Review: Rock Bottom (#2, Tristan and Danika) by R.K. Lilley - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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Review: Rock Bottom (#2, Tristan and Danika) by R.K. Lilley

My Thoughts

Explosive and emotional. Passionate and Powerful.
A gut-wrenching story about two people who loved each
other immensely and fought desperately to not lose it all.

5stars

Synopsis

rock bottom coverTheir love had the power of a runaway freight train, and the potential to be just as destructive. 
The tempestuous sequel to Bad Things picks up where the first book left off. Reeling from a profound loss, Tristan and Danika struggle to pick up the pieces and build a life together, but the hard habits of a lifetime are not so easy to escape. 
Rock Bottom takes us on a dual point of view journey through addiction and desire, through love and agony, and answers the question we’ve been asking since these characters were introduced in Grounded: “What happened between Tristan and Danika?” 

DANIKA 
Even love couldn’t cushion a fall like ours. My love for Tristan was so big that I felt consumed by it, and even so, it was not enough to overpower our combined demons. 
I struggled. I yelled and screamed. I scratched and kicked. 
I fought like hell, but even the most determined fighters have to stop before they break. 
No one could say I didn’t fight for him. 
“I love you,” I spoke softly into his ear. 
He gripped me harder. “I can’t ever lose you, Danika. I’m not sure I’d survive it.” 
“You’ve got me. And I’m not going anywhere. Not ever.” 
I meant the words when I said them, but life had other plans for us. 
I’d have given my life for that fight. In fact, I very nearly did. 

TRISTAN 
She was the one. 
If I’d ever had a doubt, I didn’t now. She was the one I’d be thinking about, longing for, until I took my last breath. If I lost her tomorrow, I’d pine for her like a lovesick fool. 
This was the kind of love that only hit you once in your life.

My Review

Their love had the power of a runaway freight train, and the potential to be just as destructive.

If there was one word to describe this book it would explosive. Closely followed by heart wrenching. I had forgotten R.K. Lilley’s masterful ability to pour intensity onto every page, to weave a story that is powerful, passionate and undeniably sexy. Admittedly, I often find I want more plot and character development in many erotic romance novels and thus always begin apprehensively. However, this is the way it should be done. The story and the romance and the steam go hand in hand, perfectly balanced in just the right amounts, critical elements that intensify the other. This story was raw and barely contained, brimming with so much emotion. From desire to desolation, from hope to hopelessness, from weighted to brutally stripped and gutted. In Bad Things, we learned just how explosive Tristan is. He’s a man at a constant boil beneath the surface. His temper ready to flare,  his fists ready to fight, his body ready to devour. After Jared’s death, he’s left reeling in the messy emotional aftermath. He’s determined to get his own life on track and he knows that the fuel to his momentum is Danika. She has loved him in a way that no one has before and she’s everything to him.

“She was the one. If I’d ever had a doubt, I didn’t now. She was the one I’d be thinking about, longing for, until I took my last breath. If I lost her tomorrow, I’d pine for her like a lovesick fool. This was the kind of love that only hit you once in your life.”

Immediately however, opportunities arise that will split them apart in a way they didn’t want and perhaps in a way they both weren’t ready for emotionally. Despite Tristan’s good intentions and appropriate motivations, he still struggled with the emotional baggage that came with losing his brother, with the consuming guilt his mother thrust on him, with the fury of not being there to protect the people he loved. Tristan’s turmoil and need to protect is at the heart of his explosiveness and grasping that nuance was key to understanding his very real vulnerability and even his fall into rock bottom.

“… it was a slow motion free fall for us. A quiet, helpless unraveling.”

When Tristan and the band head to Los Angeles to record their album, Danika is left on her own. Her insecurities festered. She knew that Tristan around Dean wasn’t a good thing at all… it was destruction waiting to happen. Her love for Tristan was all-consuming. It was everything for her too. She had the unique ability to diffuse Tristan’s temper. She was a balm to his volatility. She gave and gave, and forgave and forgave. She was firm with her expectations, but she often tried to hide her own feelings so as to avoid a conflict. Tristan was so easily upset that I constantly felt on edge myself, not knowing what would happen next. One of the aspects I loved about the book was that it featured alternating POVs allowing me as a reader to really understand the motivations behind the sometimes crazy actions the characters would take. I understood them,  understood their actions came from a place of love and often times pain, particularly for Tristan. In addition, Danika’s POV had a foreboding quality, which infused a level of suspense that I didn’t expect. I wanted to know more and I dreaded what would come because I could see them slowly drift apart, inching towards the metaphorical rock bottom, a fall that I knew would shatter them both.

“Even love couldn’t cushion a fall like ours. My love for Tristan was so big that I felt consumed by it, and even so, it was not enough to overpower our combined demons. I struggled. I yelled and screamed. I scratched and kicked. I fought like hell, but even the most determined fighters have to stop before they break. No one could say I didn’t fight for him.”

I just love these two characters and despite the fact that Tristan continued to make the wrong choices and Danika indadvertently enabled those choices, I wanted them to find their happily ever after. They so deserved it. Both are tenacious, intense and passionate people evident in how they approached life and certainly how they devoured each other. The scenes of them together absolutely set the pages ablaze. It was scorching and emotionally charged and so very Tristan and Danika. As they drifted apart, however, they clung to each other desperately and I think that sex became the incarnation of hope… that they would make it through somehow if they just held to each other tightly enough.

“Sex was never, ever the problem for us. But it also wasn’t enough, not on its own. But sometimes, occurring more and more often, it felt like it might be all we had.”

Tristan’s behavior became predictably disappointing and things went from bad to worse. The pressures of the album, the constant fighting with Danika, the loneliness he felt when he wasn’t with her, the guilt he felt inside… it was all too much and he longed to be numb to the overwhelming emotions that ravaged him. And yet, Danika stood by his side. She worked so incredibly hard to make things work. To be the person he needed even at cost to herself.

“He had too many weapons against me. Showing me his worst, then his best, followed by his withdrawal. Cold, then hot, then gone. His arsenal was too much for my smitten self, custom set to push all of my buttons. It was a fact that I’d do just about anything to get more of his best.”

The story has so many ups and downs. There were some moments so full of hope that I reveled at how happy they were together. How perfect. I could see how much they were in love, how they fell deeper, how they felt more and more each day. But fate continued to throw things at them that just crushed me.

“My life was cursed. People I loved, people close to me, who depended on me, had died and I was responsible… I had no future. This had been clear to me for a while now… Danika did not have to share this future with me. She didn’t have to be dragged down ion the abyss with me.”

And when the end came it still blindsided me and had tears streaming down my face. I was overcome with emotion and felt heartbroken for everything these two people, who loved each other so much had to endure. I felt my way through this book. There were times I was so angry at Tristan, willing him to react and wake up to how badly he handled situations. Nonetheless, what transpired between them was perhaps both of their faults… or perhaps none at all. Life was simply cruel to them and it’s difficult to see how moments and choices at the time they happen, can unravel everything in a way that can’t be put back together. I can’t wait to see what R.K. Lilley has in store in Lovely Trigger, which takes place 6 years after the end of Rock Bottom where Tristan and Danika come together for Bianca and James’ wedding. We do get a glimpse of James Cavendish through a couple chapters imparted from Frankie’s POV and it was absolutely sizzling!

I can’t recommend this series enough, it has all the right elements in just the right amounts. I’m ready to jump into the next book, hopeful that Tristan and Danika find their way back to each other, finally grasping at that elusive happy ever after.

“Every tragedy, every hardship, seemed to suck him just a little bit deeper into the grip of his own personal hell. It felt like every slip up, every relapse, was pulling us down, until the weight of all our failures was dragging us under. At first we were drowning together, but my will to survive was too strong to let that continue forever. My hold on him became weaker and weaker, and eventually, every finger broken, my hands opened, and I let him go.

No one could say I didn’t fight for him. No one could say I didn’t lose.”

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Reading Order and Purchase Links

Click on the cover to purchase from Amazon U.S.

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