by Cecy Robson
Series: Shattered Past #3
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
She bears the scars of the past. He blames himself for things he can’t control. Their defenses are up, but in Cecy Robson’s latest Shattered Past novel—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn—true love lands a knockout punch. Sofia Tres Santos remembers a time before her life went sour, before her innocence was ripped away, before she began punishing herself with risky behaviors and unworthy men. Now, at twenty, she just hopes she’s ready to rebuild some of what she lost. One way or another, it always comes back to her childhood friend and longtime crush, Killian O’Brien. As strong as Killian is, Sofia has always been his one weakness. He knows Sofia has suffered and wants to ensure she’s never hurt again—not like before, and definitely not under his watch. When Sofia agrees to work at his mixed martial arts gym, Killian seizes the opportunity to help and protect the sweet girl he’s always cared for. And yet, as he trains Sofia to defend herself using his hard-hitting MMA techniques, he’s drawn to the vulnerable beauty in ways he never expected. As Sofia grows stronger, she also grows brave enough to open herself up to love. And along the way, she challenges everything Killian believes to be true, showing him that no matter how much he dominates in the ring, the real battle is fought in the heart.
Once Pure is the third book in Cecy Robson’s Shatter Past series and features Sofia Tres Santos, a young woman whose past has left its mark. Throughout the series, we have witnessed the attraction between her and Killian O’Brien. In Once Pure Robson finally rewards us with their story.
Touching, tender and with secrets that could rip them apart I quickly became caught up in their story. Sofia has always been the most fragile of the Santos family and has the deepest scars. I was worried about how Robson would handle the romance between her and Killian.
I enjoyed watching this delicate romance with its tender moments unfolded. Their story was not an easy one to share. Killian carries guilt for what happened to Sofia and blames the events on himself. Sofia carries not only the memories of that painful event but also the dark path it led her own.
Robson tackles some tough issues including domestic abuse, rape and molestation. She tackles these topics head on and does not gloss over the darkness that grows from them. At its heart, the story is about healing and finding love and forgiveness. Of being ok with the past and moving, forward. She also weaves in secondary stories involving other characters. Wren, Killian’s sister and Finn both have me curious. Robson even gave us updates on previous couples as we see Mateo and Evie, and heard from Brody and Lety.
While I still am not a fan of the angst, miscommunications and volatile relationships typical of the new adult genre, I do love the heart that Cecy Robson brings to these characters and enjoyed Once Pure. I am looking forward to the next books in this series.
There were times in a girl’s life when swooning was necessary, and deeply warranted. This was one of them. I nibbled on my bottom lip, trying to suppress my deep blush and ignore the fist-banging motion Finn did with his hands and his very approving thumbs-up that followed.
I motioned in the direction of Killian’s office, unable to bear the intensity in those heart- stopping blue eyes. “Do you want us to get started?”
“Very much.” He winked. “But for now, maybe you should start with my website.”
He pressed his hand against the small of my back, when all I did was stand there with my jaw falling open, and led me forward. Regardless of his massive strength, his touch was gentle. I should have feared him even though he was taking great care with me. He was big and powerful, and could overtake someone as weak and thin as me. But I didn’t fear Killian.
I only feared what he could learn of me.
I wanted him to keep his palm against me. The gesture reassured me that maybe he did like me. Did think I was pretty. Would want to know me as more than the girl he’d grown up with.
I almost groaned when he let his hand fall. If I were someone stronger, and more confident, I would have reached to touch him or maybe flashed him a smile. But I wasn’t one of those flirty girls who always seemed to say the right things. I was simply me.
We moved along the edge of the gym toward his office. The floor wasn’t padded here, so the kitten heels of my silver sandals clip-clopped against the concrete. I adjusted the spaghetti strap of my floral top when the strap of my laptop case pulled it down my shoulder.
“Here, let me take that for you.” Killian lifted the case, easing the stress of its weight from my body. “You look beautiful,” he added quietly.
I lowered my lashes, averting my gaze. I’d wanted to look nice for him and hoped he’d notice. So when he did, yeah, I might have arm-flailed on the inside. But only a little, I swear. “Thank you.” The edges of his lips lifted into a sexy grin. Okay, I lied. Maybe I flailed a lot.
“How was traffic into Philly?”
“Huh? Oh, good. I left early just in case, but it was fine. I’ll be staying with my mother so I can just walk here and not have to worry about it.”
“You stayin’ in the old neighborhood?”
I nodded. “Yes. I’ll be there until I finish up here. Makes it easier to commute, you
“Good. I like you closer.”
I stopped short at his comment just as we reached his small office located at the center of the gym. Large windows enclosed the face, giving me a view of two men sparring in the Octagon while several others waited for their turn in the MMA ring. The swearing, the beat-downs, all seemed to drift into the box-shaped space.
My fingers slid over the large chestnut desk. “This is nice.”
He huffed and placed my laptop case on top. “Too nice. Doesn’t fit the damn room.”
An ivy perched on top of a matching filing cabinet was the only cheery color present. I pulled out my laptop and fired it up while I finished scanning the area, the interior designer within me working out ways to spruce up the small space.
Before I could make a few suggestions, Finn hurried in. “Kill, the writer from that MMA mag is here to do your interview.”
“I’ll be right there.” He smirked at me. “I have to take care of this. You okay here by yourself?”
I nodded. “I’ll be fine.”
He smiled and stroked my chin. “I’ll see you in a few.”
He prowled out the door. I watched him, unable to wipe the stupid grin off my face. I sat behind the desk, still swooning as I began to work.
A deep voice echoed into the room from across the gym. “Whew. Check out that fine
female moving into Kill’s space.”
“Oh, shit,” another guy said. “Do you know who that is?”
I glanced briefly toward the cluster of men waiting for their turn to spar. The smaller of the three squinted my way. “Yeah. Ain’t that Sofia Tres Santos? Mateo’s kid sister?”
I skimmed through the file I’d set up for Killian, trying to ignore them. My brother had a rep. Everyone in South and West Philly knew him.
The guy who’d questioned who I was laughed. “Maybe, but that’s not what I mean.” My typing slowed to a stop as a familiar feeling of dread clawed its way down my back. “Way I hear it, she’ll fuck anything with a pulse.”
Velcro tore as one of the fighters adjusted his gloves. “No shit.” He chuckled. “Well, hey, I got me a pulse.”
My stomach lurched, and sweat built up beneath my arms.
“Are you sure?” the guy who knew Mateo asked. “I always thought she was all shy—you know, what’s that word? Pure. Innocent-like.”
“Get the hell out of here. My cousin Kenny says she pretends to be all sweet, but that’s just an act. A shitload of brothers have tapped that—”
I slammed the door to the office shut and leaned against it, my breath too fast and my heart seconds from exploding. The room went hazy as my eyes quickly flooded with tears. I clasped my hand over my mouth, wishing everything he’d said wasn’t true. I wasn’t so sweet, wasn’t so pure—not anymore. Any innocence I’d clung to was stolen from me the day I was raped.
*This post is part of the Once Pure Tour with Tasty Tours