The Lawson brothers, Thatcher and Ian, were the envy of many as they grew up rich and privileged and talented. But there was a dark side to their home life as their father horrifically abused them. Ian was adopted into the family and Thatcher looked out for him as best he could like a true brother and the two of them have an unshakeable bond that grew deeper and darker. They work so well together that they have risen up the ranks in the diving world as paired gold medalist divers, but that success also comes at a steep price.
Their one light in the dark is Eden. Eden grew up on the Lawson property as her parents both worked for the Lawsons. Her father would not allow her to have anything to do with the brothers, but the bond between the three of them went soul deep. Even when they couldn’t be together, the trio were always craving each other. Now, it’s been years since the men have seen Eden and they will claim her and destroy anyone that even thinks of getting in their way.
Xavier Neal pushes boundaries with Eden and it is certainly a book where you should be aware of what you will be getting into. I only knew the book was dark and taboo, but it will certainly blow past the limits for some readers. Elaborating will only open one spoiler after the other, but it should be stated that this book is not in the style of a traditional romance and it gets bloody and violent and shoves moral boundaries aside in many places (check the post tags for more details).
The book opens when the trio are not children anymore, where Eden has returned from school in America, and Thatcher and Ian are already Olympic gold medalists. The story then goes back to different times in their lives, but does then mostly stay in the present and move forward. The book takes place in a fictitious country and it’s never clear why. The dialogue is formal and wordy and the style of writing wasn’t always clear to me and it was this that detracted from the story more than the content.
As the story evolves, it’s clear that both men have many issues. They both date women for appearances, as well as for sex, and they treat them callously and cruelly. While the women do have their own motivations for dating Ian and Thatcher, the entire dynamic is unhealthy all of the way through. When Eden comes back into their lives, their focus then becomes on reestablishing their trio and solidifying their bond once and for all. We get glimpses of Ian and Thatcher growing up, but since we are not there for most of it, the idea that they are adopted brothers does get diluted and really the fact that they were raised together is the least taboo aspect of this entire book.
There is a lot going on in this story and not everything was fully explained. Thatcher keeps a journal that he is fiercely protective of, and the staff know they cannot even be in the same room as the journal, and it was extreme and left a lot of questions. Their coach also treats them terribly and they suffer mental abuse at his hands as well and we never doing see him doing any coaching. He just constantly sneers and makes horrible remarks to them. Once Thatcher and Ian were in a position to make some decisions for themselves, it is never explained why they kept him on.
Not everyone wants to see Ian, Thatcher, and Eden reunited and that’s where the story shifts and twists and goes down some dark and bloody psychopathic paths. There is an HEA for the trio that they create on their own terms and the storyline feels designed for shock value much of the way through.
The author definitely succeeds in bringing the violence, abandoning societal norms, and having three characters lay claim to each other as they find their own bloody path in the name of revenge and vengeance when they have been pushed to their breaking points. If you are looking for these types of characters burning it all down to claim what they want in life, this is the book to read.