Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: Slammer by Tabatha Vargo

The last place Christopher Jacobs, aka X, thought he’d find himself was behind bars. Ten years later, the boy he used to be is gone. In his place is the shell of a man with murder under his belt. Any emotion he once had was left under the gavel when he was given life in prison. That is until the new nurse in the infirmary joins the block.
Putting your hands on a prison employee will get you the hole, but some things are worth their punishment, and something tells him Lyla will be worth more than he bargained for.

Lyla Evans isn’t sure about her new job at a maximum security prison, but showing uncertainty and weakness isn’t an option. Taking care of murders and rapist isn’t ideal, but survival is key. She’s warned ahead of time about a prisoner named X, but when she’s attacked, it’s the dangerous X that saves her. Fraternizing with the prisoners is forbidden, but sometimes the most forbidden things are the sweetest.

4 Stars!

Review by Jen Hagen

Lyla has just graduated from nursing school and when all her other job applications did not result in an interview, she chose the only job she was offered – a nurse in the infirmary at Fulton Rhodes Penitentiary.  This isn’t going to be a cake walk…this is a very dangerous prison, and she is going to be faced with new challenges and survival skills on a daily basis.  This is all very scary to Lyla, but with empty cupboards looming at home she has no choice but to hold her head high and face the onslaught of derogatory comments towards her and she can never let the inmates see her fear.  What she did not expect was to feel an unexplainable pull towards one of the most lethal inmates – X.

X is a unique character.  He is considered the most dangerous prisoner, but yet Lyla sees deep into his eyes and realizes that he is not the monster that he and everybody else claim him to be.  X is 29 years old and has been in prison for 10 years, serving a life sentence with no chance of parole.  The last 10 years have been difficult for him and at times I felt that he did not belong there – not only because I felt he wasn’t guilty of his crimes but also because he is still the na├»ve 19-year-old boy that never had a chance to grow up outside the prison walls.  All life experiences have come from maintaining survival against hard-core criminals and gangs. 

Stepping closer to the wall, I ran my fingers over their roughness and lowered my head in sadness.  I’d never wanted any of this.  I never wanted to hurt anyone, but they were always pushing me – always attacking.  Why couldn’t they just let me serve my time in peace?

X finds himself a frequent visitor in the infirmary as he instigates a lot of fights to maintain his name as one to be feared.  Lyla can see behind the rough exterior and into his soul. 

His expression shifted and his eyes softened revealing something unexpected.  Fear.

It’s been 10 years since X has felt anything besides a rough touch.  The softness that Lyla exudes makes X delirious with want.  Lyla knows that X isn’t the criminal that he claims to be and she wants nothing more than to clear his name.  A romance begins within cinder block walls and carries them through the darkest of days.  Hope is something that X hasn’t felt in 10 years…it’s an obscene feeling, but the thought of spending the rest of his life with Lyla gives him hope that what he has endured for 10 years has been worth it.  

His rough finger moved across my cheek and his eyes moved over my face, taking me in and devouring me whole.  “I love you more than life, Lyla…more than my next breath.  I love you in an impossible way that burns my skin and scrambles my soul.  It’s you.  It will always be you.”  

Have you read Ms. Vargo’s Blow Hole series?  Those are fantastic reads and I am giving them a shameless plug, but also want to give notice to her past readers that Ms. Vargo’s writing is in an entirely new dimension with Slammer.  The Blow Hole series is filled with character depth and angst, but in Slammer I felt like I was submersed in the walls of Fulton alongside X and Lyla, and I know  I never want to be incarcerated…I will never come within an inch of breaking any law for fear I will go to prison!  She interviewed a prisoner so the story is complete with factual findings.    Slammer is told from dual points of view, and I immediately felt a pull towards X with his thoughts.  He may be hard on the outside, but his tenderness still exists beneath it all.

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