Read my reviews of the previous books in the Necessary Evils series:

Unhinged (#1) | Psycho (#2) | Moonstruck (#3) | Damaged (#3.5) | Headcase (#4) | Mad Man (#5) | Lunatic (#6)

The final book in this epic and addictive series delivers on multiple unspoken promises: a sprawling cast of characters featuring all of our favorites from previous books, an explanation for the mystery of Thomas’s origin story, and of course, the full story of Thomas and Aiden. So much about that last bit has been teased from the very beginning that there is a risk of the final reveal not holding up. I promise that is not the case, and I was invested in this book from the very first page.

Before we get to the heart of this story, which involves Thomas’ mysterious past, we get Aiden’s completely unexpected origin story. Previously, the prologues that covered Thomas’s first meeting with each of his sons as children were fairly heart-wrenching as we learn about their particular traumatic early childhoods. Aiden’s story is just as dark, but in a significantly different manner, since he comes to Thomas almost as a legal adult. His circumstances answer a lot of questions, but also make Thomas’s reasons for adopting Aiden fairly convoluted despite coming from a place of good intentions.

Though Aiden and Thomas now carry the baggage of 20 years of history, the present-day mystery very much centers on Thomas and also does a lot to fully explain the “why” behind original experiment that leads to his first six adoptions. One element of this series that I have particularly enjoyed is the nontraditional romance arcs of each psychopathic Mulvaney brother picking their person and following the various relationship styles that emerge from that point. James flips this concept neatly by showing the more dangerous alternative to a psychopath picking their person via the damage and guilt Thomas has carried for decades.

As we delve into that history and pain, we simultaneously experience the poignant tipping point that occurs between Thomas and Aiden. This isn’t a second-chance romance, but instead the exceedingly drawn-out journey toward a first chance (alternatively, the ultimate “idiots in love”). James slams us with 20 years of heartache between both men and makes us feel every bit of that pain but never slips into melodrama. This is a thematic contrast to the instantaneous connections featured previously in this series, but James delivers on heat that is equally explosive and emotional.

Meanwhile, the full Mulvaney crew is on hand to deal with this threat to their father. James does an excellent job wrangling a sprawling cast that includes not just the siblings and spouses but also Jericho’s crew and a long-awaited in-person reveal.* (As much as I adore the psychopaths and feelings faction characters, Calliope is the true hero of this series.) The emotional arc of this book very much centers on the two main characters, but each contribution of dialogue or action by the secondaries reminded me of how much I love this dynamic family made up of unique individuals despite originating from the same premise.

This is not the book to start with in this series, but it is a more than satisfying finale to the wild ride initiated in Unhinged. Fans of these books shouldn’t hesitate to pick up this one, despite the necessary alternations to certain thematic elements dictated by Aiden’s character and his history with Thomas. I can’t wait for more readers to also take a chance on this fantastic collection of nontraditional romances now that the series is complete. Meanwhile, I’m already anxiously awaiting the tales in both spin-off series.

*Yes, we meet her via Thomas in Damaged, but her introduction to the full cast here was an absolute delight.

Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars
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