3 out of 4 stars
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Anna Walters-Simmons may not have had a perfect life. She’s had an abusive stepfather and a worse stepbrother. But now with her stepfather out of the picture, she can tolerate her stepbrother solely due to the reason that she has a loving boyfriend. Matthew Preston is like a dream come true for Anna, the handsome hunk who’s desired by every girl. Anna is flattered that he loves her and is willing to do anything for him. Little is she aware that doing ‘anything’ for him would cost her a big price.
I read the second and third book of the Bad Boy Vibes trilogy before Heartaches and can hence say that they are informative enough to be read in any order. I knew the ending, so this was like a reminiscence of the past. It is a very heart-wrenching tale. Anna is drugged and raped by her boyfriend along with his brother, Jason, and father, Peter. She is confused and hurt. The drug makes it so hard for her to have her wits about her and she hides everything from her mother, Jane, for she knows that it would break her. A chance meeting with Rafe Brown has her revealing her dark story. She is unwilling to tell a stranger (though she has seen Rafe from afar a few times over the years), but he lightens her burden by reading the pain in her eyes.
Rafe wishes to help Anna seek justice and ensure the Prestons are punished for their crimes. But their journey is not without obstacles. It’s not even easy. H. M. Irwing has answered a few of my questions, but reading this book made me go to a very dark place for sure. If you are of the kind who cringes just with the mention of rape, this book is not for you. The scenes are graphic and horrifying. The brutal way the Prestons deal would really scare the reader. The strength of Anna and Rafe is inspiring, but the judicial system is not just frustrating, it’s saddening. The head of the sex crime investigation unit, Tess Jordan, tells a very powerful dialogue which shook my core: “Rape is a play at power,” she said, determinedly holding Anna’s gaze. “The dominating of one over another.” This book portrays the trauma rape victims go through. Unfortunately, it is believable, yet sad.
The characters are very few, which helped me concentrate on the plot. Anna is forced by her mother to befriend her neighbor, Yasmin Yusuf, who is just as dull, if not worse and is willing to tolerate her friendship only because she has a crush on Anna’s stepbrother, Brian. Charlotte Mitchells is a bully at Anna’s school. Not only does she make her life miserable, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, she ends up being a victim to the Prestons as well. Rafe stands by Anna’s side and eventually reveals his own traumatic past. Their love for one another is unconditional. The character development is wonderful.
It is extremely hard for me to write this review without spoilers since I have read the entire series now. Due to the numerous mistakes, I award it 3 out of 4 stars. I am sad to hear that such crimes are being carried out today. Drug-induced rape seems to be horrifying since it messes with the victim's mind and she/he is unable to resist. I hope that such criminals are punished and such drugs banned. I hope that victims who have faced similar situations may know that we are there for them, that they have done no wrong and that they should raise a voice against their abusers. I hope for a happier day in the future.
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