Intense and Steamy.
A sexually and emotionally charged conclusion to a wonderful series.
3.5 to 4 stars.
The fourth part in the New York Times bestselling series, The Blackstone Affair: A bright beginning for two damaged souls fighting for their hard-won love, and the promise of a new hope to secure their happily ever after.
Fresh from an idyllic honeymoon along the Italian coast, the Blackstones prepare for the birth of their precious baby and the challenges of settling into a new home. But things get complicated when specters from the past reappear to threaten the very foundation of their relationship. Ethan and Brynne will have to fight harder than ever for each other. Rare and Precious Things is the story of two people who both need the other in order to be complete, but learn just how “rare” their brand of love is when they have to risk everything in order to hold onto it.
I was so unbelievable excited to read this book. I have LOVED this series by Raine Miller. It’s been an emotional, intense, sexy-as-hell ride and I’ve loved every minute. However, I struggled with rating this last installment because there were aspects that worked well and others that could’ve been stronger. I’ll start with the parts that didn’t work so well for me and then progress to the other parts that did. Overall, the plot felt a bit flat to me, a bit like an extended epilogue. I wanted to see more of the turbulent ups and downs you would expect from a full-length novel (this one was 400 pages)… the kind of highs and lows that keep you captivated and at the edge of your seat. Now, I also understand that Ethan and Brynne have already been through so much, but perhaps that’s why I think this would’ve made a great novella. I also thought the first part of the book was a bit heavy on the sex and it could’ve been an opportunity to deepen the plot and develop a more striking story arc.
Now, there were many aspects I did enjoy. I loved seeing Ethan and Brynne’s connection come to life once more. They have such a profound understanding of each other’s needs, making their intimate moments just crackle with chemistry. And of course to see them experience this important part of their new life together – having a child – just gave me goose bumps and simply made me a happy girl to be a part of it. Nonetheless, fans of the series will delight in those personal and super steamy moments as Ethan and Brynne get a jump on living their happily ever after.
“And so we began our marriage, on a summer’s day in late August, just barely four months after laying our eyes upon one another for the first time. It had all begun across a crowded room one night in the spring – at a gallery tucked away on a London street – when fate had stepped in and forever changed the course of our lives.”
The story begins after their wedding, as Ethan bestows onto her an unexpected gift. A gift symbolizing their forever. And then he whisks her away on a romantic and unforgettable honeymoon. This is a time for them to be happy with each other. Revel in each other’s love … in every. which. way. As I mentioned above, there is lots of steaminess, and even between the sheets, their understanding of what the other one needs is acute. They are finely tuned to each other, heart, soul and body.
“Ethan and I were in a very perfect place at the moment … where we didn’t have to panic about what we needed to do, or what bad thing could happen to us, or be shocked about what already had happened to us.”
Ethan still struggles with the demons from his past. Frightful memories haunt his dreams, making him re-live the terrible things he experienced while he was in captivity. Brynne is a balm to his nightmares and he needs her like he needs his next breath. He continues to use “sex to drown out the demons,” but Brynne is willing to do anything to help heal his mind and heart.
“Brynne’s love was something rare – a gift. A precious gift I’d been given, by some divine twist of fate that had brought her into my world… and changed everything about me. About how I saw tings, about what I dreamed for the future, about my capacity to move beyond the shadows of my past. Brynne’s love changed absolutely everything.”
We see tension arise when people from both their pasts make a presence in the story line. Each of those people take Brynne and Ethan back to a raw and painful place they’re not ready to revisit. But I think that part of their healing process was facing those experiences so that they could achieve real closure. I also love the times where Brynne stands up to Ethan and points out when he’s just being a jerk. I love seeing that fire in her. She loves him just as much though, and that’s evident through the closeness they have.
“You gave me everything. You made me really want to open my eyes to what was around me, for the first time in my adult life. You made me want you. You made me want… a life. You were my greatest gift of all, Ethan James Blackstone.”
Overall, even though the story didn’t give me everything I had hoped, it was sexy, intimate and so Brynne and Ethan. This is still a 5-star series for me … the writing of course is fabulous and I think fans of the series will still relish in the experience of reading this final installment. We see some Neil and Elaina too, which is great! Can’t wait to see what’s coming next for Raine Miller!
“BELLA, you look magnificent, the glow in your cheeks, everything, is utter perfection.” Marco, kissed me on both cheeks as was custom, then held me at arm’s length for a thorough perusal. “Lovely dress. I can see that marriage and motherhood is agreeing with you, darling.”
I felt Ethan’s hand at my back soften and relax at Marco’s friendly, but appropriate greeting. Maybe he’d get over his paranoia that Marco was trying to bag me every time he photographed me. Ethan just didn’t understand that Marco wasn’t like that at all. He was a professional photographer doing a job with me, and nothing more. Well, nothing more than a working, platonic friendship. He’d always been kind to me, and I liked working with Marco Carvaletti very much. I hoped Ethan could see it here tonight as we all interacted.
“It is, Marco, and I don’t think I could be any happier.” I leaned into Ethan, nudging him to speak up.
“Mr. Carvaletti, thank you for the invitation. We’ve been looking forward to this all day.” Ethan lied smoothly, offering his hand, playing the social gentleman to perfection, which he was well skilled at. I guess he did it out of love for me. I knew he didn’t want to be here anymore than he wanted me modeling. I mouthed a thank you only visible to him. He kissed me on the cheek and whispered in my ear, “Don’t forget about Simba, baby.” Then he wandered off to get drinks for us.
Marco took me on a tour of his elegantly restored 17th century villa as I marveled at all of the art. He had a whole room set up as a gallery of his photographs. There were a couple of me in there. One where I sat in a formal chair with one knee up, strategically placed, my expression far away and pensive. The other pose was a side view recreation of a vintage Ziegfeld Follies girl with a feather boa and some satin pumps. It was one of the first portraits I posed for and I really thought it was nicely choreographed.
“It is a beautiful piece, bella. I knew when we did that series you had the gift.” Marco stood behind me admiring the image he had created with me as the subject.
“I was so nervous posing, but you made me laugh when you told me to imagine Iggy Pop in a dress.” I shrugged. “That broke the ice and I was fine after that.”
“That one works for me every time, bella.”
“Well, Iggy Pop in a dress is funny, so good job, Marco.” We laughed together and made our way back to the main gathering.
Where was Ethan with my drink? I scanned the room for sight of him, but didn’t see his tall form standing out among the crowd anywhere. And I needed water.
“He is talking to Carolina and Rogelio, my friends,” Marco said, correctly reading my quest to find Ethan. “I believe they have discovered they are acquainted already.”
Really? Ethan knew people at this party? I suppose it wasn’t as bad as he’d predicted it would be after all. Couldn’t wait to bust him about his whining to come here.
“Oh, well that’s great. I look forward to meeting them. But first, I need to get some water. I’m really thirsty after spending a long time swimming in the ocean today. Must be all the salt.”
“Come with me, bella, I will take care of you.”