Series: Phoenix Rising #3
Published by Brava on August 27th 2013
Genres: Action, Firefighters
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Jessica Fury, Washington lobbyist, has money, connections, and her own firm. But five years ago she had something better: happiness. Her firefighter husband, Quaid, was handsome, courageous, and crazy about her. Then one day he walked into a chemical inferno—and never walked out. Jessica has been through hell to get back on her feet. And then a rumor surfaces that could bring a miracle or shatter her world – again.
Q has been a prisoner forever. He’s honed his mind and body into weapons. He’s developed abilities no one else understands. But he’s still at the mercy of a cabal of ruthless men, who blank his memory, test him like a lab rat, and tell him lies. Although his past has been erased and his future looks grim, instinct tells him he has a woman to live for. What his mind can’t remember, his body can’t forget.
When Quaid Legend and his team of Hazmat Firefighters walked into the burning warehouse five years ago, their lives changed forever. The chemicals that the government was hiding in that warehouse caused them all to change on a molecular level, and left them with special abilities which certain areas of the government of very interested in using. Their lives have been monitored since that fateful day. Yet they were the luckier ones. Quaid lost his life…just not in the way the team was told. He didn’t die from his injuries as they believed, but he lost his freedom, his wife, and the future they should have had together.
Quaid was the first one into the warehouse that day and unlike his brethren, Quaid wasn’t just hit with one chemical blast, he was hit twice, and the blast shattered every bone in his body, but he survived and his body began to heal itself. And the government wanted to use that ability to create super-soldiers. When their experiments couldn’t recreate his abilities, they wiped his memory, drugged and tortured him and used him as a secret weapon.
When Teague, Luke, Keira and the rest rescued Keira’s brother Cash from government facility known as The Castle, they found their first clue that their friend Quaid was actually alive and being held by the government and used in experiments, but they need Jessica’s special ability to locate where they have hidden Quaid.
Jessica has never recovered from the loss of her husband, but she has finally stopped the downward spiral of drugs and sex to suppress the loss. She has been clean for the last year and she has focused all her energy on destroying the Senator who has been ruining her friends lives for the last five years. When Teague and Keira come to her with news that Quaid might actually be alive for the last five years, she is afraid to hope knowing that hope can push her back onto that path of self-destruction if the man they find isn’t her husband.
Except hope finds its way back into Jessica’s heart and she goes with her team to rescue the mysterious man known to Cash only as Q. What they find is a man with no memory of his past, a man who has become dark and dangerous from his years of torture and government programming. Quaid might not remember his life or his friends, but he recognizes the redhead from his dreams. Can Jessica drag Quaid back from the edge and remind him of the man he once was and of the life and the future they once dreamed of?
This is definitely my favorite story of the series. You know I love the tortured hero story so Quaid is already getting thumbs up from me, but added to that was Jessica’s acceptance that the Quaid she knew would never come back. She sees what was done to Quaid, to his mind, and she accepts that he will never again be the Quaid she married, and instead of lamenting her loss, she is ready to accept the man he has become and create new memories and a new life with this Quaid.
Quaid sacrifices himself to protect Jessica from the full blast in the warehouse fire which subjects his body to excessive exposure to the chemicals as well as shattering all the bones in his body. We only get a sample of his years of torture at the government hands as well as only a sampling of his abilities since Quaid spent a great deal of his time being drugged so they could control him and so he wasn’t fully aware of all his abilities so he couldn’t use them again his jailers. Although he couldn’t remember his past, there was still a part of his brain the remembered Jessica and sometime when he was able to spirit walk to her. He believed she was just part of a dream he was having, but his feelings for his “dream woman” were enough to comfort him during his captivity, and once he finds out that she is real, he will do everything to keep her by his side.
It was moving to watch them reconnect after all this time and see how deep their emotions were that his feelings for Jessica survived having his brain wiped clean and he knows that he loves her, but doesn’t know why. Just Quaid’s reaction to Jessica telling him she won’t ever leave him made me all teary since he couldn’t remember anyone ever caring about him.
There are some big happenings during this story which should bring big changes to the series. I can’t wait to see what surprises Mitch’s book will bring to the series.
I have enjoyed all of Joan’s stories but this one is at the top of my list.
Received an ARC from netgalley.com courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.
“Who am I to you?”
Her smile dropped. She pulled her bottom lip between her teeth while her mind and heart bellowed I’m the person who loves you the most in the entire world. I’m the woman you chose over all others. I’m your wife.
“You don’t remember anything…yet?”
“Not in my head.” He turned and faced her and she almost wished he hadn’t. His expression was so tortured he seemed almost…angry. “But I have all these emotions, all the feelings I don’t understand. I have no memories, no basis for them.”
She nodded, unsure of what to say.
In two steps, he stood in front of her. His scent surrounded her, soap and heat and Quaid. He took her chin in his hand. A thrill teased her heart in anticipation of him tilting her face up and kissing her. But he turned her head to the side, and swept her hair off her neck with the other hand.
She pulled in a breath of shock and fear, and tried to push his hand away, but he was too strong. “Quaid…”
He took her face in both hands, this time tilted it up until she looked directly in his eyes. She grabbed one of his wrists, but he wasn’t hurting her, so she didn’t pull it away. And, God help her, she just wanted his mouth back on hers.
“Why is this tattoo on your neck?”
Her gut tensed. She raised her gaze from his lips to his eyes. Those deep brown, demanding eyes. And hated the way she immediately wanted to lie. “It’s a Chinese sym–“
His hands tightened on her face. This time the pressure did sting and she teetered on that line between anger and patience.
“It’s the name you’re all calling me. Quaid—that name—in a Chinese symbol.”
She opened her mouth to ask how he knew. No one knew. She’d gotten the ink after his death and never told anyone, not even Keira, what it meant. But his gaze dropped to her lips and the words died in her throat.
“Were you mine?” he asked his voice softer, his gaze slowly rising from her mouth with a look so heated, so hungry, her control nearly slipped right through her fingers. “Were you mine, Jessica?”
She swallowed. “Y-yes.”
His gaze held hers for a long moment, filled with shock. She held her breath, fearing and anticipating his reaction at the same time. Shock shifted to confusion. Confusion into disbelief. He let go, dropped is arms and stepped back.
Jessica swallowed, watching his eyes. Those eyes she’d once been able to read so well, now seemed like rich pools of mystery.
“Are you…? How…?” He shook his head, shifted from foot to foot, staring at some unknown spot on the ground. He mumbled something Jessica didn’t catch. Rubbed his head.
She feared she’d said too much, pushed him over some cognitive line.
When he finally lifted his gaze from the ground and met her eyes again, more questions floated there than doubt. “We…were together.”
She wrung her hands, trying to smile through all the distress. “Yes.”
He chewed on the inside of his lower lip. Something he used to do when he was thinking or right before he’d admitted to a change of heart about something. The sight made the threat of tears sting across the bridge of her nose.
His eyes glistened with wetness and he cleared his throat. “Were we…happy?”
Oh, God. She tightened the muscles in her abdomen to hold back the sob that wanted to come. If she could just touch him…But she stayed where she was and slid the chain of her necklace through her fingers, letting the locket settle in her palm. “Yes. We were very happy.”
He closed his eyes and wetness clumped his long, dark lashes. He looked away, nodded. Sighed. Shifted on his feet, one step back, one step forward. One step back…A torturous tease to Jessica, who had to fight not to beg him to come to her.
When he searched out her eyes again, his gaze had grown sad. So painfully sad. “And who do you belong to now?”
For a moment, she didn’t understand the question. Then she realized what he was asking and the look in his eyes clicked. She couldn’t take it, that broken, defeated expression. She couldn’t stand knowing he suffered the belief he’d lost someone he’d loved. Whether he remembered her or not, that pain floating in his eyes was real.
She closed the distance between them. Quaid’s shifting halted as soon as she took her first step, his entire demeanor flipping to defense mode. She didn’t let that stop her from getting within an inch of his body. Reaching up, she slid both hands over his head, letting them rest at the base of his neck. When his eyes closed and a look of relief eased his face, her stomach did little somersaults.
“Quaid.” She smiled through the volatile mix of pain and hope. “My heart will always be yours. That’s why I’m here.”
He opened his eyes slowly, cautiously,and gave her that long I’m-not-too-sure-what-to-believe stare.
When she couldn’t take the silence any longer, Jessica laughed, shortly and softly, and threaded her fingers at the back of his neck. She eased forward and pressed her body against his. He felt so good, a wall of warm muscle. “I haven’t changed my mind in five years, Quaid. I’m not changing it now.”