Monday, February 3, 2014

Rome by Jay Crownover Review

Rome by Jay Crownover
Series: Marked Men #3
Published by William Morrow
Publish Date: January 7, 2014

384 Pages
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


Cora Lewis is a whole lot of fun, and she knows how to keep her tattooed bad boy friends in line. But all that flash and sass hide the fact that she’s never gotten over the way her first love broke her heart. Now she has a plan to make sure that never happens again: She’s only going to fall in love with someone perfect. 

Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He’s stubborn and rigid, he’s bossy and has come back from his final tour of duty fundamentally broken. Rome’s used to filling a role: big brother, doting son, super soldier; and now none of these fit anymore. Now he’s just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes the only color on his bleak horizon. 


Perfect isn’t in the cards for these two, but imperfect might just last forever . . . (from Goodreads) 



Rome by Jay Crownover 

My Thoughts:  I'm really a sucker for this series. I love it so much and that love is just growing with each book. 

I've already read and shared my thoughts on the first two books - basically gushing - about how the author spent time allowing me to get to know her characters pretty well in the first book, Rule. In the second book, Jet, I loved how I felt comfortable enough with the characters that I felt like I knew them, like they were almost friends of mine. Truthfully, though, I've been waiting waiting waiting on this third book because I've been intrigued with the older Archer brother, Rome, since the beginning of this series. He caught my attention right away in the first story and I knew that when I finally got the chance to see what his story was, I would find out the reasons for his interesting behaviors and the strained family dynamic and why he feels how he feels about certain things. I was so absolutely correct - Jay Crownover shared these things and so much more in this story and now I am certain that this book is my favorite in the series so far. It was SO VERY worth the wait. 


(You can read my thoughts on Rule by Jay Crownover HERE.)
(You can read my thoughts on Jet by Jay Crownover HERE.)


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As the book opens, the whole group of friends (listed for the most part in THIS BLOG POST) is at a summertime backyard barbecue. Cora - the fiesty front-desk gal from the tattoo shop - is super excited because she lives for the moments when all of her friends, her favorite people, are together and happy. The problem is that Rome is there and is being kind of a pain in everybody's rear-end. See, this is a party for two of their mutual friends, celebrating a milestone in their lives - it seems like no matter what, Rome is determined to rain on their parade. And actually, Cora thinks, it seems like he is doing that quite a bit lately. SURE he just came back from serving in active duty overseas and SURE it is possible that he may be having some adjustment issues, but in NO WAY should everyone else have to pay for his poor attitude, thinks Cora. Tension mounts and escalates to a blow-out of sorts between Cora and Rome in which Cora pours a drink over the top of Rome's head. And BOOM! just like that, there is immediate tension within the group of friends. 

This is not good. This is not good. 

Rome leaves the party and heads to a bar. There ends up being a big brawl. Rome ends up with staples and scars. 

Clearly, Rome IS having some issues and he realizes that there may be some credibility to what that pain-in-the-neck Cora was saying. Rome doesn't really want there to be problems within his group of friends, especially if he is the cause - he really loves them all so much. He knows he needs to apologize for his behavior, so he sucks it up and goes to see Cora. 

Fast forward: Rome and Cora, sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. 

WHAT? How do you go from snarky comments and glares and pouring drinks over someone's head to maybe/possibly/wait-can-I-be-in-love-with-this-guy

Just ask Cora. Because she totally did. And Rome was the same way. And it was gloriously, deliciously wonderful to read and I enjoyed and savored every single word. 

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Rome by Jay Crownover is a really interesting and fun addition to this series because it is just different enough to keep the series interesting but it still completely and totally fits. What I mean is that Rome Archer, the title character, 1) is not a Marked man like the previous two title characters - he does not worked at the same tattoo shop and isn't a tattoo artist - and 2) is not a "marked" man because he does not have tattoos like the previous two title characters. He is firmly relevant to the overall story arc because he is the older brother of Rule Archer, the main character from the first book. This book's link to the Marked shop comes in with the love interest, Cora. YEP, A GIRL. (I LOVE IT.) Cora is the shop's front-end manager and the body modification artist at the shop. She is inked-up and has interesting body modification that fits in well with both Rule and Jet from previous books and the title characters from some of the books to come in this series. I loved this little change-up. 

Rome may not be inked but he still is marked, just in a different way. Having spent ten years in the military, most or all of that in active duty, Rome's body bears plenty of scars. It was not too long ago that Rome was the sole survivor of an attack which left him wounded badly enough that he spent some time in a hospital in Germany and with a pretty awful case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Now out of service and back home, Rome struggles with his new station in life - what should he do now that he isn't the "hero" any longer? What kind of job will he have? How can he stop re-living the moment of the roadside attack over and over in his nightmares? Since being home, Rome has turned to alcohol increasingly to numb himself from what he is feeling - or what he is not feeling - but this is not helping him at all. It is clearly just making things worse and damaging the relationships he has with the people that he loves. 

On top of Rome's post-military service PTSD issues, he has some pretty gnarly family issues. Having lost a younger brother in a car accident some time earlier, Rome is feeling some intense guilt over some of his final words to his brother (the things he did say and didn't say), over his relationship with his parents, over his relationship with his surviving younger brother, Rule. This is something that he also cannot seem to move beyond and another reason for turning to alcohol - again, this is certainly not helping. And again, this is another issue that plagues Rome in his nightmares - conversations with his late brother, Remy, replayed over and over in his head. 

Basically, Rome's homecoming was a joyous occasion for his friends, but as for his parents (who haven't seen him in over a year) and Rome himself, things are not great. Rome needs help getting his life together and finding some purpose in it now that he is no longer an active soldier. 

ENTER CORA. Cora is described as small in size and a spitfire, and that is exactly what she is. She is inked with bright, beautiful tattoos and has two different colored eyes. She has a short, choppy haircut that makes her look kind of spunky. Cora has an intensely protective attitude - she protects the people that she loves and she protects herself - and this is very interesting in the story because it both works FOR her and AGAINST her at various times because it causes her to take some super big risks with herself and others as far as relationships go. 

Cora has been hurt in her past by a past romantic relationship. She was so devastated that she is closed off to loving someone else again unless the relationship is absolutely perfect. She WILL NOT entertain anything less than that. However, when she and Rome accidentally become acquainted and affiliated, this completely shatters her plan for "perfect" - Rome is the most imperfect person she knows! He has absolutely NOTHING about his life together and she wants nothing to do with his instability. However, the more time she spends with him, the more time she wants to spend with him, and the more she realizes that she really likes him. Is imperfect actually perfect for her? What is the definition of perfect, anyway?

Cora initially judges Rome but little by little she realizes that she was wrong about him. Little by little she falls for him. While this is happening, Rome is realizing that a life with someone you care about and eventually fall in love with is really worth living, and this is something that he wants for himself. While Cora is not someone he would ever have seen himself falling for before, he realizes that Cora is helping him with his PTSD, his nightmares - not only about the war but also about his grief over his brother. Cora helps him in so many areas of his life that he realizes as he falls for her that he doesn't want to live without her. He can't live without her. She allows him to be vulnerable where he has been trained to be anything but vulnerable for years. THIS IS SO HUGE FOR ROME. BUT! 

Cora is having trouble - she knows how she feels about Rome, but she knows how she has been burned in the past. THEN THEN THEN life throws one of its curveballs. And then another. And then another. Over and over, life throws things at these two. Eventually Cora has to decide they have to decide if they're in this thing together...or not...


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When I said Rome is my favorite of the three released books in this series so far, I meant it. Again, as before, I loved that I knew so much about the characters that I felt like they are old friends. I feel like I'm visiting them when I'm reading about them, and that is such a cool thing about this series. Also, I know the character(s) that were introduced or built-up in the last book so much more at this point that I will feel the same way from here forward. AND I'm excited about the introduction of a new character for the future...Jay Crownover really has a fantastic ability to weave these characters into the story and into my head and heart. They are so well-rounded and fully developed that they walk around and fight and play out like a television show or movie in my head and Y'ALL KNOW HOW I LOVE THAT. I love them all, every single one. 

I think that part of being a well-rounded contemporary character is being "real." In this installment, Rome has some very real issues that real people face and I love that the author wasn't afraid to tackle them. I have no personal experience with PTSD in soldiers, but I have read several books dealing with this and Rome as a character is a great example based on what I know. The author handled his issues respectfully, I think, and I appreciate the opportunity to glance into this 'problem' particularly since I have no experience with it on my own. I loved that Rome was struggling and vulnerable and failed at times and had successes at others. I loved that Rome reached a point where he realized that he needed help and got it. I love the way that Rome's friends rallied around him but also showed him some tough love when it was appropriate, because I think that accountability among friends is important. And I love the interaction between Rome and other retired soldiers in the book - LOVE it. 

In the same way I loved Rome, I loved Cora - I loved her for being a strong and independent 'spitfire' but I loved her even more for being very real and very vulnerable - for realizing that she has a stubborn streak that was too large and was standing between her relationship with people she loved, and knowing when to back down. I loved that Cora failed at some things and succeeded at others. You guys, people aren't perfect in real life and don't always do the right things and say the right things and have the right expectations. Cora is a great example. She went through almost losing what was most important to her more than once before she was finally able to buckle down and get real with herself - I loved that. That is a very real-life thing and was written very well. I also really loved her protective instinct. 

Rome and Cora handle all of life's 'suddenlies' and 'unexpecteds' that are thrown at them in the best way they can - not always the way I would or maybe the way you would - but they did what they thought best at the time and they got through things. I loved the heck out of reading that. 

ALSO! I love the way that this series has stuck firmly in the New Adult category so well. In Rome, the college setting is less prevalent than before but it is still there with a few of the characters. What is more prevalent, I think, is the finding of permanent homes and establishing of careers - and it happens with more than one character in this book alone. This is something that I know to be important to some of my NA-reading friends, and I love that I have found a series that includes it so often as part of the story. This is very real to people in this stage of life and I love that it is included in this series so much and is so well done. 

I keep saying the word "real" over and over in this blog post and I think that describes this book and why I loved it more than anything else - the characters, the story, everything felt very real to me. This is 3/3 that I've really enjoyed by Jay Crownover. I have all ideas that as I continue with this series - AND I WILL - I'll be enjoying it as much or maybe even more with each book. I absolutely adore these characters, each and every one of them - I love them for their faults and the great things about them. They feel like people I know in real life but just do not see every day, and that is something pretty great. I recommend Rome and the entire Marked Men Series to fans of New Adult with romance and real-life "stuff" in it. They're just really fun books, you guys. That's all. I'm a fan. I'm sold. I'm all in. 


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Rome will appeal to fans of:

NA Contemporary Romance with Issues
Romance: Slowly developing. No triangle.
Great Characterization
Great Friendships
Sibling Relationship
Alternating POV
Tattoos
Issues: PTSD (and others, no spoilers!)

Rome by Jay Crownover
is currently available for purchase.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for me to read and review on this blog. My thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone, and I received no compensation for them! Thank you William Morrow!

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Have you read any of this series? 

What are your thoughts? 

I'm excited for the next book! 



 


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