ARC Review – The Debt by Karina Halle

Book Review - The Debt

The Debt Cover

The Debt

Author: Karina Halle

Publication: August 29th, 2016

Publisher: Metal Blonde Books

Format: e-ARC, 264 pages

Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Read: August 2016

Karina HalleGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from a giveaway on the author’s Instagram in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

3.5 Stars

Her life changed in an instant.
And he’s the only one who could have prevented it.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Pact and The Lie comes a new standalone contemporary romance about those McGregor men.
Jessica Charles shouldn’t have even been in London when the unthinkable happened.
She should have been back at home in Edinburgh, perhaps hanging with her boyfriend, having drinks with her sister or doing yoga with her group of friends. She should have been going on in her normal, dependable life as always.
But on that fateful day in August, when a mentally-ill ex-soldier opened fire in public, Jessica’s world changed forever.
Now single and crippled from the gunshot wounds, Jessica finds herself scared and alone, losing faith in herself and humanity with each agonizing moment that passes.
That is until a stranger enters her life. A stranger who makes her live again.
Keir McGregor has always been the strong, silent type. Throw in tall, dark, and handsome and you’ve got pretty much the perfect Scotsman.
Except Keir is anything but perfect. He’s got a past he’s running away from and a guilty conscience he can’t seem to shed. But the more time he spends with Jessica, the more he falls in love with her.
And the more his secret threatens to tear them apart.
He may have been a stranger to her.
But she’s never been a stranger to him.


Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I always find it really hard to describe the plots of contemporary books but I’m giving it a go! This book is a story about growth. It’s intense and powerful. It’s about romance yes but also about a lot of different things. It’s about honestly, guilt, confidence, trust and forgiveness. It also deals with PTSD and its affects on different people and it was really well done.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
It took me awhile to get into the writing style, but I’m not really sure why still. It just didn’t feel emotional enough for me maybe. It was simple and a bit dry at times, but it had powerful moments. The descriptions and the details were amazing and it really made me fall in love with the setting of the story. But while there was angst and the PTSD aspect was well done, I still felt like there wasn’t enough distinction between the main character’s voices.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I liked the characters in this book but I didn’t fall in love with them. Jessica is a great main character. She’s been through something really traumatic, we even get to see it through her eyes, and she’s vulnerable and she puts a lot of pressure on herself. However, she’s determined to move on and to feel better even through the bouts of self pity and weakness. She’s doing everything in her power to keep going and push on but sometimes it seemed like she was trying too hard, even if I enjoyed her spirit. Keir on the other hand was really sweet and adorable. But he also frustrated me to the ends of the earth! He’s consumed by guilt and haunted by his past. He’s a huge freaking liar and he’s really insecure and it was so annoying. The conflict of the story surrounded his attitude and his actions and it’s something that could’ve been taken care of super easily and painlessly (in general) but then there would be no book right? I was really disappointed with how little development the side characters had. They only seem to appear when the main characters needed some sense knocked into them and it’s a real shame because they all had the potential to be great and interesting. I really wanted to get to know Jessica’s sister a lot more but she didn’t really have a lot of page time. And the other McGregor’s showed up as well and even though this book is supposed to be a standalone, their names and their relation to Keir weren’t really explained well which left me confused.


I didn’t know what to expect from this book when I started reading since I’d never read anything by this author before but I was pleasantly surprised.

The plot is simple. We follow Jessica, two months after being caught up and hurt in a terrorist attack as she tried to find and accept her new normal. She meets Keir who’s the only person who doesn’t treat her like the poster girl for survival and things take off from there. The plot of this story is pretty nonexistent, mostly because this is a romance and that’s the basis of this story. It was cute to read and slow building and I enjoyed it in general. The conflict on the other hand was really easy to spot, with a predictable climax and too quick of a resolve. It developed in a way where I knew how things were going to go and yet it took a long time for it to really blow up, almost at 80% of the novel which then led to it being resolved way too quickly. Time passes of course but the way it’s written makes it seem like it doesn’t so overall it just felt too easy after it had been built up for so long. My favorite part of this story is the way PTSD is portrayed. Sometimes books exaggerate the symptoms or aren’t taken seriously enough but not in this book. In this book, it’s taken seriously and it shows different examples of how it can manifest in different people. There are a few different characters who have PTSD in this book for various different reasons and the best part is that’s it’s therapy positive. I loved that it didn’t shy away from showing the symptoms and how tough it is to deal with and process. I really loved that.

Jessica was nice. I liked her determination and her self-awareness. She didn’t take her PTSD or her injuries lying down. Instead she made steps to get and feel better as soon as she could. However, she had a tendency to give herself pity parties which considering the circumstances are totally realistic and definitely shouldn’t have had to be stilted every time they happened. It’s absolutely okay to be really freaking pissed with a crazy soldier shots your leg apart. And it’s totally okay to feel sorry for yourself sometimes. I kind of wished I felt more for her or felt more from her but I think that was in part because of the writing style which didn’t really portray emotions in this book too strongly. Keir is frustrating as hell, sweet as chocolate and super understanding. And yet he was a big liar the entire time! It was super painful to know that he could just easily tell the truth and the whole conflict of the book could be moot. It was really predictable the way things played out but I have to say that I was really charmed by his personality and the way he worked to get Jessica back into his life.

Overall, this book was good. The plot was predictable considering the kind of conflict and that it revolved around the romance but it’s enjoyable. The main characters were interesting and complex and I loved how PTSD was portrayed and handled in each of the personal cases. I wish the side characters would’ve had more time to shine and more development. However, I am going to read the rest of the books in the (sort of) McGregors companion series.

So that’s it for this post! Let me know if you have read any books by Karina Halle or any of the books in this series. I enjoyed my time reading but I’m hoping that the other books are better. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

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5 thoughts on “ARC Review – The Debt by Karina Halle

  1. Great review, Sara! I feel like these romance novels are always the same… average girl with sad past meets hot man with dark, terrible past, or something. I’m interested in how the book explores PTSD though. And I actually like angst!! Heheheh. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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