It's safe to say I have somewhat fallen for the Marked Men novels. The first installment Rule won me over instantly, Jet was an intoxicating sequel that nearly trumped its predecessor (but not quite) " it was an amazing read nevertheless. Rome. Well, well, well Rome; what a book; what a captivating story, what great work yet again by Crownover. I didn't think there was enough space in my life for another adorably cute yet so polar opposite couple in my wonderful world of fiction - and then came along Cora Lewis and Rome Archer, and all bets were, immediately off.
Cora has been the feisty little firecracker in the first two books who works as body piercer at Marked, who's dedicated to always being there for her boys and girlfriends, but she's been heartbroken by someone she once thought loved her and now she's decided she will settle for nothing less than perfect. In other words she's every teenage girl. Little did she know "Love isn't perfect. It's hard work and sometimes it's more effort to be in love than it is to just run away. If you keep looking for perfect the real thing is going to pass right by you".
Rome Archer "is a man on a journey, just like we all are, and he's only trying to do the best he can" having retired from the Army and trying to fit into civilian life but feels like a stranger in his own life. Not only are the demons from the loss of his younger brother weighing on him tirelessly, the horrors of war are unrelenting as he tries to adjust to life out of the battlefield. As a result Rome's general attitude is rather brooding and standoffish and fittingly Cora dubs him "Captain No-Fun".Crownover handles the re-acclimatization of soldiers in a way that is realistic and relatable without completely distancing the feat from her reader's.
The initial hostility between Cora and Rome is palpable as is their undeniable sexual chemistry; but the loyalty and sense of duty and respect they develop for each other is beautiful, "hovering on the periphery - sanity, logic, rationality".
The one thing I loved most about this book was the unity of the opposites - a motif that has.convinced me love is love. Cora was used to seeing people who, much like herself, "marked their skin to define their individuality, to claim it as their own". Rome's scars were unwarranted and "reflected his life, the choice he made to go off and become a warrior ... it was body modification on an entirely different level with a different purpose". That's the unique beauty of this book, despite the turbulence that disrupted their path they were somehow able to make it through their "perfectly imperfect" world.
Both Cora and Rome have a distorted view of the white knight complex as they both feel the need to be needed yet are not able to accept support they so obviously need but eventually a realisation is made that "he wasn't perfect, I wasn't perfect, but the love we had for each other ... nothing was more perfect than that"
"Love is never perfect, big brother. It's what you make of the imperfections in it that makes the ride worthwhile"
"Who we are is always shifting, turning and changing"
"Who you are never stays the same. It's called living life"