The Outskirts by T.M. Frazier
First in a Duet. Does not stand alone. Contemporary Romance.
It had been a bit since I sat down and completely gobbled up a book in one sitting, but when I got my copy of The Outskirts by T.M. Frazier, I dropped everything I needed to do and was completely consumed. It was almost strange how I was so transported into this sleepy, abandoned swamp town in Florida, that I felt like I watched a movie, it was so visual. I don’t think I have ever felt the need to pull photos for a book before, but I found myself looking for the visuals to match what I read when I finished. I suppose I just didn’t want to leave The Outskirts. This one will be a re-read for sure.
Sawyer grew up in the church. Her father was a very strict, religious zealot and women were completely subservient to men. She and her mother were regularly beaten. She was home schooled and completely sheltered. Women were not to show skin or have any type of relations outside of marriage. But when her mother took the easy way out, 21 year old Sawyer was left alone with her father. Until she came upon a secret gift from her mother; an escape. And she grabbed it an ran off to an abandoned old swamp town in Florida.
She quickly found out that the land she was settling on was right next to an angry, drunk, but gorgeous recluse who did not want her there AT.ALL. Luckily, the town’s sheriff stepped in to help the innocent girl out. A beautiful black woman named Josh, I freaking LOVED the sheriff! But she wasn’t able to stop the angry Finn from continually trying to intimidate Sawyer into leaving.
“The land. The town. The people. Everything was new to me. But angry men weren’t, and I refused to be intimidated. Not by my own fears. Not by the church. Not by my father. Not by anyone. Not ANYMORE.”
There was certainly tension between the neighbors.
“I was thinking that I didn’t know a naked man could be so beautiful.”
As I said, Sawyer was VERY sheltered. Wearing long skirts and long-sleeved shirts in the Florida heat because she grew up not able to show skin, Sawyer had a whole new world opening to her.
“If I was wrong, and it turned out that kissing was punishable by an eternity at the devil’s side, then kissing Finn might just be worth the risk.”
Finn used to be the town hero, the popular boy. But a tragedy he blamed himself for drove the guy into the swamp, seen around town so rarely he was like a swamp yeti. Meanwhile, Sawyer got a job in town and got really friendly with Josh (the sheriff), so if Finn was really into her, he may have to leave his swamp shack a bit.
“So what’s the second kind of beauty?”
“The kind you can’t stop looking at no matter how hard you try.” Finn lowered his mouth so his lips moved against the tip of my ear when he spoke. “The kind you want to fuck.”
I swallowed. “What does that kind of beauty look like?” I asked, breathlessly.
Finn’s hand rose on my stomach until his fingers lightly grazed the underside of one of my breasts. “Right now it looks like freckled skin and gold flecked eyes.”
I have so many amazing quotes that I pulled for this review. I am dying to share them, but I’m afraid to give too much away, and I also realized that all the quotes I pulled were super sweet and romantic. While this story itself is way lighter and sweeter than T.M. Frazier’s other books, there are secrets and twists that may change that in the next book, and a grittiness that only T.M. can pen.
The town itself was like another character. It came so completely alive for me. It is a Florida town that originally built a water park at the edge of The Everglades. Housing communities were started, stores were built, but the project was abandoned and the water park, town and even the exit was getting lost back into the swamp. T.M. Frazier is great at writing these sleepy Florida towns, and being a Floridian I may be more able to envision them than most, but I doubt it, because her attention to detail can transport anyone there.
- I was sucked in and read it in one sitting.
- The vivid descriptions of the town.
- While I usually can’t stand waiting on edge for a second in a duet, I am so glad there is more!
- The end was a surprise.
- I absolutely loved the side characters.
- Sawyer was strong and vulnerable at the same time.
- Finn, despite being an angry and mean drunk at first was ♥♥♥
- Together the couple was completely magnetic.
- The “Tings”
- I had an arc, and pointed a few things out to T.M. Frazier, so I think they were changed, but overall, I felt like Sawyer sometimes seemed a little more worldly than she should have, given her upbringing.
- Sometimes I had trouble with all the unisexual names. Sawyer, Finn and Josh (a girl) can all go the other way, and I had to re-read a few passages because I confused the characters.
The Down and Dirty:
Though this isn’t the violent, gritty, depraved world of The King Series, T.M. Frazier managed to inject that grittiness into a new town where the characters have their own demons and secrets that I look forward to uncovering in the next book, The Outliers. There is something so uniquely compelling about The Outskirts. The forgotten, swampy Florida town and its characters came completely alive for an unputdownable one-sitting read. I can’t wait to go back in The Outliers. I was nervous I wouldn’t remember the book enough when the next comes out, but I think it is so different, that I won’t have a problem with that. Still, I will probably get the audiobook and re-listen before, just because I enjoyed it so much.
Rating: 5 Stars, 4 Heat
Purchase The Outskirts by T.M. Frazier
My throat tightened and a heaviness grew in my chest like my heart didn’t know whether to beat faster or stop beating altogether. “Did you leave me all this to show me the life you could’ve had, but didn’t? Why!?” I pounded the wheel again and then again, and again and again until my vision was blurry and all I could see was the redness of my own heated rage. “You’re a fucking coward! You fucking COWARD!” I screamed to no one, pounding on the wheel until the skin across my knuckles split and blood dripped between my fingers.
Strong hands bit into my biceps, yanking me from the cab. I was spun around by my shoulders and found myself face to face with Finn. “I like it when you swear,” he said, pressing close.
“Finn, get off me! Get off me! Let me go!” I wailed, struggling to free myself from his grip. Kicking out my legs only to connect with the air as he evaded my every move.
A growl tore from his throat. Finn picked me up and walked me to the back of the truck, setting me on the open tailgate. He pushed himself between my legs and hovered over me to keep me from leaping off.
“Let me go,” I demanded, pushing at his hard chest. “I don’t have time for your broodiness right now.”
Finn held my wrists together with one hand. “No, of course you don’t. You’re too busy tearing up pictures and screaming at no one.”
“Let me go,” I repeated.
“No,” he said between clenched teeth.
“Just go! Leave me alone. Leave meeeeeee!” I wailed as I pounded against his stone chest.
“You don’t want to hit me,” he warned, his eyes hardened.
“Then let me go.”
“Why?” He stepped in closer, unaffected by my attempt to fight against him. My inner thighs were touching his outer thighs.
“Because she did!” I screamed, my eyes sprang open to find his cold blue gaze. “She could have run anywhere and taken me with her. Instead she left him but she left me too. She was a coward who couldn’t make the right decision and I love her. I love her…but I hate her. I hate her so much…so…” I was interrupted when Finn’s lips pressed against mine, momentarily rendering me stupid. I pointed my toes toward the sky to avoid my initial instinct which was to wrap my legs around him. It was so consuming that I momentarily forgot to fight him off, but I didn’t need to, he pulled his lips from mine.
“Stop doing that,” I said. I pushed him off but he stayed between my legs, his hands on my bare back just under the hem of his big t-shirt I was wearing. His gaze hardened. I could see the conflict written in his lined forehead and the deep V between his eyes. I had no doubt the conflict had everything to do with me.
And kissing me.
“It’s your fault that I do it,” Finn said, his voice deep and smooth against my chin and then my neck.
“So that’s your plan? Kiss me every time you want to shut me up?” I asked, still feeling every bit of my anger but also feeling something else. Something that sent tingles between my legs and an ache in my core. “Thank you for saving me. Really. Thank you. I appreciate it,” my voice cracked. “But you can just leave me alone now. And please, STOP kissing me.” My words a whisper.
“I’m going to kiss you whenever I want to kiss you,” Finn stated as if I didn’t have a say in the matter.
The early morning sunlight highlighted the beads of sweat trickling from his shoulders down his broad chest and across the valleys of his defined abs. He was standing so close that we were breathing in each other’s air.
“Whenever you want to kiss me?” I laughed. “I don’t understand you. I don’t understand any of this. You’re always mad at me. Why did you save me? Why do you keep kissing me when you’re always mad at me?”
“It’s when I’m pissed off at you that I want to kiss you the most,” Finn said, his voice flowing over my skin like a silky blanket. He slid me closer so I could feel the outline of his rigid erection as if he were proving a point. He lowered his lips to mine and consumed my mouth in a greedy kiss that had me shaking with need and spinning with confusion.
“Do you always kiss everyone you hate?” I asked, yanking my lips from his.
“Does this feel like hate to you?” he growled pushing his hard length between my legs.