One of the more impressive elements of the Wonderland series is that each book is brutally honest, no-holds-barred on the emotional turmoil and all around terrible lives the characters have experience. Nothing is as perfect as it seems on the surface, everyone is going through something and it’s the particular magic captured on pages that anyone can relate to. Some stories will hit closer to home than others and it may be rough but it’s worth the ride.
Max’s fear is crippling and debilitating to the extent that he visible flinches and stutters around his father. The constant disappointment and incurable need to seek his approval is moving and achingly sad to read. No matter how mean, no matter how he lies and manipulates him, he’s still his dad and that’s everything. Max is desperate for some semblance of control when he feels his father has a hand in every major choice. The pressure within himself escalates to a toxic, explosive level. Everything in Max’s life is carefully controlled and choices are made with his father in mind. The physical and psychological effects are like an nasty case of PTSD. Every ounce of pain and fear Max suffers, you’ll feel it, deeply and thoroughly. There’s a sense that he’ll never escape from under his father’s thumb as Max continues to sacrifice his own happiness in a hopeless attempt to appease his father.
What I loved about this story is not only Max’s powerful, raw voice but the series of relationships explored. Each woman Max feels affection towards is different; Annabelle brings light and laughter to his life, he can finally relax and ease the tension gripping his body through exploration in BDSM. As Max learns to revel in this other part of himself, it’s almost cathartic. Each new relationship reveals more of who Max is as a person and the man he wants to be. Max learns and grows, finding it within himself to speak up and stand his ground, some times more than others.
Friendship becomes the place where he can be himself. His comfortable, playful banter with Moira is lively and hilarious. Together, they’re two little kids with really foul mouth blundering through life with bottles of alcohol and naughty thoughts. They’re perfectly adorable. And Izzy. I’ve loved Izzy since I read her Wonderland book but this rowdy, loud, happy Izzy is beautiful to read knowing how far she’s come.
Max’s story deals with abuse and adult themes/BDSM. These might be triggers for some.
Sex scenes were numerous but brief. Some of the BDSM scenes were abrupt, short, and ended too quickly. The details weren’t especially graphic and were often a little summary.
Questions were left unanswered that will have you begging for the next book. The ending particularly and the mysteries leading up to it.
Max is an amazing, kind-hearted, catch of a man. He’s temptation, dominance and compassion all rolled into one very sexy guy. The physical and emotional scars of his past make him but far from break him. One of the best, gut-wrenching aspects revolves around his idea of himself as a father, how much love and nurturing he’d shed on his child, every bit of love this father never granted him. My heart shattered into itty bitty pieces at his longing to be better, to share his kindness. I mean, Max Colton is girl kryptonite. He’s got everything going for him and toss in the swoony yearning to be a father, to take care of his woman, his quirks. Destroyed. Max Colton has my heart on a string, hook, line, and sinker.