Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.
Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.
The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.
Jay Crownover continues her Saints of Denver series with SALVAGED, available June 20, 2017
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I was reluctant to start this book, not because I was worried about content or not loving it, but because after ten other books I was so sad to see the end of this world. These characters have taken up residence in my heart and I have so enjoyed being able to check in with them time and again over the course of the last five years. I distinctly remember stalking the Barnes & Noble website for Rule before he was released for Nook and before I had a kindle. Saying goodbye to Jay Crownover’s Denver crew is bittersweet, I love knowing they’re all happy and healthy, but it is so sad to know I won’t be popping in on them again.
Poppy and Wheeler were both characters we had seen being damaged and destroyed in other books of the Saints of Denver and Marked Men series. They were also the characters I was most excited to see find peace and love and all those things that come with finding the person who is the other half of your soul. When I found out they were going to find that in each other I was beyond ecstatic, if there were ever two characters that deserved a happily ever after it was these two.
The dynamic between Poppy and Wheeler was incredibly sweet. The way he was so careful and mindful of Poppy and the things she’d been through made me cry real tears at different times throughout the book. She was so broken, so skittish, so beautifully sad, she needed someone who knew what it felt like to be forsaken by the people who were supposed to love you most to take all her broken parts and make them wonderfully whole again. She needed Wheeler to show her how to shine those parts up and make them run better than they ever had. What I didn’t anticipate, and what maybe was the best part of their relationship, was how much Wheeler needed Poppy to heal the broken pieces within him.
There was so much story to be told about Poppy and Wheeler and the things they’d been through, I was glad Salvaged was lighter on the action than some of the other books within the Marked Men and Saints of Denver series. I think that adding anything else would have taken away from the importance of the things they had already lived through. I found it wildly satisfying that both of their stories came to a pinnacle and were resolved concurrently, though one ending was far more awful, it was good to know that they were able to move on without the spectre of their pasts lingering in the shadows.
Jay Crownover is one of my go-to, no questions asked, I’ll read anything she writes, authors. The strength she gives to her heroines is one of the things I love most about her writing. Even when those heroines are broken beyond measure, like Poppy was, they all have an inherent strength to them. They are resilient and badass and there is never any question that their men would be completely lost without them. Jay also writes characters who are relatable, even in the craziest of her characters it’s easy to find something familiar within them. While each character has these inherent qualities, each storyline is new and fresh, she makes sure every person she writes faces their own struggles and approaches them in a manner consistent with their personality.
“I don’t know that I have the time to take on a puppy right now, Poppy.” He lifted a hand and rubbed it across the back of his neck. His mahogany-colored eyebrows pulled into a vee over the top of his nose and the corners of his mouth pulled down in a frown that was too harsh for his pretty face. I liked it much better when he smiled and his twin dimples cut deeply into his cheeks.
I bit my bottom lip to keep the distressed noise that I could feel climbing up the back of my throat at bay. I knew he might say no but I couldn’t hide the fact that I was disappointed by his decision. I honestly felt like he and the puppy would be good for one another, that they could bring a little joy into each other’s life. It broke my heart a little that Wheeler wasn’t ready to open his heart up again, even when it was to something that was so obviously eager to love him unconditionally and irrevocably, unlike his ex.
“It’s okay, Wheeler. Like I said, I’ll take him home until I can find a place for him. I’m sure Dolly could use a friend.” I crouched down and wiggled my fingers to get the dog’s attention, and grinned when he bounded over, tripping over his front legs as he scrambled in my direction. “I can take him to work with me and hold on to him until I figure something out. One of the boys at the shop will step up if Dixie doesn’t want another dog.”
I heard him sigh and looked up to see him watching me intently. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something, then let it snap shut with his teeth audibly clicking together. I didn’t know much about Wheeler, but what I did know I liked. He was nice. He was polite. He was thoughtful and he was kind. But more than any of those things, he went out of his way to hold himself in a way that wasn’t threatening or intimidating because he was aware without me saying a word how jumpy I was around people, men in particular. I hated that they were bigger than me. I hated that I knew firsthand how badly they could hurt me if they had a mind to. I hated that I wilted and cowered under their attention, even if it was innocent and friendly. The fact that he took care not to spook me spoke volumes and made me feel awful for putting him in such an awkward position.
“Poppy…” He sounded regretful and I had no interest in dragging the torture out any longer for either of us. I scooped up the dog and buried my nose in the top of his head.
“Seriously it’s no big deal. I love him and I’m happy to wait until I can find him a proper home. It was stupid of me not to consider how busy you are with everything you have going on in your life right now. A puppy is a big commitment and that’s not something you can put on someone else without discussing it with them first.” The dog swiped his tongue across my face, no doubt feeling my distress and rising panic. I wanted to tuck his warm little body to my chest and run away like I was trying to score a touchdown in the other team’s end zone. “I should have known better.”
Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her dogs.