Katy Regnery has left her Blueberry Lane series in the dust with her ripped-from-the-headlines and eerily well-timed novel, “Unloved”. The romance in this book is tender, sweet, and soft. Cassidy, the Hero is a Beta Hero: a compassionate caregiver and careful protector. His backstory is harsh, lonely and simply put … sad. Brynn the Heroine, is at the onset buried under two-years of grief. However as the storyline progresses not only is she smart, filled with an inner strength she becomes a hopeful optimist. The words “riveting”, “compelling”, and “intriguing” are weak when it comes to describing this novel. Katy Regnery’s characters are charming and lovable and the storyline is tight and quickly moving.
The Prologue occurs two years prior to the events in the book. Brynn has car trouble and calls her fiancé to say she can’t get to the concert they’re suppose to attend. She tells him he can stay if he wants. Unfortunately he stays and is the victim of a mass gunman at the concert. For two years Brynn lives a hermit’s life. Brynn works from home allowed her friendships to languish only leaves her apartment for therapy. Unexpectedly she finds her late fiancé’s cell-phone in a evidence bag. It bears a bloody fingerprint and a text to her just before being fatally shot. She believes he letters “katahd” in the text are the start of the name of his favorite mountain. It’s located in his home state of Maine. A mountain he claimed, many a time, that his soul resides … Katahdin.
Brynn decides to go to the top of Katahdin and bury his bloody phone on the mountain. In addition to believing that was his last wish; she hopes it will provide some closure. She’s an inexperienced hiker who gets advice from her fiancé’s twin on the best way to reach the mountaintop. She encounters some younger girls also making the climb. The women attract the unwanted and creepy attention of a man at the ranger station. Luckily some college guys are there to step in and offer to accompany the girls up. The weather turns bad and the others turn back. But Brynn is on a mission and wants to achieve her goal that day. Unfortunately she gets injured and encounters the creepy man from the base of the mountain.
Cassidy’s story starts off quite gruesomely. At the age of five he witnesses his father gutting a raccoon. What’s truly disturbing is that the raccoon is still alive. He runs to his mother but says nothing. Cassidy’s father is a long-haul trucker and is only home a couple of days out of the month. His routes run up and down the Northeast; specifically the I-95 corridor. On his sixth birthday his father is arrested for the rape and murder of over a dozen girls. Life in town is stressful the small-town residents are wary of the son of a serial killer. They wonder if he has those traits swimming in his DNA. His mother decides to move in with her father who lives in the shadow of Katahdin completely off-the-grid.
Cassidy’s mother is obsessed with DNA and worries for her son. Just before she dies of cancer Cassidy realizes that both his mother and grandfather want him to “live quiet”. To stay out of the public eye, never fall in love or have children. He agrees that passing a monster’s DNA to innocent children would be terrible. So Cassidy lives his life on his grandfather’s farm “living quiet” waiting for the day the “kill gene” switches on.
To avoid loneliness sometimes Cassidy walks the mountain trails as anonymously as possible among the other hikers. He happens to go up the mountain the same day as Brynn and notices her. Her presence and beauty stun him. Cassidy decides the strong feelings he has for Brynn are dangerous and decides to go home. However he happens to hear her screams and goes after her. He discovers the “creepy” man has her in a lean-to and is stabbing her. Cassidy grabs the man and flings him against the wall where he falls unconscious. After thinking through various scenarios about what to do with Brynn he decides to take her to his home. Cassidy fears walking into the ranger station carrying a broken and bloody Brynn. He believes he would be suspect number one based solely on the fact his father was a renown serial killer.
Cassidy took online paramedic courses and stitches all of Brynn’s stab wounds. Brynn is in and out of consciousness for three days. When she wakes she doesn’t recall everything that happened at first. However she knows without a doubt Cassidy wasn’t the person who hurt her. When she tells this to Cassidy, adding the fact that she trusts him, he’s awed, elated, and humbled. He’s never felt truly trusted in his entire life. Even his mother and Grandfather caused him to doubt his trustworthiness.
Life with Cassidy is a culture shock. Cassidy lives with solar power, composts, gardens his vegetables and relies on a goat and hens for milk and eggs. Brynn is from San Francisco and is used to the internet, satellite TV, hot water, and flushing toilets. Nevertheless Cassidy and Brynn feel a strong attraction and connection and those feelings grow stronger as the days pass. Cassidy has successfully avoided questions about his family, his father in particular. But he knows he can’t allow himself to indulge the idea of a Forever with Brynn. Unfortunately he can’t explain to Brynn why their time together must has an expiration date.
Brynn has known Love and knows she’s falling in love with Cassidy. She wants to become physical with him. Since Cassidy moved to the cabin, off-grid, as a young child he’s a twenty-seven year-old virgin. He knows he’s fallen in love with Brynn but he’s determined to let her upon the predetermined date. He can never give her children or a family. Cassidy refuses to indulge in a fantasy that he can never have. Their sex life makes it clear they are perfect for each other and their time together is idyllic. However when Brynn tells Cassidy she loves him and wants to stay with him and have a family. It’s Cass’s personal nightmare and dream and his intense reaction scares him. He knows he must get Brynn far away from him at any cost.
The beauty of “Unloved” is Katy Regnery’s Happily-Ever-After solution. It’s clever, unexpected, and well executed. It makes Brynn shine as a Heroine. At the conclusion, she dives in refusing to take her time recuperating or studying each and every clue and revelation. She goes after her man and their Happily-Ever-After. Her character runs the gamut from fragile shell to determined dynamo. Brynn’s parents are a lovely pair perfect in their comic relief when they make their appearance. Cassidy is the story’s star; a new brand of Fictional Book Boyfriend. Tender, kind, brave, and true. “Unloved” is a must-read dark romance that isn’t truly dark but EXTREMELY TWISTY.
I’m giving “Unloved” 5 Lightning Bolts and a Gale Warning.
This novel was provided, voluntarily read, and honestly reviewed.