Blood on the Bayou - Stacey Jay The emotional tornado that is Annabelle's life continues in Blood on the Bayou. This book was just as painful and gut-wrenching to read as the first one, Dead on the Delta, and even more so because I was already familiar with Annabelle and felt her more strongly this time around.

Without a doubt, the best (and at times, worst) part of this series is Annabelle's character. The one word that most adequately describes her is "complex". You can't simply hate or love her; there's a world of gray between those two black and white extremes. Annabelle visibly shows a significant amount of character development in Blood on the Bayou, especially with respect to her self-esteem. While she does let too many people insult her, often to her face, she still generally has a pretty good perception on relationships. I never felt she was acting meek; depressed, yes, but submissive? Never.

I didn’t deserve what Gerald tried to do. I didn’t deserve what Anton did all those years ago. I didn’t deserve a boyfriend who thought so little of me that he didn’t stop to consider I might be innocent.

True. True. And true.

This quote best shows what a long way Annabelle's come from the person she was in Dead on the Delta. Not only has she accepted what happened, she admits that it wasn't her fault, that she deserved better. And that it's time to move on and let the past go.
Watching Annabelle develop into a woman who can stand up for herself and doesn't take crap from anyone has been the one thing that has made reading this raw series bearable. I believe Annabelle's worth the emotional investment.

Now, onto the love interests:

My feelings for Hitch were a tangled mess throughout most of this novel and the previous one. But thanks to what an awesome human being he was towards the end of Blood on the Bayou (I'm being sarcastic, since you probably can't tell), I've firmly taken him out of the running for Annabelle's love. The dumbass doesn't deserve to even breathe same air as her. He comes with way too much emotional baggage, and that's one thing Annabelle really doesn't need more of.

I'm completely divided over Cane. He seems to genuinely care for Annabelle, but I doubt he'd be good for her in the long run. And her observation that he only wants her in order to have kids and a family seems pretty accurate given his behavior. So while I don't hate him, I certainly don't want Annabelle to end up with him either. He's too selfish for a lasting relationship. But some of his actions were so sweet and considerate, I'm really not sure. The jury's still out on him.

And finally, saving the best for last, Tucker. He's the one I'm ultimately rooting for, the one I adore to bits, the one that had better end up with Annabelle. He's smart, funny, understanding, and oh-so-sexy. His attitude was never condescending towards Annabelle and he seems to accept, and even love, who she is, including all the bad and messed-up parts, which is something that really can't be said for the other two.

Overall, Blood on the Bayou is just as intense and compelling as Dead on the Delta, with unexpected bits of humor thrown in. If you enjoyed the latter, then you'll love this one. I'm really, really looking forward to the sequel. Only if Annabelle will end up with Tucker though, obviously.

Favorite quotes:
I smile. Just a little. He’s a mess, but I have a soft spot for messes.
I have to. My self-image depends upon it.

“Life is disturbing. Love makes it worth it. I’d give anything to hug my kid again.”

“I’ll call you Tucker,” I whisper. “I’ll call you baby. I’ll call you He-Man Master of My Vagina. But you’ve got to get up and move. Now.”


The cast:

DISCLAIMER: The physical descriptions might not match; this is just how they appear in MY imagination.
Annabelle:

Hitch:

Cane:

Tucker:

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