Undeniable - Madeline Sheehan 4.5 stars

Now I have to start by saying that I love a story where there are complex characters, where you can’t always off the bat know the good guys from the bad guys, where the characters are not so black and white, and their journey is just as filled with both good and bad moments. I also have to make it clear that probably like many people who read the first sentence of the blurb (is it still called that? Or is it just summary now?) of this book was apprehensive about a relationship that has an 18 year age difference in it. But to be honest as I read the least of my beef with this relationship was the age difference. As Deuce put it at one point, “But it’s never been ‘bout her age. Straight up it’s always been about her.” And I believe that with all my heart now.

Ms. Sheehan did a phenomenal job of creating characters that just had been emotionally tired, but on the edge of my seat. There were several time I actual closed the book, read a chapter from a happier book, and then came back, but the fact was I much like Eva and Deuce could not stay away.

Now, I don’t know what it is about a girl named Eva, but I sure do love them, and this one was no exception, Eva Fox is going to haunt me for a while if not longer. She is such a sweet, tough, strong, crazy (and not crazy as in Frankie crazy) and amazing young woman. Eva yes fell in love with a man 18 years her senior, she fell in love with a man who was as messed up as all the other men she had been raised around (again Frankie being the exception), she fell in love with a married man, and father of two, she fell in love with a man who also had club whores who he frequented, she fell in love with Deuce, and while there were others, none had her heart like Deuce did. Nothing could put water on the fire that was her love for Deuce. But I think that in the end the best way I can capture Eva for people is a young woman who learned early that we have to just make the best of whatever lieu hands us. And she sure did that, when her father was in jail, where her mother left her as an infant, when she was raped by Frankie, forced to pay for a lawyer with her body by Chase, and continually heartbroken by Deuce , and she just managed to keep rolling with the punches like no character I can think of in my recent collection.

Deuce is so beautiful on the inside and out, but he is also very broken, in fact I think shattered might a more appropriate word for him. He was broken by the mother who was forced out his life, mistreated by his father, forced into a life that he wasn’t ready for, and constantly be told that he wasn’t good enough. And I believe that the biggest problem for his relationship with Eva was that he felt that he honestly never deserved her which was made evident by the many times he told her throughout the book. But while there are some of Deuce’s behaviors that I can understand, they still pissed me off a lot of the time. In my opinion while I understand that he felt that their relationship was something that bothered him, and he was not always comfortable with, his treatment of Eva was very harsh and at time I thought unfair. But underneath it all he really did love Eva from the moment she smiled at him in that prison, and he wanted to protect even from himself. And I think that he viewed every moment that he had with her over the years as a weakness, while she viewed them as opportunities. Later, Deuce’s insecurities came out even when things were going good in his life like when he felt threatened by his son rubbing her feet, and watching tv with Eva while he was at work, having sex with another woman because the doctor put Eva on bed rest (that’s one of those pissed me off moments) .

Now secondary character in this story are so out of the normal realm of supporting casts I need to just touch on some of the ones that stuck in my mind. Starting with Preacher Fox Eva’s father. Now in my opinion he was a really good example of a father who loved his daughter and his job so much that he couldn’t separate them. He was also very aware of the risks that came with being who he was I believe those things greatly contributed to his blind eye when it came to Frankie. Now when Ii originally read the book I thought Preacher as a horrible father. One who raised his daughter in an environment writhe with illegal activities, men who continually cheat on their wives, and drink and do drugs. But strangely I came to realize that while it was a major flaw on his part it was probably also why Eva was so enamored by Deuce. And can he honestly say he didn’t know about Frankie sleeping in Eva’s bed when according to him there were cameras everywhere? This brings me to “crazy” Frankie, who was described very accurately in the quote, "Frankie had been coined “Crazy Frankie” a few years ago because…he was crazy”. Not must to say except I felt like as a villain he was the most clear cut, but she reminded me a lot of Christopher Nolan’s joker than any of the those straightforward villains out there. Frankie’s death broke my heart I was actually crying thought that entire scene from the moment Frankie came back for Eva. Kami’s relationship with Eva is one that really that when people are looking for love they will appreciate it greatly no matter where it comes from. So here are two spoilt little rich girls – one from an affluent family who chooses to look for companionship and love in the arms of every hot man that she meets but is best friends with the daughter of a wealthy criminal who puts all her love on a hopeless relationship. But I do admire their support system, Kami dropped everything several times to help Eva, and she did with little to no judgment of Eva’s decisions. Then there was Chase who was like Frankie and Deuce totally in love with Eva and also like the other two took advantage of her But it was clear from the meeting the reader has with him that he really cared for her and her wellbeing. Sheehan did a good job of making Chase one those character who did not fit into any of the given boxes, and I am still confused about my exact feelings towards him and his action, because in the end it was clear that Eva appreciated his companionship during a trying time. Cage and Danny Deuce’s kids where clearly raised very differently from the way he was raised himself. The relationship between Deuce and Cage is a strange one because they seem more like buddies than father and son, and I would’ve liked to see more of their former interactions to better gauge the relationship, but any son who could ask him father if it was ok to use his club whore, gets an eye brow raise from me. Danny I wish we got to know better because I’m sure she has a lot of insight into her father and brother.
The book has definitely left an impression on me so much that I couldn’t sleep, and had to finish the book. I know that I will be thinking about Eva and Deuce for a long time to come. This was a story that was unlike any I’ve read, both the main characters were so real in that they were not wholly innocent or wholly evil but instead two flawed characters and I am so happy to have read it. Now, that being said I did have some things that did bother me. Firstly, the story was so short that we didn’t get to know Eva and Deuce when there weren’t together. I would’ve lied to know Deuce without Eva and Eva more without Deuce. I also wish Sheehan went into more about the emotional toll that being with Frankie had taken on Eva, I think it would be good to have known the pressures that she was under to make some of those decisions.

But overall I highly recommend this book, just to add a new perspective to how we view love, relationships and friends.