The only had each other…
Until one forbidden night ruined everything.
One Step Closer
By Kahlen Aymes
Release Date: October 25, 2016
STEPSISTER. He hated that f*cking word.
When their parents got married, the only thing Caleb Luxan had in common with Wren Brashill was that they both hated their parents. When he was sixteen, Caleb discovered Wren’s closely guarded secret and vowed to protect her: from that day forward she became the reason for every decision he made.
Jealousy and long-suppressed desire overpowered Caleb’s fierce protectiveness and they spent one forbidden and unforgettable night in each other arms, but the aftermath left Caleb panicked, Wren heartbroken, and their relationship in shambles. In the time since that fateful night, he’d only seen her once and had only managed to make the situation even worse.
The sudden death of his estranged father calls Caleb home and face-to-face with Wren for first time in years. He is presented with a choice that forces him to confront the painful memories of his youth and his many regrets with Wren.
Like it or not, his father’s last, hard lesson, will demand Caleb deal with his long denied emotions for Wren, or let go of her forever.
Caleb’s muscled frame was rigid and as Wren looked at him, she studied his profile, and could feel his coiled tension. The fingers in his right hand curled into a fist. “I was so mad. So many times, I wished he’d been the one to die.” His voice was full of pain, as the words tore from him. “I fucking hated him with every breath I took. You saw how much.”
Wren nodded, though he didn’t see her acquiescence. She knew what he went through growing up when they had formed an affable alliance against their parents. She hated her mother at least as much as Caleb hated his father and she understood his anger and pain; then the apathy that became a welcome alternative. They’d been unlikely allies against a common enemy.
“Maybe I deserved his indifference.”
Wren got up and went to Caleb, standing behind him as he stood still as stone, and staring out the window. Her heart ached with love and grief for Caleb. She wanted to touch him; to offer reassurance, to take away the ache in his voice and heart. Without considering her actions, her arms slipped around his waist and she pressed up against his strong back and leaned her head against him, between his shoulder blades.
Caleb was massive in comparison to her, and she was like a flower curling around him. Her hands fanned out against his hard stomach, her fingers finding the definition of his abs beneath his shirt. “Stop, Cale. I won’t let you do this to yourself. Your dad wouldn’t want that. None of it was your fault.” Her arms slid fully around him and held him tight against her body. “I can’t bear it. You’ve had enough pain. Enough.”
Caleb sucked in a deep breath, the action bringing her even closer. He could feel every curve of her body pressed so closely against his back. He could feel her breathing, could feel how she shared his pain. His hand came up and he ran the flat of his hand from her elbow down to her hand, and then wrapped his fingers around hers.
“When did you turn into the strong one?”
Wren’s arms tightened around him. “When I met you. ”
“Oh, Wren.” Should he just spill his guts? Would it fix everything? “I’ve got so much to say to you. How long can you stay?”
She nodded against him, unwilling to end the contact between their bodies; needing the closeness as much as he did.
He wanted to apologize for how he acted the last time he’d seen her, he wanted to say a hundred things… he needed her forgiveness.
“How long do you need me?”
In that moment a miracle happened; a sort of beautiful irony that taunted Caleb with it’s fragileness. It was as if he’d never screwed everything up between them. But would it stay this way?
How long do I need you? Caleb thought. His heart raced to the point of exploding, and he wondered if Wren could feel it.
Second-chance romance is one of my go-to genres. There’s always something so fulfilling about people that are able to reconnect and make a go of things, something redemptive and promising. When it works, that second chance is sweet and extremely gratifying.
ONE STEP CLOSER by author Kahlen Aymes makes the victory of a second chance even more powerful. Caleb and Wren both have so much from their pasts to overcome. Not only was there much emotional pain to get past, the two of them have the additional issue of the somewhat forbidden due to the fact that they’re step-siblings.
Both Caleb and Wren had suffered the loss, both physical and emotional, of a parent. When Caleb’s emotionally distant father and Wren’s emotionally abusive mother married, it wasn’t long before the two children were drawn to each other, he from a sense of protectiveness, her with gratitude. With only each other to look to for love and support, it didn’t take long for protectiveness and gratitude to turn to love and desire, feelings that neither Caleb nor Wren would have dared act upon. One night of unbridled passion changed their relationship completely, and it took the loss of Caleb’s father to bring them together again.
Kahlen has written a book full of emotion and fire, a story that does a good job of showing how the tie that binds Caleb and Wren cannot be broken, even over time and distance. I had a bit of a hard time warming up to Caleb, but, given the way that he was raised, and the lack of any parental warmth, it wasn’t unexpected. Wren is delightful, and, given the way that her mother treated her, a true survivor. Seeing the two of them get past the things keeping them apart made for an emotionally satisfying read that I thoroughly enjoyed. ONE STEP CLOSER is a solid 4 stars for me, and a nice addition to Kahlen’s body of work.
***ARC generously provided for an honest review.***
I’m a single mother of one daughter, Olivia. She’s amazing in every way.
I was born in the Midwestern United States and educated at a private university where I received a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Administration.
I’ve always been creative with art, music, theater and writing. I decided to write a story as a way to build a network for a business venture. The reader support of my stories and my overwhelming desire to find out where my characters would take me, soon had the writing morphing the business. No one was more shocked than I. When readers began nominating my work for online awards, it took my breath away and only made me love it more. It soon became clear that writing was, and should be, my focus.
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