This book is SO good, I cannot even deal.
All Chained Up first caught my attention when I saw that it takes place in a prison.
Prison romance, you say? What? Why?!
Hear me out.
One of my favorite romance novels ever is Hard Time by Cara McKenna, which is also set in a prison: the hero is an inmate (who gets paroled) and the heroine is a prison librarian. In All Chained Up, the hero is an inmate who also gets paroled during the story, and the heroine is a nurse. Needless to say, this plot sounded like my perfect catnip.
Knox is an inmate at Devil’s Rock. He has been there for eight years, along with his brother North, for a crime that they committed together: they killed their cousin’s rapist. While I know I should be appalled at their crime, I’m just…not, to be honest. I mean, I’m not fully okay with it either, but it’s…understandable, in a way. Briar is a nurse at the prison, volunteering there temporarily while they’re short on medical staff. That’s how she meets Knox.
Although Briar is immediately attracted to Knox physically, she gives herself a reality check and remembers that he’s an inmate–the very definition of off-limits. The epitome of No Future Together. Nevertheless, she can’t deny their attraction to each other. So when a traumatic incident and series of events lead to Knox being granted parole and released from Devil’s Rock, he and Briar are suddenly free to pursue their mutual interest.
Things escalate rather quickly. From this point on, the method through which they communicate with each other is sex. In that aspect, they’re on the same page and speaking the same language. But whenever Briar tries to connect with Knox on deeper levels–i.e., emotionally–his instinct is to retreat. He backs off. After being imprisoned for eight years, it’s self-preservation for him not to show emotion or be vulnerable. But if he wants a future with Briar, he has to learn how to let himself be free to love.
This book hit every high note with me. There’s the forbidden romance aspect initially, but even after Knox is released, he and Briar have to reconcile what little they know about each other with their growing desire to be together. Their physical chemistry is undeniable (and amazingly hot), but do they have something that’s worth pursuing? Can this last? Can they really have a relationship on the outside? How on earth do you handle the logistics of dating a convicted felon? I think that the author portrayed their interactions realistically, especially with regard to how people treat Knox after he’s released.
I read the audio version, which has an excellent narrator (Christian Fox). But I fully intend on buying the ebook too because there are so many passages that I LOVED. Seriously, I want to own the ebook just so that I can highlight the crap out of it. Plus, I know that this is something I’ll want to re-read in the future–and I hardly ever do re-reads.
All Chained Up is the first book in the new Devil’s Rock series. I highly recommend it and I’m so excited about the next book, Hell Breaks Loose, which I’ll definitely be reading.