Standalone gritty romance
“27 days until I change how you perceive love.”
He taught me to kill. Murder is in my blood now. It runs through my veins and though I hide the monster I see in the mirror with ink, it doesn’t keep him from coming out.
My street name is Mercy, but I never show any. Except for her. I watch Becca, though she doesn’t know. She saved me a long time ago; the day my father killed my mother. Her bravery turned her into a target.
My father holds a grudge and knife with the same proficiency, and Becca is the focus of his hatred. And I’m the only monster who can save her.
MERCY is now available to purchase below
Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
‘If she wanted it, she could have it. My hand. My heart. My life. She took my hand, and that was enough.’
Wow! We loved this contradiction of a story! Mercy is difficult to categorise and in some ways had a bit of an identity crisis. If you were to go off the synopsis, you’d be thinking this was a particularly sinister, dark read – for us, it wasn’t. Yes, there were dark elements, especially in the last 20% of the book, however the story was essentially one of never ending love, acceptance, destiny, redemption and courage; interspersed with guffaw type humour, loads of emotion and some really sweet romance, all delivered with this authors fabulous ability for gripping and entertaining storytelling.
Mercy is the story of Fenix Churchkey and Rebecca Dixie Stiles. Two children who had a very brief interaction, yet it’s one that would stay with them and have a particularly lasting effect on the young Fenix (Nix). Becca and Nix were a destiny, a love story in the making – written in the stars if you like.
“Sweet girl, I’m covered in ink. I’m broken. Things happened to make me this way. I have trouble being with myself, so I can’t imagine that anyone else would want to spend time here.”
Fenix Churchkey is a man weighed down with misplaced guilt over the death of his mother. Vengeance be thy name, because Nix has a score to settle with his Dad, the man who brutalised him as a child and who was responsible for the death of Nix’s mother. We couldn’t call Nix an antihero per say, although there was darkness in what he did for a living, the man himself however was a protector, a loyal friend and all round sweetheart, driven to his actions by a punishing past.
“In my head she saves me.”
“You don’t need no saving. You’re real. Be yourself. It’s enough.”
The tenacious little Becca stood up to Nix’s cruel father and when she showed Nix kindness and uttered the words “Are you okay?” Those words would stay with him forever. The story then shifts to fifteen years later when we meet the very mixed up Nix who is working as a hit man and Becca who is adrift in her life working at a bar. Nix always made a pact to never let Becca see him, to always protect her, thinking up ingenious ways to be a part of her life, to watch over her without actually being a part of it. Well, that was all about to change when Nix, at the coercion of his best friend Animal, seizes an opportunity for Becca to get to know the man beneath the menacing appearance, to know the man inside.
‘I could never meet her. I would never touch her. But I was hopelessly in love with her.’
Debra Anastasia didn’t rush the romance between Nix and Becca, instead treating us to a slow build, allowing us to get to know the characters before the feverishness of their feelings took hold, summoning our emotions through Nix’s past and his healing process. We loved this man! Nix begs the question, what is normal and he shows us how we need to dig beneath the surface to find the jewel. Their love story was intense, exhilarating, sweet, honest and beautiful, if not a little chaotic and crazy.
“Wait for me?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”
The secondary characters were fabulous – in particular the relationship between Nix and his best mate Animal. This huge big brute of a man who spoke so sweetly and sometimes had the hilarious demeanour of a little old lady won us over. Animal soon became a crucial part of the story and bloody hell, we cannot wait for his story and to learn who his love interest is, though we have some idea!
The only issue we had is one that readers will either love; or not -which is our case- it’s a personal thing, however for us it’s one that took us out of this story for a moment or two. We have a bit of a pet peeve when Authors bring their ‘online real life’ into their books with people and/or their conversations. The dialogue between certain characters in Mercy made us feel as though we were reading a Facebook thread, not living this particular moment of a fictional story, but thankfully Debra soon pulled us back in and overall it didn’t take anything away from our enjoyment of this gripping, sweet, intense and tumultuous love story that had our hearts bursting with romance one minute whilst fiercely beating with anticipation the next as Nix’s past crashes into his present!
CHAPTER ONE SNEAK PEAK
Chapter 1 of MERCY by Debra Anastasia
“Hold these eggs.”
My father handed me the white carton in the grocery store. The aisle was cold. I was cold. My hands were shaking.
“Don’t you drop those eggs, son.” His voice was menacing. But everything about him was menacing.
He’d finally done it. He’d killed my mother. Last night. This morning.
We were in the grocery store because we needed food. My sister was at my aunt’s house, which was good.
Because Mom was dead.
My hands shook more. I stared at them and willed them to stop shaking. I begged them to stop shaking.
Mom was shaking before she died. Seeing her like that was all there was. In this grocery store. In my head. My hands were clean now, but Dad had scrubbed them before he’d put me in the truck.
To come here. To get groceries.
I felt sick to my stomach.
Mom had been trying to make dinner. In the end all the food from the fridge had been tossed around the kitchen.
The squeaky Styrofoam container the eggs were in was giving me away. He was watching. He was getting even angrier.
Mom wasn’t here anymore. To step in. To stop him when he got this way.
“Stop shaking, Fenix Churchkey.”
It was a whisper from the scariest man on the planet. I tensed my muscles. There was no difference. Maybe it was making it worse.
“You’re the best boy, Nix. I love you so much. Just remember that.”
Mom. She was gone.
I watched in horror as the carton tumbled from my hands and hit the floor. The eggs made a sickening noise inside.
Mom was shaking before she died.
Before he murdered her.
I looked at his face, knowing he would kill me too. Not here. Most likely not here.
He liked private. He liked closed doors.
I knew not to make a sound when his hand grasped my arm so hard. He would squeeze right through the bones maybe someday.
I started to count my matchbox cars in my head. It was how I kept quiet. In a box under my bed there was three cars. The red car. The blue van. And the Hummer, my favorite. It was purple and…
“What did I tell you?”
His mouth was next to my ear. His breath smelled bad. His sweat smelled bad.
Mom was gone now.
At least my sister was at my aunt’s house. She was just a baby.
Dad grabbed my other arm, a little lower than the edge of my T-shirt sleeve. I watched as my skin came up between his fingers.
I felt the tears.
Crying always made it worse.
He was going to break my arms. Both my arms.
“Hey! Mister! Leave that boy alone.”
I felt chills up my spine. We were private. We liked closed doors. No one was allowed to know.
“I said let go! You’re bigger than he is. And let him go. He’s good.”
She was a kid. Like me. She put her hands on his forearm and pushed. I was stunned quiet. I was stunned stupid.
She wasn’t wearing matching socks and her hair was a giant halo of curls. She had a shiny purse with a stuffed dog sticking out of it and a fistful of coupons. There was a spiral pad with a cat doodled on it popping out of a pocket.
Dad took one hand off of me and lifted it. He was going to backhand this little girl. I put my hand up to block him.
I saw my death in his eyes then. You don’t stand up to him.
Mom was gone.
The little girl didn’t flinch.
It would occur to me years later that she’d never been hit a day in her life. But not now. Now she was a superhero.
“You don’t hurt kids. That’s wrong.” She looked from his face to his hand that was still squeezing me.
“Go on, girl. ’Fore I change your mind.” Dad wiped his mouth with the back of his threatening hand.
He had it for her. For this little girl.
She frowned at my father and then put her lips to the side like she was fed up with him.
I felt my mouth drop open.
Then she was looking at me. Her clear blue eyes saw me. Saw through me. “Are you okay?”
To see this wild disrespect of what my father could do, what he demanded from Mom, from me was like getting hit with a wave in the center of my chest.
I felt my father’s warning hiss to me. This girl was the sun on the darkest horizon. She made dark turn to light.
I nodded. I was fine. We were always fine.
Mom was gone.
“Mister, you need to let go of his arm.”
The girl pointed at me. I knew what she saw. His fingers biting into me like teeth on a tiger. I had so many bruises all over my body that were in the outline of my father’s hand. This new one on my arm would only be unique because it didn’t feel entirely in the safe zone of how my shirts lay. I would wear a long sleeve if I could find it tomorrow. If I made it to tomorrow.
“I said for you to get. And mind your own damn business.”
The girl’s eyes went wide at his use of the word “damn”. If she only knew.
I wanted her to know.
She narrowed her eyes at my father. “You’re a bad man.”
The veins in my father’s neck were starting to pop out.
She was in danger now. And I knew I should protect her from him, but to not be alone for a moment. It was making me breathe, and I needed that so much.
“You’re about to learn how bad I can be.”
It was a low growl. It was his home voice. It was his closed-door voice. It was the voice I was never going to get away from. It was the last voice my mom heard.
Mom was gone.
“You’re trying to scare me, and I don’t scare easy. I sleep in my own bed with the lights off and no nightlight anymore.”
She lifted her chin at my father like a boxer just before the first punch.
“Dad, let’s go.” I spoke for her. Normally I never spoke. Not when my father’s voice had cracked its way into my soul. But I didn’t want to see the light in the girl’s eyes fade.
I didn’t know what a soul was until I watched my mother’s leave last night—or this morning. It was that eye light.
“Rebecca Dixie Stiles!”
The girl snapped her head around. Rebecca had to be her name.
“Over here, Dad! I need your help!” She crossed her arms in front of her.
I watched as my father shifted his weight and a muscle twitched in his jaw.
My father didn’t say anything else. He abandoned our groceries on the floor by the egg carton and pulled me with him.
I looked over my shoulder at her. She was waving down her father, who I didn’t get to see. “Dad! This guy! Wait!”
She reached past her stuffed animal into the sparkly bag and jogged after us. She held a lollipop out to me. I looked at it. The words “Hug Me” were printed on it. I stuck it inside my pocket.
Rebecca locked eyes with me then. “Be okay. Okay? Be okay.”
It just didn’t happen that day.
Or the next.
Or the next.
TBB RECOMMENDATIONS from DEBRA
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What a difference a smile and giving a damn about someone down on their luck can make. Livia and Blake will steal your heart. Theirs is a love story that you will cheer from the beginning. You want these two to succeed. You want the best for them. You will love them. You will cherish them.
“You make the rest of the beautiful things in the world cry for even trying at all. You make it hard for me to breathe.”
FOR ALL THE EVERS is a standalone emotional and beautiful otherworldly romance.
Written from the heart, this is a journey where past meets present, depicting bravery, addiction, sacrifice, determination, perseverance and redemption. Ultimately it captured the very essence of love and what we’d do in the name of love. We cried tears of joy and devastation.
“If true love hurts more than this does, I don’t want any part of it.”