Review: Found in You (Fixed #2) by Laurelin Paige

Found in YouTitle: Found in You
Author: Laurelin Paige
Series: Fixed #2
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Alayna Withers has only had one kind of relationship: the kind that makes her obsessive and stalker-crazy. Now that Hudson Pierce has let her into his heart, she’s determined to break down the remaining walls between them so they can build a foundation that’s based on more than just amazing sex. Except Hudson’s not the only one with secrets.

With their pasts pulling them into a web of unfounded mistrust, Alayna turns to the one person who knows Hudson the best—Celia, the woman he almost married. Hoping for insight from someone who understands all sides of the story, Alayna forms a bond with Celia that goes too far—revealing things about Hudson that could end their love for good.

This is the first relationship where Alayna hasn’t spiraled out of control. And she might lose Hudson anyway…

My Review:
Actual rating 4.5 stars.

Man, oh man does Hudson have a fucked-up family. They were very entertaining to read about though. LOL. I loved Mira and Jack and despised Sophia. She’s such a nasty piece of work.

Hudson and Laynie are together, but there are still so many secrets and lies threatening to tear them apart. Neither of them has any experience with relationships so they are both feeling their way as they go. It was downright painful at times, and there were plenty of gut-wrenching moments. He thinks he isn’t romantic, but he really was – actions speak louder than words.

Alayna needed a swift slap to the head in this book. It was so obvious that Celia was playing games, and Laynie was so stupid to trust her. And yes, I was screaming at my Kindle. It’s pretty ironic that Celia played Laynie so well given her stalker past.

This book was well written, fast-paced, full of drama and intrigue, with tons of the steamy stuff, and plenty of angst-filled love.

I lapped it up.

Excellent author. Excellent series.

Cover Reveal: She Laughs in Pink by Jessica Calla

Today is the cover reveal for She Laughs in Pink by Jessica Calla. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.

She Laughs in PinkShe Laughs in Pink (Sheridan Hall #1)
by Jessica Calla
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: May 2016
Publisher: BookFish Books

Blurb:
Four years after her twin is murdered, Juliet Anderson still struggles with guilt, her parents, and her relationships. Two things keep her from falling into a deep, dark place—dancing and her best friend, Ben. So when Ben decides to play football for New Jersey University, Juliet doesn’t hesitate. She follows. Finally away from her past, there is nothing to stand in the way. Juliet will win Ben’s heart.

Then she meets Ben’s roommate, Chase.

On probation and hell-bent on adhering to a “new life plan,” aspiring artist Chase leaves his New York City home for New Jersey University and meets Juliet before even stepping foot on campus. For him, their connection is instant. She’s the most vibrant girl he’s ever seen. Her colors explode on his canvas, and he’s never been more inspired in his life.

Too bad she’s madly in love with his seemingly perfect, good guy roommate.

You can find She Laughs in Pink on Goodreads

Jessica CallaAbout the Author:
Jessica Calla is a lawyer by day and a romance writer by night. Her favorite time is “bedtime,” when she’s free to open her laptop, battle with her blinking cursor, and pour out the contents of her heart. Jessica is a member of Romance Writers of America and is involved in the Contemporary, Young Adult, and New Jersey Chapters. She is also a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She lives in central New Jersey with her husband, two sons, and a dog. Besides reading and writing, she enjoys movies, coffee, and chocolate. She considers herself addicted to Diet Coke and Netflix (in a good way).

You can find and contact Jessica here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon

There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of She Laughs in Pink. One winner will win a 25$ amazon gift card.

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


banner Lola's Blog Tours

Review: Free Me (The Found Duet #1) by Laurelin Paige

Free MeTitle: Free Me
Author: Laurelin Paige
Series: The Found Duet #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Her story started long before she started working at The Sky Launch…

Screw fairytales. The only reward Gwen Anders got from her rough childhood was a thick skin and hard heart. She’s content with her daily grind managing a top NYC nightclub—Eighty-Eighth Floor. So hers isn’t a happily ever after. She doesn’t believe in those anyway.

Then she meets J.C.

The rich, smooth talking playboy is the sexiest thing that Gwen has ever encountered, but she’s not interested in a night-in-shining latex. But when a family tragedy pushes her to the brink, it’s J.C. who’s there to teach her a new method of survival, one based on following primal urges and desires. His no-strings-attached lessons require her to abandon her constant need for control. Her carefully built walls are obliterated.

Gwen discovers there’s a beautiful world outside her prison. Freedom is exhilarating—and terrifying. When she starts to feel something for J.C., she fears for her heart. Especially as she realizes that he has secrets of his own. Secrets that don’t want to set him free.

This series can be read alone or with the Fixed Trilogy.

My Review:
This was an amazing read and I loved it from the first page until the last.

Gwen has had a fairly traumatic family life and it’s shaped the course of her life to date. She is a workaholic and devoted sibling, but apart from that her life is pretty empty.

JC has had his fair share of heartache too, and he has barely been surviving these last few years.

Their lives crash together one night in the club where Gwen works. JC recognises a lot of himself in her and sets out to help her relax. Gwen, of course, wants nothing to do with him. Everything changes when circumstances conspire to pull them together. They embark on a steamy sex affair that set my Kindle on fire!

Both of them are complete control freaks who together learn to let go. JC has no intention of falling in love or getting attached to Gwen, but you know what they say about best laid plans.

Despite the fact that he’s fallen in love with her, he continues to push her away. When we find out the reason why, my heart bled for him.

The twist at the end was completely unexpected and I immediately downloaded the second book as I couldn’t wait to continue the story.

Absolutely everything about this book was top-notch. The writing, the spot-on pacing, great mix of sex, romance, and mystery, fantastic character development and strong worldbuilding. This is my first Laurelin Paige book, though I read Miss Match earlier on in the year (co-written by Laurelin) and I was pretty sure I’d like Free Me. I wasn’t wrong. It was a phenomenal read and I’m hooked on this series now.

Thanks to the author and Inkslinger PR for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Cover Reveal: Reprise (Ruby Riot #3) by Lisa Swallow

Reprise_cover reveal
Today is the cover reveal for Reprise (Ruby Riot #3) by Lisa Swallow!

Cover designed by Najla Qamber Designs
Photography: K Keeton Designs
Models: Faith Danielle and Sager Dolson

RepriseTitle: Reprise
Author: Lisa Swallow
Series: Ruby Riot #3
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 29th 2016
Links:

Blurb:
Drummer Nate Campbell is a ‘Ruby Riot twin’ – and that’s all he wants anybody to know. The only person allowed close is his brother, Will, and even that’s not working out these days. For Nate, girls are a dispensable distraction and the rock star life suits his needs. Nobody will expect him to hand his heart over if he pretends he doesn’t have a one.

Falling for Nate Campbell was the second biggest mistake of Riley Sawyer’s life. Working as a junior PR girl on the Blue Phoenix European and Ruby Riot tour, she earned a reputation as unapproachable and unable to switch off from work. With a side to her life Riley keeps hidden, she was happy to maintain her distance. But after an encounter with Nate, and several difficult weeks, Riley left the circuit and vowed never to tour with bands again.

Two years later Riley achieves her ambition and is a PR manager and Ruby Riot are headlining stadiums. She meets Nate again for the first time in two years and nothing has changed. The animosity stands and so does the attraction. Neither sees this as a problem because they can avoid each other for the two days until Riley leaves.

What they don’t count on is that Nate’s bloody-mindedness and an unfortunate set of circumstances leads to the pair snowed-in at a pub on the Yorkshire Moors for several days. Forced to spend time together, Riley and Nate are pushed into discussing what happened on tour and find themselves in a situation neither of them expected.

When the snow retreats and they return to London, Nate discovers Riley has her own secret and it’s one deeply connected to his past. Nate backs away, unsure if he can continue a relationship with the girl who’s more like himself than he realised.

Nate won’t have long to decide because Riley isn’t prepared to let a damaged commitmentphobe into her life. And she has zero interest in fixing a man who refuses to fix himself.

Reprise is the third standalone book in the Ruby Riot series.

Previous Books in the series:
Ruby Riot facebook banner
“An egotistical front man, trouble-making twins and a girl you don’t want to mess with.”

Cadence (Ruby Riot #1)
Links:

Shuffle (Ruby Riot #2)
Links:

About the Author:
Lisa is an Amazon bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. She is originally from the UK and moved to Australia in 2001. She now lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, three children, and Weimaraner, Tilly, who often makes appearances on Lisa’s social media.
Lisa’s first publication was a moving poem about the rain, followed by a suspenseful story about shoes. Following these successes at nine years old there was a long gap in her writing career, until she published her first book in 2013.
In the past, Lisa worked as an English teacher in France, as an advertising copywriter in England, and ran her own business in Australia. Now she spends her days with imaginary rock stars.
She lived in Europe as a child and also travelled when she left university. This has given Lisa stories which would sound far-fetched if she wrote them down, and maybe one day she will. These days, Lisa is happy in her writing cave, under Tilly’s supervision.

Links:

InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New

Review: Fixed on You (Fixed #1) by Laurelin Paige

Fixed on YouTitle: Fixed on You
Author: Laurelin Paige
Series: Fixed #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Stalking and restraining orders are a thing of Alayna Wither’s past. With her MBA newly in hand, she has her future figured out — move up at the nightclub she works at and stay away from any guy who might trigger her obsessive love disorder. A perfect plan.

But what Alayna didn’t figure on is Hudson Pierce, the new owner of the nightclub. He’s smart, rich, and gorgeous — the kind of guy Alayna knows to stay away from if she wants to keep her past tendencies in check. Except, Hudson’s fixed his sights on her. He wants her in his bed and makes no secret of it.

Avoiding him isn’t an option after he offers a business proposition she can’t turn down and she’s drawn further into his universe, unable to resist his gravitational pull. When she learns Hudson has a dark history of his own, she realizes too late that she’s fallen for the worst man she could possibly get involved with. Or maybe their less than ideal pasts give them an opportunity to heal each other and finally find the love their lives have been missing.

My Review:
It requires enormous skill to create such complex dysfunctional characters and not only make them likeable but have the reader rooting for them too. That is what Laurelin Paige has achieved in this book. It would be so easy to hate Alayna and Hudson because they have both done such horrible things in the past. Their actions have hurt others and caused huge conflict within their families.

Hudson is a conundrum of a character – on the outside he appears as a cool, collected, savvy businessman but it’s all a veneer. Internally, he is all cut up. He tells Laynie that he isn’t capable of love, but really, it’s that he feels unworthy of love.

She is actually the same – she tells him she loves too much (she has an obsessive personality and a stalker reputation/past) but that’s not true. She is pretty much running scared. So, they are more alike than they realise.

I raced through this book as if a gun-toting maniac was holding a weapon to my head. It sucked me right in and I struggled to put it down. The writing is superb, the plot is dark and compelling, the characters are multi-layered and about as complex as you can get, and the pacing is bang-on.

This is an excellent series by a hugely talented author and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

Review: Someone to Love (Someone to Love #1) by Addison Moore

Someone to LoveTitle: Someone to Love
Author: Addison Moore
Series: Someone to Love #1
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
If you don’t give your heart away, you can’t get it broken.

When twenty-year-old Kendall Jordan transfers across the country to Garrison University, the last thing she’s looking for is a one-night stand. Unfortunately that’s exactly what gorgeous Cruise Elton offers. Kendall has long since come to realize that love is an illusion, and Cruise couldn’t agree more, but something deep inside her wants him all for herself. So Kendall devises a plan to ‘play the player’ and proposes that Cruise tutor her in becoming a female version of himself, Garrison University’s own playboy. But as real feelings emerge, the game gets complicated, and Kendall and Cruise will find themselves questioning everything they thought they knew about love.

A New York Times and USA Today Bestseller

New Adult – Contemporary Romance *Intended for mature audiences 17+* Sexual situations

My Review:
Addison Moore is one of my favorite authors, and I love her Beautiful Oblivion series, and I’ve also enjoyed her 3AM Kisses series. So, it pains me to have to rate one of her books a 3 star, but this one just didn’t hit the mark for me.

I can’t say I didn’t enjoy reading it – because I did – but there were issues with the plot and the writing that impacted my enjoyment.

Kendall has just moved from California to Massachusetts, and she’s attending a new college. Her mom’s oldest friend (Aunt Jackie) has a son, Pennington, at the same college, and he’s supposed to be looking out for her. When she meets him, it’s clear he is going to be of no help to her. Penn is a stoner who has done nothing to sort out her accomodation as he promised, so she finds herself homeless on her first night in a new state.

Cruise Elton makes a beeline for Kendall the minute he spots her. A notorious player, she pegs him for what he is instantly, and kicks him to the curb. Only to go home with him a few minutes later given that she’s homeless. As you do. Shack up with a total stranger, who ten minutes ago you were deflecting because you knew he was only after sex.

I could forgive that though, as the first half of the book was sweet and funny to read. But after that there were so many plot holes that I became frustrated with Kendall (Kenny) and the author. Blair is the villian of the piece. She is Cruise’s nasty ex-fiancee out to cause trouble. Kenny is presented as a smart sassy girl but she seems to lose all her brain cells when it comes to Blair and I wanted to reach into my Kindle and bang her head against the wall. Not only that, her supposed friends Lauren and Ally, see her acting friendly towards Blair on at least two occasions, and neither of them think to warn her about the bitch? Not believable.

Cruise is aware that Blair is back in town and trying to worm her way back into his affections, but even he doesn’t warn Kenny. Then there was an issue with Cal, Cruise’s best friend. Lauren is afraid her boyfriend (Cal) is cheating so she engages naive Kenny to flirt with her man’s BF to try to lure him into cheating. None of them talk to the other about it, and Ally doesn’t tell her that Cruise showed up in the cafe with flowers for her and saw her flirting up a storm with Cal? Come on? Seriously? There were just far too many plot holes for me to overlook and I became very frustrated by the end of the book.

Which is a shame, because it still has a lot going for it. Cruise is much more than what we are led to believe, and I loved his character, and how it developed gradually. If Kendall had been written consistently I would have been more enamoured with her. But she was smart once minute and dumb as a box of nails the next.

There’s plenty of hot steamy sex in this one, balanced with sweet romance. I liked that, and how patient Cruise was in waiting for Kenny to be ready.

Now I need to address the writing. Addison is an amazing writer and I’ve loved all her other books, but it’s like she was trying a different style in this book, and I don’t think she pulled it off. Parts of it were beautifully written, almost poetic, but other parts were trying too hard, and it was jarring to read, and it pulled me out of the story. It was overly descriptive at times and I found myself skimming those sections.

I’m going to read the next book to see if I like it any better, but if there are the same issues then I won’t be continuing this series. I have the first couple of books in her Celestra series on my Kindle and I’m dying to read those.

All in all, this is a decent enough read, but not up to Addison’s ususal superb standard. If you can overcome some glaring plotholes and suspend belief then you will enjoy Someone to Love.

Cover Reveal: Dirty Little Rendezvous by Emma Hart

dirtylittlerendezvous banner
Today is the cover reveal for Dirty Little Rendezvous by Emma Hart.

Dirty Little RendezvousTitle: Dirty Little Rendezvous
Author: Emma Hart
Series: A Burke Brothers Spin-Off #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Sometimes the past becomes the present… And he’s hot, cocky, and British.

Leila Burke expected a lot of things when she joined her brothers on tour in Europe. He wasn’t one of them.

Jase Masters had no idea what to expect when he agreed to support Dirty B. on tour. She definitely wasn’t it.

It’s been eighteen months.

He remembers that night a little too well.

She insists she has no idea who he is.

He’s rugged and determined.

She’s wild and free.

Together, they’re a tornado.

Keeping it from touching down is the least of their worries.

DSC_9249About the Author:
By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies – usually wine – and writes books.
Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.
She likes to be busy – unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

Links:

InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New

Review: Sugar Kisses (3:AM Kisses #2) by Addison Moore

Sugar KissesTitle: Sugar Kisses
Author: Addison Moore
Series: 3:AM Kisses #2
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Sugar Kisses—nothing tastes sweeter than revenge…

Roxy Capwell couldn’t be more miserable. She just had her heart stomped on by her cheating boyfriend, and the last thing she’s looking for is love. She hates men.

Cole Brighton couldn’t be happier. He’s a player of the highest order, there’s not a girl at Whitney Briggs University that he can’t tag and bag. He loves the ladies.

Roxy’s dream is to own and operate her own bakery one day, but with no oven in her dorm, and a lucrative baking competition on the horizon, she agrees to move in with her best friend’s brother, the obnoxious, womanizing, Cole Brighton.

Between the heavenly scent of baked goods, and Roxy’s perfect body strutting around the apartment, Cole can’t think straight. So when Roxy’s ex starts sniffing around again, Cole volunteers to play the part of her new boy-toy and things get heated both in and out of the kitchen.

Roxy discovers she might not hate every man on the planet, and Cole discovers nothing tastes better than Roxy and her late night SUGAR KISSES.

Roxy is a ball of stress and anger.
Cole is all ego and sex.
Their attraction is unstoppable.
And when their bodies collide—its combustible.

My Review:
This is Roxy and Cole’s story and it was a great addition to the series. You’ve gotta love Roxy – she’s not just your typical fiesty girl, she is snarky and blunt as hell and I’d hate to get on the wrong side of her. But it’s all a front, a defense mechanism to protect her fragile heart.

Cole is the college bike and a bit of a joke to be honest. I didn’t like him at all in the first part of this book but as the story progressed, and I begun to understand what made him tick, he grew on me. Plus, he was very supportive of Roxy and that was super sweet.

There are tons of really funny LOL moments and some great comedic dialogue, and there’s plenty of the hot and steamy stuff too.

The writing was superb and really my only fault was how quickly Roxy did a 360 on her view of Cole. It literally flipped overnight which wasn’t believable. But, putting that aside, this was another great read from the fantastic 3AM Kisses series.

Blog Tour: One Day Soon by A. Meredith Walters

ODS-available now graphic 1
Today is my stop during the blog tour for One Day Soon by A. Meredith Walters. I’ll share my review of the book with you.

OneDaySoon AmazonTitle: One Day Soon
Author: A. Meredith Walters
Series: standalone
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
He found me in blood and tears.
I stayed with him through darkness and fire.
We loved each other in the moment between innocence and bitter truth.
We were the kids easily ignored, who grew into adults we hardly knew.
We weren’t meant to last forever. And we didn’t.
He ran away.
I tried to move on.
Yet I never stopped thinking about the boy who had fought to keep me alive in a world that would have swallowed me whole. He was the past that I buried, but never forgot.
Until the day I found him again, years after believing I had lost him forever.
And in cold, resentful eyes, I saw the heart of the man who had been everything when I had nothing at all. So I vowed to hold onto the second chance that was stolen from the children we had been.
Sometimes fate is ugly. Life can be twisted.
And who we are can be ruined by who we once were.
For two people who had survived so much, we would have to learn how to hold on before we were forced to let go.

<ODS teaser #4

My Review:
A. Meredith Walters has done it again – taken my heart and ripped it to shreds. Boy was this book emotional, in fact, this is the second book in a row that I’ve read that involved issues of child abuse and neglect. I definitely need to read something lighthearted next.

Imi and Yoss are kindred spirits and they have left an indelible mark on each other. Yoss never felt worthy of her, so he sacrificed his own happiness to give Imi the life she deserved. Fate intervenes, bringing them together again after a fifteen-year separation. This time, it’s Imi’s turn to save him.

This was a beautifully crafted story, even though it was filled with so much angst, despair, and heartache. But it was also a story of second chances, and the redemptive power of love.

I love this author’s writing style and this book was no exception. Words glided effortlessly across the pages of my Kindle.

The ending was quite rushed, and a little confusing, but overall this was another exceptional read from A. Meredith Walters.

Thanks to the publisher and Inkslinger PR for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

ODS available now graphic 3

Excerpt:
“Maybe I should tell you a story. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. You always liked when I made up dumb stuff to get you to smile.” I chuckled. “The more improbable the better, right? So let me think of something completely unrealistic.”

I sniffled, wiping my wet cheeks. I hadn’t realized I was crying.

“Once upon a time there was a sad, lonely boy who was actually a forgotten prince. No one knew that he was rich and powerful and had a family that was searching for him.” I smiled sadly, wishing, more than anything, that this particular story had been true.

“One day he met a girl who swore that she would help him get back home to the castle. They fell in love. The prince wanted her to come back to the castle with him so they could live there together. They fought dragons and defeated ogres. They ran from witches and swam through oceans. And finally they found the castle. The prince’s family welcomed him home and he married his princess. And they lived happily ever after.”

I rested my forehead on the back of his hand, hating how cold his skin was. “You always loved your fairytales,” I mused, wishing he had been able to find his.

The hand in mine stirred and I bolted upright. Yoss’s face was contorted in pain, his eyes fluttering.

I got to my feet and reached for the call button so I could alert the nurse that something was wrong.

Then he let out a breath and his eyes opened. They were clouded and confused as they darted around the room, taking everything in.

I was rooted to the spot, not moving. He frowned and then winced when he tried to sit up.

“Uh, you shouldn’t do that. Take it easy,” I instructed, my voice shaking.

Then the wild, green eyes found me. There was no immediate recognition and I felt the crushing weight of disappointment.

He doesn’t know who I am.

His eyes were cold. So cold. Dead. He groaned as he lifted his hand to his face, touching the bandaged skin.

“Let me call the nurse. Your doctor will want to see you now that you’re awake—”

“Where am I?” he asked, his voice rough and hard.

It was a voice I had heard a million times in my dreams.

A voice I never thought I’d hear again. Not in real life.

“You’re at Lupton Memorial Hospital. You were brought in last night.” I didn’t give him any more details. I wasn’t sure he was ready for all that. He had just gained consciousness after all.

“The hospital,” he repeated. He struggled to sit up and hissed in pain at the effort.

“Seriously, you should wait and let me call the nurse—”

His eyes flashed in my direction and the cloud of confusion lifted as he speared me with a look that I felt in my bones.

Recognition.

His eyes widened and his mouth parted in disbelief.

I wanted to say something—anything—but my tongue felt frozen behind my teeth.

Yoss shook his head and closed his eyes. He let out a noise that sounded a lot like a sob and my heart knew the sound of pain when it heard it.

When he opened his eyes again, they were wet. Long, dark lashes spikey with tears that refused to fall.

A hundred memories arched between us. A thousand words spoken softly in the dark.

A dozen promises never kept.

His lips curved upwards into the shadow of a smile that I remembered and loved so much.

“Imi,” he whispered.

I nodded, still otherwise paralyzed.

“Imi,” he said again, a tear traveled the length of his cheek and dripped off his chin.

“It’s me, Yoss,” I said finally, forcing myself to speak.

Our eyes met. They held.

They clung and they devastated.

Fifteen years had passed but none of that mattered.

In that instant we were kids again. Remembering a time when, to each other, we were everything.

ODS teaser #2

ameredithwaltersAbout the Author:
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary and Paranormal romance including The Find You in the Dark and Bad Rep series as well as the upcoming stand alone romance, Reclaiming the Sand, and a dark new adult series for Gallery Books.

A. Meredith spent ten years as a counselor for at risk teens and children. First working at a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault program and then later a program for children with severe emotional and mental health issues. Her former clients and their stories continue to influence every aspect of her writing.

When not writing (or being tortured with all manner of beauty products at the hand of her very imaginative and extremely girly daughter), she is eating chocolate, watching reality television that could rot your brain and reading a smutty novel or two.

A. Meredith is represented by Michelle Johnson with the Inklings Literary Agency.

Links:

InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New

Blog Tour: Out of Focus (Chosen Paths) by L.B. Simmons

OOF-fb-banner
Today is my stop during the blog tour for Out of Focus by L.B. Simmons. I’ll share my review of the book and an excerpt.

OOF FOR WEB - CopyTitle: Out of Focus
Author: L.B. Simmons
Series: Chosen Paths
Rating: 3.75 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
*** Upper New Adult Spinoff Standalone to the USA Today Bestselling Novel, Under the Influence***

“Shhhh, Cassandra, it’s our little secret.”
Secrets are stubborn things when they refuse to remain hidden. They tear through your soul, clawing and lashing until the pain becomes so unbearable, you’re left no choice but to silently scream your agony. No one hears you, of course. You smile on the outside and drift through life as though your mind is at peace, but all the while, you remain your own tortured prisoner. Sealed inside the darkened, soundproof room of your conscience, deafening cries echo as you plead for someone to unlock the door and release you from your nightmares. And eventually, when no one comes, you find ways to cope. To dull the suffering the only way you know how.
But what happens when you’ve become so numb, when everything around you has become so blurred, that you begin to lose focus on the saving grace standing directly in front of you? When you’ve anesthetized yourself to the point of losing consciousness, forced to watch as his once solid image fades away, lost to your reach in the haze as it smothers you?
What do you do then?
You fight. You heal. Then you bring him back.
Well, my name is Cassie Cooper, and it’s time.
No more secrets.
This is my story.

***WARNING – The subject matter of this novel centers around the psychological effects due to sexual abuse experienced during childhood. For this reason, as well as sexual situations, language, and adult themes, suggested reading age is 17+.***

oofteaser6

My Review:
Actual rating 3.75 stars.

It’s clear that L.B. Simmons is highly adept at writing emotionally-charged, character-driven stories that deal with complex issues which really tug at the heart strings. Out of Focus, like its predecessor Under the Influence explores the difficult subject of child abuse. Major kudos to the author for her willingness to tackle such heavy subject matter head on. She does this is in a very credible way. It’s dark, raw, painful, gritty, heartbreaking. For me, this book was extremely difficult to read at times because of how skillfully the author created and developed the story.

Cass was one of my favorite characters from Under the Influence. She was a total riot, and I was expecting more of the same here, but we saw a completely different side to her. It made sense. She was the party-girl, full of life, always the center of attention, provocative, loud and in your face. But that’s all a mask to hide the inner turmoil brewing to storm-like proportions inside her head.

This book explores that inner turmoil in great depth. It was so believable that I actually felt quite depressed reading it at times, and was tempted to put it down on more than one occasion. Anything that speaks to hurting children really impacts me as a mother and a human being, and this was no exception. It is testament to the considerable skill of the author that it had such a potent effect on me.

However, I did feel that it was far too repetitive in parts and overall the darkness overpowered the light. Although Cass did heal, and she came out the other end in a much better place with the prospect of a happy future, the hope generated by her path to self-discovery was overshadowed, for me, by the extreme despair of the journey. Under the Influence was more balanced, and I finished reading that believing in the redemptive power of love. Not so much here. I’ve been in a real funk all day. Perhaps, I just wasn’t in the mood for it or I still have a book hangover from the last book, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to.

Grady was an amazingly supportive man and Cass was so lucky to have him in her corner. However, we didn’t really get much of his backstory and I felt the book lacked somewhat, as a result. I wanted to know how long he had been shadowing her and how/what exactly it was that drew him to her in such a strong way.

Her parent’s treatment of her was horrendous. Again, that wasn’t delved into in any depth and I wanted to understand what would turn loving parents into the kind that would turn a blind eye for years and then refuse to accept what they had always known was right in front of their face. Cass had majorly hit the self-destruct button but they just looked down their noses at her. I wish this had been explored more. It would have made it a little more interesting.

If twenty percent of the repetitive inner monologue was cut, Grady’s character developed a bit more, and the plot line with the parents explored in more detail, I feel this book would be a better read for it. But that’s just my own personal view.

I adore L.B’s writing. Her prose is simply stunning, and I was highlighting like a crazy person at times. See some fav quotes below.

Reading back over this review it might appear that I didn’t like this book, which isn’t the case at all. I just found it heavy going. It is well-written in the main, and it handles a very sensitive subject in a realistic manner. Just be prepared going into it, and I think you will get more out of it that way.

Fav Quotes from the ARC I read:

“To me, there’s nothing more vindicating than the ability to find the strength necessary to turn the worst experience imaginable into something so beautiful, it eclipses all the ugliness. It helps to find reason, to find purpose, in something so senseless.”

“Courage can be such a fleeting emotion. One moment, you feel it rising in your blood, strengthening your resolve as it prepares you to face your greatest fears. The next, it recedes like the tide of the ocean, leaving you bereft, uncertain of its existence in the first place.”

Thanks to the author and Inkslinger PR for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

OOFteaser4

Excerpt:
Only twenty-three years old, and I’m so goddamn tired.
I used to be so much stronger. I somehow kept the voices at bay, the memories locked away safely, contained within the confines of my mind. But with each passing day, I feel the glow of my once-luminous strength fading. Darkness encases me now, bowing the walls of protection I put into place years ago. My past is an ever-present nightmare, repeatedly tapping, slowly fracturing the window of my sanity.
I have no doubt that it’s only a matter of time before the glass finally breaks. Blackness will eventually seep through its cracks and deliver me from the safety of my façade into a reality that will destroy me.
My reality.
I’ve done my part. I’ve kept the secrets thrust upon me with dedicated believability. My portrayal of who I am has become a blurred, hazy version of the once very distinct Cassie Cooper.
I read an ungodly amount of trashy romance novels.
I’m the overtly sexual and foul-mouthed friend who will say anything to get a laugh.
And I have exactly zero fucks to give to what anyone else thinks about my actions.
But the reality, the actuality, is this:
I read obsessively to escape my own world. To live the dreams of others when, for so long, the reoccurrence of my nightmares has been my reality. I read to fall in love and find a happily ever after, even if it is purely imagined. With each story I read, I’m able to live and love vicariously through the characters in my books. It’s the only plausible way for me to survive.
I threw away my virginity at the age of thirteen just to prove something. And when I found that proof, that vindication I was looking for, I sought it every chance I could. Sex is about control for me. Nothing more. The act will never be about making love, like it is for the heroines in my books. I will never be granted the beauty of that gift.
I use humor as a form of avoidance. I draw upon laughter to block the pain. And I smile to mask the agony of the eight-year-old soul who weeps within me.
And the fucks . . . well, that’s not entirely accurate either.
I have given two to be exact: One to my best friend of seventeen years. She knows nothing of my past, and although she so willingly disclosed the horrors of hers, mine remains hidden for no other reason than to avoid the pity she would undoubtedly cast my way if I were to ever tell her. I don’t want her pity. I would sooner die than have her look at me in any other way than with pride.
The other died with the person to whom it was given. Anthony “Rat” Marchione. He was my one allowance of naïveté. The one person I actually wanted to touch me, to hold me, to love me. He was going to rescue me from my brokenness as though I were a character in one of my books. Young and senseless, I thought he was to be my eventual happily ever after, but tragically, he was murdered five years ago.
Black coldness waits in vain to leech the void where his once beautiful existence filled the pieces of my irrevocably shattered heart. Where he temporarily healed the hurt of the innocent child and quieted the voices that tormented her.
He’s gone now. I’ve accepted that. And in turn, I have relinquished all dreams associated with finding the light at the end of this miserable tunnel.
I will keep trudging through this life . . . this sentence handed to me for someone else’s crime, my payment shackled by secrets and weighted with lies. I will continue to do so with the same fraudulent smile on my lips and play the part of the strong heroine so convincingly, that even I believe it.
It’s only a matter of time before my fictional strength wears out—when I’m no longer hidden safely inside my protective blur—and I have to face the very real and lucid image of my past.
But until that time comes, I’ll do all I can do.
All I have ever done.
I will pretend.

outoffocusannooucement

LB SimmonsAbout the Author:
.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and holds a degree in Biomedical Science. She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.

Links:

InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New