I discovered Sybil Bartel’s edgy characters and dark romances with No Apologies last summer. I did a little dance when I found out she’d written a new book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. And I was not disappointed. There is no sophomore slump with Impossible Promise. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for information on the book, buy links, and details on Sybil’s giveaway.
Three years ago, Layna Blair listened in horror over a telephone line as her parents were murdered. When the killer said she was next, Layna panicked and made a deadly deal—his secret in exchange for her life. She’s paid the price every day since, becoming a prisoner in plain sight.
Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson offers Layna a way out—her freedom, his rules, no questions asked—and she takes it, despite knowing what her keepers do to people who get too close. She doesn’t know Blaze is fighting his own demons or that beneath his warrior façade is a man on the verge of breaking.
Embarking on a wild revenge mission with Blaze and his smooth-talking best friend, Talon, is not what Layna signed on for. But attempting to run when Blaze has made no secret he intends to make her his is a reckless mistake. With the killer closing in, it’s up to Blaze to save them all—and to Layna to realize that she’s risked the one thing she can’t afford to lose.
I was immediately sucked into Layna’s story. It begins in a church where she escapes to find a moment of solitude — something she desperately needs because she’s constantly being watched, followed, and threatened, by the mysterious Miami. Blaze Johnson is the marine in the pew next to her — a trained soldier who knows when someone is in need of help. The problem is, everyone who tries to help Layna winds up dead.
The book is fast-paced full of sexual as well as other tension, and builds to astronomical heights. It’s been awhile since I’ve stayed up way too late reading, but Impossible Promise not only kept me up late, but also kept me from working on my own manuscript because I just flat-out couldn’t put it down!
Fair warning, it does have a love triangle, so if you loathe those, be forewarned. However, this is no Bella/Edward/Jacob love triangle. This is intense, completely believable, and utterly angst-ridden. This is romantic suspense at it’s best. Blaze will do whatever it takes to keep Layna safe, even though she never asked him to, and her feelings for him make him being involved dangerous for both of them. The guilt she feels at putting him in danger drives some of her more stupid moves, but it’s also understandable.
Blaze takes her to his best friend, Talon, to help him guard Layna while he simultaneously deals with his dying mother. The animosity-turned-witty-banter between Talon and Layna provides some of the best lines in the book, and it’s easy to see why she confuses her friendship with him something more.
The main plot is probably the romance, but it could equally be the mystery surrounding Layna’s parents’ death as well the identity of Miami and what he really wants from her. Regardless of the main plot, all of it is really well done. The author teases us with information, with sexual chemistry, with danger, only to start over again, with another bit of information, another intense moment of unresolved sexual tension, and more dangerous events. See, this is why I couldn’t stop reading!
Every character is intriguing. Layna is a walking post-traumatic-stressball, having been the sole witness to her parents’ brutal murder. Blaze has his own demons that drive everything he does, and Talon, well, let’s just say there’s gotta be something dark behind that smart mouth of his. And when all three of them get together, it’s explosive in the good best-4th-of-July-fireworks kind of way.
Set in south Florida, the setting is almost as important as the characters and Sybil Bartel does an excellent job of painting a very three-dimensional picture of her locales.
I enjoyed the ending, but it left me craving more, so I’m happy to know the second book will be out soon. It’s not a cliffhanger, but it’s definitely a “I need MORE” kind of ending.
Top Five Things I loved about Impossible Promise:
1. Talon. Everything about this bronzed surfer is fascinating. He’s so much more than a cliche and I’m hoping the next book will give me more insights into one of the most complex characters I’ve encountered since Sawyer from LOST.
2. Layna. She’s a hot mess and cries more than any protagonist I’ve read in awhile, but considering her young age and what she’s been through, it fits her character. And as much as she cries, she’s one tough cookie.
3. Blaze. He’s the strong, silent, scary type, and he does it well. His feelings for Layna humanize him in a way that makes him both sympathetic and admirable.
4. Sexual tension. This is some of the best I’ve ever read.
5. The writing. The author creates the perfect blend of ingredients to hook me, and keep me hooked page after page after page.
Once again, Sybil Bartel created a character that annoyed the heck out of me only to suck me in and make me root for her by the end.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.