Title – Without Me
Author – Chelle Bliss
Publication Date – April 7, 2015
Series – Men of Inked, #5
I’d led a selfish existence.
I liked who I was. Hell, I loved myself.
Women threw themselves at me and I took what they offered without remorse. I promised them nothing.
I sank my teeth into life, holding on to the bitch like my very existence depended on it.
Women came and went.
The second I let my guard down and released the hold I had on life… What was my award for such carelessness?
A love so spectacular and heart wrenching that it threw me for a loop. When I was in too deep to escape, my greatest fears became reality.
This is my story. My downfall. My salvation.
Without Me delivers the long awaited fall of Anthony Gallo as he finally meets his match in Maxine aka Max. Chelle Bliss could not have crafted a more perfect character to bring Anthony to his knees. Every step of Anthony and Max’s story was hard fought and packed with unexpected emotion. This story was one-of-a-kind, dealing with difficult issues that color many real life relationships. In true Chelle Bliss fashion, Without Me is sexy, sweet, and sarcastic, with the added bonus of feeling incredibly humbling and emotionally honest. My connection with this couple was immediate and I couldn’t help but anxiously await the resolution of their story. Without Me was a rollercoaster of emotion that took me through the ever changing surety and uncertainty of Anthony and Max’s relationship.
“What the hell happened to my life? Oh yeah, Hurricane Anthony made landfall and wreaked havoc on my life.”
Anthony’s character is really put through the wringer this time. Chelle Bliss was determined to unravel Anthony until he was completely exposed. The development of his character throughout the story was fantastic, allowing us to get to know an entirely different person than we’d seen before. With his heart on the line, Anthony’s bravado and perceived arrogance fell away leaving us with a man who was very much vulnerable and wanting. The destruction of his ambivalence and his unexpected sweetness perfectly balanced Max’s stubborn and cold demeanor, slowly causing her to thaw. The chemistry Chelle created felt substantial and raw, building with every honest moment they shared. The push and pull between these two was undeniably hot and as expected, Chelle Bliss delivers a delicious dose of steam and sizzle in Without Me.
“Have you ever lived through something so traumatic it altered your view of the entire world?”
There wasn’t a moment of Anthony and Max’s story that didn’t feel personal. Chelle Bliss tackles an issue that is close to her heart in Without Me and her emotional connection to this couple’s journey is absolute. She clearly poured her own heart and soul into every aspect of this book, delivering her own fears and emotions with a powerful punch. I couldn’t deny the pull this story had on my heart, drawing me in until I was drowning in Anthony and Max. As I’ve come to expect with the Gallo family, this book is filled with sarcasm, teasing, laughter, and unconditional love. I enjoyed the reactions of the rest of the family towards Anthony finally falling hard. Their sibling dynamic never ceases to make me smile. This story is definitely something special you have to experience for yourself. Without Me is unquestionably my favorite book in the Men of Inked series and a fantastic representation of flawed, uncertain, and real love.
At the end of Without Me, Chelle Bliss writes that it is bittersweet to type The End. Well, I feel the exact same way about reading the words. The ride with the Gallos has been such an amazing one, filled with love, family, and stubborn characters that I’m sure to not forget anytime soon. As the series progressed, Bliss’ writing grew and matured and Without Me proved to be the perfect ending. It brought this family full circle and most definitely left me missing them already.
“I’ll hide in the shadows for you. I’ll be your dirty secret. As long as I get to touch you, kiss your lips, and see where the sparks lead us, I’ll do anything. Just don’t shut me out.”
Anthony is the eldest Gallo sibling, and I’m pretty sure he’s the most stubborn one yet! He comes off as brash and cocky, but something about his demeanor makes the reader want to get to know him. When he meets Max, I felt like he honestly met his match. She was so different from the other females that have come into the family. She reminded me of Izzy with a spunky attitude and a fierce desire for control, yet a need to surrender it. When these two were together, it felt like I was watching a tennis match. My head would almost whip back and forth with the way they fought with and loved each other. Everything about these two was kicked up to full top-notch and it created a passion and chemistry unlike any of the other previous couples.
“We were irrevocably locked together forever with no other course than to roam this path together.”
What I undoubtedly loved the most about Without Me is that it went in a completely different direction from the previous Men of Inked series. It felt elevated in a sense because it wasn’t just a romance, or about a guy breaking down a woman’s defenses and them falling in love. There were deeper issues addressed that overshadowed so much of what we typically see. It causes the reader to almost stop and think about how much they are putting off as a defense mechanism versus what they truly feel. The obstacles Anthony and Max faced were ones that were completely out of their control, and I guess you could say it made me appreciate their story a little bit more than any of the other Gallos.
“Sometimes we can’t have what we want. Life has a way of selecting its own course, and there’s nothing we can do to hop off the trail.”
Without Me is, without a doubt, Chelle Bliss’ best book to date. Her writing has grown leaps and bounds and she is really fine tuning her craft. This final novel in the Men of Inked series brought the series full circle and solidified its way into my heart. While Anthony and Max took center stage, the whole family was so closely entwined toward the end that readers do get a sense of closure for everyone. Although Bliss is saying goodbye to the Gallos, she certainly won’t be losing me as a reader, and I look forward to seeing what she can come up with next!
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Don’t miss the rest of the Men of Inked series:
The Gallos (Men of Inked #0.5)
Throttle Me (Men of Inked #1)
Hook Me (Men of Inked #2)
Throttled (Men of Inked #2.5)
Resist Me (Men of Inked #3)
Uncover Me (Men of Inked #4)
Honor Me (Men of Inked #6)
Men of Inked Christmas Novella
Worship Me (Men of Inked #7)
Chelle Bliss is the USA Today bestselling author of the Men of Inked and ALFA P.I. series. She hails from the Midwest, but currently lives near the beach even though she hates sand. She’s a full-time writer, time-waster extraordinaire, social media addict, coffee fiend, and ex high school history teacher. She loves spending time with her two cats, alpha boyfriend, and chatting with readers.