I read both books in the Masterpiece Duet at the same time, so there will be parts of both books mixed in to my review.
I really dug these books. I haven't read Avery & Gabriel's story yet, but I plan to do so - however, I don't feel like I was missing something starting with this series.
This Duet is about Penny and Damon. Penny is a girl from Tanglewood. Nothing good comes out of Tanglewood. But Penny is different. She should be going places, and people notice. Unfortunately, they're not the good guys. They want to use her talents, and leave her broken. In any other world, she'd go to college and have a bright future.
Presidents run for office. Dictators steal it. Kings are born, and that’s why it’s the perfect way to describe Damon Scott. He commands any room he enters. He owns the very ground he walks on. And he wears that invisible crown with both pride and resignation, because it’s a bittersweet birthright.
Damon sees what's coming at Penny like a freight train, and knows exactly what it will do to her. It's within his power to save the "baby genius," so he does. Once she realizes the sacrifice he's made for her, and why she was targeted, her life becomes a balancing act. She never shows her winning hands, instead becoming mediocre.
Their paths cross again when her father gives in to his addictions and Damon "saves" them yet again. They make a bargain that sends Penny away and leaves her father in Damon's care.
Fate intervenes to bring them back together when someone close to them goes missing, and the clue to their disappearance is a clue that only Penny can decode. The same forces that wanted Penny in her youth want her again, and Damon has his own reasons for a vendetta against them as well.
It suddenly seems like the worst kind of tragedy. Not even every scar on his body, as terrible as they are. It’s this, the way he can’t let himself feel pleasure. The way he can’t even undress in a room full of undulating bodies, the way he can’t let one of them touch him.
One of my must-haves is character development, and it is here in SPADES. We follow the main characters from childhood to maturity, and it's gratifying to see them grow and change through their experiences - both with and without each other.
Like I mentioned, as soon as I can, I'll be going back to read the earlier connected books. I can't wait to read Avery & Gabriel's backstory after seeing them as side characters in this duet.
I'm giving the Masterpiece Duet five "family reunion" stars.