Review: “Unstable” by S.E. Hall

UnstableUnstable by S.E. Hall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG, this book was sooooooooo good!

WARNING: I couldn’t help by highlight half the things Keaton said, so be prepared for lots of quotes.

I’m usually not into OTT alpha males, but Keaton Cash pushed all my buttons and made me fall for him faster than you can say ‘holy cowboy’. The story started a bit muted and at first I thought Gatlin was going to be her love interest because Keaton doesn’t enter the scene right away. But hell if by the end I wasn’t praying for another 100 pages or so to magically appear from out of nowhere. This book had everything I didn’t even know I wanted in a book.

“You know Gatlin and I are just friends. Why would it bother you?”
“Because I have a dick, you’re my woman and I don’t want you depending on another man for a God damn thing. That’s my job. Anything and everything you need? That’s all me, baby. And you can’t say this is one of my macho things, ’cause he knew it too.”

First of all, the style. It was incredible. Beyond great. Given the cover, I’d kind of expected some cowboy smut. You know the kind. When the writing style is okay, but that’s not why you’re reading it. Instead, Unstable was amazingly written and it kept me glued to the pages.

“Anyone ever told you it’s creepy to always be sneaking up on people?” I ask in a chilled tone.
“So walking across the yard, in broad daylight, is that where the sneaking part came in?” He [Gatlin] cocks his head and challanges me with a gring. “Guess I always pictured sneaking with more tucks and rolls, some crouching. Maybe a Bond theme music playing in the background.”
I turn my head so he doesn’t see my mouth twitch.
“Next time I’ll walk straight up the driveway, screaming and waving my hands, I promise.”

Secondly, the plot. I liked how the mystery of what had happened in Henley’s past was revealed piece by piece because it kept my curiosity high.

Henley Calvert, I could ask you the same damn question. In fact, I’m askin’. What’d I ever do to you, besides always looking out for you and treat you like a queen?”

Henley herself was a complex character. The first 20 pages or so, I didn’t quite like her, because not knowing what had happened in her past, I had no idea why she was handling coming back home the way she was. It was clear she was still hurting from what had happened and getting to know her better, witnessing her healing journey to a happier life, it was not just enjoyable, but powerful. SE Hall did a great job at portraying grief in some of its painful details, but also the steps to move forward. It was an unexpectedly emotional book.

“Hen, if I ever honk at you rather than come up to get you. walk with you, and open your door, either my legs are broken, or I’ve had a stroke. Or both, ’cause I shouldn’t be driving if both my legs are broken. So call 9-1-1 immediately. You’re a lady. My lady. And you will always be treated as such.”

But since this is mainly a romance, let me focus on my favorite part here: Keaton Cash. Now, normally I don’t like alphas all that much. He’s the exception. What I adored about him was that, even though he was possessive and commanding and, well, alpha, all he ever did was in her interests. He’s not an a-hole. He was always trying to protect her, make her happy, cherish her. His utter devotion to her transpired.

If you loved someone, what wouldn’t you do for them? If your house caught fire, would you sit on the sidewalk and wait for the firemen to arrive, knowing your other half was still trapped inside? Or would you go back in and die with them, die trying to save them?”
His answer is automatic, a reverent promise said while his gaze locked with mine stays steady. “If I loved someone you’d find us with out fingers melted together, because I’d be right beside her, holding her hand, to the very end.”

Henley and Keaton were a perfect mix between childhood friends and enemies to lovers. And what made me swoon the most was that, even though Henley was clueless about his feelings for her, she had always been his one and only. Also, given how alpha and commanding he is, it was a good thing that Henley was a spitfire. She doesn’t just bow down every time he makes a decision for the both of them, or takes control. She fires back. And their flirting/bantering/fighting was one of my favorite aspects of their relationship.

“And just so you know, this is not a negotiation, Keaton. This is a bitchtatorship. I’m the bitch, especially in my own house, and I’m demanding you leave!”

On a side note, the heath level was really high and all the steamy scenes were on point and hot as hell. Just thought I’d throw this out here, in case Keaton’s personality hadn’t already implied it.

“I assure you, Darlin’, my trigger is anything but quick. In fact, you’ll squeeze yours off multiple times before I even cock back my hammer.”

Last, but not least, I was so not expecting one of the plot twists. It was the final blow to my heart, sending me in readers’ heaven. Sure, I’d had a feeling that something like that might be happening, but then I’d dispelled it because there was a scene that contradicted my idea. It was genius, pure genius and it also showed us how much Keaton was in love with Henley.

“You’re also a stubborn smartass,” he grunts. “I’ll break ya one of these days. Can’t wait. You’ll come seek me out and snuggle up, wrap your arms around me, and lift your face up for a kiss. Gonna be great.”

One last thing. It was very low on angst. Even though it’s a slow burn and at first Henley is a bit conflicted about what she’s starting to feel for Keaton, it’s clear to everybody they’re MTB and when they start dating, they slip naturally into a relationship. Which is something I adore. There isn’t much of externally caused drama either. Okay, there is a bit, but somehow I had expected more. Especially in the last part of the book, I thought something else would happen between the two of them, a bit of heartache, a misunderstanding. Instead we get to see them building their relationship, being supportive and taking big steps toward their future together.

So now I’ll leave you with my favorite quotes, which is also the quote that convinced me to the read this book in the first place (thanks Mel!).

“As your man,” he hold up a finger, “don’t argue. As your man, I drive. I pay for our meals. I carry heavy shit. I do any and all mechanical stuff including, but not limited to, oil changes, flat tires, gas fill-ups, and fixing or having fixed anything you break. If you cook, I clean. If there’s a knock on the door late at night, I answer it. If someone makes you cry, I pay them a visit. Jars, I opened them. And babies, I get up every other time and bring them to you in bed if they’re hungry. I very well may add to this list too, so be ready. I can write it down if you want me to.”

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