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The Shoe Challenge
Steel toe – Read a book where the h/h is known for their strength or has endured a great trial (falsely imprisoned, debilitating sports or other injury) or where they have overcome a challenge of some kind (blindness, deafness, depression, cancer)
11 by Kylie Brant – heroine was held prisoner for three years, but no one believes her:
The heroine was considered a flighty, rich party girl who craved media attention. She’d disappeared for three years, but money had been regularly withdrawn from her accounts until her father cut them off. So when she reappeared claiming she’d been tortured, raped, and held prisoner with a group of other women none of her friends or family believed her. The police investigated, but when none of their leads panned out everyone chalked it up to a wild story. The hero had been hired to provide security after her return, but her behavior was erratic. The hero had then helped her disappear though he also did not believe her. We’re told all of this in passing at the beginning of chapter one. When mummified remains were found, the hero of the previous book in the series believed there was a connection to the heroine’s case. While I could understand why the hero doubted parts of her story, the fact that he continued to distrust her in the beginning of the book was a big hole for his character to have to climb out of in order to be able to consider the romance credible. It’s clear from his later POV scenes he regretted his behavior. But although there was a semi-grovel scene, he never actually apologized. It was easy to have sympathy for the heroine and her quest to help the other women left behind justified her ‘nothing left to lose’ attitude. I appreciated that the fact she’d had professional counselling was mentioned. Overall I liked the h/h and most of the secondary characters but had issues with the plot, including the way the Vietnamese characters were portrayed. The HEA was convincing, but I wish the excessive page time given to the villain’s POV and dedicated to his various methods of torture had been used to further develop the relationship between the h/h instead.

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