the terms of releaseRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

Going home, for Sage Redding, is more than making a simple decision to move. It involves his parole officer and going before a judge. But when his father’s health declines and help is needed at the family ranch, Sage’s mother begs him to come home and he can hardly say no. When Sage is honest with himself, he’ll admit he’s missed Texas, but going home isn’t always easy, especially for an ex-con.

Sage left town eleven years ago with Angel. They were young and stupid and got mixed up in drugs. When a meth lab blew up, taking Angel with it, Sage was the only man left standing, and because of that, went to jail for it. Now he’s home, where Angel’s uncle is the town sheriff and his father is the most powerful man in the county. Sage wants to do right by his family, but the last thing he wanta is to bring trouble around, even though he’s afraid there’s no stopping it.

Adam “Win” Winchester prides himself in upholding the law, doing what is right. And Win believes Sage has served his time and doesn’t merit the scrutiny his uncle’s have trained on Sage. He also knows that his cousin, Angel, didn’t live up to his name, although his uncles have conveniently blocked that out.

When Sage becomes the focus of the town’s taunting, mostly at the direction of the sheriff, Win steps in to help. At first checking on Sage was an act of charity, to make sure he was okay. But as Win gets to know him, he can’t help but want him. A tentative trust bleeds into a strong bond created between Sage and Win and an attraction that won’t soon burn down.

Attracting the attention of his uncles and the rest of the town, Win chooses to ignore the stares and whispered words to focus on his growing feelings for Sage. But when Win is informed of a part of Sage’s past, he can’t seem to get past it. Taking time to get his mind and heart on the same page, Win is taken off guard when tragedy strikes, threatening to take Sage from him and threatening to tear the town apart.

A story of controversy, fighting against the odds, and unexpected love, Terms of Release is a page turner from beginning to end. This story has so many ins and outs, so many feels that I was enthralled from word one. I liked this story for the sweetness and heat of the attraction between Sage and Win, for the mystery and intrigue of Sage’s past and the uncertainty of his future. The author does a wonderful job of taking readers through a rollercoaster of emotion the entire length of this book. It was almost palpable at times. And beautiful, so beautiful. This story is about hope in the eye of fear and anguish. It’s a heart-wrenching story of finding light in the darkness.

I love the twists Tortuga has created in these characters. Sage Redding is a man who accepts his past, accepts his mistakes and the punishment, and accepts who he is and what that means for his future. He blames himself for what happened to Angel. His life is one of self-regret. He regrets leaving home, regrets the things he and Angel did, regrets the loss of his childhood love. He loathes the man he was forced to become in prison, but he’s a survivalist. He did what he did to make it out alive. I love this man’s resolve—his resolve to accept who he is and what he’s done, as well as his resolve to accept his place in the world, even when it’s not exactly on point. He’s harder on himself than he should be, and thankfully he has Win there to show him who he is and what he can have.

Adam “Win” Winchester isn’t the kind of guy to follow orders blindly. Nor is he a guy who holds a grudge, especially an unmerited one. He’s a champion of the underdog and protector of the weaker. He’s an amazing man. I love his heart and determination. His optimism is contagious. He wants so badly for his family and the people of the community to see Sage for who he is and not his past, however impossible that hope is. Win is the stable head, the balance of this story. He faces hatred, confusion, and old grudges of his family and townsfolk. I love that he’s the person he is. He’s strong and steady. Unwavering. He’s the rock Sage needs.

One of the things I love so much about this book is the gray area that hovers between good and bad. Sage accepts who he is and the mistakes he’s made in his past. He sees himself as tarnished and unforgivable. Where Win sees a man who made some mistakes but is, by no means, a hardened criminal. He sees the good and purity of Sage. There’s this middle ground in Sage’s life. Sage’s decision led to his imprisonment, a time he doesn’t like to think about. The thing with Sage is that in his mind he’s neither completely “good” nor completely “bad.” He’s somewhere in the middle. But that middle ground is where most of humanity lies, Sage is just honest about it. And while he’s honest about it, there are those out there—Jimmy and Teddy, Win’s uncles—who justify their evil deeds “for the good of the community or family.” It’s interesting to see the contrast between the two entities.

I adore this book. The story is wonderful. The characters are broken, complicated, and intriguing. And the contrast between right and wrong, good and bad is captivating. I couldn’t get enough of this one. I look forward to what this author comes out with next. I highly recommend The Terms of Release by B.A. Tortuga.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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