Arctic Restitution

Arctic Restitution - Lynn Kelling Release day review and giveaway posted at Sinfully.

4.5 stars

I love this series. It is dark, with complex characters who have both suffered through unbelievable horrors, but there was always hope, and this end to the story is the closure both the characters and the reader needed and deserved. I would not suggest reading this without having read at least [b:Arctic Absolution|15825603|Arctic Absolution (Arctic Absolution, #1)|Lynn Kelling||21557378] and I would also suggest you take the publisher’s warnings seriously about references to past abuse and violence.

Jaye Larson and Alaska State Trooper Dixon Rowe have been together about a year, living in Jaye’s cabin in remote Zus Alaska. They have come a long way in that year and have a good life with family and friends, when a letter addressed to “Johnny” Larson arrives and threatens to suck Jaye back into the past he never wants to relive.

Dixon is aware in general of what Jaye went through in prison but he doesn’t have all of the details and hasn’t pushed out of fear for Jaye’s mental state. If you’ve read the prequel [b:Caged Jaye|29074839|Caged Jaye (Arctic Absolution, #.50)|Lynn Kelling||49159003] you know the details of the abuse he suffered at the hands of guards, inmates and his “protector” Cash. Dixon fears what the information they received means and just how Jaye may be dragged back down, and he decides that he is going to take charge of the situation. Of all the requests they imagine Cash will make of Jaye, the request is something neither expected and aren’t sure they can handle. One thing is certain, they will have to travel back to Oregon and Jaye will once again be back at FCI Sheridan. Just how much damage that will do is anyone’s guess.

While Jaye’s ghosts aren’t as bad as they had been, he still has moments where he relives his past. Dixon has become his rock, his protector and Jaye will do anything to make sure nothing takes that away from him. Jaye also won’t allow anything to harm his new family and his place in the community where he has rebuilt a life. With Jaye’s years of imprisonment and abuse often at the forefront of the story, it is sometimes easy to forget just how much Dixon suffered at the hands of his abuser too. That still hasn’t gone away and it creeps up unexpectedly with Cash’s request. Luckily for him, Jaye is always there to step in and comfort Dixon when he needs it. Both Dixon and Jaye have found their paths forward and though they will never be completely free of their demons, there is no doubt that they will only grow stronger together.

One of the ways Dixon and Jaye have always dealt with their issues is through sex, through their role play and switching up of the dominant and submissive roles, so there is plenty of that in the book. The physical connection is something they both crave when they need to deal with the emotional fallout of their pasts. It isn’t a substitute for communication but a way to ease the anxiety and tension to open the door for an honest, difficult conversation.

Arctic Restitution brought me a moment I’ve hoped for, Cash and Dixon going head to head. Of course when these two are trying to one up each other, nothing turns out as expected, including the request Cash makes of Jaye. Cash is a pivotal player in Jaye’s life and Dixon hates him for what he did. As much as Dixon needed to confront Cash, Jaye also realizes that he needs to face Cash once again. Jaye gets his closure with Cash and as much as it pained him to return to Sheridan, it was necessary to assure Jaye that he is no longer Johnny even though a part of Johnny will always be there, deep down within. This part of the story also reveals yet another layer to Cash as well and Dixon knows just how to handle Cash’s need for Johnny.

This final installment is not as dark as what came before. The feel of the story has changed with Jaye’s mindset and is more hopeful and peaceful even with both still struggling to contain their demons. There is even a glimpse of the boy whose innocence was taken as Jaye, for the first time since his attack, does some of the things that should be so normal for him like celebrating his birthday, going clothes shopping and out on a date. Being in a more populated city for the first time is a struggle he didn’t expect and reinforces his love for the insular town he and Dixon call home. Jaye and Dixon are both fighters and survivors the the peaceful existence they are carving out is well earned.

Lynn Kelling’s writing never disappoints. The alternating point of view is crucial and even though I’ve been through two stories in this series, I can still feel the fear and tension when Jaye and Dixon’s ghosts reclaim them in those moments when their minds relive the worst times of their lives, when they don’t know where they are until they are pulled out by the other. Jaye’s panic about returning to Sheridan prison, his indecision about Cash’s request and Dixon questioning whether he has the strength to protect Jaye and do what is needed are all clearly portrayed, but so is the love they have for each other. I absolutely recommend this to anyone who likes romance with a darker tone, but also with a happy ending.