Soooo... I've never really gotten into contemporary romance. I've found a book or two here and there that have really pulled me in, but it has never been something I went looking for.
Then I found Carian Cole and holy ballz I'm ruined.
Let's talk about age gap romance. It's a popular trope that I really never considered. When I picked up Tied, I was more intrigued about the kidnapping and the "prince charming" and the scarred beast-type character with the innocent girl. I didn't even consider age gap being one of the themes.
Tied is actually book 2 in Carian Cole's All Torn Up series, which doesn't require being read in order, which also is what I like. I'm not a big fan of romance series following one couple. So, I picked up this book while I was sitting around being super depressed and feeling not so hot. When I am not in a good place, I usually read, but I was in such a crap-tastic mental space that I had to FORCE myself to pick up a book and I wanted something a little dark for some reason. And I somehow found myself reading Tied, the story of a girl who was kidnapped at age 5 and discovered by a man 11 years later in a hole. That man was Tyler, a scarred, messed up, tattooed outcast of society. Holly, the captive girl, ends up going through recovery for 2 years before re-finding Tyler in the woods where he lives in a somewhat remote cabin. And her child-like mind always saw this beast of society as her prince charming. Which..who wouldn't? He literally saved her life. Throughout the book, the characters realize how much they need each other, despite being SO vastly different and scarred (in and out) in different ways.
I thought the story was beautiful. It was dark, intense, uncomfortable, deep, and ended so happily I kind of wanted to cry. Ok, I might have cried. I probably wasn't in the best condition to read emotional books 😂
I enjoyed Tied SO much that I had to see what Torn was about, book 1 in the series which focuses on one of Tyler's sexy, tattooed brothers. Now, this book was much more age-gappey than Tied since Kenzie, the love interest, is only 17 when the relationship technically begins. And Tor, Kenzie's non-blood-related uncle/godfather, is the love of her life. There was a lot of uncomfortableness in this book, but the author didn't skirt around it or pretend it shouldn't be there and the characters didn't avoid it, either. Especially Tor, who I believe was 36 in this book? In fact, seeing his self-hatred develop because he loved his young "niece" was a little heartbreaking in a few ways.
And...ok...sometimes I wanted to put the book down because I didn't want to be caught LIKING this story and at times I felt very wrong. What made it better was the emotional draw that the author stresses toward the end of the book, which I really can't explain in one blog post. It made the relationship strange and weirdly ok for me. Their emotional bond was deep, intricate, and in no way some spur of the moment type of thing. The constant flashbacks to Kenzie's younger years with Tor were beautiful in a non-romantic way and then when their relationship evolved in her later years, I was eventually rooting for them. This wasn't some sick physical attraction that neither of them could control. It was very much a story of soulmates who couldn't be torn apart.
And then...I had to admit to myself that...I wanted to find more good age gap romances. But let me be clear! This is not something I can see myself seeking out as voraciously as I do alien romances. Just like omegaverse, I am not someone who will say this is my usual genre. But it is something that I occasionally read and find something I like. I am just curious if there are other books out there that can successfully create a story like this. And you can bet my kindle is filled with books that are not usually in my library. It's for science...