The rules are simple:
Never speak to outsiders.
Never yearn for something more.
And never, ever seek the pleasure of a stolen kiss…or a whispered promise that with him, she can finally be free.
Abby Merkley has been a member of the Church of the Apocalyptic Faith since she was a child, and there’s no way out…until her darkly handsome, brooding neighbor defies the rules and takes her into the safety of his arms.
He should frighten her, but everything inside Abby thrills at Luc Stanek’s rough manners and shockingly gentle touch. He excites her, ignites her, leaves her shaken and wanting more. But evil men follow in her footsteps, and it may take more than one fierce beauty to defend her loving beast.
Blank Canvas series:
Under Her Skin (Book 1)
By Her Touch (Book 2)
In His Hands (Book 3)
Praise for Blank Canvas:
"A dark and emotional tale that will make your spine tingle as well as your heart."—SARINA BOWEN, USA Today bestselling author of Bittersweet for Under Her Skin
"The perfect romance...a hint of danger, a whole lot of spice, and an HEA you believe in."—ANNE CALHOUN, award-winning author of Under the Surface for Under Her Skin
“Emotionally riveting page-turner.”—Publishers Weekly STARRED for Under Her Skin
“Incredibly sexy, heartbreaking, and intense.”—Kirkus for Under Her Skin
“Gripping [and] emotionally satisfying.”—Publishers Weekly STARRED for By Her Touch
“Anders has created wonderful variations on the beauty and the beast theme [with] a greatly tormented hero, and a powerful mix of menace and romance.”—Booklist for By Her Touch
Anders's engrossing third Blank Canvas contemporary (after By Her Touch) brings romance and suspense to the mountains outside Blackwood, Va. Young widow Abby Merkley belongs to the cultish Church of the Apocalyptic Faith led by her stepfather, Isaiah but she defies the church's teachings to seek a job from her gruff, grape-growing, loner neighbor, Luc Stanek, whom she recognizes as a kindred spirit. Abby is willing to break multiple rules to acquire medicine for her young friend Sammy, who's epileptic, but she can't bring herself to tell Luc that she finds him attractive. When Isaiah announces his plan to marry her, Abby resists and is tortured by Isaiah's devout followers, who brand her with hot irons. She successfully escapes to Luc's farmhouse under the cover of a winter storm, and he shows her kindness and erotic passion both of which are completely new to her. Wanting to protect Abby and help her heal, Luc reaches out to Sheriff Clay Navarro and dermatologist Georgette Hadley, whom Anders's fans will enjoy meeting again. Anders excels at creating sympathetic characters who will win the reader's heart. A nail-biting incursion into the cult to rescue children concludes this sterling tale of two lost souls finding true love.
What an intense read! This sort of reminded me of the movie "The Village" by M. Night Shyamalan. Abby is in a cult like church where the leader does not believe in outside influences. No doctors, no medicine, what happens is the will of God. They are all on a piece of land in the mountains and locked behind a prison like fencing.
The problem is Abby isn't willing to just follow along. Sammy is a boy with Down Syndrome who has seizures. No one will help him and Abby is determined to get a job so she can help get Sammy out before it's too late.
This is where she meets Luc. He owns the adjoining land and cultivates a grape field for wine making. She has seen him out there working and she is convinced he will hire her to earn money. She cuts a hole in the fence to sneak out everyday and work for Luc.
Luc isn't exactly thrilled about Abby's intrusion but he's just as drawn to her and her tenacity and ends up hiring her. Luc is a very anti social person. He's lived next to the church for two years and had no clue what was happening in his own back yard.
This story is wild! You learn piece by piece what is really happening behind those fence lines. So many of them have grown up there and know no other way. The more I learned about Isiah, the leader, the more angry I got. He's basically the devil in sheeps clothing. This is definitely a story that will get your emotions charged.
A few warnings for readers with triggers: There is a lot of religion talk. Even though Abby is an adult, she has child like innocence. Luc has to explain a lot to her. There is abuse. The author did a good job of not going into too much detail but still expressing some of the abuse so you know what Abby has suffered.
I've read and liked all three of the books in this series but this one was the most intense. It's well written and can be read as a stand alone. ARC provided by NetGalley.
Solid book in the series
I really hate cults. A lot. I am super uncomfortable with cults and cult themes. I don't even like Amish books because any group of people who pretend you're dead if you leave their church are pretty whacka-doodle to me. I didn't realize that this book would have a cult theme before I started reading it. I had read the other books in the Blank Canvas series so I wanted to read book number 3 in the series.
Anyway, enough about my cult hang ups, In His Hands is actually a good book. I really enjoyed watching Abby and Luc (our heroine and hero) fall in love.
I did find the tension a bit too much at times, but the book was still entertaining and I don't see how the book could have come to a conclusion without all the angst. By the end of the book I was convinced that Abby and Luc belonged together, and that they would have a happy and healthy forever after.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance with a bit of tension.
I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Adriana Anders is on my must watch list:
Adriana Anders is on my must watch list: an author who carefully brings serious and topical elements into her stories, while making readers long for more: more for her characters, more story, more moments. In the third book from her blank canvas series, she brings us yet another set of characters who have tried to move past their insecurities and make new paths for themselves. Easily read in any order: the series name of Blank Canvas truly defines the connections and romance for the characters – they have to choose what to cover those canvases with, and they do so in ways that are gripping, compelling and engaging.
Abby has been raised in a cult: with a leader who alternates between compelling and cruel, she’s finding that the world beyond the relative security and support within the life she has always known may be little more than an illusion. Innocent in all the ways of the world, she harnesses her fear of the unknown in an effort to escape and find a way to pay for treatment, denied by the cult, for a young boy in desperate need. The uniqueness of Abby: her innocence despite the horrific abuse she suffered during her time in the cult, the religious overtones where the word becomes a hammer, twisted and forged for control, and her actual unfamiliarity with many everyday situations. In the company of anyone other than Luc, an honorable man who won’t allow himself to ‘need’ another, even though he’s adopted a dog (Le Dog), and claims to avoid people. There’s just something about Abby – not just her willingness and need to work, her curiosity and the hints of sadness he sees, that allows him to gently guide her through the many pitfalls that her new existence brings.
This did start slowly: there is plenty of set-up as we get a feel for each character: Abby so open and guileless in her sharing, and Luc, a bit more reserved with his quiet moments spent with old recordings that were his grandfather’s favorites. His every waking moment is spent gently tending his vines as a seller of wine grapes with a sense that the grape lives in his soul as a native of Bourdeaux. But soon, with Abby’s sharing and the pressure from the cult to bring her back, the revelations as she understands the repercussions of her own treatment and deciding how to feel, as well as her growing affections for Luc, bring us a slow-growing story where both Luc and Abby find themselves meandering down the path of love. At the same time, the pressures from the outside increase, and the story starts to build tension and keeping readers wondering just what is next. With Abby and Luc, their relationship is decidedly as friends that grows into more: less from Abby’s reticence and more, it seems, for Luc giving her the opportunity to grow, learn and make a choice. As choice seems to be a new-ish concept for Abby, you have to love Luc’s willingness and understanding: even as he guards and guides her forward in this new world. Incredibly emotional and sensual, Anders allows those moments of discovery, growth and sharing come organically and doesn’t rush; you can actually see that these two are well-suited, and the slower development of the relationship gives them a solidity that wouldn’t have appeared had they jumped into the ‘couplehood’ any sooner. Perfectly suited as an installment in this series, keeping it on my favorite series list for characters, writing and unique elements that aren’t common to romance.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.