I'd been both anticipating and dreading this one, having seen Hunter be his delightful self in several of the previous books. I wasn't sure that a character that bastard-y could be redeemed.
All I have to say is thank god for Steve. Because I was able to see Hunter through Steve's eyes, and to see the changes Hunter was able to make because of Steve, I did finally--I think--come to appreciate the piece of work that is Hunter.
It was nice to see Hunter evolve into something resembling a human being. I also especially appreciated getting to see him apologize to the other characters I'd loved and to whom he'd been an ass.
The reason I can't give this more stars is because I'm still so conflicted about the changes we saw in Steve throughout the book. One of the things I've loved about this series is that all of the characters are better men at the end of their books than they were at the beginning. They're either kinder to themselves, more honest with themselves, braver, more able to love, or more open. We even saw that in Hunter. But I'm not so sure we did with Steve. I couldn't help but feel like his character got so subsumed into Hunter's--pleasing Hunter, fetching water for Hunter, moving to Italy for Hunter--that it feels like he lost himself. Or I lost him. I suppose I felt like the Steve we met at the beginning was disappearing. And this isn't an anti-BDSM thing--I'm all for BDSM, when it's what the characters need and want. I guess I just didn't see Steve wanting it, until he realized it's what Hunter wanted.
During the first half of this book, part of a quote kept going through my head:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Because Steve was so strong to start with, Hunter was finally able to stop trying to hide his own strength. They each gave the other permission to really be who they were. By the end, though, I'd lost that feeling and it seemed like Steve had given over all of his strength and let Hunter just take over.
Ugh. I'm obsessing. And not explaining this well. To sum up: I loved the first half, loved the transformation we saw in Hunter. Didn't like the last bit so much, and the transformation I seemed to see in Steve made me sad.