Author: Crystal Groszek
Published: May 12, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance
When Evan O’Fion wakes up in a hotel room after being kidnapped by the cocky and mysterious Ezra Volkov, her first impulse is to flee. But Ezra surprises her by giving her a choice: run away and live in darkness or go with him and discover the truth of who she really is.
Does this beautiful, dangerous man have the answers to her questions? And will the truth be worth the heartache it will cause her?
Evan isn’t sure who to trust, but she’s desperate for answers. Armed with her growing Elemental abilities and a fearlessness that borders on reckless, Evan begins a journey into her past and inadvertently unleashes the ghosts that those around her have tried to keep hidden, leading to the most shocking revelation yet.
Last week I posted my review for Book One in the series: EVAN ELEMENTAL. I was excited to continue reading the story and it certainly did not disappoint. EVAN EVOLVED, as the title suggests, takes the story to a higher level as Evan continues to discover her new powers and gains confidence not only in her abilities but in herself as well. In the review for EVAN ELEMENTAL, I mentioned that I had a hard time liking the main character Evan, and she seemed to come across as a spoiled brat. Though Evan certainly has a few childish throwback moments in Book Two, she has certainly matured…a lot, and I found her to be likeable and entertaining.
Book One waivered between YA and NA, but Book Two is definitely NA due to several steamy scenes. I enjoyed the love story aspect in the first book, but EVAN EVOLVED had me on edge and quickly turning the pages as the love story quickly turned into a love triangle. In most books that I’ve read with a love triangle, I’m usually rooting for one guy over the other, but in this case, both guys are extremely likeable, and Evan has a reason to like them both, so I was torn for her and I am anxious to read Book 3 to find out where the story is going to go. Oh yes, that’s right, even though the story has a happy ending and doesn’t leave the reader hanging completely, the story is definitely not finished.
There were several surprises and turn of events that kept the story moving at a fast pace. My only slight criticism, as with Book One, would be minor grammatical and editing errors. I usually prefer first person point of view, but for some reason that I still can’t figure out, the first person style sometimes made the flow of the story a little difficult. That’s my only complaint though. I enjoyed Book One, but EVAN EVOLVED was definitely even better and held my interest the entire time. I am completely caught up in the love triangle and without giving the story away, I love the mix of powers and abilities that were thrown into Book Two. I can’t wait to find out where Book Three is going to lead Evan.
I sit up, gasping. The last remnants of the dream fade as my eyes adjust to the flood of sunlight. A dream, that’s all it was. Only, it felt so real I’m having a hard time separating myself from the role my mind had me playing.
I inhale deeply and am surprised by the salty tang of ocean air. I swing my legs over the edge of the bed and slowly lower my feet to the floor, waiting for my body to rebel. I expect to feel sore and cramped, but I feel completely refreshed. I’m not sure how much time has passed, but I know that it’s been at least a couple of days since Ezra knocked me out and took me from Price; I can feel the passage of time in my bones.
My eyes adjust to the light and I’m able to take in more of my surroundings. The room I’m in is simple: white walls, sheer white curtains, even a white bedspread. It’s all very airy and light and I would normally appreciate the elegant simplicity, but right now not so much. No, right now I’m pissed as hell.
Tentatively, I push myself up off the bed. Even though I feel refreshed, I falter when I try to stand. Just when I’m about to hit the floor, hard, a burst of wind rushes by my face and I’m suddenly being supported.
“Morning, Sunshine,” Ezra says softly, looking down at me with a smug grin.
I try to push him away, but he tightens his grip. “Let go of me,” I spit through clenched teeth.
He gives me a wicked smile and releases me. I sink back onto the bed—my legs still Jell-O—and lay back, pressing my palms to my eyes. “Jesus, do I have some sort of sign above my head that says ‘Fuck with me’? Because it sure as hell feels like it.”
I feel the bed sink next to me under Ezra’s weight. I know I should be trying to escape, but I honestly don’t know where I would go if I did. “Where are we?” I ask my voice muffled under my hands.
“South Carolina,” Ezra responds casually. I giggle because he says it more like “Caroliner.” Then I freak out.
“South Carolina?” I shriek, jumping up from the bed. My legs wobble a bit, but I can finally stand. The questions I should have already asked bubble up and flow out of me in a rush. “What did you do to me? Why did you take me? What are you going to do?” I start for the door, expecting Ezra to try and stop me, but he doesn’t. Curiosity beats out panic and I pause in the doorway to look back at him.
Ezra is lying on the bed with his hands folded behind his head as if he’s the most relaxed he’s ever been. I take a half step backward into another dimly lit room, my eyes still trained on him, but he doesn’t even flinch.
“What? You’re not going to try and stop me?” I ask incredulously. His lack of concern is making me nervous.
After a beat, he speaks. “No, you’re free to leave if you want.” I watch as he sits up and looks over his shoulder at me. “I didn’t kidnap you and you’re not my prisoner.” His mouth turns up at the corner and his eyes sparkle with amusement.
“Then, why did you take me?” I demand. “Oh, and hey, why the hell did you kiss me?”
Ezra’s mouth splits into a full on smile. “I was hoping you’d forget about that.” He sits up and scratches the back of his neck and tries to look contrite, despite his smile. I bite my lip to hide a smile of my own. What the hell is wrong with me?
I narrow my eyes at him. “Yeah, well, I didn’t. It was weird and confusing. Why did you do it?”
Ezra pats the bed beside him, indicating for me to sit down. I hesitate only momentarily before complying. There is something so disarming about him right now; he seems more at ease and less shifty than he did back in Price. I eye him warily, making sure to keep some space between us.
Ezra sighs and takes my hand in his, sending a dark, primal surge of energy straight through me. “Because I wanted to? And because you looked like you needed comforting.” Ezra gives me a crooked grin and squeezes my hand. I yank it out of his grip immediately.
“At least you’re being honest,” I sigh. “That’s not something I’m used to. Still, it was wrong of you to touch me like that.”
“I know, and I am deeply sorry for taking advantage like that. It won’t happen again.” I pry my gaze from the polished wooden floor and meet Ezra’s eyes. He looks sincerely sorry and I relax a little, despite my better judgment.
“Can I try something?” I ask hesitantly.
Ezra’s eyes light up with humor. “Of course,” he answers with a smile.
Gingerly, I place my hand on Ezra’s bare forearm; his sharp intake of breath is his only response. Slowly, the dark feeling swells from him to me. It’s indescribable, the way it feels, the way the darkness unfurls and fills me until I feel solid and whole.
“What is that?” I gasp. “What are you doing to me?”
Ezra shakes his head slowly. “I’m not doing anything,” he answers, his voice low and thoughtful.
I tear my hand away like it burns. “Don’t lie to me. I know you can do things, mess with people’s minds, like you did with my aunt. What are you doing to me when you touch me?” I’m aiming for harsh and demanding, but I just sound desperate.
Ezra strokes his chin, looking bemused. “Can you describe for me what it is you think I’m doing?” he asks, sounding like he’s indulging the fantasy of a child or a mentally ill person.
“Fine,” I hiss through clenched teeth. I stand up and head back to the door. “You know,” I say, stopping and looking over my shoulder at Ezra who continues to look thoroughly amused, “for a second I actually thought you might not be the creepy psycho-kidnapper that I thought you were, but I guess I was wrong.”
I take a step toward the door, but am suddenly blocked by the sheepish-looking form of Ezra. His shoulders slump under my accusing glare. “Evan, I didn’t kidnap you; not the way you’re thinking. And I’m not ‘messing’ with you. I can assure you that I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
I grit my teeth in frustration. Everything that’s logical and rational tells me I shouldn’t believe him, but I do. This whole thing is so messed up. The look on my face must say exactly that, because Ezra’s expression softens with sympathy.
“Just, come back in and sit down. I’ll get you something to eat. You must be starved.”
I cock an eyebrow at him. “Kind of. Since I’ve been knocked out for, what, days? Thanks to you.”
Ezra goes from concerned to amused in a flash. The cheeky glint in his eyes and the sudden appearance of a dimple at the left corner of his mouth causes my breath to catch. I shake my head to clear away the disturbing thoughts trying to worm their way into my mind.
“You’re right. I’ll explain everything to you; just sit down and collect yourself,” he says, taking my shoulder and gently urging me back into the room.
I slip out from under his grasp and turn to head back to the bed. “Fine. But I need to take a shower. And change these clothes. Seriously, I stink. And don’t tell me to ‘collect myself.’ The last time I checked, we aren’t living in a Jane Austen novel.”
I flop down on the bed and my body immediately thanks me. Maybe I am sore after all. “You better have a really good explanation for what…” I stop mid-sentence when I look back to the doorway and see that Ezra is gone. “Right,” I mutter to myself.
Even though it feels good just to sit here, I’m suddenly restless, my body all too aware of how sentient I’ve been. I stand up and wander over to the window. It’s slightly open, allowing a soft breeze to filter into the room. Outside, the sun is shining over a pristine white beach dotted with tourists who mill about unhurried in various states of undress. Beyond the beach is an endless stretch of blue water that bleeds seamlessly into a clear azure sky.
It’s a relaxing scene, but it does little to soothe my budding anxiety. Now that I’m alone and fully conscious, the gravity of what happened back in Price is beginning to set in; that, and the fact that I’ve apparently been kidnapped. Not that I couldn’t just…
I close my eyes and feel the familiar buzz of power crackle against and under my skin. I know that if I turn around and take a step I’ll be back in Price. That would be the responsible thing to do, head back and face the disaster that’s waiting for me. But, Ezra did say he would explain things…so maybe I should hear him out? If I go back to Price right away, I’ll be going back to locked doors and dead ends; to a guy that I supposedly love who can’t bother to tell me the truth about anything. So, I’ll stay, just a little bit longer. Then I’m out of here.
I feel Ezra’s presence before I hear him. “I hope you like stale bagels, because that’s all they had left over from breakfast,” he says as he pushes through the door. I glance over my shoulder to see him standing frozen just in the threshold, a Styrofoam plate holding a couple of dry looking bagels and a few packets of cream cheese clutched in his right hand.
“Something wrong?” I ask, noting the way he’s standing perfectly framed in the shimmering arch.
Ignoring my question, Ezra leans forward and squints. “What is that?”
In an instant, the arch disappears. “What’s what?” I figure, if we keep answering questions with questions we can avoid this conversation altogether, because I have no idea how he could see that when no one else has.
Ezra frowns after a moment then his mouth folds itself into its usual smirk. “Must have been a trick of the light.” The calculating glint in his eyes says I’m not fooling him, but he lets it slide.
I try not to look too relieved as I sit back down on the bed. Ezra sets the plate beside me and proceeds to look amazingly hot with his left ankle crossed over his knee and his white linen shirt straining deliciously over the muscles in his biceps. What is wrong with me? When we were in Price his looks were easy to ignore, especially with Lex around to distract me. Now, alone in this sparse and tiny room, there is no denying how beautiful this man really is. Focus, Evan. This guy friggin kidnapped you.
“So, you said you would explain. Explain.” I stand up, cross my arms over my chest, and attempt to stare Ezra down. He may have almost a foot on me, but I’m packing some serious heat and he doesn’t know that. Sure, I haven’t exactly figured out how to use my abilities as a “weapon,” but I’m sure I could improvise if I’m put to the test. I’m thinking, electrocution.
To his credit, Ezra has the decency to look mildly impressed. “I will,” he says softly. “Please eat.” Ezra gestures to the plate of bagels that look seconds away from growing mold. I wrinkle my nose and he smiles. “Come on, Evan. I feel bad enough as it is. I don’t need to have you starving, too.”
“You feel bad,” I say incredulously.
“Of course I do. Despite appearances, I’m not exactly a criminal. I had a job to do, so I did it. Nothing more. I regretted it immediately as soon as it was done.” He leans back and rests on his elbows. I notice that the top of his shirt is unbuttoned revealing a patch of soft copper-colored hair.
“A job?” I ask, clearing my throat. Ezra raises his eyebrows and gestures toward the plate. Reluctantly, I sit down beside him and pick up the least offending piece of bread, bite off a chunk and chew. It’s somewhat rubbery, but it doesn’t taste nearly as bad as I was expecting it to. Ezra nods, a pleased look on his face, before continuing.
“Yes. I was sent to secure you and bring you back to your home.” He plucks at a loose thread in the duvet and doesn’t meet my eyes,
I snort a laugh and half choke on my bagel. “You do realize that I was at home. I mean, Price is where I live now. Before that, I lived in Connecticut. I know you’re a foreigner and all, but a quick glance at a map would have told you that South Carolina is a long ways off from Connecticut.”
Ezra smirks. “As it happens, I am very familiar with American geography. That being said, I am taking you to your true home.”
I open my mouth to make some sort of asinine retort, but I stop before saying anything. When it comes down to it, I don’t really know anything about who I am or who my family really is. The weight of emotion that I’ve been struggling to repress comes crashing down on me and I suddenly feel very weak and vulnerable. Tears pool in my eyes and begin to fall down my cheeks with shameless abandon. Ezra’s green eyes widen in horror.
“Please, don’t cry. I didn’t mean to upset you.” Exra pushes the plate out of the way and slides closer to me, awkwardly patting me on the back. When his hand lingers for a second too long, I’m slow to react. There’s something about his touch that fills me, that seeps into all of my emptiest places. I manage to shake the feeling.
“Can you please not touch me?” I say quietly. My voice lacks the conviction I wish it had, and I can tell Ezra senses that, too.
“I’m sorry,” he says, pulling his hand away and placing it on his knee. “It’s sort of like a compulsion.”
I raise my eyebrows. “What? Touching people?”
“No,” he answers with a small smile, “comforting you. I can’t seem to tolerate seeing you in distress.”
I shake my head, unable to comprehend what he’s saying. “If that’s the case, then why the hell were you being so creepy back in Price? Because that was pretty damn distressing.”
“Was I?” He smirks, giving nothing away.
I wipe the tears from my face, thankful that my nose isn’t running. “Whatever,” I say flatly. “Tell me why you brought me here. I can, and will hurt you if you keep fucking with me.”
I glance sideways at Ezra expecting him to look angry or amused, but he just looks sad. “I believe you, what with those amazing elemental abilities you have,” he says quietly, a hint of curiosity in his voice.
I drop the stiff bagel back on its plate and fold my arms across my chest, narrowing my eyes at Ezra. “What are you talking about?”
Ezra presses his lips together to hold back his laugh, his eyes clouded with thought. “I had my suspicions before, but you definitely confirmed them last night. Within an hour of us being here every electrical socket and light bulb in this room was fried. I suppose it didn’t happen on the plane because I had you in a deep state of unconsciousness. Once we got to the hotel, I lifted my hold so that you could wake up naturally. As soon as I did that, it was like fireworks in here.”
“What are you talking about?” I ask again blankly. I clench my fists in my lap feeling exposed and slightly humiliated.
Ezra rolls his eyes. “They really haven’t told you anything. What are they playing at?” he asks more to himself than me. I slap his arm to get him to focus.
“Start talking, pretty boy, or I will not hesitate to drop you in a hole in Siberia.” Instead of being terrified like I intended, Ezra laughs.
“You should learn to be patient.” He leans back on his elbows again. The clouds shift in the sky outside the window and the room is cast in shadows. I ignore Ezra’s comment and stand up and head to the door where the light switch is. I flick it up and down but nothing happens.
“I told you,” Ezra says softly, his breath warm on my neck where he now stands behind me, “fried.” I didn’t even hear him move.
“Why?” I ask, turning. I breathe in sharply when I come face to face with Ezra. We’re standing so close I can see the delicate blue veins beneath his too pale skin. I don’t remember him being this pale since the first time I saw him.
When he speaks, his breath is soft and sweet on my face. “One of the main telltale signs of a fledgling Elemental is the inability to control new powers during sleep. Since you fried the sockets and the bulbs, I’m assuming you have the power to summon and control electricity. You’re among a very small and elite group of Elementals. I’d expect no less from someone so captivating.” Ezra smirks and begins to back away. Without thinking, I reach out and grab his wrist to stop him.
“There are others, like me? That can control them all?” I don’t even care how vulnerable and desperate I sound, because I feel vulnerable and desperate. Never once have I ever felt the need to belong, not until now when the hope that I’m not alone is so strong and tantalizing.
Ezra tilts his head to the side and regards me with a curious expression. “What do you mean, ‘them all’?” He takes a step closer and takes my free wrist with his free hand. “Evan,” he persists, “what do mean?”
I swallow hard and ignore the intensity of feeling that pulses through our unbroken connection. “I didn’t mean anything. Forget it.” I drop his wrist and press myself against the closed door, trying to put distance between us, but Ezra follows with a step of his own.
“I see you there, under that mask,” he says, reaching up and placing his fingertips on the side of my face. “You can’t hide from me.”
I take in a shaky breath and laugh. “You’re being creepy again.”
Ezra nods slightly, that sad look back on his face. “The bathroom is just outside, off the living area.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Living area?”
“It’s a suite.” Ezra drops my wrist and reaches around me to turn the knob and pulls the door open, forcing me to step closer to him. Without taking my eyes off him, I slide around the open door and into an equally pristine white living room.
“There?” I ask, pointing toward a door next to the one I just left. Ezra nods once and strolls by me without a glance.
“Get washed up. I’ll go get you something better to eat and something clean to wear.”
“Ezra?” I watch as he pauses in the doorway to the hall, the muscles in the back of his neck tense. “Nevermind,” is all I can think to say.
Without responding, he steps into the hall and shuts the door behind him leaving me alone. I press my lips together to suppress a sigh. My emotions are all over the place when it comes to Ezra.
How far am I willing to go to get the answers I want? And why do I get the feeling that there is something way bigger going on than anything that I could imagine? For the simple reason that there’s nothing else I can do right now, I turn and head to the bathroom.
“Ezra, are we dead?” A blush breaks out across my face and chest. I can’t help but ask, though, because it’s something that’s been on my mind since the word “vampire” wedged its way into my everyday vocabulary.
Ezra drops his hands from my back and takes my hand in his. He guides it up and places my palm flat on his chest. “Do I feel dead?” His heart beats warm and steady against my hand.
“No,” I whisper. I drop my hand and turn slowly so that my back is facing him and pull my hair over my shoulder. “Unzip me?”
“Evan, I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” Ezra says, his voice strained.
I look back at him over my shoulder. “I want you to see me, to touch me.” My blush deepens. “Don’t make me beg.” I look away quickly, embarrassed by the raw need in my voice.
Ezra doesn’t hesitate any further; he reaches up and slowly unzips my dress. When I turn back to face him, Ezra captures my mouth in a painstaking kiss. I feel it in every cell of my body, the rightness of it. I slip my arms around his neck and wind my fingers through his hair. He groans against my mouth, sending my pulse soaring. In my lust-filled haze, I feel him take my hips and guide me so that I’m walking backward in the direction of his bed. As the back of my knees hit the bed frame, Ezra lifts me by the waist and tosses me lightly onto the bed. I barely have time to laugh before I feel the whole of his weight on me. The room quiets to the sound of our breath. “Ezra, I want this. But I have to know, do you?”
“Yes, absolutely.” He shifts his weight, parting my legs with his knees. I wrap them willingly around his waist.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Ezra. I can’t….I can’t be in any sort of relationship right now. I remember what you said, in the field…” Ezra stops me with a kiss. It’s brief and sweet and for a second I forget how much trouble I’m in.
“If you’re done trying to save me from myself,” he whispers against my mouth, “then I’d really like to finish taking this dress off.”
Evan Evolved is the second volume in the Evan Elemental Series
Evan Elemental (The Evan Elemental Series)
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About The Author:
Crystal Groszek is the author the Evan Elemental series. Crystal began thinking about and plotting Evan Elemental while attending Utica College where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She currently lives in upstate New York with her husband, Patrick, and her lovably insane puppy, Lenni. You can find more information about Crystal and the Evan Elemental series by visiting her atwww.evanelemental.com orwww.crystalgroszek.com. You can also reach Crystal on twitter atwww.twitter.com/crystalgroszek and on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/crystalgroszek
Evan Evolved (Evan Elemental Book 2) by Crystal Groszek https://itun.es/us/iEOy0
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