Title: Redeem (Under My Skin #4)
Author: Christina Lee
Publisher: Christina Lee
Release Date: February 28th, 2019
Genre(s): Erotic Romance, Hookups to Lovers
Page Count: 240
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Successful financial analyst Michael Walsh leads a picture-perfect life that anyone would envy—unless they caught a glimpse beneath the surface. Haunted by failed relationships and self-doubt, Michael harbors a soul-deep loneliness that no number of casual hookups can fulfill. So why can’t he stop thinking about his New Year’s fling with a man whose quiet desperation matched his own?
Barista Stewart Jenkins has an abysmal track record with relationships, and no matter how hard he tries to keep things tightly under wraps, his life is spinning out of control. His hookup with the gorgeous Michael was only supposed to be sex—hot, dirty, uncomplicated—but that small taste leaves him yearning for more.
Every no-strings encounter that follows between Michael and Stewart peels away more layers, blurring the lines, until they’re left with a raw tenderness and acceptance they both crave. A relationship seems out of the question—they come from drastically different lives and are plagued by inexcusable sins. Being vulnerable is sure to reveal old wounds, and forgiveness seems out of reach, unless they can find a way around their fears on the road to redemption.
First, the reader needs to know that Redeem is the 4th volume in Ms Lee’s series, Under My Skin (following Regret; Reawaken; Reclaim). While I haven’t read the earlier volumes, it is apparent that as much of the heroes’ interwoven background stories are sufficiently recalled that Redeem may be fairly judged as a standalone novel.
Next, dear reader, please hold on to your undergarments: here the “H” in HEA not only stands for “Happy” but also: “HOT.” Michael and Stewart, troubled by respectively imperfect past lives, are so incendiary together that the sparks from their physical passion provides a bright enough light by which to read the book!
These characters are beautifully flawed. Michael seems cool, aloof and driven to maintain a certain public appearance. He is the scion of a successful but aloof father, who was, himself, the perfect example of toxic masculinity. Yet Michael still has an innate need to take care of people.Stewart, on the other hand, has been emotionally abandoned by a mother who suffered from mental illness. Her periodic institutionalizations have left him subject to panicked dreams and severe anxiety attacks. These two stumble upon each other and, as hookups were supposed to keep things simple, they begin a passionate “friends with benefits” arrangement. The sex is, of course, incredible. But, oddly, they are also drawn to each other’s quirks. Michael is controlling but generous. He loves to take charge. Stewart is fulfilled by being with someone who tells him what to do – someone who will take care of him.
Ms. Lee entertains us with a clever way with words. [Describing a sexual event as “just the thing to start off the New Year with a bang. Pun intended.” And “Eh, villains are pretty misunderstood . . . Really, they’re just underdeveloped antiheroes.”] With all the usual, expected fits and starts inherent to a romance novel, we are eventually led to the expected HEA. Our heroes finally see the truths of themselves, and in each other. It surely won’t spoil the ending when they finally conclude, “What you really want is for someone to see you. To really see you and make you feel you’re worth it and like you belong.”
Enjoy! Now is time to read the earlier volumes, too.