My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Layers Peeled, book 2 in the Layers Trilogy by Lacey Silks started out rather promisingly. I felt that the middle half was kinda dragging, lacking the nerve-wrecking suspense and action of Layers Deep. But, the author has a way of keeping me guessing of what’s going to happen next. I kept reading to find out exactly what she had in store for Tristan and Allie... and for us in this installment of the trilogy.
If you haven’t, consider starting the series with the prequel, Dazzled by Silver. Though it’s not directly connected to book 1 and 2, our H and h, Tristan and Allie were briefly introduced there. We also are introduced to the prominent Cross Enterprises; Tristan’s family business. They do all sorts of spy and detective work through this organization comprising of Tristan, his twin Julian, their father Mr. Cross. Even their mother is a part of it, younger sister Emma already being a trainee of sort. H of Dazzled by Silver, Gabriel, a brilliant PI on his own right, is Tristan’s cousin and a part of this organization.
When book 1 starts from the h, Allie’s POV, we immediate learn of her heartbreaking past; how her father was allegedly murdered by an a$$hole he thought his friend, the same a$$hole who had an eye for her mother. Allie’s mother was raped, lost the baby she was carrying right after her father was killed in ‘an accident’ which now Allie thinks was no accident at all. Worst was, a 10 year old Allie was forced to witness the crime, having no idea how to save her mother.
This man, Wright, has been the bane of their existence ever since. He’s a sick, obsessed and equally ruthless bastard. And ever since she grew up and decided to become a cop, Allie has been protecting her mother the best she could. At this point, for Allie, a stable and happy family life is nothing but a deep and secret longing. Allie craves a beautiful family to call her own with her husband and kids, finding way to keep her mother safe and make her happy. Little did she know or expect that Tristan cross would happen in her life soon and turn it upside down. In a good way, of course.
When Tristan comes to find Allie for an assignment, he was desperate. His ex, Kendra has been kidnapped by a mafia gang and now, on the verge of being pimped off to become a sex slave. Glimpses of their history can be read in the prequel but Tristan’s affection for her is not that of a lover or a boyfriend anymore. He cares for her and wants to save her from this fix she’s gotten herself into. The assignment is dangerous and the investigator has to go undercover as a prostitute to track where Kendra might be. She needs to be someone smart and brave enough to pull it off.
Tristan had already made inquiries of his own on Allie’s past and he seemed to think that she’s THE ONE for the job. But it was also true that he has been attracted to her right from the start. Convincing Allie proves to be easy as she falls for the sexy PI on spot. She becomes adamant to prove herself to Tristan. When they find that shared connection and Allie figures out that he cares for her beyond the physical, it just makes the deal sweeter. They become intimate on the process of the investigation, though Allie still had no idea of her place in Tristan’s life. Would it be something casual and end after the investigation ends? Would she become someone important to a man life Tristan Cross? Can she?
Trouble is, Allie finds that she has fallen deep for Mr. Cross as well and living without him is not an option anymore. Tristan is smart, sexy, considerate and inherently kind with a great sense of humor. And he rocks her world both in and out, so why not?
When the investigation takes place and danger finds Allie is when the truth of just how much Tristan cares for her comes out. Later, Allie discovers that she’s pregnant.
Layers Peeled starts right from here book 1 left off. Allie decides to come clean and tell Tristan that they’re expecting. With all sorts of negative things going through her head, she toughens herself up for Tristan’s rejection of the baby. Allie doesn’t know if he’d want this as much as she does. But, at Tristan’s office, she is the one who gets surprised. Allie not only finds herself being fired of her current job but also appointed for a new job as the head of a new department, courtesy of her Mr. Cross. Then the said Mr. Cross finds himself speechless to learn of the news of his impending fatherhood!
Yes, yes, some hot celebratory desk sex follows...
Tristan is definitely not unhappy, more so because he deeply cares for Allie, so having a family with her seems like perfectly normal. He enthusiastically begins planning about the arrival of the newest addition with the help of his own family and Allie. The Cross family, who have been kind and already accepted Allie and her mother to the fold, welcome the news with much joy; especially Emma, the youngster, is ecstatic on the prospect of becoming an aunt!
After her undercover stint with the pimps and the helpless girls back in that hotel, Allie had been very serious about helping some of these girls out however she can. One girl’s case particularly interests her as she looked much like her. While Allie was trying to track her down in hopes of getting her some help, suddenly, one day, the past returns to haunt her when she finds Wright somewhere near her office. This leaves Allie so badly shaken that Tristan decides to take an early vacation to Austria. They were already scheduled to go there for Gabriel and Samantha’s marriage. It is also imperative that Allie’s mother would accompany them, because ever since learning of Allie’s past, Tristan has made it his responsibility to provide all around security required for the older woman.
This is the part where the story slows down a bit, though I liked the sweet and sexy developments in Allie and Tristan’s relationship. Expect some hot, yet playful sex and talks of the new baby and fun with the extended family in vacation. The fact that they both were scared of talk of marriage bugged me a little but I was glad that Tristan sorts things out in the end.
There was a particular twist at the very end that totally got me! I was waiting for Wright to get his comeuppance but things don’t go as planned. He returns, again, to terrify Allie once more. But no worries, the bastard got what he deserved all along and more.
Layers Peeled doesn’t have any big cliffhanger. It won’t leave you hanging as Allie and Tristan finally are blessed with their HEA. But the author note will give you some pointers on what to expect in the final installment, Layers Off. This’ll be the story of Julian and Kendra. Apparently, Julian always harbored a tendre for her and tried his best to take care of Kendra after she was rescued, bruised and broken. We’d finally get to learn of Kendra’s past, her own problematic life and how she came to be a part of the Cross family.
Meanwhile, 4 stars for Layers Peeled.
This ARC was provided to me by the publisher via netgalley which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.