Rome (#3, Marked Men) by Jay Crownover

My Thoughts

Another amazing, addicting story with turbulent ups and downs that had me undeniably hooked throughout the entire thing.

5stars

Synopsis

romeSometimes the wrong choice can be just right . . .

Fun and fearless, Cora Lewis knows how to keep her tattooed “bad boy” friends at the Marked in line. But beneath all that flash and sass is a broken heart. Cora won’t let herself get burned again. She’s waiting to fall in love with the perfect man—a baggage-free, drama-free guy ready for commitment. Then she meets Rome Archer.

Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He’s stubborn, rigid, and bossy. And he’s returned from his final tour of duty more than a little broken. Rome’s used to filling many roles: big brother, doting son, supersoldier—but none of those fit anymore. Now he’s just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the dark demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer through it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes a blinding flash of color in a sea of gray.Perfect may not be in the cards, but perfectly imperfect could just last forever . . .

My Review

“Love is never perfect… It’s what you make of the imperfections in it that makes the ride worthwhile.”

I feel so ruined. I just don’t want to read anything else other these books. These Marked men are just awesome and in particular, these Archer brothers are just making me fall harder for them with every page I consume. Jay Crownover has so far irrevocably proven that she writes the kind of books that I devour, that I obsess over, that I can’t get enough of.  Each of these novels has a perfect balance of romance, rawness, turmoil, sexiness and wit, mixing together in a deliciously addictive cocktail. After reading this third installment, I can’t seem to decide which boy, or book, I have loved more. I really loved Rome and the story he had to share. He’s such a protector, such a hero, but a broken one that carries the weight of the world upon his weary shoulders.

“Rome Archer was a force to be reckoned with, a storm brewing of broken thoughts and dangerous demons, of misplaced responsibility and unknown future.”

We met Rome in book 1, Rule, as the oldest of the Archer clan. He was stationed in Afghanistan and we quickly came to know him as the brother who looked after Remy and Rule… the one that protected them, guided them, looked after them by ensuring they became good men. The entire family shattered with Remy’s passing, but nonetheless, Rome was the glue that tried to keep the family together, always trying to guide Rule to his rightful path to happiness. When both Rome and Rule discovered Remy’s secret, Rome started to fracture and withdraw, talking to no one after his return to the desert. Coming back, Rome was a changed man facing a new reality that rocked his existence. He was no longer the peacemaker, but rather the explosive instigator. He wasn’t the glue, he was the hammer that kept smashing everyone to pieces.

“I was pretty sure I was not a particular fan of Rome Archer in any way, shape, or form, be he a war hero or beloved older sibling, supposed nice guy, or not. I personally thought the man was going out of his way to be an ass hat and make everyone else as miserable as he seemed to be.”

When Cora, tattoo shop manager and in her own way, protector of all the Marked boys, finally meets Rome she is simultaneously outraged and melted into a tub of girl goo. Rome is a big man, defined by muscle, hardened by life, wearing the scars of his dark experiences. Now that he’s back, he’s all scowl, intensity and volatility, brightened only by his piercing blue gaze. Despite his foul attitude, Cora can’t help but be affected by his beauty and consuming presence.

“Rome felt dangerous and exciting at the same time even if perfect was nowhere in the picture.”

Cora did everything to suppress the attraction she felt. He was all wrong for what she desired. Cora put up a good front, but inside, she too was scarred by life, by the betrayal of her ex-fiance who not only shattered every dream she had, but also fractured her idea of happy ever after. She was determined to do right by herself and wait for Mr. Perfect to come around and sweep her away. Rome was the antithesis of this concept entirely. He was gloom and doom. Broken and complicated. But before too long, Cora’s huge heart couldn’t ignore that this boy needed help.

“I was not an idle man by nature. I was used to action, used to being in charge and taking the lead, and the only things I had managed to be on top of since coming back to Denver was pissing off everyone I encountered and drinking my considerable body weight in vodka. I was on a downhill slide that was bound to have an ugly-as-hell impact at the bottom and I knew it, but I felt powerless to stop it.”

Rome returned and everything was so drastically different. Rule had it all together and was happy with Shaw. He didn’t need Rome to keep him in line. Shaw wasn’t in need of his advice because she had Rule. His parents were working through their relationship with Rule and everything just seemed to continue on its happy path without him. He was still angry at Shaw, at his parents over Remy’s secret and feeling like he wasn’t needed anywhere made him feel useless. Add to that the demons he brought back from the desert, the visions of death that haunted him day and night, and he was simply just losing control. Every day he fought a new battle at the cost of his own sanity. It was all too much.

“I’m fighting with my folks. I’m fighting with Rule. I’m fighting my vices. I’m fighting my fear of the future. I’m fighting my own goddamn head, and I’m just tired. I’m retired. I was supposed to be leaving all the fighting in the desert.”

Cora was nothing like the woman he was normally attracted to. She’s all vibrant color in every sense of the word… inked, pierced, bold and spunky. One night, however, Rome finds himself in need of help and she saves the day, both finding a blazing-hot chemistry in the arms of each other that they never anticipated. For Rome, it’s a momentary reprieve from his darkness and he knew he couldn’t let go of the feelings she stirred so strongly in him. I absolutely loved their banter. Cora calls him “Captain No-Fun” and he calls her “Half-Pint” for her small physique. They are both strong people who never back down from a fight, but somehow Cora’s feistiness has a disarming effect on Rome… an unexpected balm to his explosiveness.

“You’re so full of color, so vibrant you never get lost in all the gray in my head. I don’t want to lose that.”

Their relationship is full of unexpected twists and turns, tumultuous ups and downs and realizations that change everything. I also love the dynamic between the brothers which has really changed and evolved so much. Suddenly the roles are flipped and Rule is helping guide Rome back to a place of peace and happiness, but what doesn’t change is the fact that Rule and everyone around him still love and respect Rome so thoroughly and that dynamic between them warmed my heart. There are moments that are so heartfelt and poignant that I felt as if my heart paused from pumping as I experienced these scenes.

“You will NEVER be just a guy, Rome. You’re the best brother a guy could have. You’re a fucking hero. No one, and I mean no one, has ever had my back the way you have. You are an incredible person, be it in the army fighting a war or sitting on the goddamn couch watching the game. Don’t forget it.”

I seriously loved every piece of this story. It was perfectly paced and I was so into every moment. It was awesome to see Rome go all in once he was good and ready, grabbing life by the horns and holding on to the woman he loved. Cora also had to find herself and get past the bad experiences in her life to really see what was in front of her, to also grab on to Rome, who was perfect for her — flaws, scars, broken pieces and all. Truth be told, I could read this book all over again immediately. I can’t wait to jump into Nash, which is out April 29th.

“I’ve been chasing my idea of perfect for so long I didn’t know what to do when it was right in front of me. You were right, you are perfect for me because I’m just as imperfect as you are, but with you, it’s all just flawless.”

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ROME

Reading Order and Purchase Links

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Rule Jet rome

Nash

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