[I received a digital arc for an honest review]
Prodigal Son by Jay Crownover is the second book in The Forever Marked series featuring the second generation of the Marked Men and Saints of Denver. Remy Archer has always been a lot, and it took years of intensive soul searching and medical/psychological intervention to find a happy place. When one of her most significant triggers, Hyde Fuller, returns to Denver she knows she will need to find new coping mechanisms to deal with the surge of memories he brings back. Hyde’s return to Denver is shrouded in sadness, as he returns after the death of a girlfriend and the premature birth of his daughter. He hopes that surrounding himself with the support of his family will help with the overwhelming weight of the world on his shoulders. He knows he should stay away from Remy after their difficult past, but he finds himself wanting to pull her close rather than push her away as he did for so many years. The two will need to decide if being part of each other’s lives will help or hurt.
“Do your worst, Hyde.“ “No. I’m going to do my best for you, Remy. Always.“ That was a promise I was certain I could keep.
Remy Archer has lived a life of extreme highs and lows. After her mental illness was diagnosed and she was able to identify triggers, she spent years traveling trying to find herself balance. Her return to Denver is meant to help rebuild relationships that suffered, but she never expects one of those to be with Hyde. She realizes she may not be able to control herself around him and decides that minimal interaction is best and tries to set boundaries. Hyde manages to break down her carefully set boundaries when he reaches out with such brutal honesty and vulnerability. She still tries to keep things just physical, but those lines blur as she realizes she’s not just falling for Hyde again but also for his precious daughter Hollyn.
“This kiss wasn’t a tool to pull me closer like in the old days; this was a weapon she was using to try and drive me away. Unfortunately for her, I didn’t plan on going anywhere now that everything in my life felt like it was finally falling into place.”
Hyde Fuller has struggled since childhood to feel secure in his place in the world. He thought that leaving to enlist would help him establish the security that comes with life in the military. He returns not only struggling himself but with a child who needs so much from him. Hollyn is a bright spot in his life that he is so worried about not being enough for her. The moments between Hyde and Hollyn will fill your heart to the brim. He returns to Denver wanting to pull the only person he’s ever been able to be one hundred percent himself with close. But Remy is reluctant to trust his newfound openness to the idea of them together, and fights him at every turn. He refuses to give up on them though, knowing how much he and Hollyn need her brightness. He allows himself to be engulfs in their heated connection and struggles to slow down to a pace that is comfortable for Remy.
“It had taken a long time, and the road was often dark and treacherous, but I found my way home… And so had the prodigal son.”
The premise of this book pretty much guaranteed an emotional ride and this book did not disappoint. Mental illness can be difficult to present in a story without biases or stereotypes, and I felt that Crownover took the time to approach the subject with respect and acknowledged in her foreword that the representation in this book was based on personal experiences. The honest and real portrayal of the characters and the struggles were moving. She showed how it’s a constant battle that you shouldn’t be defined by, and the importance of taking care of yourself in order to be able to care for those you love. This book took on additional heavy subjects, but never failed to keep you engaged in the ongoing romance between Hyde and Remy. It was nice watching their relationship evolve. As always this book left you dying for the next story whether it be Zowen chasing his future to California or Daire and her enemy who may be a little more than that (can’t wait because Campbell’s sketchy history has my NEEDING MORE).
5 stars for Hyde and Remy’s bumpy and emotional road back to each other.
Content Warnings: attempted suicide, Mental Illness, and infant health issues.