Page Count: 321
Release Date: 8 December 2011 (first edition)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author, via Romancing the Book, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Laura!)
Love can heal a broken heart, even one that no longer beats.
When empathic vampire Lucien Demarco unexpectedly falls in love with a single mother he planned to kill and her young daughter, he battles against his ancient self-hatred, driving bloodlust, and the nagging guilt he feels for hiding his immortal identity.
Samantha Sutton and her daughter Olivia are all alone—Sam's parents both died and Ollie's father abandoned them. Sam sees something special and compelling in the mysterious but quietly kind man who moves into the old house across the street, but fears what it would do to her and Ollie to be left again.
When Lucien's dark past catches up with him and an old vampire rival threatens to destroy his newfound second chance for happiness, love, and family, Lucien must reveal his true nature to save his girls' lives—but can Sam and Ollie accept him for who and what he is?
"Samantha ... She was the light, and I had been drinking the dark for so very long."
The first time Lucien Demarco sets his eyes on Samantha Sutton, he's blinded by her vibrance, her stunning allure that is so full of life, which is something he lost a long time ago. Her spirit literally glows and yet she's been through so much, too much, which leaves an emptiness in her heart that urges her to push everyone she loves away.
He, initially attracted to her tantalizing scent, catches himself caring for and sympathizing with her and her domestic conflicts—and it isn't just the empath in him that's causing this. He is the exact opposite of Sam, the exact opposite of what she needs, but is affected by her in ways he cannot comprehend: a corner of darkness propelled by a beam of light, and an ignition of touch. He can't get involved, not with a prospect so human; having escaped the clutches of a powerful, gang-like network of vampires and fled to Detroit, where he thought he was finally free, he realizes what danger he puts himself and his new "family" in, when long-due vengeance comes knocking on his door. And yet the stir in his body and soul is compelling enough for him to wander away from all rational thought.
Sam and Ollie are the only people who have been able to trigger any type of emotion in him—at least the only people he's encountered in what seems like an eternity. They renew him. They become him. And with that acknowledgment, he knows he cannot survive without them or ever turn back.
The emotional intensity of this book is so, so powerful. Not only the contemporary-set romance and the steamy chemistry between Sam and Luce, but also the highs and lows of family and self-sacrifice—all of it was a turbulent ride. As Lucien relearns the mess—and utter beauty—of humanity through his beloved Sutton girls, he discovers that although they are his dire weakness, they will save him—and he, them—in the end... and they will forever free each other as well.
The characters, while good together, are not very developed individually. Sam is distant and completely two-dimensional. She's incredibly likable—kind, sensitive, gorgeous—but just seems a little too perfect, which I found unpalatable. Fortunately, Forever Freed is narrated by Lucien, who is as flawed as Samantha is faultless; unfortunately, his first-person male perspective is stiff (he is centuries old, after all), overexposed, and irritatingly bleak. I feel he wasn't as sexy and alpha of a vampire hero as he should've been in this story.
The high action and precarious plot make up for the flat characters, however. I enjoyed the suspense immensely, including the hot love scenes tucked in between. This book is full of untold secrets, vampire gore, and the implications of overcoming temptation in the name of love; a fresh twist on vampire romance!
Smoldering chemistry between Samantha and Lucien! // Loved Samantha's character // Ollie is adorable // Vampires aren't sparkly and omnipotent // Very realistic and raw portrayal of bloodlust and supernatural danger
Strange, uncomfortable narration // Stylistically nothing impressive (no specific quotes that stood out to me)
While Forever Freed's characters are a bit flimsy and the narration slightly off-key, the acute, powerful storyline and the complexity of Samantha and Lucien's relationship really reverberated with me. Laura Kaye brings us an untraditional paranormal romance with a crucial slant on love and humanity, as well as on the compassion and sheer vulnerability you hold for the one person who has the power to bring you back to life
8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended (x)