RILEY'S REVIEW EMBER...BY RACHEL VAN DYKEN

"I don't need perfect." He held me tighter. " I just need you. Always. Promise not to ever let me go." His voice was desperate. "I know it sounds weak, but I'm so sick of trying to look strong, trying to be strong. God, Bee, I just need you to let me be weak in this moment and tell you that you're the reason I'm able to breathe a little easier every day. You're the reason my heart's able to beat without shattering in my chest." He sighed. "I guess what I'm saying is...you've brought me back to life - and after being dead so long - I'm terrified." ~ Phoenix DeLange

Who would have ever thought that Phoenix DeLange would ever turn out to be so incredibly beautiful that he could even say something that emotional?

Let's face it. In the big picture of the Eagle Elite, Phoenix was definitely no Nixon or Chase. He was more sinister and darker than the others. After what he did to Trace, did anyone really think he would be able to redeem himself? I for one did not think it was possible. But he did. Of course I think everyone was surprised when Phoenix came back because well after everything he did, I thought someone offed him.

So when Phoenix comes back, he brings Tex's little sister Bee with him. Apparently when we thought Phoenix was dead, he was only in Italy baby sitting. Bee is this adorable, bouncy little thing and you get the feeling right away that she's interested in being more than being Phoenix's friend.

Phoenix wants no part of that. In his brain he doesn't deserve to be happy because of the horrible things he's done in his life. As a child, he watched his father brutalize women. As he grew older his father expected Phoenix to do the same things. He basically tried to take the humanity out of Phoenix and in some ways he succeeded.

Even though Ember  is basically the story of Phoenix and Bee, there's a lot of Sergio in this book. Sergio who is supposed to be a ghost, has been more and more involved in family business. And I can't lie, I'm not really crazy about Sergio. First he tried to take Mo from Tex and now, he's just this kind of sketchy, untrustworthy character.

Ok, so there are a bunch of things going on. Phoenix is basically acting as Bee's bodyguard to keep her safe. Phoenix is also struggling with the knowledge that Luca has left him to take over the Nicolasi family and everything it entails. He doesn't think he's ready for that. Then there's a little matter of the FBI. Yeah, there's something shady going on there, but you'll have to read it to find out.

Back to Phoenix. I know how horrible he was, but he's truly doing penance for it now. He seriously denies himself any happiness. He works out like crazy daily. He eats only these nasty green protein shakes. When Bee tries to feed him lasagna, he gets physically sick from it. He definitely deserves a second chance. He's plagued by nightmares of his past. And of course, who tries to get him through the nightmares? Of course Bee. 

Obviously, you get the picture that Phoenix has feelings for Bee, but a relationship of any sort is off limits for him. Tex let's him know he's only allowed to look at Bee and not touch her. And Phoenix is so afraid of his darkness, he denies himself something he knows would make him happy.

He tries so desperately to warn Bee away, but the more he pushes her away, the stronger she comes back to him. And as you can see by the quote, Bee becomes Phoenix's person. He tries and tries but he realizes it's Bee for him.

There are some tense moments wondering whats going on with the FBI. They want to take these families down and they'll use anyone they can to make that happen. Loyalties will be tested and people you thought were the truest, turn into the enemy.

All this is done of course with an incredible sense of humor. Sunday dinners are always a good laugh. Random shootings because the boys are mad at each other are not unusual. And let's face it, our young newlywed couples are always sneaking off to get busy.

So yes, Phoenix DeLange redeems himself for the sins of his past. I would have never thought I would be able to consider Phoenix a book boyfriend, but you'll see he is just so beautifully damaged you can't help but fall in love with him.

Yes, Rachel Van Dyken, you've done it again. I absolutely love the Eagle Elite Series. It's edgy, it's sexy, it's funny with a healthy helping of danger tucked in. A five lip smack review for Ember.  What's next?? I can't wait to find out.



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