Evan Arden is a hard ass – anyone got a quarter? A bad ass – watch out A-listers. Just a plain old ass – like every other man. As you’re reading, his story unfolds seamlessly. Evan is a broken man, deeply flawed, but he has a heart that keeps you invested, even if he often refuses to show or even acknowledge it. Throughout the journey of the first two books, we come to know this character in a way we do not expect.
The first piece of the Evan Arden story started as a simple novella – not meant to go any further than a short, kinky, lost-in-the-middle of nowhere romp in the hay, so to speak. But it isn’t only author Shay Savage’s masterful grasp of the sensual that pulls readers in, it’s the mystery of Evan’s past that really has readers begging for more. So much so, that Shay was encouraged to continue Evan’s journey and expand the story. With the release of Otherwise Unharmed (tomorrow!), the three books will be known as the Evan Arden Series.
Evan Arden Series: Book #1
Otherwise Alone begins with Evan living a desolate existence in the Arizona desert, his only interaction is with a Great Pyrenees named Odin and his daily email checks (you know, for those ever important Pizza Hut coupons). We aren’t quite sure what has put him in the middle of the sand-filled landscape, but we know that something is surely keeping him there.
We meet the heroine of the story, Lia, on a dusty Arizona road, just outside of Evan’s small, dilapidated shack. She is lost in her own head and has secrets she is also harboring. Lia manages to bring out a softer side of Evan, a side that we truly only see with one other in this story, and that would be his faithful dog Odin.
The first book is really just a sexy, dirty, head-first dive into the world of smut that we all love so much, especially when Shay is writing it. Evan and Lia spend their night together – in the biblical sense – in his tiny, untidy bed, exploring each other’s bodies, if not their stories. But that is where the genius of Shay’s writing shines through. Even in a short novella that was really just meant to be a hot and steamy one-shot of sex, we are intrigued by both Evan and Lia, and the fan outpouring for more of these two is what really led Shay to decide to continue the story.
The mysteries each of these characters harbor creates a sense of back story that you want to know more about. Shay is able to hook readers without being obvious about it. Often, broken characters need a “but we’ll find more out later” line for readers to realize that there’s more to them. Not so with Shay. The way she develops characters, especially in so few pages, leaves readers wanting more, and in a good way. Luckily, Shay decided to give us more.
Evan Arden Series: Book #2
In Otherwise Occupied, we meet more people from Evan’s life before Lia literally stumbled into it. He becomes a man with a life, a job, friends – just like one of us – and not just the shady borderline criminal that he seems to be in Otherwise Alone. Turns out, he is still a shady borderline criminal – less on the borderline, more on the criminal – but the expansion of his character leaves us forgetting who he is and what he does, if even for a short time. But, ultimately, these things are his undoing.
We won’t tell you here how he is undone, though. That’s something you will have to discover for yourself as you read, but we will tell you it’s not something to be missed. In true Evan Arden fashion, the destruction is remarkable. The only saving grace throughout this book is the relationship Evan forms with Bridgett, but she was really just a bandaid on a gaping wound – only helpful in the most minimal way, enough to keep Evan going until he couldn’t anymore.
Both of these reviewers found themselves helplessly engaged in Otherwise Occupied, to the point where we both knocked out reading it in its entirety in just over a day because we couldn’t put it down. When we found ourselves in Chicago shortly after the book’s release, walking around the city became a treasure hunt for Evan Arden’s favorite haunts. As we accidentally walked by Sweetwater Tavern, the surprise and excitement were tangible – even to the friends we were with who hadn’t yet read the book.
Shay’s commitment to her craft and her desire to produce not only entertaining and interesting writing but to paint accurate pictures of the places and people within her stories, is evident in the Evan Arden Series. We were able to, based on her detailed descriptions, find Evan’s apartment building and shops and stores that are visited in the book.
We were even lucky enough to have some delicious martinis with the woman herself at 676, the home of the story’s infamous peanut butter and jelly waffles (and yes, they’re even better than they sound).
Otherwise Occupied leaves us with an evil cliffhanger – one that better be resolved in Otherwise Unharmed, or we might have to hunt Shay down and force her to write book #4. Speaking of another book, don’t forget to come back and check out our upcoming review of Uncockblockable, a side story in the Evan Arden Series, because we know you’ll want more of Evan’s world just like we did.
Evan Arden Series: Book #3
We’ll definitely be back to review Otherwise Unharmed, and we may or may not be bringing a very special guest to the blog as well 🙂