Updated: Sep 14, 2022
by Cecy Robson
Published by Loveswept
Book #3 of Shattered Past series
She bears the scars of the past. He blames himself for things he can’t control.
Their defenses are up, but in Cecy Robson’s latest Shattered Past novel—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn—true love lands a knockout punch. Sofia Tres Santos remembers a time before her life went sour, before her innocence was ripped away, before she began punishing herself with risky behaviors and unworthy men. Now, at twenty, she just hopes she’s ready to rebuild some of what she lost. One way or another, it always comes back to her childhood friend and longtime crush, Killian O’Brien. As strong as Killian is, Sofia has always been his one weakness. He knows Sofia has suffered and wants to ensure she’s never hurt again—not like before, and definitely not under his watch. When Sofia agrees to work at his mixed martial arts gym, Killian seizes the opportunity to help and protect the sweet girl he’s always cared for. And yet, as he trains Sofia to defend herself using his hard-hitting MMA techniques, he’s drawn to the vulnerable beauty in ways he never expected. As Sofia grows stronger, she also grows brave enough to open herself up to love. And along the way, she challenges everything Killian believes to be true, showing him that no matter how much he dominates in the ring, the real battle is fought in the heart
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy Romance Climatic
*TRIGGER Drama Happy Ending
Remember, this nerd posts spoilers, so only read ahead if you don't mind. Also, trigger warning! This book contains subject matter relating to rape.
Once Pure is the third and final book in the Shattered Past series written by Cecy Robson. It focuses on the youngest Tres Santos sibling Sofia, and he childhood best friend and crush Killian O'Brian.
I will admit, I have been curious about Sofia throughout the past two books. We learn in Once Perfect (Mateo and Evie's story), that she was raped at 14 years old, but no other details. It was also hinted that Killian has some possible guilt over what happened to Sofia, but as to why, no clues are given. It splintered Killian's and Mateo's friendship though. Sofia has been very quiet, and nervous throughout the series, so I was wondering how this book would play out. In short, the story is wonderful, despite the dark content. For a romance, its just so different. I really couldn't put it down.
As I mentioned above, Sofia has been very quiet, and painfully shy in this series. It's no surprise that this continues at the start of this book. At this point though, she is no longer a teenager. She is a twenty year old adult, hired to create a program to help Killian keep track of his books, and redesign a website for his gym. Through this, her and Killian slowly bond, and things heat up. Slowly. Normally, I would be annoyed that their relationship is going at a slow pace, but knowing her history, it didn't bother be in the least, and was very consistent with how a rape victim would act. With Killian's support, she overcomes some big obstacles. The obvious being learning to trust and be comfortable with Killian to be sexually active. The less obvious, is her confidence in herself. She is actually very smart, and makes a great business woman, to the point that Killian looks to her for help with his business. Her strength is another one. Before, she was weak, and too frightened to stand up for herself. By the end of the book, thanks to Killian and the rest of his siblings training her, she is able to fight back when her and Evie are attacked. She learns to be brave, not only in fighting back, but admitting how she feels, and fighting for who she wants.
We don't get a whole lot of Killian in the first two books. We are aware that he harbors some guilt over Sofia's rape, and Mateo and his friendship is strained because of whatever happened. We know he has feelings for Sofia, despite her being too nervous around him to hold a conversation. I was worried that we were going to get a carbon copy of Mateo. In some ways we did, but Killian does stand apart in others. Not going to lie ... I kinda fell for Killian. His absolute devotion to Sofia, and his remarkable patience with her is beautiful to read. The little ways he comes up with to help her build trust in her, I love.
The dark part of this story, is Sofia's rape. We finally learn about that day, and it is all kinds of horrible, as all rapes are. But it was what led up to the rape that made it extra terrible. Mateo, before going off to the Navy, asked Killian to look out for Sofia, because she wasn't as strong as Lety and him were, and Killian gave his word nothing bad would happen to Sofia. Sofia had no idea of this, of course. The day of her rape, she was waiting for Killian to walk her home, but he was flirting with the girl who got around. There was a moment when Killian looked at Sofia, and was drawn to her, but the other girl whispered sexual promises in his ear, and that was it. A sixteen year old male, who was teased by his friends and siblings about not getting laid yet, and a pretty girl promising him sex? Yeah. He ends up leaving with her, and Sofia walks toward home, heartbroken. A handsome young man stops by her and asks for directions, which she gave. He charmed her, and saying he wanted to thank her for the help, took her to dinner. At this point she felt flattered, that at least this guy wanted her, so she agreed to get in the car with him for a lift home. Only instead of taking her home, he took her to a park and raped her. Dropped her off in the street where he found her.
Killian finds out what happened when he got home from the girls house, no longer a virgin, and excited to tell his brothers. Instead, he comes home to his mother in tears, and his siblings in shock, just finding out that Sofia had been raped on her way home from school. It destroys him. He could have stopped it if he only kept his work to Mateo. So, when he has the chance to reconnect with Sofia a few years later, he takes it. He figures he can redeem himself by watching out for her. So when Sofia finds out about this, its no surprise she is devastated. Showing the kind of character she is, she isn't even mad at him about what he did at 16. Can't change the past, after all. She is understandably devastated about Killian's intentions with her. She feels their whole relationship was a lie. While she was falling in love with him, he was just with her because of his guilt. Of course, it may have started out that way, but Killian fell just as hard for her. They do get their happily ever after, but that pain is still there, and guilt. We only find out Killian's side of the story, finding out about the rape, when he is thinking about it two years later, Sofia napping with him in the hammock, her pregnant with his child.
Goes to show that no matter how happy these people are now, they still have scars.
By the end of the series, we learn Mateo and Evie are still thriving: Mateo's mechanic business is booming, and Evie is pregnant with their second child. Brody and Lety are still head over heels with each other, and spend the summer in London together before finishing their senior years of college, before moving back to London permanently. Their mother is more involved in her church since Carlos is in prison. And another family we become really attached to in this book is The O'Brian's, Killian's family. I loved every part they were in, and I am not surprised there is a spin-off series for each O'Brian member. It's on my to-read list for sure!
In the end, Once Pure was a great book. It has dark content in it. Rape and abuse is not an easy subject manner, but Cecy Robson does a great job weaving it in the story, and making a romance more believable. I wasn't sure I was going to like this series, but I ended up loving it, and I am happy I took a chance on it.
1. This isn't a specific moment, but a bunch of little moments. I love how gentle Killian is with Sofia, and how patient he is with her.
2. Sofia calling her sister for advice.
3. The first time they make love.
4. (bonus) The O'Brien's ... they are so much fun together.
5. (bonus) The memory of them meeting for the first time was so sweet.
Where to Buy:
Killian: "Like what you see?"
Sofia: "I ... I was just admiring your sweat."
Killian: "My sweat?"
Sofia: "Totally. You must have had quite the workout, huh, asskicker?"
Wren: "Hey. You see me talkin' here?"
The kids nodded.
Wren: "You see me teaching a class?"
He nodded again.
Wren: "Then what the hell are you doing?"
Kid: "I got ADHD."
Wren: "No one here gives a shit, kid. Who does this kid belong to?"
Gloria: "Sorry, Wren. My ma couldn't take him so I had to bring him to class. Sauron, get your ass over here."
Wren: "Sauron? You seriously named your kid Sauron, Gloria? Do you wonder why he's fucked up?"
Wren: "Okay, ladies, twenty kicks - ten each leg - let's go. Sauron, you grab a bag, too."
Wren: "Yeah. With a name like you got you're gonna get your ass kicked. Might as well learn to defend yourself. Let's go, ladies, come on!"
Man: "Damn, you loud, Wren. Maybe you need some of this to keep it shut."
He jerked at the front of his shorts.
Wren: "No. I'm too full from having some of your father's. By the way, he apologizes for giving you such a small dick."
Wren: "Frodo. Get back in line!"
Gloria: "His name's Sauron."
Wren: "Sorry, Gloria. Got him confused with the guy with the hairy feet, seeing how your kid's got some hairy-ass feet. Harder - goddamn, Laquita. This ain't ballet. Kick like you want to bust open some balls and spill semen -"
Killian: "I'm two seconds from firing your ass! Watch your mouth!"
Wren: "You can't fire me. I'm a partner."
Killian: "Here we go. Paying the light bill the first month doesn't make you a partner. Besides, I gave you that money back."
Wren: "Then make me a partner."
Killian: "Fine. How much you puttin' down?"
Wren: "Put me down for five/"
Killian: "Five grand?"
Wren: "No, five hundred. I ain't made of money, Kill - Christ, Renee. Hands up - up! Reach up like you're squeezin' the Jolly Green Giant's man parts. That work better for you, Kill?"
Killian continues to glare at her.
Sofia: "Leave her alone. The women love her, and if she leaves, you're stuck teaching the class on your own."
Killian: "By the way, thanks for ratting me out to Father Flanagan. He appreciated the donation to the church."
Sofia: "You can thank me again when you're allowed into heaven."
Sofia: "Killian, you know how you said you've been waiting a long time for me to touch you?"
Sofia: "Just so you know, I've been waiting longer for you to kiss me."
Wren: "Sofe. Get mad at the bag. Pretend it called your mother a whore, your sister a bitch, and that hot brother of yours an asshat with tiny testes."
Sofia: "So you and Brody have never..."
Lety: "I can honestly say I've never tied Brody up-"
Brody: "You can if you want! I'll take one for the team."
Brody: "Fine. You can go first."
Killian: "This isn't important."
Sofia: "Of course it is! You're running a business. Social media is a part of it. You said, and I quote, 'I don't have time for this shit, Sofia- you handle it.' So I did."
Finn: "You said 'shit.'"
Killian: "Sofia, I don't want to twitter."
Killian: "Whatever. It's not something I do"
Mateo: "You staying with her tonight?"
Evie: "Teo, Sofia can stay wherever she wants."
Mateo: "I'm just sayin' Ma's old ..."
Mateo: "If she breaks a hip and no one's there to save her-"
Evie: "Jesus, Mateo. Your mother's barely fifty."
Mateo: "Doesn't mean she can't break a hip."
Killian: "True. Maybe she should move in with you so you can keep a closer eye on her, Teo. That's what any good son would do."
Killian: "If she's as smart as you, she'll be fine. Though I doubt she's as beautiful."
Killian kisses Sofia's cheek. Mateo rolls his eyes.
Mateo: For Christ's sake, Kill, she's my baby sister."
Killian: "What are you working on now?"
Sofia: "Just some things with that rep we met with."
Killian: "The asshole from the promo company?"
Sofia: "No. I meant the guy from the investment company. Billy, the guy from the promo company, wasn't an asshole. He was very nice."
Killian: "Billy told you that you had a sexy smile and asked you out right in from of me. That makes Billy an asshole."
Random girl: "Fuck me, Killian!"
Wren: "Shut up, whore!"
Sophia: "Thank you."
Wren: "Anytime, Sofe. Bitch needs to go to church and get some fucking morals."
Sofia: "Why did you come back?"
Sophia: "To Sol's party. You left when I wouldn't talk to you. I thought for sure I'd never see you again. What made you come back?"
Killian: "Do you remember Kevin Francisco?"
Killian: "Do you remember seeing him at the party?"
Sofia: "I remember his sister, but not him."
Killian: "Well, he was there, too. He called me and told me your father had shown, and that you were in trouble."
Sofia: "You came back for ... me?"
Killian: "I was twenty then - a man - with two years of professional MMA experience. I wasn't that scrawny kid who was afraid of your father anymore."
Sofia: "You came back for me."
Killian: "You were my girl, Sofia. Even then. No way in hell was I going to let him hurt you."
Killian: "So let me get this straight, I've got savings, profit, and my bills are paid."
Sofia: "Yup. All done."
Killian: "Baby, I don't think you've ever been hotter."
Her 'little Killian.' Oh, Jesus. Oh, Mary and Joseph, too. I'd defiled her favorite son! - Sofia
Killian: "Hi, Mama."
Mrs. O'Brien: "Killian, me boy. What is the lovely Sofia doing there at night?"
Killian: "My accounting."
Sofia's shoulders sagged in relief.
Mrs. O'Brien: "Just your accounting, my darlin'?"
Killian: "No. She's living with me, too."
Mrs. O'Brien: "Living with you?""
Sofia clutches the sheet against her breasts, widening Killian's grin
Killian: "Don't worry, Mama. We're using the rhythm method, since it worked so well for you and Papa."
Sofia starts beating him with a pillow and he leaps off the bed.
Mrs. O'Brien: "Now, Killian. Don't you be spoilin' the lovely Sofia."
Killian's eyes shimmered as her tried speaking through his laughter.
Killian: "I'm trying not to, Mama, but the way she lures me to bed makes it hard."
Sofia falls backs into bed, covering her face with the pillow.
Mrs. O'Brien: "Don't be blaming little Sofia. You're the one doin' all the lurin', I'm sure of it."
Sofia peeks around the pillow.
Killian: "See? She doesn't care that we're having sex."
Sofia: "Did you ever live with anyone before?"
Killian: "No. That shit's a sin."
Sofia: "So is premarital sex. But since you're a good Catholic boy, you probably knew that."
Killian: "I am a good Catholic boy. The thing is, I also know when something's right. You here with me, it's all good, you know?"
Angus: "I didn't make him buy everything!"
Molly: "Killian! Is Angus lying?"
Killian: "No, Mol. It's the God-honest truth - he made Sofia do it."
Angus: "you're such an asshole, Kill. Sofia, how the hell does a sweet girl like you put up with such an asshole."
Angus: "I didn't steal from the offering plate!"
Seamus: "You're such a goddamn liar - I saw you, so did Finn. Finn, remember when he shoved the change into his pockets?"
Angus: "I wasn't stealing - that shit's a sin!"
Declan: "Then what the hell were you doing? Breaking a single?"
Declan almost spits out beer seeing Angus's reddening face.
Declan: "Holy shit, Angus. You were, weren't you? Damn, your ass is so going to hell."
Curran: "Along with everything else, you fat bastard. Psst, Sofia, put in a good word with the Big Guy upstairs, will ya? With your help, maybe Angus will only serve two, maybe three decades tops in Purgatory."
Finn: "Yeah, Sofia. Your saintly self is the only one who can save him. Help a brother out."
Molly: "Angus! For heaven's sake, will you flip the damn burgers - people are starvin' here!"
Angus: "Don't worry about me, Sofia. Hell can't be worse than this shit."
Angus: "Son of a leprechaun's ass."
Declan: "Can you imagine crawling into bed with that night after night?"
Molly: "Are you almost done? I need help in the kitchen, god damn you."
Angus: "Kill me, God. Please. Just. Kill. Me."
Killian: "I'll always want you. I wish I could explain what you mean to me, and how much I need you. I just don't know ho. All I know is that my life means nothing without you with me."
Sofia: "I'm sorry. For yelling at you and everything ... why are you smiling?"
Killian: "You were jealous."
Sofia: "Well, yes. I thought you had, you know, done stuff with her."
Sofia: "Your sister went into detail. And Finn, yeah, he kind of added to the conversation."
Killian: "When the hell are you going to figure out that Wren and Finn are full of shit? You were seriously pissed at me."
Sofia: ;What do you expect? Wren told me that you fucked the Black Cobra and that she went down on you in her car - her car, Killian!"
Killian: "Would you prefer it was in mine?"
He bursts out laughing when Sofia glared at him.
Sofia: "Okay, let me ask you this. What if some guy had gone down on me, and you met him in the Octagon-"
Killian stopped laughing.
Killian: "I'd rip him apart."
Sofia: "Yeah, well, that's kind of what I was thinking when I heard about you and Black Cobra."
Killian stops at a red light and pulls Sofia to him and kisses her hard.
Killian: "There is no one else for me but you. You get me? No one."
Sofia: "Just talk?"
His head jerked to me. I wasn't sure what he caught in my expression or posture, but he knew I was aroused and how badly I wanted him.
Killian: "Oh fuck."
Sofia: "I really want to pull down your shorts ... and put my mouth on your -"
Killian: "Sofia. I'm two seconds away from losing control of my truck. Unless you want me to crash into the nearest building, don't talk about what you want to do to me."
Sofia: "Sorry -"
Killian: "And I won't talk about how bad I want to come inside you."
Curran: "Finn! Why didn't you tell me Kill got down on his knee for Sofia?"
Finn: "I don't ask what they do during sex. That's none of my business and none of yours either, asshole!"
Sofia: "You promised Mateo you'd watch over me?
Sofia: "All this time ... all these years, you've kept this from me. How could you not tell m? What has all this been, Killian - guilt? Is that it? You couldn't keep me safe then - so you owe it to yourself to keep me safe now?"
Killian: "That wasn't supposed to happen to you. I wasn't supposed to let anything happen to you. Had I been a real man and kept my word I could have spared you from everything."
Sofia: "Tell me I'm not here to appease your guilt. Tell me I mean more to you than that. Tell me I'm something more than a chance at redemption!"
Killian: "I live in shame because of what happened to you. Not a fucking day has gone by that I haven't felt regret. I'd give my life - I'd give my soul - to go back and change what happened that day."
Sofia: "You pity me, don't you?"
Everything quieted. In the silence that stretched between us, Killian answered by not answering. I stumbled forward, toward the end table where I'd left my purse and where we kept our keys. My purse slapped against my thigh as I lifted it by the strap. My keys; those I clenched tight within my grip. Killian's grasp on my elbow snapped me out of my numbness. I wrenched away from him, my voice cracking. Sobbing:
Sofia: "You were supposed to be different. I was supposed to mean more to you than this!"
He was supposed to be different, I repeated in my head. He was my Killian after all. Instead, he pitied me. Despite my growth, my accomplishments, my newfound strength, I remained "Poor Sofia" to the one person I had hoped to be more for. - Sofia
Killian: "You were always brave, Sofia, and you were always strong. The only thing I did was show you what was already there."
Killian: Sofia. I'd spent years living with regret and wondering how I could fix things. I saw our time together as an opportunity to do right by you ... but then we became something more."
Sofia: "But it wasn't for the right reason, Killian."
Killian: "No. Not at first. When you called me out that day you left, I was scared you were right - that what I felt was for all the wrong reasons. Been scared and miserable this whole damn time. But then something happened last night, and it changed everything - how I saw you - and showed me what you really mean to me. Teo told us Evie's pregnant. And all I could think about was what you'd look like pregnant with my kid."
Time stood still. I couldn't breathe. And when I did, I started to cry.
Killian: "I want to marry you, Sofia. I want to make babies with you, and grow old with you. I love you. God, I am so in love with you."
Sofia: "But how do I know that what you feel comes from something pure and not from the guilt you still carry?"
Killian: "Because I've loved you since the first time I saw your smile and you asked me to be your friend."
Check out the rest of the Shattered Past Trilogy