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Cell Block C

Victim Of Circumstance

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They didn’t know each other, but the events of one single day heralded a pivotal change that would alter their lives forever.

Almost two decades spent locked away in a dark, dank cell, Gray Bennet isn’t used to the sun, the sounds, the scents.
It’s overwhelming.

Each year Robin Bishop returns, and while everyone around her is solemn, she lifts her face to the sun and celebrates her freedom.
It’s liberating.

He sees her.
She stands out in the grieving crowd—her head thrown back, her face bright with contentment—like a beacon offering to guide him into the light.


First published June 2, 2020

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About the author

Freya Barker

67 books1,753 followers
USA Today bestselling author Freya Barker loves writing about ordinary people with extraordinary stories.
Driven to make her books about 'real' people; she creates characters who are perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy, but just as deserving of romance, thrills and chills in their lives.

Recipient of the ReadFREE.ly 2019 Best Book We've Read All Year Award for "Covering Ollie, the 2015 RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for Best First Book, “Slim To None”, and Finalist for the 2017 Kindle Book Award with “From Dust”, Freya continues to add to her rapidly growing collection of published novels as she spins story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 127 reviews
Profile Image for Mindy Lou's Book Review.
2,699 reviews657 followers
June 2, 2020
I really feel like this author does such an amazing job of giving voice to victims of tragedy. Every time she has treated these moments with care and understanding. I know we can't ever truly know what it's like unless we experience it ourselves, but you can be drawn into a character and feel a fraction of what they might be feeling. That's a pretty great talent an author can give to her readers.

This did start off a bit slow and sometimes I think that needs to be the case. I appreciated that Gray's experience couldn't be rushed. His reactions felt real. Seeing him slowly start to live again also helped me as a reader grow more attached to him. By the ending I wanted to blubber like an idiot for all that he gained after losing so much.

Robin's situation was at a different view. Her experiences happened many years prior. She wasn't fresh in her grieving process. That didn't mean that she had truly started living again. It was a different perspective.

The ending really just had me so happy. I just love to see when someone who has no one, end up with so many loving people in their lives. It was a beautiful ending. I almost wished we could keep getting more of their lives. I was pretty high on their happiness.
Profile Image for Carvanz.
2,098 reviews747 followers
June 2, 2020
I loved Gray and Robin so much! Everything about them, about their story and about this book was fresh and original. It’s hard to find a unique “meet cute” and while this wasn’t “cute” it was unique and it captured my heart immediately.

Both Gray and Robin had pasts that had left scars. While Robin’s had healed to a great extent, Gray found himself, literally, in a whole new world where he was being forced to face the past and find a future. He was isolated and damaged and Robin was the perfect catalyst towards healing.

This is low on danger/adventure, has enough personal angst to keep the story moving, and was high on steamy chemistry. This mature couple were smoking! With a great pace that kept me turning pages and characters that added wit and charm, I was deeply engaged in this book at a time when it’s been hard to find anything as a distraction.

Dual POV
Profile Image for Island Girl Romance Reads.
508 reviews46 followers
June 3, 2020
Victim of Circumstance is a new standalone by Freya Barker that I think and really hope that will be a new series.
First let me say that I’ve been a fan of Freya for a long time. I’ve read all her books and this one is my very favorite. Freya has outdone herself with this book.
This is a story about redemption and second chances and loyal friends believing in you.
Grey return home after being in prison for 18 years. He has lots of issues and believes that everyone hates him. But what he finds is loyal friends and people with regrets.
Robin is a widow who lost her husband in the 9/11 tragedy. She works at the local diner and is very much attracted to the brooding man.

Freya has a talent to tell a story and keeping you hooked from the first page to the last.
She is an amazing storyteller. And this book is a book that you’ll want to read if you are her fan and even if you’ve never read her books and love to read about mature couples.

Love the storyline and the secondary characters that I know some of them will have their own story.
This book will definitely go as one if my favorites for this year.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ STARS
Profile Image for Sandy.
1,164 reviews4 followers
May 24, 2020
Wow! This hits a lot of levels. Two people who have overcome great circumstances in their lives. I liked Gray and Robin right away. They both have an easy feeling about them, like people you want to be your friends in real life. There’s lots of heavy, emotional drama here. Not relationship based, outside forces from their pasts. A little bit of suspense/drama and lots of steam! Can’t recommend this story enough.
Profile Image for Karen Hrdlicka.
1,107 reviews22 followers
May 15, 2020
As with every book I've read by Freya Barker, I am in awe of the depth of her creativity. Whether she's writing her romantic suspense stories or women's fiction, Ms. Barker has her finger on the pulse of her characters and the reader's emotions. Victim of Circumstance is a prime example of this author's talent and the title is more than appropriate for both of the main characters.
After being released from prison, Gray returns to the only home he's known outside of prison. Expecting to find hatred for his past actions, Gray finds acceptance and a job from his friend, Jimmy. Needing to put his guilt to rest over his sister's passing on 9/11, Gray makes a trip to the memorial and sees a vibrant woman who appears to be celebrating for a different reason. An unexpected connection is made but quickly put aside.
Robin lost her husband in the Twin Towers on 9/11 but for her the event was not a loss but freedom from an abusive husband and the father of her daughter. Robin's made a life for herself and her daughter but now her daughter is grown and her widowed mother is in a relationship, she's struggling to find a new balance in her life.
Robin and Gray's paths cross when he is sent on a tow call and they meet again. The story that follows is an intensely emotional story of redemption and self-forgiveness. Ms. Barker pulls a lot into this story: friendship, loyalty, spousal abuse, jealousy, greed, guilt, redemption, forgiveness, and love. The growth of the relationship of Gray and Robin is often full of sidetracks but Ms. Barker does an excellent job of putting them back on the right track. The story is carefully crafted and balanced so the reader roots for the couple and understands the deep-seated emotions that lead Gray into his circumstance. This story once again illustrates that Ms. Barker is the high priestess of mature romance.
Profile Image for Sandy S.
6,661 reviews171 followers
June 2, 2020
4.5 stars--VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE by Freya Barker is a contemporary, adult, erotic, story line- a part of the multi-authored CELL BLOCK C romance series. This is auto mechanic/former inmate Gray Bennet, and bookkeeper/diner waitress Robin Bishop’s story line. VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty-the stories are not connected.

NOTE: Due to the nature of the story line premise, there may be some triggers for more sensitive readers.

Told from dual first person perspectives (Gray and Robin) VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE follows the building relationship between auto mechanic/former inmate Gray Bennet, and bookkeeper/diner waitress Robin Bishop. It’s been eighteen years since Gray Bennet was a free man but he never expected to catch the eye of a beautiful woman at the 9/11 monument, where he was paying his respects to the sister he lost. Heading home to Beaverton, Michigan to start a new life working for a friend at the local garage, Gray will come face to face with his fantasies, the woman he met in New York, the woman with whom Gray will fall in love. Enter Robin Bishop-bookkeeper and waitress at the local diner. What ensues is the building but trepidatious relationship between Gray and Robin, and the potential fall-out as Gray struggles with demons from his past, and the inability to trust himself around the woman he loves.

Robin Bishop has been a single mom for close to eighteen years and meeting Gray Bennet stirred something deep within our story line heroine. Robin had no idea that Gray had served time but our heroine accepted Gray for who he is, not what he had done but all is not well in the town of Beaverton, and Robin and Gray find themselves caught in the middle between warring forces.

The relationship between Gray and Robin is one of immediate attraction but Gray was in no position to start an affair without first getting his life in order. A job, a place to stay, and re-establishing himself in a town that may or may not have forgiven him for sins of the past found Gray pushing Robin out of his life at every opportunity. It will take a patient woman to understand the demons that threaten to engulf out story line hero, demons that become real with his return to town. The $ex scenes are intimate and passionate without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

We are introduced to Robin’s mother, as well as her daughter Paige; diner owner Kim, Jason the cook; Frank Hanson, owner of the Dirty Dog, garage owner Jimmy Olson, and several townies who come in and out of the diner.

VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE is a story of abuse, betrayal, retribution and control. A story of love and acceptance; of understanding and moving forward. The character driven premise is real, raw and engaging; the romance is provocative and tender; the characters are edgy, wounded and spirited.

Profile Image for Dana.
640 reviews52 followers
May 31, 2020
I continue to be amazed at the depth of character writing that Ms. Barker brings to her readers. Victim of Circumstance brought forth so many emotions for me: heartbreak, anger, and most important the absolute best feeling: love. This story was such a breath of fresh air and the opening scenes were just beautiful and hopeful for both Gray and Robin.

My review will never bring justice to Ms. Barker's story, so I'm going to just share a few of my thoughts:

Gray's story was one of redemption and acceptance. Redemption because he wanted to prove he wasn't who "he" thought he was; acceptance for what had happened in his life and to have the strength to grow and discover who he was now.

Robin's story was one of self-discovery; discovering who she was as a woman on her own and proving that she could live this new life she has been given.

Please make sure you read VoC, you will not be disappointed.
Profile Image for Robin.
874 reviews15 followers
May 20, 2020
Gray and Robin's story was so beautifully written.
Gray has just been released from prison after serving an 18 year sentence. Not knowing where to go, he heads back to his hometown in Michigan to decide what to do with his life. He lost his sister 18 years earlier in the 9/11 World Trade Center attack and decides on the anniversary to go to NY to pay his respects and put his sister's memory to rest.
Robin works at the local diner in a small town in Michigan. She lost her husband 18 years earlier also in the 9/11 WTC attack. She goes to NY on the anniversary to close that chapter of her life and move forward.
Grey and Robin accidently collide at the memorial, neither realizing this one chance encounter will set them on a course that will change their lives.
Gray has so many layers to him and he has been through so much and he has to learn to start living his life again. Robin is such a beautiful soul but she has secrets that she has never shared with anyone, not even her daughter. These two lost souls find a friendship with each other that grows into something beautiful.
Freya writes the most amazing characters with such depth. What a great story. I was captivated from the first word until the last.
164 reviews2 followers
May 18, 2020
When Victim of Circumstance landed on my kindle I had no idea of what the plot line for the book was, After the first few pages , I was hooked.
Yet again Freya Barker delivers a book that is so well written, a story where all the characters have so much to tell us & make you fall in love immediately.
The story focuses on Gray - as he begins a new phase of his life after 18yrs in Prison. He needs closure on some areas of his life and heads back to his home town , unsure of anything & prepared to spend time quietly in the shadows. Robin moved to Gray’s hometown shortly after he went away and they have never met.
A chance meeting at the 911 memorial & they both make an impression on each other that lasts.
The rest of the book is a wonderful story of Acceptance, second chances and new beginnings.
Victim of Circumstance shows all the hallmarks of Freya Barkers writing.
If you’ve not read her books Before, this standalone will be a great introduction to an author who will
Will quickly become a favourite , and for those of us who devour everything she writes - def one for the collection
Profile Image for Sue.
3,248 reviews5 followers
May 16, 2020
This is a sad story for all. Gray gets out of prison after 2 decades and doesn't know what to do with himself. He ends up getting a bus ticket and going back to his hometown. He still hasn't gotten over his sisters death on 9/11. Robin lost her husband there in the twin towers but she's not feeling sad, he was an abusive husband. Gray and she meet by accident. But their paths criss cross. This story has twists and turns, sadness, whatif's and new beginnings. HEA
Profile Image for Sheri Bishop.
502 reviews7 followers
August 3, 2020
Have you ever looked at an event and it sadden you? Has your friend looked at the same event and it made him/her happy? How a different perspective can affect your vision is amazing.

And that is what Freya Barker teaches us in this outstanding story. For one, an event was a tragedy and took away a loved one. For another, it was a release and a much needed breath of freedom. And who knew that would bring these two people together?!?

Freya Barker has the ability to take two ordinary characters, nothing special about them, nothing we don't see in our own friends and family every day, and tell the most magical stories about them. And we are the lucky ones because she continues to share these stories with us.
Profile Image for Valeen Robertson (Live Thru Books Blog).
5,162 reviews175 followers
June 2, 2020


A chance meeting at the 9/11 Memorial seals the foundation for two people there for very different reasons. Gray to finally visit the sister he lost and Robin to reflect on the shedding of an abusive husband. But it's when they each arrive back home and find they live in the same small town that their real connection starts and brings about a beautiful, healing relationship.

"You're the light at the end of the tunnel. You're sunshine and fresh air."
This such a heartfelt, poignant story. It hurt my heart reading as Gray transitioned from prison, not expecting the friendship and acceptance he finds in his once again home, and as he fell in love with Robin, a woman whose heart could not have been bigger or more ready for love. I honestly loved this story and Gray and Robin and the entire cast of this excellent story.

ARC via Buoni Amici Press for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Cathy Geha.
3,753 reviews77 followers
June 1, 2020
Victim of Circumstance by Freya Barker
Cell Block C

Survival skills are not necessary and for each person survival may mean something else and require different skills. Putting safety, security and live first…one’s own and those of loved ones is part of that. For 18 years two people have been surviving but not thriving. One day they will serendipitously see one another and feel something. Never expecting to see one another again they take that feeling with them only to…see one another again. Do they have anything besides a “feeling” to work with and if so…how will the two manage to end up together not only surviving but thriving? If you are curious…I recommend reading their story!

What I liked?
* Gray: a quiet, steadfast, charming, intelligent man who did his time…for eighteen years. I admired him and felt for him and was so glad he found Robin.
* Robin: a woman who made the best of situations, raised her young daughter, chose a life that worked for her and had not allowed herself to spread her wings for at least eighteen years. I liked the way she interacted with her mother, daughter, colleagues and…Gray.
* Jimmy: a good friend who was there for Gray. I would like to know more about him and his friends. I wonder who he will end up with?
* The supporting characters: family, friends, and townspeople.
* The way Gray and Robin brought out the best in one another
* That Gray blossomed over time after reaching Beaverton
* The backstory of both main characters being released in increments and at just the right time in the story
* Feeling I was part of the story
* The way I felt while reading and as I finished the last page of the book – these are people I would gladly have as friends.

What I did not like:
* The abusers…all of them
* Becca…oh my
* Having to say goodbye to the characters when their story ended.

Thank you to the author for the ARC – This is my honest review.

5 Stars
Profile Image for Pam.
1,459 reviews16 followers
May 20, 2020
Once again I find myself in awe of Ms. Barker's writing. The separate journey's that they characters are traveling are difficult and trying on their own. A chance meeting that neither can forget. Could their connection over a point in time be what brings them together?

Gray is finally getting the chance to face some of his demons. Trying to make peace with the tragedies that he couldn't control. Finding his footing again after being away for so long is going to be the hardest part. Where to go, how to begin again? Home is the one place he needs to go but will the small town accept him?

Robin has been living but going through the motions. Thankful for the freedom but still keeping a low profile. Always willing to help and care for others, putting everyone else first. With her mother and daughter starting to not need her the same, she realizes it is time to enjoy life and see what it has in store for her.

These mature characters and their stories will have you reading to see what life has planned next for them? Will they find the happiness they deserve?

*** Advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review. ***
Profile Image for KittyLuvr.
529 reviews33 followers
June 13, 2020
I loved this one so much. Ms Barker (for ME at least) wraps her characters & plot around the reader's heart & emotions like an ultra soft & comforting favorite afghan. What in another author's hands might have been a story loaded with anger, castigation, hate, is instead an absolutely heartwarming story of love & acceptance.
Gray (H), just released from prison after 18 years finds himself back in his hometown of Beaverton which is also the scene of the crime which sent him to prison. And again, Ms. Barker doesn't subject either Gray or the reader to scene after scene of bullying, insults & harassment but provides both Gray & the reader with scenes of people who have known Gray since birth & welcome him back home with open arms & support.
Robin (h), settled in Beaverton just after Gray's incarceration & thus never knew him until a chance meeting in a far distant city & again shortly thereafter just outside of Gray's hometown. And Robin finds herself unaccountably attracted to the tall, silver-haired, grouchy, uncommunicative man freshly returned to town.
And while Gray is also highly atracted to Robin, he has demons he needs to conquer before he dares enter into a relationship with anyone . . . .
A wonderfully warm loving romance story between two mature (mid-40's, early 50's) people who together work to surmount their pasts & dare envision a future, possibly together. The characters are superbly drawn & detailed & my heart ACHED for Gray: what he'd survived & wanted but was so afraid to hope for; & Robin: determined to always move forward & was drawn more & more to the emotionally scarred & wary Gray.
For the reader who wants to FEEL, wants to CARE about the characters, wants to journey WITH them: Read this one. It's beautiful in the most heartwarming & satisfying of ways.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
June 12, 2020

Also Posted on For The Love of Fictional Worlds

Disclaimer: An eARC was provided via Buoni Amici Press and the Author as part of the Blog Tour. The Thoughts, opinions & feelings expressed in the review are therefore, my own.

If I haven’t said it before, I will say it now, Freya Braker has this innate ability to put forward characters/protagonists whose lives are as real as they can be; and their experiences from which strength can be drawn and inspiration be found.

Victim of Circumstance, her newest standalone, is a story of second chances –
and of finding a home; that one special person who feels like home, even if it feels too late for new chances.

Gray, an ex – con, has recently been released from prison after completing his sentence – two decades of staying within a cage; he is wholly unprepared for how life and the world has changed in his absence. All he wants to do is properly grieve his mother and sister (whom he lost in 9/11), stay low and just be content with his life. He wasn’t looking for companionship or even an easy lay. But he also wasn’t expecting a woman like Robin to cross his path either.

Robin, a single mother of a college age daughter, lost her husband in 9/11 – but it wasn’t a grieving moment for her; in fact, it was the moment that freed her – and she has never taken it for granted since! But she also hasn’t lived for beyond her daughter and her mother. Her trauma might have been years back, but she knows that she has also kept her life on hold.

Gray and Robin’s connection and attraction is visceral; but it is also one that neither of them expected at this stage in their life – and it is a slow burn; for both of their need to understand their own past and make peace with it, is becoming all the more important now.

Freya Barker is a brilliant author; and one who never stops surprising me – Victim of Circumstance is just another brilliant addition to the never ending list of books by her I have adored!

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Profile Image for Jacquie.
529 reviews3 followers
May 25, 2020
Have you ever read one of those books that you try NOT to devour, trying to make it last a little bit longer because it's so good you don't want it to end? Victim of Circumstance is just such a book, one that makes you think about how YOU would react in certain circumstances, how far would YOU go when your back is to the wall and you're pushed beyond all limits?! It's also about forgiveness, acceptance and self-respect and love. I felt Gray and Robin's story down to my very soul....I simply couldn't get enough!

It's no secret that Freya Barker is one of my Top Fave authors and this book is a perfect example of WHY I adore her writing so much! Her stories have a way of reaching in and grabbing a hold of your heart, touching you in ways you don't even realize until whatever story you're reading is finished and you're left in total and complete awe. Gray and Robin's love story is no exception! It's so beautifully written, making you feel like you're RIGHT THERE, watching everything unfold in front of your eyes (and heart and soul!), knowing that in the end, things will turn out exactly the way they were meant to be.

I can't recommend this book highly enough! If you've never read anything from this author this would a perfect story to start off with and those of us who already know just how AWESOME Ms. Barker is will DEVOUR yet another MUST READ!!!

Profile Image for Eclectic Review.
1,357 reviews5 followers
June 1, 2020
I’m a big fan of Freya Barker because she writes about real people and real-life issues. In this case, about returning to life after being incarcerated for 18 years, about spousal abuse, and about having faith in people. A must-read for those who love to read mature romances.

It was Gray’s first day as a free man and he wanted to go back home to Beaverton, Michigan, where his life changed forever. In addition, he has to pay tribute to his little sister in New York, and on that fateful day, he sees an unforgettable woman raising her face to the sun and smiling while surrounded by mourners. What are the odds that the woman actually lives in his hometown of Beaverton? As first impressions go, he’s hot and cold leaving her with a bad first impression. But how can he bear to see her face when he finally explains his past? No need. The small-town gossip mill has already done that for him. And she didn’t run away…yet.

Robin has lived in Beaverton for several years now, happily raising her now-college-aged daughter alone, living a short distance from her widowed mother, and working at the local diner. Every year Robin visits New York where her husband died, but she’s not there to mourn him, she is there “to remind herself she is still here, still breathing, still very much alive.” When she sees the handsome man with the light blue eyes again in her hometown, she is shocked and bewildered by his rudeness one day and his kindness the next. And then the gossip begins and bits and pieces of Gray’s past are revealed. Does it surprise her? A little. Is she still interested in him? A lot.

As always, Freya Barker’s characters are diverse with so many layers of which she peels back little by little revealing, secrets, true vulnerabilities, struggles, and extraordinary qualities. Gray is so introverted and reticent when he comes back home. He’s understandably afraid at first to show his face around town, but the people of Beaverton surprise him and treat him with kindness. Many feeling they let him down 18 years ago when they didn’t help him. However, it is Robin’s kindness and trust in him that gives him hope to start over. Her moxie and no-nonsense way of telling it like it is is just what he needs to let go of the past and move on with his life. Of course, the supporting characters of Robin’s mother and daughter, the diner regulars, and more give the story depth and a feeling of home. But my favorite character is Gray’s friend Jimmy who has stood by Gray for all of those years. Giving him a job and a place to stay, as well as an ear to listen to and a kick in the rear when he needs it most.

I love reading about more seasoned characters in romances especially since I’m well-seasoned myself. 🙂 This book explores some serious subject matter, but it also includes several laughable and hot, hot moments as well. A truly memorable story with remarkable characters. Recommend highly!

Thank you to Ms. Barker for giving me yet another opportunity to read another one of her books with no expectation of a positive review.
Profile Image for Jen.
3,176 reviews
June 2, 2020
Note: An ARC was provided by the author.

Oh, my heart. Experience has taught me that my heart was going to end up becoming invested, as has been the case in my past Freya Barker reads, but nothing could have quite prepared me for Victim of Circumstance. This is the author's contribution to the multi-authored Cell Block C series, and while this is the only book from there that I've read, I think it's safe to say that this is one that should not be missed. This also happens to be a standalone, so you don't need to read anything prior to diving in and simply enjoy this beautifully written tale about love and second chances.

This is the sort of story that you could easily stay reading without having any clue what the blurb says and fall in love with organically, much like the main characters do. Gray and Robin may not have seemed like two people who shared a great deal in common, but they were individuals who were victims of their circumstances. While they may have survived them, they had yet to learn to thrive, and being in each other's lives felt like an impetus. The cast of supporting characters was also notable, making for a well-rounded must-read. Victim of Circumstance gets five-plus stars. 🖤
Profile Image for Melanie Maloney.
405 reviews8 followers
June 6, 2020
I am finding that I am quickly becoming obsessed with Freya Barker’s writing style. Her mature characters are so real and relatable. They don’t have perfect bodies and perfect lives. They could be any one of us. They know what they want, they’ve had real things happen to them and they have the life experience to base their interactions on.

Which brings us to Gray and Robin. They have each been through a different, yet similar traumatic experience in their lives that have kept them trapped in their own versions of confinement for almost 2 decades. They have a very brief chance meeting at the 9/11 Memorial in NYC only to find out they are living in the same town. Together they climb out of the shadows and find love. Gray is so vulnerable and afraid of his inner demons. Robin is finally feeling free of her past and is ready to take her life back. I am overjoyed that Robin is the strong one emotionally. Ms. Barker is not afraid to write about strong women.

I do think this is my favorite story by Ms. Barker yet.
Profile Image for Kari Hansen.
9,508 reviews63 followers
June 3, 2020
Gray has paid the ultimate price for the mistakes of his past and if finally returning to his hometown two decades later however he is unsure of the welcome that he will realize. When he arrives, he is grateful to those who are willing to see the man and not his past as he tries to build a new life for himself in a world he doesn’t know.

Robin has been a single mother to her daughter since her husband passed away years earlier. Now that her daughter is grown she finds herself at a crossroads as she tries to determine what her future should look like.

When Gray and Robin met the first time it was coincidence but whether by fate or design they keep running into each other. Although they have very different experiences, they have both been held captive by their pasts and in each other they may the future they both deserve.
This is an emotional story about healing, love and new beginnings.
Profile Image for Badass Lioness.
375 reviews14 followers
June 8, 2020
4.5 stars! I loved the twist on the Sept. 11th storyline. It starts with Gray being a mystery. Ex con returns to hometown after 18 years in jail for a reason we don't find out until he throws it out there to shock Robin.

Robin is 45, turns 46 in epilogue, and lives life on her own terms. Her husband died on 9/11, but she feels freedom not grief at her loss. We gradually find out why. This twist made the story so much more interesting to me. I'm so used to 9/11 stories that are about grief stricken characters and this blew me away.

Then there are side stories about Shirley and Mike. There are Robin's daughter and mother. There is Jimmy AKA Tank and his friendship with Gray that transcends the years.

This was a layered and textured story that showed the importance of community, forgiveness, understanding, and a second chance at love can bring more than redemption for Gray.

This is a standalone and not part of a series.

Note: I originally read the advance reading copy, but bought a copy. This is a keeper.
Profile Image for Renee Entress.
5,152 reviews72 followers
May 26, 2020
4.5 star

I was pulled right into this story. The story has abuse, suspense, secrets, pain, and heartbreak.

This is Robin and Grey’s story. Grey just got released from prison and is trying to figure out his life. When he sees Robin for the first time, he is drawn to her but because of his past he does not what to be involved. He fears the anger that flows through him. Robin is drawn to Grey, but she gets frustrated when he goes hot and cold. She dealt with a lot in the past and is not looking for more craziness. Grey has secrets and when he shares them, he thinks he will lose Robin or the chance to be with her. But she is not afraid of him. Can they have a future? Or will he keep running hot and cold and end up pushing her away?

I loved these characters and the side characters. I felt I was able to connect with the characters and the story was a great read.

I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Jodi Bird (Ruby Red Romance Review).
1,168 reviews91 followers
June 8, 2020
If you know me, you know Freya is a favorite of mine. I love every single book she writes. I loved getting lost in her words and her stories. I loved every word of this book. I honestly did not want this story to end, but as with all books, it did.

I loved every minute of Gray and Robin. I felt like I was watching their story unfold, instead of reading it. Understanding everything that Gray went through took time and that's exactly how it needed to be. You needed to understand why he was the way he was to understand the man. The man Gray had become was beyond anything you could have asked for. Robin's tragedy may not be new, but that doesn't mean she's learned how to move forward. Together, these two do just that.

This book really was more than I could have asked for. I loved every second of it. Please check it out.
Profile Image for Brynne Hounsell.
395 reviews
June 2, 2020
Love through the Tragedy

Gray has been In Rockwood Penitentiary for nearly 20 years but for him that wasn’t the only tragedy in his life. He lost his sister on 9/11 and shortly after that his freedom.

Robin is a single mom, a waitress and part time accountant and she lost her husband on 9/11 and that’s when her tragedy ended and her life began again.

Little did they know their circumstances would bring them together. Oh and Gray is going to fight her off and try to run because he doesn’t deserve love and happiness. Good thing for him she’s stubborn and he has a support system back home that won’t let him down a second time.
Profile Image for Maria Angie Mendoza.
2,869 reviews20 followers
June 3, 2020
Original, heartfelt and passionate new standalone that had me captivated in the story from beginning to end.
This author has a unique style of creating extraordinary characters out of ordinary people.
Grey and Robin’s story is another great story about 2 people who became victims of circumstances themselves. How their story evolved and developed was just a joy to read. Their instant attraction, their banter and their chemistry was heartfelt, and full of hot passion.
Theirs is an emotional journey of love, forgiveness and second chances in life.
What happens to them you’ll have to read and find out!
Profile Image for Avid Reader.
609 reviews2 followers
May 16, 2020
Loved this story of Gray and Robin. Both characters were well written and the way their relationship developed felt real. There was so much tragedy in Gray's life and he had paid a very high price that he would have mentally kept paying but for those around him. Robin was a great character as were her mum and daughter and their family dynamics were examined well. I also loved all the supporting characters especially Tank/Jimmy and the old timers who frequent the cafe. I could easily see more stories coming from this great town.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Jessica.
2,882 reviews23 followers
May 19, 2020
Chapter 1, we meet Grey and he’s leaving prison. That’s our first impression of him. Hmmm... I wasn’t sure what to think of him. Why was he in prison for 2 decades??? That’s a long time!
My first impression of Robin - she’s a kickbutt single mom to a grownup daughter as well as a good daughter to her own mother. She seems to have a good life working the job she wants with the people she enjoys.
Then these two meet... a flight away from home and see each other again on the flight home. And then he’s the one who goes out to meet her when she needs a towing. And then he keeps seeing her when he goes to eat at the diner she works.... okay... now he’s purposely trying to see her.

I loved this one very much! Freya is a great author who is wonderful at pulling your heartstrings. You should definitely give this one some attention and one click it. You won’t be disappointed.
Profile Image for Carole.
335 reviews3 followers
May 20, 2020
Gray & Robin have not had it easy. One day...that’s all it took to change their lives in very different ways. One was released and the other imprisoned. Years later, their paths cross and once again their lives are about to change.

Freya has done it again! When I don’t think it’s possible for her stories to get any better, she writes another book. Another 5⭐️ read!
Profile Image for Skylar.
590 reviews
June 7, 2020
Freya Barker's books stand out because her characters are flawed. Her attention to detail makes them relatable. Victim of Circumstance had the grit and substance I've come to expect from her.

Gray's time in prison made him differ from most of her H's. He had a hard time getting outside of his head and punished himself unnecessarily even though he was finally free. He was a good man at his core. Reading his progression was like watching a bird being freed from its cage. I thought about kicking his ass several times, but he kicked his own ass for me.

Robin's freedom ran almost parallel at times. She began to finally let go and put herself out there for Grey in a way no other woman would. Her forgiveness and vulnerability complimented her "shoot from the hip" communication.

This is definitely a book I'll read again. I seems to have the potential to keep unfolding, just like its characters.

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