Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“The waiting was all that was left, and that was never going to be easy.”
I was attached to this book more than I was with book one – in fact, I became a little obsessed with the plot of this particular story! Things are darker than ever, there are twists and turns from the very beginning that leave you speechless and we see the disturbed minds of certain characters, as well as the consequences of their actions. So happy to be a part of this blog tour with a bunch of other amazing book bloggers! Be sure to read my review of book one here 🙂
Having responded to Abbie’s absence in his own inimitable style, an unexpected reconciliation sees Joe conflicted by a need to seek revenge and a need to seek gratification, but as he wavers between hope and hatred, an unlikely reunion throws all those involved into further turmoil, deepening wounds and threatening fragile minds. Battling for normalcy, accusations and revelations abound until a devastating discovery proves almost fatal. There are lessons to be learned and theories to challenge, but who is really responsible for the endless stream of fear and betrayal? Dark minds and dirty deeds will only cause destruction when obsession knows no bounds.
After a slightly dark and twisted end to book one, book two instantly brought back that same nervous feeling I had that made me a little fearful of Joe. Abbie is back, but this time, Joe had changed. Even though Abbie isn’t aware of this, us readers know exactly what he is capable of. Could he ever put Abbie in danger, the one woman he’d obsessed over and fantasised over for well over a decade? The opening to book two is strong and brings readers right in where we left off from the first installment. If this opening wasn’t enough to keep any reader interested, then I wasn’t sure what was! The consistency between both books was there and the opening scene really opened up so many possibilities. Where would this book take us?!
The beginning of the book portrays Joe as we expected – angry for Abbie leaving him, but desperate to have her for his own, which made such a deadly combination. I felt like she’d have to tread very carefully if she was to stay safe, but at the same time, she doesn’t know how he’s changed from the last time she saw him. I was scared for her and I was looking forward to seeing how the other characters reacted to the ‘new’ Joe. I felt this book already had a much darker edge compared to book one and it was very clever how this was portrayed through the author’s words. I quickly became drawn into the story and it was already turning out to be quite the ride. How would things play out for Abbie and Joe this time around?
The opening of the story focuses heavily on Joe and Abbie’s reunion and she slowly but surely gets the impression he’s turned into a dangerous guy. Not that this stops them having sex anywhere and everywhere! I was glad she didn’t see past this and even though she’s recently lost her son, I felt she was stronger than she realised. I also felt like this strength threatened or intimidated Joe, and it would be interesting to see how this hindered his confidence, or even increased it later down the line. As scary as this image was, I was excited to see where the plot would go this time! This story is just as steamy as the first book in case you were wondering, so you’ll not be disappointed if you’re looking for some similar scenes to book one. I just hoped Joe would be able to keep his anger under control before he really hurt someone…
“He held her tight, too tight, wanting her to feel the agony she’d inflicted on him.”
There was such a grim twist at the beginning of the book which painted Abbie in a bad light. Was what Joe accused her of true? I had my own worries about this – had the tables turned? Did these characters both have their own demons, something they had in common? I was so surprised with how much is packed into the opening of the story and we start to learn just how much both Joe and Abbie can tolerate one another. With each of these characters starting to stand up to the other, how would this change their relationship? Such a strong and powerful start to an already addictive story and the author seems to get better and better with each book. (I’m imagining book three to be explosive!) Where would these characters go from here? Suspense was well and truly building…
I was glad the story of Joe’s grandmother was revisited in this book as we definitely didn’t get all the information we needed about this in book one. Joe seems particularly angry at Abbie for speaking to Joan, but it doesn’t take long for him to want answers. Why did she leave? And why did she leave him to live with his abusive father? Joe and Abbie have quite a few back and forth conversations about so many things, falling out and making up after each. Even though they both didn’t admit it, I saw this as such couple behaviour, despite what they both think about serious relationships which made me smile a little. I still kept my eye on Joe as I felt that he would explode in anger any moment if the wrong thing was said or he didn’t get his own way. He was a ticking time bomb and I really wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end when he’d had enough!
With a potential baby on the way for one of the characters, (it was only a matter of time, let’s be honest!) and even more secrets uncovered between different characters, the middle of the book was truly fabulous. There was always something going on to shock the reader and keep them invested, and I genuinely loved where things were going. It was like watching a juicy bit of a TV soap and I couldn’t tear my eyes away! As well as this, the author has thrown in some very emotional scenes too, and even though this is so opposite to the majority of what we’re used to from this author, she’s nailed this one on the head yet again. I loved the consistency, the portrayal of darkness and heartbreak and just how it’s impossible to find any negative. Even the raunchy theme of the series was growing on me which I never expected. I suppose that’s what happens when you find an author who can do it all with ease!
The more we delve deeper into the book, Abbie and Joe are forced to work together for Joan’s sake as the three of them receive the news they don’t want to hear. I appreciated how understanding Joe became despite my earlier thoughts (would it last?) and it somehow felt like the three of them were morphing into some sort of family. Dare I even say that?! I became stumped – I was 100% certain that Joe was going to turn into a monster, but even though it was still early days, there were some very subtle signs he was changing; becoming more emotional and caring about others, refusing sex, which is, quite frankly, unheard of for Joe. To top it all off, Abbie and Joe learn of Eddie’s cause of death, which even made me want to shed a tear! I really thought this book would stick with me more than the previous, simply because of how each character seems to have grown over time and with the intense emotion we experience.
“But wasn’t that what all parents did for the sake of their child, to protect him from the severity of reality, to defend his innocence until a time when it was no longer necessary?”
I was truly amazed by the change of Joe’s character now the possibility of him being a father is revealed. Even though he hadn’t told Abbie the news, I felt like this was the kick he needed to get his life into gear. I was feeling a little nervous for when the time came that he did tell her – how on earth would she react? Again, there are some incredibly powerful scenes as Joe, Abbie and Joan say goodbye to some very important people which I found so sad to experience. I became obsessed with the author’s choice of vocabulary in these scenes, each sentence so clever and heart-wrenching to the core. My thoughts about the ending of the book were varied, but I had a feeling things would be shocking to us readers and would really make an imprint in our minds. I had questions upon questions in my mind and I only hoped we’d find out the answers to some of them.
Joe and Abbie continue to be each other’s rock, which I found rather cute. Even though there’s still the odd disagreement, I struggled to think of how they’d cope without one another. Joe shares more details about his life to Abbie, including all his sexual encounters, which in a way, I thought brought them even closer. It even brought us some clarity too which I appreciated. The author has a unique way of creating layers to the story which make it so well written and create such a solid plot to remember. Everything fits together so well and it was only becoming more and more involving. I felt more attached to these characters than I had done throughout the series so far, and it would be interesting to see how this book would shape them.
Was that a tear?! Yep, it was a tear 😭 As Joe remembers his best friend in an immensely moving scene, the emotion became too much, my god! As much as I want to say well done to Joe for this powerful speech, it was, of course, all the author’s doing! Absolutely beautiful, yet unexpected words flowed out of this character’s mouth which made life pause for a moment, forcing the reader to reflect on their own lives. I loved it! This part of the story really made me reflect on book one and also what we’d encountered in this book too. The change from one character to the next was astounding, and I couldn’t quite believe just how the author has moulded them into such realistic people. I’m still gobsmacked now!
With one last encounter with Jesse simply too tempting, Abbie agrees… but swears it’ll be the last time. Could she keep this promise to herself? How would Joe react if he found out? However, all isn’t what it seems at this moment… the next scene was INCREDIBLE! Such a twist of events that made my jaw drop (I think I even swore under my breath too) and I just could not believe what I’d just read! Abbie accuses Joe of the worst crime imaginable and it came so out of the blue that it was difficult to process! So thrilling, so saddening but so gripping all at the same time. As Joe denies his involvement, I thought of one particular character who’d want nothing more than to push Joe and Abbie further apart… but was I right?!
“You looked like you’d given up on life, and that scared me, so I tried to change it.”
Abbie begins to crumble, the harsh reality of losing her son sets in and she realises she’s done so much wrong. The end of the book makes us feel so sad for Abbie and makes us wonder exactly what she’ll do with her life now that she’s said goodbye to her son. The book ends on a very dark note, making us question Abbie this time. She wants someone to suffer for the death of her son, but who does she suspect? Who’s life did she want to take away as revenge? The end of the book was amazing and Abbie’s actions are so unlike her. Where did this leave things now? I hope to god the author is almost done with the final book in this series – I need answers! A very strong book that is very worthy of five stars!
I had to laugh at myself when I finished this book – I felt like I was such a prude reading book one, but this book has just sparked my obsession with this series in a way that I never thought possible! It just goes to show that you should all read books that are out of your comfort zone, as you never know what you might find. This series has been such a complex, deeply emotional and unexpected ride so far and the end of this book has made me pretty desperate for the final installment.
Thanks SO much to the author of this book, Cheryl Butler, and Emma at Damp Pebbles for my place on the blog tour! You can purchase your own copy of The Course Of Conviction now on Amazon, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates!