretty much nothing. And her? Why would she stick around once she knows that her stalker, who's tried to kill her before, has found her? The reasons behind her deciding not to run need to be emphasized in order to make it believable. There are a lot of moments like that, where I was a little jarred from the story because so much time passing with no one making a move didn't make sense. I also had issues with the beginning and end. It starts out in Gavin's POV, which I liked a lot, however, we see part of his family, which is odd because supposedly the police are looking for him (wouldn't they check his childhood home?) and they all seem to know that he's a psycho who terrorized Val....huh? It was weird, and we never heard/saw anything about it again. If that was the set up for another story (like a prequel) I much would have preferred we just see it in that other story. It left too many unanswered questions, and not of the good variety. It also made me wonder more about Gavin and where he come from, if he's screwed up because of some outside source instead of his own psychology like is implied in the rest of the book (and previously in the first two). Being that it's the last part of this tale, I don't want to question whether or not he was pressed into this mold or morphed into it himself. The author clearly knows these characters entire backstories, which is great, but I as the reader do not, so having quick bursts of stuff like this is more frustrating than interesting. Another thing that got sugarcoated over is the copy cat stalker. It wasn't clear enough in make instances who Val was talking to, Gavin or the copy cat. I feel like, over the phone, she would have recognized if it was his voice or not. That wasn't explained well, and could easily be solved by saying the line was crackly or something like that. Threads seemed to be left dangling, like was that the copy cat by the vending machines then? And if so, what was with the note? We see later that Gavin is the one who killed Jade, but then why did he want Vance's address if he wasn't going to do anything? How was Gavin able to find them out in the middle of nowhere? Why did he place henbane in her hand if he'd just made the conscious decision to keep her? And about that, I would have liked more of that train of thought as well. I would have liked to see her reaction to his choice. After spending all of this time with these characters, I would have liked more reaction between them, and conversation, than the few every three days meetings we got. And the game this book was confusing, and maybe pointless? I don't know. She had to guess who he was going to kill, except she really didn't try very hard, and it never really made much sense. The last two especially. I don't believe we ever even get an answer as to who Rook was supposed to stand for. And was Jade number 2? That being the case, when she didn't hear from him for a few days...wouldn't she have guessed that he could have been the victim? What was the point of this "game" and what was it leading up to? Questions like that, which seem pretty important to me, never really get answered.
Then there was the end. I loved how it ended, don't get me wrong. Honestly, I don't see how it could have ended any other way. However, it was way too rushed. It was like all of the details got glossed over, making it not only hard to follow, but hard to believe as well. Like, where did she get the knife? How did she get it hidden? How did someone as attentive and paranoid as Gavin not realize? I would have liked it described how she got it, and when this was happening exactly. They're in his room (I assume...?) so how long ago did the whole Vance thing occur? Had Gavin told her about his marriage plans? What's going on with the whole baby thing? He'd been cold and crazy throughout, but there were moments where he was somewhat ok, and at the very end there he just went one hundred percent crazy again. After having someone else almost kill her, effectively taking her from him, I expected more emotion, even if it was just of the crazy stalker possessive kind. It didn't really need to be in an epilogue either, just a final chapter, and then it would have been nice to see how Val was doing in an epilogue after. It just sort of ended in a page after three books, which was a bit dissatisfying to me. Again, I liked how it ended, just not how brushed over the events were. If the scene were flushed out, given more detail and description, then it would have been amazing, and I probably would have given this book a full five stars instead of four.
That all being said, I did add this book to my "In Love" bookshelf on Goodreads, despite the four stars, so take from that what you will. ;)
If you guys are interested in checking out this trilogy (and you should be!) be sure to check back within the next few days! We're going to be hosting a giveaway for all three books, as well as have answered questions from the author! :)