Mine To Take (Nine Circles #1)
St Martin’s Griffin
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Gabriel Woolf has dragged himself up from nothing to be something. From a background of poverty, escaping that into a life with a motorcycle club and now he’s a (mostly) respectable businessman and owner of a construction company. But although Gabriel maintains a veneer of respectability, underneath he’s burning for vengeance. He wants nothing more than to ruin the life of the man he believes ruined his mother’s life. Ever since his mother’s death recently, he’s been plotting and planning just how to go about bringing about his downfall.
And he’s not above using Honor St James, the stepdaughter of the man he wants nothing more than to destroy. Honor is beautiful and innocent but she also has information, information that Gabriel wants. Nothing is off limits in how to get it but what Gabriel didn’t count on was how much he was going to want Honor. She has a lot to offer, more than anyone has ever been able to offer Gabriel before. More than he ever knew he wanted…. or deserved.
Honor St James had a lot of responsibility at a young age. And even now, she feels the pressure to keep everything together – to save her stepfather’s company and also her own investment. At first Honor resists Gabriel and the sheer force of his personality. But he stirs something inside of her that no man ever has before and the urge to just give up control to him is strong. She needs to convince Gabriel that there’s more to life than looking for vengeance, but once she tries to show him, he wants to drive her away. But she’ll go back to him, over and over again until she proves to him that there’s more between them than just the physical.
Mine To Take is the first in a new series from Jackie Ashenden that very loosely spins off from the Billionaire’s Club and by that I mean Gabriel Woolf appears in the final book of that series briefly, just enough to introduce him to readers. Gabriel was born into poverty, clawed his way out via becoming a messenger boy for a motorcycle club and then joined himself, working his way up the ladder into power. Then he left, extricating himself from the club and starting his own business. He’s now incredibly wealthy and a member of the Ninth Circle, aka the Fucked Up Billionaires. They look out for each other, loosely watching each other’s backs, pledging loyalty but distance. They hold semi-regular meetings to check in, discuss any issues. One of the members brings an issue to Gabriel’s attention and it’s the perfect ‘in’ for him to put in place his ultimate plan of vengeance.
Despite the fact that Gabriel is a fraction too Alpha for my tastes, I actually ended up liking him and I felt really sorry for him. The fact is, he’s the result of an assault on his mother and it seems that when he hits a certain age, he must begin reminding his mother of the person that committed the crime against her. A staunch Catholic, she feels shame and guilt, spending hours confessing, hours that Gabriel has to listen to as he sits outside the confessional, waiting. I feel as though that’s something no child should ever have to experience, have put on them. Gabriel has definitely had a rough childhood, he’s lacked a lot of things but specifically love and gentleness. He was indoctrinated into a club or gang at a young age, but despite a lack of strong, positive role models he has managed to come out of the dangerous lifestyle more or less intact. Gabriel has trouble forming connections with people though, something that’s clearly obvious when he begins interacting with Honor that he doesn’t understand what’s going on with them. He can’t understand what’s different about her, why he feels different, why she can make him lost control like that.
Honor is the sort of character that unfortunately, I’m growing a bit bored of reading about. On the outside she seems like her life is perfect, the poor little rich girl. But she’s known tragedy, she’s known poverty, she’s known fear and she’s known uncertainty. She had to look after her mother, she’s had to grow up much faster than she should have and she’s always in control. Now she’s a successful businesswoman (although what her company does I really don’t know) but when she meets Gabriel he sees in her that she’d like to give up to some of that control to him, she fantasizes about being restrained, or helpless. It’s nothing really new anymore, it’s getting really tedious to read. Why can’t these strong, independent women exercise some of that strength in the bedroom? Demand control? There is a scene or two in this book where Honor does do that, she does exert control and will over Gabriel, forcing him to be the passive partner and they’re some of the better scenes in the book. I enjoyed them much more than the other intimate scenes, mostly because Honor seemed more alive in them.
The thing is, I’m not sure this book did enough in the end, to convince me how Honor and Gabriel fell in love. Their interactions are kind of irritating in the beginning, Gabriel spends a lot of time kind of needling her, or bossing her about and Honor seems to keep coming back for more. There are a few scenes where he confesses things to her and she shows her support, that she will always be there for him but ultimately, there wasn’t enough there for me to see it. Gabriel does treat her abominably at one stage but Honor seems to forgive him all very swiftly and things are fine again. The other thing is Gabriel has a burning need for something throughout most of the book and just as he’s about to find out what he (and therefore, the reader) wants to know, he decides he doesn’t really care anymore and walks away. Now I get that Honor showed him there was more to life than trying to extract his vengeance, etc but…. now I want to know the answer to the question Gabriel was asking and it’s gone no where! As this is a series and it looks like that story is going to continue through each volume, I may eventually get my answer but it was a big build up in this book for little pay off, which was quite a letdown.
The character that most interested me in this book was Eva and I’d like to read her book. I’m just not sure if I want to keep reading the books in between this one and hers. Next up is Honor’s brother Alex, another member of the Ninth Circle. This one was okay, not bad but also not something that really hooked me in. I’m not sure if these sorts of stories are for me, perhaps I prefer my heroes a little less in your face.
Book #245 of 2014