The third book in the Caged series, Released picks up precisely where Trapped left off, with Liam spiralling down into complete self-destruction now that Tria has left him. And it's got me thinking…
Liam is not your typical romance bad boy hero. He's not just a collection of rough edges waiting to be smoothed by the right woman. He's pretty severely damaged emotionally, and it shows in his reactive personality and lack of real attachment to anyone but Tria. He didn't mean for her to leave, and his reasons for running out in a panic make sense, even if they're not an excuse for the way that action comes across. But now that she's gone, he's beyond lost, and for a dangerous while, he lets the rest of his world fall apart. For someone like Liam, rock bottom has a whole new meaning.
We watch Liam fall apart, lose his job, wander the streets, and ask for help. But finding Tria doesn't fix everything, and she's still not sure she can trust him to stay around and stay off drugs. Still, he puts her and the baby first, and in a rather fortunate turn of events, they finally begin to reconcile.
Released is a story of closure, a series of falls that lead to Liam finally facing his past, his problems, and his shortcomings with Tria and becoming a better man for it. He can't erase the past, but he finally confronts it, allowing himself to see how his family wasn't alone in making poor choices, and eventually dealing with the grief and trauma he's been bottling up and only unleashing in cage fights for so long. Fortunately, though, he doesn't lose that edginess that makes him such an interesting character to begin with. He's still crass and crude, still prone to anger and overreaction, but he's also cognizant of the consequences of flying off the handle and avoiding responsibility. Liam's journey from drifting to settling down is one hell of a read.