6 STARS****** JA Huss, you are a amazing. I LOVED this. One of my favorites so far this year!
‘Taut’, is the spin-off of the ‘Rook and Ronin’ series. It is said it can be read as a standalone, and while I agree with that, I think it would add so much more to the experience and your understanding of what is driving Ford if you read the other three books first. Because I did not want to like Ford when I first met him in ‘Manic’ (the second book of the ‘Rook and Ronin’ series). I really didn’t, because he was an ass! He was rude, hateful, and mean. Then we were shown the other side of Ford, the tender, caring, protective and vulnerable side. That’s where my love for Ford blossomed-I am now Team Ford all the way! And he was a side character for those last two books! In ‘Taut’, the Prologue is the Epilogue of ‘Panic’. 😉 so, this story just continues on from where that book left off.
The beauty of this book is that it’s told completely in Ford’s POV. I loved that. It isn’t very often we get a book told entirely written in the male POV. It worked so well obviously because Huss was a writing genius with this book, but to understand him, he had to share what was on his mind. We wouldn’t have learned as much about him had this been a dual POV.
Ford loves Rook with an all-encompassing, first love. He, the one who isn’t supposed to be able to have or show feelings, is madly in love with Rook. And the realization that he can’t have her completely, 100%, is too much to handle so he knows he must leave.
“You’re selfish. You take. That’s all you do-take. You’re a Taker, Rook. And I have nothing left to give you. You took it all.”
Ford leaves Denver to escape the pain of rejection and the loss of the love of his life. He begins this heart-breaking inner monologue that caused the first set of my tears to fall. He is filled with such self-loathing because he is different, that it’s heartbreaking. Because Ford is a tortured man, with a difficult past, he believes he is a freak, and because of his mental diagnosis, believes he’s defective.
“People who know me see the anti-social freak. They see nothing about me that’s real. And the people who don’t know me are instinctively suspicious.”
As the snow begins to fall, his thoughts get darker. His thoughts are ‘filled with longing and aching. With self-loathing and hatred for what I am. For what I can’t be. For letting her get away. For letting Ronin take her. For wanting something I can’t have. For caring.’
I was so sad for Ford. He was so selfless in giving Rook up and not pursuing her. He is so devoted to Ronin that he refuses to steal her away from him out of loyalty-even though he knows he could.
While driving, a terrible snow storm erupts. He pushes his Bronco (which is decades old and like him is “not perfect, flawed and a work in progress”) to Vail with the hopes of making it to his family home to wait out the storm. Unfortunately, he breaks down on the side of the road and has to be towed to a garage.
Ashleigh and her 3 month old daughter Kate, are also on a road trip across the country. She also ends up in vail with the unfortunate luck of her car breaking down.
While in the process of securing a room for the night, he notices Ashleigh and her baby appear to be planning on sleeping in their car for the night. That protective, caring Ford I have come to love so well, offers to have them to stay with him to escape the cold.
While waiting for their cars to be fixed, Ford offers to let her stay with him at his home. She is basically homeless with a 3-month-old, and clearly a wreck of emotions. She accepts his offer for the short term.
Ford and Ashleigh get to know each other while they stay together waiting for the repairs of their cars to be done. Ashleigh turns out to be quite the match for him.
“I sit here thinking it over for several minutes before I come to the conclusion that I have just been word-slapped by a girl who never raised her voice or used profanity.”
Ford needs to heal and Ashley may be the elixir. She sees right through him just as he does everyone else. She is very perceptive.
“I want to be won, Ford. If you can win me, you can have me. I’ll be yours and you’ll have earned it.”
More than anything, he just wants to be loved, and give love.
‘I want a strong one. I want one who will keep up, challenge me, help me reach my full potential. Because I want a woman to touch me. So very, very badly.
Ford struggles with his need for his sexual kinky behavior and the desire for a “normal” girl. He is unsure if he can have one with the other.
“I might like to try a nice girl, or at the very least, a semi-nice one with a little freak to her. I admit, I’m not wholly dissatisfied with the naughty ones. But just once, just f’ng once, I’d like the Sandy instead of the Rizzo.”
But, even though he has grown to care about Ashleigh and Kate they eventually have to leave and go to their original destination – LA, and neither one knows what will happen once they get there.
“I let Ronin keep Rook, but Ashley is mine. And I’m not giving her up without a fight.”
Their story of finding one another through their own heart-wrenching past was beautiful. I loved how Ford felt protective over her and her child. Even though they hadn’t known each other for long, and Ashleigh didn’t want to share much about her past or why she appears to be running. It is a touching love story. Two tortured souls finding comfort, solace, and safety in one another.
“Will I just be another forgettable girl?”
“I guess that depends.”
“On whether or not you let me forget you.”