By RJ Prescott
RJ Prescott took the world of romance novels by storm in 2014 with her début, self-published release, The Hurricane. With almost 800 reviews alone on Amazon, Cormac and Emily O’Connell filled the hearts of readers leading to a publishing contract for Prescott with just one book. In The Aftermath, readers get a glimpse into the O’Connells happily ever after…eventually.
Cormac “The Hurricane” O’Connell (known to his loved ones as Con) has almost everything he could have ever dreamed of: the woman he loves, a boxing career that’s skyrocketing, and family who would do anything for him. The only thing marring his happily ever after is his wife’s diabolical and abusive stepfather who just won’t stay out of their lives. Emily O’Connell lives with the scars left by her stepfather Frank, including the stain of his rape. Even though he’s in jail, awaiting trial for his years of physical abuse and rape, he continues to torment the gentle Em and enrage Cormac.
The Aftermath is a beautiful, if not just a tad too long, novel about family. While there’s romance, Con and Emily are secure in their love and Prescott doesn’t contrive scenarios to break them up just to bring them back together. Instead, these two are the foundation of a family of boxers, young men who used fighting in the ring as a way to stay off the streets. Introduced in The Hurricane, the couple’s extended family grace the pages of The Aftermath with themes of loyalty, friendship, and brotherhood that leaves the reader with a full heart. I loved how Prescott chose not to use romantic conflict to tell this story, but instead show us how a strong, loving couple can deal with and overcome adversity with the help of those around them.
Though the book is a little too heavy with how wonderful love and marriage is early on, things pick up in the second half when Frank reemerges, fueling Con’s rage as he struggles not to end his career by killing this demon who has haunted his wife for over 10 years. While The Hurricane and their path to love was told from Em’s point of view, Con takes the reins in The Aftermath. This boxer who had nothing growing up shines under the light of Em’s love, his character showing growth and depth as the book progresses. Eventually Con fights for the World Heavyweight title and the fight is a testament to how he’s grown since the first pages of The Hurricane (not to mention Prescott’s knowledge of boxing and narrative put me in the front row of the Las Vegas MGM!).
The secondary characters in The Aftermath also shine. With the story told from Con’s POV, we get more of his brothers-in-arms, a delightful group of young Irishmen that will steal your heart. Con’s coach and mentor, Danny, is there as well, holding them all together as the father figure some of them never had.
The Aftermath and its predecessor, The Hurricane, are a fantastic two-shot look into the world of boxing and an enchanting look at romance without misunderstanding and external conflict. 4 stars. Heat level: 3.5 *I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
The Aftermath was published in December 2015 by Hachette Book Group.
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