Fans of the Charley Davidson series know that Reyes Farrow has not had an easy life. We've seen little glimpses here and there over the course of the past eight books. But there is knowing, and there is knowing. This novella doesn't wallow in his misery, but any story about Reyes and his life is going to be tough. And believe me, it is.
Basically, the story begins with Reyes as a child, as he remembers the first time he laid eyes on Charley. It follows him as he grows, juxtaposing the horrors of his real life, with the escape she brings him. It's heartbreaking to see her as a fantasy in his eyes. A small slice of beauty that is so foreign to his existence that he is convinced he made her up.
We go through all the major benchmarks we know through the other books, but peppered in are these casual reminders of rapes and torture Reyes had to endure for more than a decade. While I appreciate that Darynda Jones never details these events, it's so bleak how Reyes must accept such atrocities as a fact of his life. Drugged violations, beatings, broken bones... they simply are. And then, for him to trade his ability to fight to protect his sister, it's just so dark.
There is none of the Charley Davidson snark. No laughs. Just Reyes' stark reality. Except for his moments with Dutch. It gives an even deeper layer to the love he has shown for her. And it explains so much of his reservations. It makes me yearn harder than ever for their happily ever after, and dread the misery he is sure to be feeling at the beginning of the next book.
This story takes us up through the timeline of Reyes and Charley meeting in the flesh. I wouldn't recommend this to a reader unfamiliar with the series. This is no place to start, as it is full of spoilers and displays a tone that is a polar opposite from the rest of the books. But for fans, as dark as it is, I can't imagine you would want to miss this peek behind the curtain for this enigmatic character. It's not easy reading, but it's worth it.