A deeply moving, tumultuous love story.
Nick and Livvie’s story was the perfect,
poignant finale to the Unfinished Hero series.
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Nick Sebring has issues. Born feeling like an outsider in his own family, growing up under the shadow of a brother who could do anything, Nick isn’t that great of a guy. But when this culminates with Nick lashing out to hurt his brother through the woman he loves, Nick turns inward and makes some decisions about the man he intends to be.
And as he does this, he falls in love and truly learns the man that he’s grown to be.
When his love is murdered right before Nick’s eyes, Nick knows he has to avenge her. He knows how he’s going to avenge her. And he has no qualms using Olivia Shade to exact that vengeance.
Olivia Shade has grown up on the outside of her family too. Her problem is that they don’t want her outside. They want her all the way in, right under their thumbs. She pays the price for seeking escape and learns her lesson—she’ll never see a dawn where she wakes up free.
Then she meets Nick Sebring, and even as she fights it, the hope that died years ago starts to blossom. She can find love. She can have a man of her own. She can be happy. She can be free.
Olivia hopes while Nick schemes.
However, as Nick peels back the layers of all that is Olivia Shade, he finds something surprising. He understands its fragility. He falls in love with its beauty. He seeks to protect it.
But he forgets to protect his Livvie from one thing: Nick Sebring.
Time and again, Kristen Ashley indelibly proves why she is a master at her craft. A singularly unique storyteller with the ability to deliver feels in abundance while tackling the messiest, grayest of circumstances. Each story in the Unfinished Heroes series has unfurled from dark places, pained backgrounds, hopeless situations, impossible odds. Somehow, Knight, Raid, Creed and Deacon all found their happy, all found the woman they couldn’t build in a dream. For Nick Sebring, life had begun more easily than the others, but along the way, it became twisted as he lost his way. Luckily, he found the path he’d need to traverse to help him be the man he wanted to be.
Sebring, perhaps of all the stories in the series, really drove home the complexity, the duality of our protagonists. That who they were, or who they associated with, did not define who they were or could be.
Nick had been drowning in guilt for what he put his brother through, for what had happened to the woman he loved. The guilt, the ache, the fire of retribution, all consumed him.
For Olivia Shade, life was a thing she existed through. She did was she was told. She had already learned that lesson. Olivia was the youngest of two daughters, born to the head of a crumbling drug empire. As ‘The House of Shade’ began to topple, the future was just as bleak as her existence. The void, the numbness, the hopelessness consumed her.
Empty with nothing but dreams.
In a world gone shallow.
In a world gone lean.
Nick needed revenge on Vincent Shade, and the only way in was through Olivia. The plan hinged on getting Olivia to trust him, to give him the in he needed to enact his plan and end Vincent Shade once and for all. But his plan did not count on Olivia being who she was.
“Nick was drowning in the mystery of Olivia Shade.”
Nick and Olivia collide fast and furiously, in a way neither expected. It was a hot, unbridled tumble in the sheets. It was passion, need, escape.
It was not supposed to be real.
It was not supposed to be feelings.
It was not supposed to be something that made Nick rethink the plans he’d spent years on.
“Olivia Shade was something of exquisite not allowed to be what she needed to be. Beauty bound. She was not a ghost who could be seen. She was a hostage in a lavish cage.”
The more Nick peeled back the many tightly glued layers of Olivia Shade, the more emotion inside him raged. Olivia was not who he thought she’d be. She lived in a prison of her father’s making. Caged in by reminders of what she could never have. Marred by the impossibility of her broken dreams.
Suddenly the only thing that mattered to Nick was getting Olivia out of her dark, making her believe there was more to her life, and giving her the beauty of being loved, being free.
“I live in the dark. Dawn never comes for me. There will be no new day where I wake up complete. Happy. Loved. There is not other side to make my way to. There is no believe. It just isn’t for me.”
This story was an emotional gut punch. It was achingly sad. It was watching two people come together, fall in love, grasping on to a hope that they could make it through. Surrounding them, however, was so much violence, corruption and disregard for the things and the people who matter.
I loved this book. Loved Livvie and Nick’s journey. Loved how it was this gripping story of second chances, hope rekindled and family… how it should and should not be. I’m not a crier, but whoa… one scene in particular just gutted me. It was beautiful.
Sebring was the perfect finale to such a tumultuous series. Nick and Livvie’s love was certainly that—tumultuous, frenzied, volatile—but also such a powerful thing to see unfold on the page. Add to that the unconditional loyalty and love of Knight and Anya Sebring, and the cast of characters who knew what it was like to be loved despite of their transgressions. I devoured every page, each bleeding with emotion, and loved every word until the end. Perfect.
“I believe, Nicky.”
(Mature audiences only)
In the hotel room, Nick heard the knock at the door.
He moved to it, looked out the peephole and felt the corners of his mouth hitch up when he saw her.
Fuck, those big green eyes, perfectly arched dark brows, the olive tint to her skin, the expert way she shaded under her cheekbones…
She was a coldhearted criminal but she was one that was very easy to look at.
And even easier to fuck.
He opened the door.
He was going to say something but he didn’t get the chance when her hand darted out and she caught him under his jaw, using it to push him in and around until his back hit wall.
She stared up at him, her hand wrapped around his jaw, her expression holding an emptiness that was so extreme it was almost like a void he could fall into and get lost forever.
He heard the door swish closed and latch.
Then she was up on her toes, her head moving toward his, those green eyes dropping to his mouth.
She didn’t get her lips to his before his tongue was out, as was hers, both of them colliding and tangling before her mouth slammed to his just as her body pushed in, pressing hard, forcing him tighter to the wall.
He shoved out. Gripping her wrist at his jaw, he yanked it down, twisting and slamming her against the wall, slanting his head to deepen an already deep kiss. Their tongues again clashing before he actually took her mouth.
But he took her mouth.
And like she’d done to his, he consumed it.
His fingers still around her wrist, he yanked it around his back, using his body to shove her tight to the wall, pressing his hardening cock against her stomach.
She arched, and moving quickly, whipped him around so his back was to the wall and she took over the kiss. Tearing her wrist from his hold, she curled her fingers around his throat just as she cupped his hardening crotch with her other hand.
Fucking hell, this woman was hot.
But he was done playing.
And he was done kissing.
Her mouth, that was.
He pushed her away. She struggled to regain control.
She lost this struggle when he caught her hand and dragged her down the short hall into the room.
She lost her footing when he gave her hand a strong tug and she fell into him with a soft gasp.
He let her hand go, caught her hips and threw her four feet onto the bed.
That got him another soft gasp which took his cock from hardening to rock-solid and throbbing.
He bent over her, holding her now intense green gaze, spanning her hips with his hands. Shoving backwards, he found the hook of her skirt, released it and pulled down the zipper.
He moved his fingers to curl them into the sides of her skirt’s waistband. With a vicious tug that took her hips and panties with it, he yanked off the skirt.
Chest to the bed, eyes to her cunt, the black curls neatly groomed with a precision that meant her wax technician was a master with possible OCD issues, they were also glistening with wet.
Having the tussle at the door, seeing the utter perfection of her pussy, smelling her, watching her legs part in invitation, her knees shifting up, Nick couldn’t have gone gentle if he’d wanted to.
Luckily he didn’t want to.
He bent his neck and devoured her.
Fuck, she tasted just as perfect as she looked.
As he fed, he felt her excitement ramp. Tasted it. Ate it. Gave her more. Consumed the result. Drove her to the edge.
And when he had her there, he stopped and moved over her.
Not surprisingly, she used both the pump she already had planted into the bed and the calf she had wrapped around him to flip him and then she was straddling him, pushing up, her hands already to his fly.
Normally, he would not allow this.
Her face flushed with need, her manner urgent, even desperate, all that surged through his blood, his gut, straight to his cock.
So he allowed this.
She tugged his pants down, grabbed his dick, guided it to her and took him home.
At the beauty of her sheathing him, he gritted his teeth against the urge to let go and release way too fucking early. Bucking his hips, he watched how much she liked taking him, her head thrown back, her shining, straight mass of silken black hair swaying.
Then she dropped forward into a hand in the bed by his side, locked eyes with him and rode him violently as he watched until she gave it to herself and she kept doing it until she forced it from him.
He came down buried inside her, his eyes opening to see her still resting in her hand in the bed, her body moving gently with her still-labored-but-evening breathing, her dark hair framing her oval face, her straight bangs brushing her lashes, her green eyes locked to his trying to brand him, make him hers.
No way in fuck that was happening.
But he’d take more of this.
A lot more.
That said, the woman was going to learn how to give up control.
Not surprisingly, without a word, she swung off his cock, moving immediately toward the side of the mattress.
Nick focused on pulling up his trousers, doing the fly and angling off the bed. By the time he was up and had turned his attention back to her, she was on her feet, facing him, arms twisted behind her to do up the skirt she’d put on.
He held her gaze.
“We got all night, Olivia,” he informed her.
Not even a hint of a response to him calling her the name she hadn’t given him.
Then again, he knew she knew him; she’d make it her business.
She also knew he’d do the same with her, even before he sat next to her the night before.
Her expression might not have changed but his words spurred her to action, this being walking his way.
She stopped. Her eyes still on his, she lifted a hand and touched his chest lightly with just the pad of her middle finger.
It lasted half a second.
Then she dropped her hand, turned and walked away.
He heard the door close behind her and he couldn’t stop his smile.
Fuck yes, a seriously cool customer.
And the hottest fuck he’d had in his life.
Series Reading Order
Each can be read as a standalone.
✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦