Ignore the cover. No, really.
Just ignore it because what you're looking at is not a replica of the wonderfully sweet, amazingly courageous, insanely sexy Van. Whomever the brave soul was who read this book first, and told us all to not look at the cover, I thank you.
Charlotte Stein's Sheltered
is told entirely from Evie's perspective. Evie has lived fully under the thumb of her abusive father, and neglectful mother, for nineteen years. He has made it impossible for Evie to leave. His brainwashing is clearly evident when Evie spots Van in the neighbors yard buying pot. She's certain that this punk boy is evil and would kill her if given half the chance. Once Van opens up the lines of communication with her, she really begins to blossom.
The abuse Evie's endured, and the repression, is handled so perfectly by Stein that it isn't at the forefront of the couple's budding relationship. Van clearly recognizes the signs; going above and beyond to make Evie feel comfortable around him. His massive size (the dude is 6'5" and proportioned accordingly!) could really have frightened her if not for how exceedingly tender and yummy he is with her. He takes things excruciatingly slow; building the anticipation up until neither of them could hold back. And the things he said to her (not just during the heated moments) made my heart skip beats right along with Evie's!
The ending just rips you open and makes you ache for this young woman who is a true survivor. Her gentle giant is a fierce protector! He picks her up, gives her such love, support, and makes her whole. But it isn't one-sided because she does the same for him. DO NOT PASS THIS ONE BY!
It's at the top of my list for favorite books this year!