GIVEAWAY ~ The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young ~ Review and Excerpt Tour ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young comes a story of friendship, identity, and acceptance that will break your heart—and make it whole again. Order your copy of THE IMPOSSIBLE VASTNESS OF US today!

“I know how to watch my back. I’m the only one that ever has.”

India Maxwell hasn’t just moved across the country—she’s plummeted to the bottom rung of the social ladder. It’s taken years to cover the mess of her home life with a veneer of popularity. Now she’s living in one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods with her mom’s fiancé and his daughter, Eloise. Thanks to her soon-to-be stepsister’s clique of friends, including Eloise’s gorgeous, arrogant boyfriend Finn, India feels like the one thing she hoped never to be seen as again: trash.

But India’s not alone in struggling to control the secrets of her past. Eloise and Finn, the school’s golden couple, aren’t all they seem to be. In fact, everyone’s life is infinitely more complex than it first appears. And as India grows closer to Finn and befriends Eloise, threatening the facades that hold them together, what’s left are truths that are brutal, beautiful, and big enough to change them forever…

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One of my very favorite things about YA is how current and culturally relevant they tend to be.  I love that YA authors aren’t afraid to deal with delicate topics in a way that feels real.  The Impossible Vastness of Us was a great example of that relevancy to important societal issues.

The Impossible Vastness of Us was a very fresh story to me.  I’ve never read anything quite like it and I am finding in difficult to properly describe the what the experience of reading it was.  I went into this book thinking it was going to be more sappy romance than substantial commentary on the ills of the world.  My take away was completely opposite of what I had assumed and I am very happy about that.  Samantha Young wrote a book about the struggles and rewards of discovering the parts of you that make you and individual, whether they’re something others understand and accept or not.  Above the romance and finding love, The Impossible Vastness of Us was a story of learning to love yourself in spite of the things you may not find lovable.

There were moments in the book that veered into the monotonous, parts that seemed more like filler than plot development, but they were overshadowed by all of the intense emotions and horrors of the past that the characters experienced.  The plot of The Impossible Vastness of Us was so unique, compared to other books I’ve read, that it was easy to overlook those moments that didn’t work for me in favor of the intrigue of the rest of the book.  At one point in the book India says she used to need books to have a happy ending, but she’d come to a place where she just wanted them to have the right ending, to which her mother states that the right ending is a happy ending. That interaction perfectly sums up how I feel about this book.

When I first met the characters in this book I wasn’t sure which, if any of them, I would like or even identify with.  By the halfway point, I was sure that a few of them were beyond redemption, even if they thought they were doing the only thing they could given their circumstances.  When I read the final line of The Impossible Vastness of Us, I realized how ridiculous my pre-conceived notions were and that even if the motivations of a person don’t make sense on the surface with time and explanation understanding was easy to come by.  I fell in love with almost every character in the book and there were pieces of each of them that were things I could see within myself.

Though I’ve had several of Samantha Young’s books sitting on my selves for years, this is the first book of hers that I’ve actually read.  I was quite impressed with her writing and storytelling abilities.  She wove a plot that was interesting and felt real, while still remaining relevant to the particular circumstances each of the major players were facing.  I also greatly enjoyed her characterizations and will definitely be adding more of her books to my short list.

“This is Jay,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest in defiance at the stern look on her face.

I hated when she acted like she gave a crap.

“I don’t care who he is.” Hayley tried to fry his ass with her eyes. “You can leave.”

Jay stared back at her with as much defiance as I did, making me like him more. He turned to me and pressed a slow, intimate kiss to the corner of my mouth. “See you at school, babe.”

He laughed at the mischief in my eyes.

I waited until he’d brushed by Hayley without a word and I heard the front door close behind him. “Nice. Thanks.”

Hayley’s dark eyes narrowed into slits. “Don’t talk to me like that. I’m tired, it’s been a long day and now I come home and find my daughter being mauled by some walking hormone. Am I supposed to be happy that you’re dating some guy who looks like he’s seen the inside of prison more than once?”

“We’re not dating. We’re just fooling around.”

“Oh, well, then, why am I so upset?” She threw her hands up in exasperation.

“Hayley.”

She flinched, like she always flinched when I called her by her name (so she flinched a lot). “Don’t ‘Hayley’ me. I have a right to be upset about this.”

“Don’t be. I’m not serious about him. And I’m not getting pregnant. Anyway, you’re home early.”

“They put me on a shorter flight.” She dumped her purse on the couch as she moved farther into the room. “We’ll discuss Jay later. I need to tell you something.”

I tensed. “Yeah?”

She stared pensively at me for a few seconds before finally taking a seat by my side. “I’ve met someone.”

Dread instantly filled me.

Scrutinizing me for a reaction and getting none, Hayley smiled reassuringly. “He’s wonderful. His name is Theo and he has a daughter who’s actually your age. He lives in Boston. We met on one of my flights out there.”

My stomach churned. “How long?”

“Several months ago.”

“I knew something was going on,” I muttered.

“I’m sorry I kept it from you for so long… I just wanted to make sure it was real between us.”

“And is it?”

“Very much so. We’ve fallen in love.”

“That’s some long-distance relationship.”

“I stay with him when I fly out there. I see him as often as possible.”

I snorted. “And you think he’s faithful all the times you’re not around?”

“Don’t.” She cut a hand through the air. “Those are your trust issues, India. Not mine.”

My blood boiled with indignation. She was completely naïve if she thought for one second this guy wasn’t’ a loser. She had chosen badly before, after all. I had a right to the dread that was making me feel sick.

“I just wanted to give you a heads-up that it’s serious.”

“What does that even mean?”

“It means that if this is going where I think it’s going, then that might mean a big life change for us.”

Oh, hell.

I stared at her in horror.

Hayley sighed wearily at the expression I wasn’t even trying to conceal. “I’m going to make a cup of tea. I’m tired so we’ll talk about Jay another time.” She turned but then stopped to stare at me sadly. “Thanks for being so happy for me, by the way.”

That didn’t even deserve a response.

There was a time Hayley couldn’t give a damn about my happiness. I felt it only fair that I feel apathetic now about hers.

 

 

 

 

Samantha Young is the New York Times,  USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows.  Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us will be published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook& hardback June 2017

Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for HeroOn Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.

Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.

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GIVEAWAY ~ Salvaged by Jay Crownover ~ Release Blitz & Excerpt

Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.

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I didn’t want her to be scared of anything ever again.

Things at home had been rocky, rougher than class-five rapids in winter, but I was paddling for my life and prepared to ride it out. I couldn’t let go. I wouldn’t let go. I saw Poppy the day she walked through my shop and I started to feel how sore my hands and my heart were from holding on.

Her head was down, focused on the tips of her shoes. Her shoulders were hunched over and her long hair hid her face. She was skinny, so skinny, nothing but skin and bones. She was nothing that I should have noticed, not because she was clearly doing everything in her power to be invisible, but because I was supposed to have my eyes locked on my future and doing whatever I could do to salvage it. But I did notice her and I couldn’t look away once I did.

She was obviously terrified, clearly out of her element and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t her unease that called to me…it was her loneliness. I could feel it filling up the space that separated us. Stretching, growing, expanding until it was all I was breathing in and exhaling back out. It was bitter on my tongue and heavy across my skin because I knew the feeling well. I lived with it pressing me down and pushing me forward every minute of every day. The reason I was so set on the way things had to be, the reason I was singlemindedly set on settling down and building a life with the girl that was slipping through my fingers was because I never again wanted to be as alone as this girl was. I didn’t want to be left and forgotten. I’d barely survived it the first time.

I did my best to sell her a car that was as beautiful as she was…a classic with clean lines and a flawless finish. She picked something practical and boring but that was ultimately safe and reliable. I understood her choice but it grated and annoyed me long after she left the shop. When she wasn’t standing in front of me, she should have been easy to forget; after all, everything in front of me, everything I had been working for and toward, was falling down in front of my eyes. My world was collapsing in on itself and everything I thought I was so goddamn sure about turned out to be nothing more than lies and illusions. In the middle of all of it, I couldn’t forget her sad eyes and shivering, shaking form. Her loneliness clung to me, unshakable and unforgettable. I didn’t think I would see her again and against my better judgment I often found myself wondering how she was doing and if she had gotten a handle on all the things that seemed to be crushing her under their inescapable weight.

I was wrong about seeing her again, just like I was wrong about thinking that doing everything in my life differently from how my mother had lived hers would ensure my happiness and a future built on an unshakeable foundation. I was wrong about hard work and sacrifice being enough. I was wrong about holding on when what I was holding on to desperately wanted me to let go. All I was left with was bleeding palms, rope burns around my heart and scars on my soul.

The next time I saw Poppy Cruz it was my loneliness that was filling up the space, suffocating me, choking me, making me forget to handle her with care. I was nothing more than a vast, open wound. One that was raw, aching, throbbing, and leaking my heart and shattered emotions out everywhere. I felt like I’d lost everything, like my entire life had been nothing but a waste of time, nothing more than building blocks knocked over with the swipe of a careless hand. The girl I loved didn’t love me back, my future was ultimately nothing more than a fuzzy, fractured blur. I couldn’t see anything clearly other than waste and ruin.

But I saw her. And I saw that I scared her.

It was the last thing I wanted to do but my loneliness was just as big and just as consuming as hers was. It spread out, hungry and angry, looking to consume anyone that might try and challenge its reign.

I tried to pull myself together, apologized because I knew our paths would cross again now that she lived next door to my best friend. I didn’t want to be another man that she was terrified of. I locked the loneliness down, wrestled it into submission, and tried to quiet down the wild inside of me that was howling, screaming at the loss of its mate. I wanted to be nothing more than gnashing teeth and tearing claws but I swallowed those instincts and allowed myself to be like a kicked puppy that just wanted to whimper and cry.

Poppy had been through more than I could imagine. She was the one I couldn’t look away from, but even then, she managed to slip past me and disappear. She looked like honey but she moved like a ghost. I memorized everything about her even though she hardly let me see her face.

I wasn’t supposed to be looking at anything other than how to salvage the mess my life was in, but she was all I could see.

 

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Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her dogs.

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GIVEAWAY ~ Salvaged by Jay Crownover ~ Review & Excerpt Tour ~ Sarah A’s Review

Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.

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Pre-Order Incentive

Jay Crownover continues her Saints of Denver series with SALVAGED, available June 20, 2017

Preorder and fill out the form herehttps://a.pgtb.me/MdHvvG

Enter your name, email address, and the order number from your pre-order receipt on the form to receive an advance excerpt of DIGNITY and a Saints of Denver Doodle download to print at home. 

Entries must be received by midnight PST on June 19th to be eligible.

The print-at-home Doodle and Dignity excerpt will be emailed the week of June 20th

I was reluctant to start this book, not because I was worried about content or not loving it, but because after ten other books I was so sad to see the end of this world.  These characters have taken up residence in my heart and I have so enjoyed being able to check in with them time and again over the course of the last five years.  I distinctly remember stalking the Barnes & Noble website for Rule before he was released for Nook and before I had a kindle.  Saying goodbye to Jay Crownover’s Denver crew is bittersweet, I love knowing they’re all happy and healthy, but it is so sad to know I won’t be popping in on them again.

Poppy and Wheeler were both characters we had seen being damaged and destroyed in other books of the Saints of Denver and Marked Men series.  They were also the characters I was most excited to see find peace and love and all those things that come with finding the person who is the other half of your soul.  When I found out they were going to find that in each other I was beyond ecstatic, if there were ever two characters that deserved a happily ever after it was these two.

The dynamic between Poppy and Wheeler was incredibly sweet.  The way he was so careful and mindful of Poppy and the things she’d been through made me cry real tears at different times throughout the book.  She was so broken, so skittish, so beautifully sad, she needed someone who knew what it felt like to be forsaken by the people who were supposed to love you most to take all her broken parts and make them wonderfully whole again.  She needed Wheeler to show her how to shine those parts up and make them run better than they ever had.  What I didn’t anticipate, and what maybe was the best part of their relationship, was how much Wheeler needed Poppy to heal the broken pieces within him.

There was so much story to be told about Poppy and Wheeler and the things they’d been through, I was glad Salvaged was lighter on the action than some of the other books within the Marked Men and Saints of Denver series.  I think that adding anything else would have taken away from the importance of the things they had already lived through.  I found it wildly satisfying that both of their stories came to a pinnacle and were resolved concurrently, though one ending was far more awful, it was good to know that they were able to move on without the spectre of their pasts lingering in the shadows.

Jay Crownover is one of my go-to, no questions asked, I’ll read anything she writes, authors.  The strength she gives to her heroines is one of the things I love most about her writing.  Even when those heroines are broken beyond measure, like Poppy was, they all have an inherent strength to them.  They are resilient and badass and there is never any question that their men would be completely lost without them.  Jay also writes characters who are relatable, even in the craziest of her characters it’s easy to find something familiar within them.  While each character has these inherent qualities, each storyline is new and fresh, she makes sure every person she writes faces their own struggles and approaches them in a manner consistent with their personality.

“I don’t know that I have the time to take on a puppy right now, Poppy.” He lifted a hand and rubbed it across the back of his neck. His mahogany-colored eyebrows pulled into a vee over the top of his nose and the corners of his mouth pulled down in a frown that was too harsh for his pretty face. I liked it much better when he smiled and his twin dimples cut deeply into his cheeks.

I bit my bottom lip to keep the distressed noise that I could feel climbing up the back of my throat at bay. I knew he might say no but I couldn’t hide the fact that I was disappointed by his decision. I honestly felt like he and the puppy would be good for one another, that they could bring a little joy into each other’s life. It broke my heart a little that Wheeler wasn’t ready to open his heart up again, even when it was to something that was so obviously eager to love him unconditionally and irrevocably, unlike his ex.

“It’s okay, Wheeler. Like I said, I’ll take him home until I can find a place for him. I’m sure Dolly could use a friend.” I crouched down and wiggled my fingers to get the dog’s attention, and grinned when he bounded over, tripping over his front legs as he scrambled in my direction. “I can take him to work with me and hold on to him until I figure something out. One of the boys at the shop will step up if Dixie doesn’t want another dog.”

I heard him sigh and looked up to see him watching me intently. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something, then let it snap shut with his teeth audibly clicking together. I didn’t know much about Wheeler, but what I did know I liked. He was nice. He was polite. He was thoughtful and he was kind. But more than any of those things, he went out of his way to hold himself in a way that wasn’t threatening or intimidating because he was aware without me saying a word how jumpy I was around people, men in particular. I hated that they were bigger than me. I hated that I knew firsthand how badly they could hurt me if they had a mind to. I hated that I wilted and cowered under their attention, even if it was innocent and friendly. The fact that he took care not to spook me spoke volumes and made me feel awful for putting him in such an awkward position.

“Poppy…” He sounded regretful and I had no interest in dragging the torture out any longer for either of us. I scooped up the dog and buried my nose in the top of his head.

“Seriously it’s no big deal. I love him and I’m happy to wait until I can find him a proper home. It was stupid of me not to consider how busy you are with everything you have going on in your life right now. A puppy is a big commitment and that’s not something you can put on someone else without discussing it with them first.” The dog swiped his tongue across my face, no doubt feeling my distress and rising panic. I wanted to tuck his warm little body to my chest and run away like I was trying to score a touchdown in the other team’s end zone. “I should have known better.”

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Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her dogs.

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BLOG TOUR AND REVIEW! Gone with the Ghost by Erin McCarthy

Gone With the Ghost (Murder By Design, book 1)

by Erin McCarthy

Date of Publication: May 23, 2017

Bailey Burke has had a rough six months—it’s not easy thinking your romantic overtures toward your best friend caused him to kill himself. Except that’s exactly what happened. Ryan is very much dead, having shot himself with his own police-issued gun. Guilt and grief shouldn’t cause hallucinations though, but six months after Ryan went into the ground, Bailey is freaking out and swearing his ghost is standing in her kitchen. Which he is…

Ryan claims he didn’t commit suicide, but was murdered, and he needs Bailey to help him find his killer so he can earn his ticket out of purgatory. Which contrary to national opinion is not their hometown of Cleveland. Ryan’s counting on a stairway to heaven, as opposed to wings, since that might be a little unmanly for a cop, even a dead one.

An expert in home design, with her own staging business, Bailey can tell you where to place a couch to improve flow and comfort, but solving a crime? Not her area of expertise. But with help from Ryan’s former partner, Marner, she is unraveling the mystery of what happened to Ryan that day… and unwittingly putting herself in grave danger.

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Whitney’s 3.5 Star Review

Gone with the Ghost is a mystery novel from an author I’ve previously enjoyed reading romance from. I wanted something a little different than my standard romantic genre and hoped to find a new series to look forward to.

Overall, I was pleased with this book. It’s definitely not traditional romance but does have some romantic elements to it. The main two characters are Bailey, a slightly down on her luck former crime scene analysis turned home stager/designer. She doesn’t like blood after all!

Bailey is hung up on her best friend, Ryan, who died six months ago. So when Ryan appears in Bailey’s house she is quite overwhelmed. Ryan doesn’t know exactly what’s going on but he does know that his death was mysterious and he can’t cross over until he has helped find out who killed him.

So now for the good and the bad. Bailey is pretty awesome. She’s very ‘real’. Flawed, a little awkward, smart… I really enjoyed her character. Ryan not so much. I know he’s a ghost but he’s kind of an ass. I can’t give too much away or it will ruin the story but he’s definitely no romantic hero so I’m kinda glad he’s dead. I was disappointed in the direction his character took and that Bailey’s feelings towards him were never really acknowledged. I felt like there a hole in the story there but I can’t reveal too much or it would be spoilery!

There is a love interest for Bailey who we get glimpses of and I assume that we will get to see their relationship over the course of the series. Like I said, this book has romantic elements but it is not a love story so don’t expect a conclusion as it’s not the focus of the story.

The premise surrounding Ryan’s death and subsequent ‘who done it?’, I also enjoyed. I felt kind of like I was watching a crime drama on TV. The feel of the novel is a balance between light hearted and serious. It’s not particularly gory but there are some pretty tense moments, some sad moments and some funny ones too.

I went into the novel with no real expectations and I will probably pick up the next book in the series as well when it comes out. And don’t expect a perfect ending tied with a bow. There are some questions that get answered and many new ones to explore in book two with a new mystery to solve


About Erin McCarthy

USA Today and New York Times Bestselling author Erin McCarthy first published in 2002 and has since written over seventy novels and novellas in teen fiction, new adult romance, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Erin is a RITA finalist and an ALA Reluctant Young Reader award recipient, and is both traditionally and indie published.

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Review Tour ~ The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry ~ Sarah A’s Review

Graham Russell and I weren’t made for one another.

I was driven by emotion; he was apathetic. I dreamed while he lived in nightmares. I cried when he had no tears to shed.

Despite his frozen heart and my readiness to run, we sometimes shared seconds. Seconds when our eyes locked and we saw each other’s secrets. Seconds when his lips tasted my fears, and I breathed in his pains. Seconds when we both imagined what it would be like to love one another.

Those seconds left us floating, but when reality knocked us sideways, gravity forced us to descend.

Graham Russell wasn’t a man who knew how to love, and I wasn’t a woman who knew how to either. Yet if I had the chance to fall again, I’d fall with him forever.

Even if we were destined to crash against solid ground.

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I am DEVASTATED this series (of completely independent stand-alones) is over.  Devastated.  Each book is so unique, each couple so wonderful, I fell deeply in love with each word and each story affected me deeply.  I am sure that these books are ones I will revisit when I need something that speaks to me on a soul level.

Graham and Lucy’s story was devastating and perfect in a way I didn’t even see coming.  They had both lost so much and continued to lose more than they deserved, but they let those losses mold them in completely different ways.  Their differences were the most beautiful part of their story.  Lucy was perhaps one of the most beautiful souls to have ever existed and she used the spirit that was inherently her to show Graham there was so much more to life than anyone had ever shown him.   Being on the journey with him as he learned how to trust, to open himself up, to truly love was a wonderful thing.

Just as important as Graham learning how to live and love was both Graham and Lucy learning that your family is so much more than the people with whom you share DNA.  I had no idea that the idea of family and the importance of that support system would play such an important role in this book, I am glad it did though.  The healing, the hope, the love Lucy and Graham needed to know could only be complete from people important to them in other roles of their lives.

After reading romance for years I found The Gravity of us to be wildly refreshing.  It didn’t rely on any of the tropes we’re so used to seeing, none of the devices to push a couple together that are used so often.  Yes, there was a little friction as Lucy and Graham figured out how to operate in the other’s comfort zone, but that is true for any couple that’s ever existed.  I appreciate how Brittainy C. Cherry slowly wove their souls and hearts together without ever taking the road that would have been arguably easier and more expected.

I’m in love with Brittainy C. Cherry’s writing.  I have read several of her books and each of them has imprinted itself on me in wonderful ways.  Her storytelling has a way of making me see things in a different light, of making me understand things in a way I would have never considered, it makes me feel like a more empathetic person.  With each word I read in her books I can feel the love she has for her craft and how she strives to make that art her own.  I can’t say enough about how deeply her writing makes me feel, but I will say that not taking the time to experience her work is doing a disservice to yourself.

 

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Lucy

We didn’t know how to act with one another after our first kiss. Our situation wasn’t the norm when it came to building a relationship. We did everything backward. I fell in love with a boy before our first kiss, and he fell for a girl who he wasn’t allowed to have. Our connection, our heartbeats, matched one another in our fairytale world, but in reality, society deemed us as an awful accident.

Maybe we were an accident—a mistake.

Maybe we were never supposed to cross each other’s paths.

Maybe he was only meant to be a lesson in life and not a permanent mark.

But still, the way he kissed me…

Our kiss was as if heaven and hell collided together, and each choice was right and wrong at the same exact time. We kissed as if we were making a mistake and the best decision all at once. His lips made me float higher, yet somehow descend. His breaths somehow made my heart beat faster as it came to a complete halt.

Our love was everything good and bad wrapped in one kiss.

A part of me knew I should’ve regretted it, but the way his lips warmed up the cold shadows of my soul…the way he left his mark on me…

I’d never regret finding him, holding him, even if we only had those few seconds as one.

He’d always be worth those tiny seconds we shared.

He’d always be worth that soul-connecting feeling we created when our lips touched.

He’d always be the one I spent my nights dreaming of being near.

He’d always be worth it to me.

Sometimes when your heart wanted a full-length novel, the world only gave you a novella, and sometimes when you wanted forever you only had those few seconds of now.

And all I could do, all anyone could ever do, was make each moment count.

After we went home that night, we didn’t talk about it at all. Not the following week, either. I focused on Talon. Graham worked on his novel. I believed both of us were waiting for the right time to come up for us to speak about it, but that was the tricky thing about timing: it was never right.

Sometimes you just had to leap and hope you didn’t fall.

Hi! I’m Brittainy! Join me as we travel through my mind as a Romance Author. This includes such things as my random thoughts, tricks, tips, things I’m learning, things I’m re-learning, things I’m forgetting, and my weird ways of crafting stories.

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Review Blitz ~ Mr. Moneybags by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Authors
Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

 I met Bianca in an elevator.

She was on her way to interview me when we got stuck.

The beautiful, raven-haired reporter assumed I was a delivery guy because of the way I was dressed.

She had no clue I was really Dex Truitt, the wealthy, successful businessman she’d dubbed “Mister Moneybags”—her afternoon appointment.

Bianca told me how much she hated Dex’s type—snobby, over-educated, silver- spooned men who didn’t appreciate the simple things in life.

So, after the elevator finally started moving again, I cancelled the interview and let her believe I was someone I wasn’t—a bike messenger named Jay. I loved the way she looked at the fake me and didn’t want it to end.

I began dating her as “Jay”—all the while letting her interview the real me over email.

I didn’t expect that our chemistry online would be just as hot.

I didn’t expect the mess I’d gotten myself into.

I didn’t expect that Jay and Dex would fall in love with her.

And she was falling for two men.

Only, both men were me.

And when she found out, we were both going to lose her.

Nothing could have prepared me for that day. And I certainly wasn’t prepared for what came after.

All good things must come to an end, right?
Except our ending was one I didn’t see coming.

Read the First Chapter here

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I’m not sure what I was expecting from Mister Moneybags but it wasn’t what I read, for sure.  Even as I write this I’m not sure if I understand why the book took the turns it did.  It felt… strange, off, forced.  Parts of it just didn’t work for me.  Perhaps because if an author is going to toe the line Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward did in this book, I prefer the book to go all the way there.  Also, because that little bit of tension that was thrown in at the end seems like it should have been enough to carry an entire book and I really would have enjoyed that.

Mister Moneybags, despite its tiny foray into the taboo, was a light fun read.  It was an interesting take on the rich man/average girl trope.  It was interesting to see Bianca have all of the power in the relationship despite the fact could have easily been overbearing and controlling given his position in the business and social hierarchy.  It was also very refreshing to see a person who’d been raised without wanting for anything be so down to earth and have the self-awareness to see when his privilege was coloring his perception of things.  I quite enjoyed the juxtaposition of what was expected from the characters with the reality of how they actually behaved.

I did have a hard time with some of Dex’s internal dialogue.  It seemed strange and stilted, and, to me, it took away from the experience of the book.  I am a firm believer in show, don’t tell when I read and this affected that for me.  While I know not everyone reads in the same way or even have similar thought processes, I would have liked to have seen these little asides dealt with differently.  I also felt like the first two-thirds, or so, of the book and the last third, though loosely linked by the common theme of deception, were almost two different stories.  I knew that it was meant to be the conflict leading to the ultimate climax of the book, but it just felt incongruous to how the story started.

Overall, Mister Moneybags was enjoyable and would be a great read for someone who wants to try something a little new, a little different, someone who wants to read a book that flirts with the idea of things not discussed in polite society.  I’d really love to see what Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward would if they threw caution to the wind and completely blurred the line between what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Vi Keeland

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. With more than a million books sold, her titles have appeared in over fifty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in fourteen languages. She lives in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

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Penelope Ward

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of thirteen novels. With over a million books sold, her titles have placed on the New York Times Bestseller list fifteen times. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 12-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 10-year-old boy. Penelope, her husband, and kids reside in Rhode Island.

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Review Blitz ~ Say I’m Yours by Corinne Michaels ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times Bestseller, Corinne Michaels, comes a new second chance standalone romance.

I spent twenty years waiting for Trent Hennington to open his eyes and see me. But it was all for nothing. He chose to keep himself guarded and let me walk away, proving that my time and efforts were wasted.

I’m done being invisible.
It’s time to move on.

A single dance sets my new reality into motion, and I welcome it. After all, Cooper Townsend is perfect. He’s kind, sexy, and attentive–everything a girl could want.

I thought I got it right this time.
That my heart could mend, and I would be happy.
Apparently, some things really are just too hard to walk away from.

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I was equal parts excited and sad that I was finally getting the final Hennington brother’s book.  They were all so wonderful and unique, it was hard to know this was the last of their stories.  Bell Buckle was a fun and wonderful place to get to visit in the pages of these books and I can only hope that we will be able to check in with all the folks we met there in future works by Corinne.

Going in to Say I’m Yours I wasn’t sure who I was rooting for in terms of Grace finding a forever love.  I knew I wanted Trent, Cooper, and Grace to be happy, I just wasn’t sure who would make each of them most content.  I was worried there was too much water under the Trent and Grace bridge, that the feelings between Cooper and Grace were too platonic for anything serious. I almost wanted there to be a whole new set of love interests so I wouldn’t have to see one of the people I’d grown to love over the course of the other books get hurt.  Corinne, of course, knew exactly what she was doing and crafted this story in a way where each person came out whole and having learned more about themselves and what they needed to be happy.

While I loved Grace and the strength she seemed to have gained between the beginning of Say You’ll Stay and the end of Say I’m Yours and I appreciated how amazing a man Cooper was throughout this book (despite my less than kind feelings toward him in Say You’ll Stay), it was Trent who completely won me over in this book.  Watching him grapple with his own fears and insecurities, seeing him learn what he needed and figure out how to hold on to the people he loved most in the world was at times heartbreaking, but ultimately wholly satisfying.

Once again Corinne Michaels delivers a book that is intense, surprising, and gratifying.  When I read my first Corinne Michaels book I knew I’d found someone whose books were exactly the kind of stories I love.  She has yet to disappoint me, if anything her books have become more meaningful and in line with my reading tastes.  Each book tells a beautiful love story and touches on topics that are dark, life-changing and intense.  Ms. Michaels always stays true to her characters and the reactions they have to those life-changing events feels completely authentic.  If she hadn’t already won me over with her Salvation series, I would have declared my allegiance to her books after reading the Hennington brother’s books.

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxUHk9DaA6M

Corinne Michaels is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of The Salvation Series (Beloved, Beholden, Consolation, Conviction & Defenseless), Say You’ll Stay, Say You Want Me, and Say I’m Yours. She’s an emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun loving mom of two beautiful children. Corinne is happily married to the man of her dreams and is a former Navy wife. After spending months away from her husband while he was deployed, reading and writing was her escape from the loneliness.

Both her maternal and paternal grandmothers were librarians, which only intensified her love of reading. After years of writing short stories, she couldn’t ignore the call to finish her debut novel, Beloved. Her alpha heroes are broken, beautiful, and will steal your heart.

 

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Review Tour ~ Figure Eight by Calia Read ~ Sarah A’s Review

figure-eightDear Selah,

Do you remember me?

Of course you don’t. So I’m going to give you a refresher course.

I’ve known you for years and years. We used to have beautiful conversations. There was no one that knew you better than me. We were handmade for each other.

Lately, it’s become achingly obvious you’re miserable. You’ve moved back home to take care of your ailing mother. You’ve been looking for a new job, but that’s not going well. Admit it: it’s all too much.

Everyone around you sees your suffering, but they’re not willing to help you.

Everyone but Jackson.

He comes into your life at the perfect moment and offers you everything you could want: a shoulder to lean on, love, and most importantly, hope.

But there’s no one that can compare to me. You seem to forget that I’m your figure 8. Your infinity. You try to run, but I will always find you.

Yours Truly,
Figure 8

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I’m reeling from this book.  Just circling back and back and back trying to figure out when was the first time I had an inkling of what was going on and I find myself feeling a lot like Selah; I think I knew the whole time but I didn’t want to acknowledge it.  There were times I wasn’t sure if the book was full of tiny, almost imperceptible, errors or if I was crazy or if it was intentional and made to make me feel crazy.  Honestly, I’m still not sure; though, I suspect the latter.

This is a book that has so many layers, so many facets and secrets, telling any one of them would destroy the experience that is Figure Eight.  There are so many beautiful things that happen in this book, so many things I desire to dissect and tell you about in great detail, but to do so would ruin the sublime magic that Calia Read wove with this story.  More so than almost any other book I’ve read, Figure Eight must be read with no foresight as to what is going to happen; the experience of being Selah, of living what she lived in these pages is important and intense.

Calia Read constantly amazes me with her words, the way she constructs each sentence to draw you in and then makes you question every second of the words you’ve read is unique and wildly impressive.  I am in love with her writing and the important stories she tells.  Her stories are consistently among the most wonderfully written and compelling books I’ve read.  I always find myself wanting more story, while simultaneously being totally satisfied that the story is complete and left exactly where it should be.  It’s not an easy balance to strike, but Ms. Read is near perfection in finding that balance in all of her books.

I have discovered that from a distance it is incredibly easy to read people. In the shadows, people don’t notice you. They let their guard down. Let you into their life without even knowing it. After a while their movements become predictable and you start to feel more intimate with them. You know when they’re irritable or sad. Happy or anxious. And while they keep desperately seeking a cure- all for their afflictions, you stand there in shadows, knowing what they need. My last gift was what you needed. But you barely noticed. You were too busy with your despair.

Ah, despair, despair, despair. Too many people get caught in that bitch’s web. And the sad truth is that they never find their way out. They never find their figure eight.

They never find me.

Yet the truth of the matter is that you didn’t find me. You got lucky and had the tables turned.

You may not see me yet. But you will.

Something as big as me takes time to acclimate to. Until then I’m going to give you another present. This one you’re going to take notice of. It is truly something.

I’m actually quite proud of myself with this one. It’s so good that I’m going to let you think that fate, kismet or whatever bull shit you call it, was responsible for it. Besides, I have a million more gifts just waiting for you, that I can take credit for.

Each one is bigger and better than the last.

You’ll see.

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13319891_838523882920080_9005192063279712585_nCalia Read is the author of Unhinge, Unravel, Breaking the Wrong, Ruin You Completely, and Every Which Way. She lives in Texas with her husband and their five children.

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BLOG TOUR AND REVIEW – Mister Wrong by Nicole Williams

 

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Cora Matthews grew up with the Adams boys, twin brothers and best friends who wouldn’t let anything come between them except for one thing—her. One of them became her best friend, the other, her fiancé.

She always knew she’d wind up marrying one of them, and Jacob Adams is the very epitome of Mister Right. At least he is up until he fails to show up for their wedding day. Not that Cora realizes it. At first.

As Jacob’s best man, and identical twin, Matt makes a split second decision, but one that will affect the three of their lives forever—he steps in to take his brother’s place. In front of the altar, exchanging vows with the woman he’s secretly been in love with for years.

Cora eventually finds out about the groom swap. The morning after the wedding. As if realizing she just slept with her fiance’s brother wasn’t disturbing enough, she’s forced to confront her feelings for Matt Adams she thought she’d buried years ago.

Matt’s wrong for her. In every way. But through the course of her real honeymoon with her fake husband, she starts to uncover truths both Adams brothers were hoping to keep hidden, for opposite reasons. One to protect himself, the other to protect her.

She married the wrong brother, but what if he’s been the right one all along?
“So?” I crossed my arms and leaned into the banister behind me. “Did you? Like my brother?”
She sighed, turning toward the open door. “Jacob . . .”
“What? It’s a fair question.” I shoved off the banister, feeling hope and heat tangling in my veins from the look on her face, from the sound of her voice. She’d felt something for me, whether it be the most passing of crushes or something much deeper. Realizing that had me feeling drunk from something other than alcohol. “Besides, you’re stuck with me now. Won’t matter what you ’fess up to.”
Cora started through the doorway. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Grabbing the suitcases, I followed her. I wasn’t letting this go. Never. Not if she threatened death or castration or anything else. “Why not?”
She broke to a sudden stop a few feet inside the room. “Because I don’t want to focus on the past. I want to concentrate on the future. That’s not going to work if you keep asking me questions about Matt.”
There was a sharpness in her voice—one she didn’t use too often. She didn’t want to keep talking about me, which only made me want to continue talking about me. I’d struck a nerve, but I wasn’t sure how deep that nerve went.
I needed to know how deep it went. I had to know. My whole life, I’d been under the impression that Cora saw me as nothing more than a good friend and substitute brother. She cared for me, but not in the same way I cared for her.
Or did she?
“This thing with Matt . . .”
Her back stiffened.
“Was it a thing? Like ancient history? Or is it still a thing?” I closed the door and wondered why I could feel my heartbeat in my eardrums.
She kept her back to me, standing in the middle of the dark room like a lone ship on a vast ocean. “I married you.”
Yeah, she did marry me.
“But if he’d made a play for you, way back before all of this”—I waved my finger between the two of us, not that she could see it—“would you have given him a chance?”
“He never made a play for me.” Her voice sounded faraway, like she was out of reach when she was less than an arm’s length away.
“That doesn’t answer my question.” I stepped closer. “If he had? Would you have?”
Her back was moving faster from her quickened breathing. This conversation was making her uncomfortable. Why was that?
“Stop, Jacob. Enough.” She spun on me, swaying in place just enough that I reached out to steady her. She shook my hand away like it was white-hot. “I’m not going to get into another fight with you over Matt. I’m done. I picked you. I married you. What else do I have to prove?”
“That you don’t—”
“I don’t love Matt!” Her arms flung out at her sides as her voice spilled across the room. ‘There. I said it. Are you happy now? Are you happy we’ve managed to get into another argument over this infatuation you’re convinced I have for your brother? On our wedding night of all times?” She glared at me with bleary eyes. I couldn’t tell if that was from tears or from alcohol. Maybe both.
“Cora, I’m sorry.” I ran my hands through my hair, wondering what in the hell I was doing—for the millionth time that day. Deceiving her, betraying her, and now accusing and angering her. Maybe I didn’t know the first fucking thing about love. Maybe Jacob knew more about it than I did, because I wasn’t sure love was supposed to hurt as badly as this did.
“Just . . . enough already.” As she shouldered past me, I reached for her, but she shook me off. “I need to be alone.”
She slammed the front door behind her a moment later, leaving me alone with my idiocy.
“Cora,” I called to an empty room. I wasn’t thinking when I rushed toward the door after her. “Cora!”
The moment I pulled the door open, something crashed into me. It made a sharp breath rush out of my mouth as I staggered back a few steps.
My arms barely had time to wrap around her before Cora’s mouth was on mine, moving in such a way that made staying upright next to impossible. Before I had a chance to catch up to the fact that I was kissing Cora in an entirely different way than we’d kissed at the wedding and reception, her fingers were working at my belt. Quickly.
I didn’t know she’d already gotten it undone before she’d moved on to my zipper. The sounds she was making as she kissed me, the way her body felt aligned against mine, the way her mouth knew the intricate balance of submission and domination . . . one moment at a time, Cora was crushing the last remnants of my resolve. Destroying the final pieces of my views of right and wrong.

 

 

Whitney’s Four Star Review

A solid four stars for Nicole William’s new sexy story about a girl in love with twin brothers.

Cora grew up with Matt and Jacob Adams and always love both. Although she favored Matt, he seemingly doesn’t return her affections and so she chooses Jacob. They date for years and the book opens with their wedding. A wedding in which the groom never shows.

Wanting to save Cora from embarrassment, Matt makes a rash decision to stand in for his brother. Cora happily marries the man she thinks is her fia A solid four stars for Nicole William’s new sexy story about a girl in love with twin brothers.

Cora grew up with Matt and Jacob Adams and always love both. Although she favored Matt, he seemingly doesn’t return her affections and so she chooses Jacob. They date for years and the book opens with their wedding. A wedding in which the groom never shows.

Wanting to save Cora from embarrassment, Matt makes a rash decision to stand in for his brother. Cora happily marries the man she thinks is her fiancée only to realize the day after her honeymoon starts, that she’s actually married and had sex with Matt.

And while this may sound fishy, don’t judge Matt. He’s been in love with Cora for years and it’s obvious from the beginning that Jacob is an ass and doesn’t deserve Cora. Matt and Cora don’t have much time to work through their feelings for each other before Jacob shows up to reclaim his fiancée. And lord, I lost count of the times I wanted to punch Jacob in the face.

Is this a love triangle? I guess technically, I would say so. However, there is really never a doubt which brother she will end up with. So for those who hate love triangles, keep that in mind as it may ease your mind.

This story is much steamier than most of Nicole’s books and she does a good job with the chemistry between Matt and Cora. It’s obviously fiction and some of the story is a little over the top but isn’t that the point for many who read romance? At least we get explanations when characters do something we might otherwise condemn them for in real life. I loved Matt from the beginning and it’s easy to do as the book is dual POV between he and Cora.

I do kind of wish we had some flashback chapters from when the three of them were kids as I think that would have helped with the character development. But some of their childhood relationship comes out later in the book when Cora is forced to realize just how much she loves Matt.

Overall, this is a definite recommendation!

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

 

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GIVEAWAY & Review Tour ~ Saying Goodbye pts 1&2 by Abigail Drake

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sg1Synopsis part 1:
Samantha Barnes always dreamed of seeing the world and only has a few months left before she starts a semester abroad in Japan. Enough time to say goodbye to her friends, polish up her language skills, and maybe even squeeze in a quick fling with handsome fraternity boy Dylan Hunter.

All she wants from Dylan is something casual, and perhaps some mind-blowing sex, but things don’t work out as planned. Dylan wants a lot more from her than a hook-up. Before Sam realizes what’s happening, their relationship has become serious, something she never intended. And then she discovers Dylan is hiding a dark secret that makes breaking up with him nearly impossible.

Sam is running out of time. She has to leave soon. She has no choice. But leaving Dylan could mean more than just the end of their relationship. It could also mean destroying him completely.

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sg2Synopsis part 2:
What if you meet the right person…at absolutely the wrong time?

When Samantha Barnes starts her semester abroad in Japan, she brings along a heavy load of emotional baggage. With her ex-boyfriend in the midst of a mental health crisis back home, she’d been forced to make some difficult choices, choices that now fill her with guilt and remorse. She also made promises to him she isn’t sure she can keep, especially when she meets Thomas MacGregor, an irresistibly charming Scottish rugby player. Thomas is studying at the same university as Samantha, and, although she tries to fight it, she begins to fall for him. Hard.

Life in Kyoto is everything Samantha could imagine, but, when tragedy strikes, it sends her on a downward spiral into darkness. Will she be able to come to terms with what happened, and have a future with Thomas, or will she forever be plagued by regret?

Forgiveness is a tricky thing, especially when the person you need to forgive most is yourself.

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Saying Goodbye was my first Abigail Drake book and I was pleasantly surprised by her unique writing style and fresh story lines.  In a genre where books often have very similar structure and themes, this book stood out as something uncommon.

Saying Goodbye, particularly part one, was full of very heavy subject matter.  The book was rife with taboo subjects and how people react to those situations with which they aren’t comfortable.  I was quite impressed by how tastefully it was done.  Each scene and every moment was carefully constructed to demonstrate how every single thing that happens affects a person.  They also served to show how a person’s temperament can make those experiences have completely different outcomes.

Abigail Drake incorporated several cultures and languages into Saying Goodbye in a way that felt very natural.  I am in no way educated in any of the cultured or languages she used, but it seemed very true to what they were.  I loved that each part was set in a different place, it made it much easier to keep the storylines separate while I was reading.  I fell in love with the glimpses into worlds I’ll likely never experience, that she included in the story.  The way she used the cultural references to help the characters grow and used languages to bring them closer together were so fresh and unique, it was something I relished experiencing.

3.5 Feathers
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abigailAbigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.

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10x signed  copies of Saying Goodbye

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