Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hit the Mark

Rule / Jet / Rome / Nash / Rowdy / Asa by Jay Crownover
Series: Marked Men #1-6
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Dates: May 7, 2013 / May 28, 2013 / January 7, 2014 / April 29, 2014 / October 21, 2014 / April 21, 2015
Source/Format: Bought || Kindle e-books


Initially, I planned on just reviewing this entire series in a few paragraphs. But each novel is both a love story and an individual journey for these characters, and I thought it would be more fitting to dedicate some time to exploring each and every one of them. As a whole, the series is engaging and fun. The setting is fabulous, the characters dynamic and the relationships wonderful. I wouldn't mind being a part of the Marked family, I can tell you that!

Rule was an incredibly pleasant surprise! Based on what I knew of the story, I thought I had the plot all figured out. What I didn't count on was falling head over heels in love with Shaw and Rule, both as individuals and as a couple. Shaw is a strong, clever, driven young woman, who has loved Rule for as long as she can remember. Rule, by all appearances, is a rebel, but he's really just as driven and smart as Shaw. It was definitely a treat to get to have the dual POV narrative, as readers really get the opportunity to know both Rule and Shaw and their personal issues. Apart from their own individual trajectories, their romance was excellent with just the right balance of sweetness and angst. In spite of being able to guess at some of the twists, I really enjoyed the heck out of Rule.

Jet feels completely different in tone, possibly because the title character is a musician, as opposed to being involved in the tattoo shop. But it was all too easy to fall in love with Jet - in fact, so easy that I can easily tell you that he is my favorite. (Don't worry, it was a surprise for me too!) I loved reading about Jet, who is passionate, talented and extremely loyal. He might come across as a music god, but he really does have a vulnerability inside that called out to me. On the flip side of the coin, we have Ayden, smart, beautiful and equally driven to succeed, especially with the past that continues to haunt her. Admittedly, that past brings up a whole lot of drama in her current situation, but I loved seeing Ayden's strength of character, determination and love. These two go through their share of heartbreak (and there's a whole lot of drama involved), but somehow manage to come out of it better than ever and together. I flew through their story in a matter of hours, and I loved it!

Rome is an interesting read, as Rome, big brother to Rule (and Nash), is suffering from PTSD and a lack of direction after years serving in the military. His individual journey is really compelling, as there are ups and down as he discovers what he wants out of life. And who better to challenge him to be better and open up than Cora, loud, fierce mama bear of the Marked family who wants her own happily ever after? The dynamic between these two was unexpectedly endearing, and I enjoyed watching them break down each other's defenses and fall in love.

Nash is the Marked Men novel that I wasn't sure how I would feel about, since I know it got mixed reactions from a lot of readers. But the thing is, I loved both Saint and Nash. Saint is suffering from a lot of insecurity, all brought on by her own emotional stress from past experiences. This, more than anything, is something that I could relate to, and it instantly made me warm to Saint. I also have loved Nash since we first met him in the series, and to see him going through such a difficult time in his life was very heartbreaking. Together, these two have one of the most frustrating romantic journeys in the entire series; they need to be cautious, brave, patient and forward in equal measures, and that's a lot of extreme feelings coming together all at once. In the end, though the plot is heavy on internals and emotion, I wound up liking Nash a lot.

Rowdy has one of my favorite romantic tropes of all time - a childhood friendship blossoming into something more. Of course, seeing as how it is a story set in the Marked Men world, it's a lot more complicated than that. Rowdy, good-natured and easygoing, still harbors hurt from losing people he loved in the past; Salem, beautiful and fierce, has been running away from her father's strict lifestyle all her life. When they're reunited, it's not surprising that sparks fly between them even as their uncertainty and anger threaten to come between them. There's a lot of turmoil apart from the relationship; the drama is well-placed, organic and ensures that readers will fly through the pages of this novel.

Asa is a fitting conclusion to the series. Not only are readers treated to glimpses of the entire Marked family and how their lives are coming along, but readers are also treated to the story of Asa and Royal. Asa is Ayden's older brother, a charming Southern boy who got himself (and his family) into a whole lot of terrible trouble for years until he nearly dies as a result of that mess. Royal is a gorgeous girl, who can legitimately kick your ass too since she happens to be a cop. Both of them are trying to move past events that made them feel guilty, undeserving and out of sorts; both of them are also trying to fight pre-conceived notions about who they are. I was surprised by how invested I got in their story, in spite of how it did dwindle into a bit of repetition at some moments. It was sweet to see them come to terms with their pasts, and embrace their present situations... including each other. I loved getting to finish off the series reading about them, and there are some pretty great scenes featuring the rest of the Marked gang that are an additional bonus too!

Basically, when it comes right down to it, I'm so grateful that Kelly (and Rachel) recommended this series. I would never have picked these up on my own, if I'm being honest, and I would have missed out. It was a lot of fun getting to know the Marked family, and falling head over heels in love with each one's story! I'd highly recommend giving this series a shot if you're looking for NA that's fun, funny, sweet, thoughtful and utterly enjoyable.

4 comments:

  1. I've heard so much about this series, almost all good things! I tried Nash a while ago and couldn't get into it so put it down, but now that I know it's the book that's gotten mixed reviews, maybe I'll pick up one of the others. I don't want to miss out on any book boyfriends. ;)

    Great minis, Alexa!

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  2. Wow, these sound amazing! I stayed away because they didn't look like my kind of books but reading your descriptions and opinions of each one makes me want to give them a try! Awesome review Alexa :)

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  3. Rowdy is the one I'm looking forward to the most because childhood friendships that turn into romance are my favorite. Rome is also one of my "I can't wait to read" because there is something about a man in a uniform. I'm really excited to see how I like these books!

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  4. Rule was my fave of the series, but each guy had their strong points. I wanted to love this series more, but it's def not bad at all.

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