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    A thought provoking read.

    I am definitely taken by this tragic story and I need a little time to think about my feelings. This story is definitely not one about love and happy endings. It is about reality and how life can be pretty difficult.
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    Intense and thought provoking story

    Badger is not a romance, let's make that clear from the outset. Unlike this author's other works, this is a work of fiction which has some romantic elements to it, but no happy ever after ending. It's the story of Adrian, a recovering pill addict and the intersection of her life with a man known as the Badger, a vigilante who avenges slights big and small with his own brand of justice. They meet when she gets hit by a car and the Badger is there to avenge her by breaking the car's window and mirrors. After that first meeting, Adrian wants to know more about him, the legend of the man drawing her to him. What follows is a brief relationship of needs, wants and emotions that, for good or bad, will linger long after they go their separate ways. Adrian's fascination with Badger leads her to look for a way to protect him, but will her efforts be helpful or hurtful to both of them, in the end? This story is told entirely from Adrian's point of view, which is fitting as it is really her story. And truthfully, it was her character that kept me reading through parts where I wasn't sure I wanted to continue. Except that I wanted to know how it would end, so I stuck with it. At the start Adrian is a recovering pill addict, 11 months sober and attending weekly narcotics anonymous meetings. A 2 year pill addiction to Vicodin had wrecked many things in her life, but the love of her family despite this has helped her to find her way back to a new normal, one in which a job and an apartment have meaning again. With her criminal record (acquired during her low points of addiction), getting a job has been difficult but she's finally got something that can use her artistic and marketing skills. She's managing one day at a time. I liked her acceptance of herself and her mistakes, and her determination to make restitution for her wrongs - and I appreciated her twin sister's willingness to forgive and move past those bad times. For much of the story, I was on edge, hoping that Adrian would stay sober and wouldn't be pulled back into her addiction, especially as her relationship with the Badger began. The Badger is probably one of the most depressing characters I've read in a book. He's a thirty something man, with a rage problem, PTSD from horrible child abuse affecting him and his decisions. He's not sweet, he's not overly likeable (though he has some salvageable moments) and it's hard for Adrian to stop herself from picturing herself as his saviour - a savior he doesn't want. Still they are drawn to each other, like magnets, and she's attracted to him (and vice versa). However the sex they have, for me, was uncomfortable and depressing. Truthfully, I had to skim some of the scenes as I didn't want to have the details imprinted on my memory. The nicer Adrian is to him, the worse he treats her, until eventually she comes to realize that there is nothing she can do that is going to change him. But her relationship with him is important, as it helps her to grow and realize her own strengths. She becomes more assertive, more demanding, and comes away from him with a realization that she is worth more than what he was giving her. There are pockets of sweetness in their relationship, treats to be savoured but that ultimately aren't enough to sustain them. As the story moves forward, there is a new kind of tension that unfolds as the Badger's fans get involved in trying to protect him from the police who are looking to arrest him. The second half of the story moves swiftly and is hard to put down, as the fate of Adrian and the Badger hang in the balance. By the end of the story I felt wrung out, but hopeful for Adrian and her future. I don't think this one will be a reread for me, it was too intense and parts of it were disturbing for me. I'm not sure that I would have picked this up if it weren't for the fact that I love this author's writing. However I'm glad I read it, and it's a good example of how much talent Ms. McKenna has to instill such strong emotions through her storytelling. 4 stars.
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