The Surviving Trace by Calia Read ~ Sarah A’s Review

Will is my fiancé. The shy man I met years ago in college. The person I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with.

This is the life I’ve always wanted until finding a picture of four men changes everything…

Etienne says he’s my husband and the year is 1912. He can’t stand the sight of me, but I don’t know why.

Oh, and he’s one of the men from the picture.

I’ve done the impossible and have become trapped in time and I know Etienne is my key to going home.

The more time I spend with Etienne, the further I fall for him, until I’m questioning which time I belong in and if the life I left behind is the one I truly desire.

All I know for certain is I need to survive time.

I need to survive love.

And I need to make it out on the other side alive.

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I love Calia Read, I’ve read everything she’s published. When I saw the cover for this book, I was enamored; it’s so freaking beautiful. However, when I read the synopsis, I wasn’t sold. Time travel? Not my thing. So, I took a step back and thought about it for a minute, I knew Calia wouldn’t lead me astray, and I threw myself into this book full steam ahead; such a great decision. The Surviving Trace was wonderful and different than anything else I’ve ever read.

The world building in this novel was phenomenal. I felt as if I’d been plucked right out of my living room and dropped into early 2oth century Charleston. Calia Read did an amazing job of capturing the feeling of a world before our time and how it would feel to suddenly be transplanted to a world without all the modern conveniences we enjoy. I loved how intensely Serene initially rebelled against her new life and how she slowly became more comfortable in 1912 Charleston than she was in her own time.

Étienne had a certain je ne sais quoi. Even when he was hard-headed and obtuse, there was something about him that was intensely enchanting. Getting past his gruff exterior to the center of who he was: a wonderfully compassionate, understanding, sensitive man. He was the perfect foil to Serene’s hugely colorful and outspoken persona. When they were together the electricity between them was palpable, and their dynamic was so entertaining. I was obsessed with how they knew how to push each other to the brink, then back with a single look.

I was completely enraptured with The Surviving Trace from the first page. The plot was insane; it had to be for it to work as sublimely as it did. I particularly loved how this whole thing started with an old photograph found at a flea market. That something so seemingly inconsequential could forever change the world was everything. It made this story feel so much bigger than a book. From there Serene herself said it best, ‘Nothing is impossible, and everything is a lie.’ I never knew what to expect because this story was so wholly unlike anything I’ve ever read. It was an entirely new and unique reading experience for me, and I can’t wait for more of it.

My biggest wish for this would be a correction to the timeline in 1912. I’m not going to delineate the entire timeline here, because it would spoil certain parts of the book, but there are about 12 weeks (3 months) accounted for, yet only two months pass. In a book about time travel, the dates that we get are very important, so it was a little frustrating. There were also several editorial mistakes: misspelled words, typos, incorrect usage of apostrophes, that need some attention.

The Surviving Trace is the first book in Calia Read’s Surviving Time series. This is a continuous storyline, involving the same primary characters and the books will have to be read to understand their story. The Surviving Trace is written in first-person perspective; most chapters are narrated by Serene with a few in Étienne’s point-of-view.

I first discovered Calia Read several years ago, I’ve reread her Sloan Brothers series a few times, and her Fairfax series is one of the most well-written looks into mental health I’ve read. Figure Eight was literary perfection in the way it made me feel like I was losing my grip on reality just as surely as Selah was. Ms. Read is a master of placing me firmly in the middle of the worlds she’s built, to the point it feels like I have a hard time discerning my reality from the fiction she’s woven.

“You have questions,” I say flatly.

“If the roles were reversed, what would you do?”

I glance at him from the corner of my eye. “I’d be demanding answers to the thousands of questions running through my head.”  

“Exactly.”

“So ask,” I say slowly. “But don’t stare. The people around us are doing enough of that.”

“Let me tell you a well-known fact about yourself, Mrs. Lacroix. You and I are hardly ever seen in public together, and the times we are, we barely look at each other.”

“Should I push away from you and tell you I hate you?” I ask innocently.

He snorts and, still staring straight ahead, the smallest of smirks graces his face. “It might make me feel better.”

A beat of silence passes by.

“I have a question.”

Étienne lifts a brow.

“When was the last time you were seen with… her?”

He goes silent for a few seconds. “Two months ago?”

“Good Lord. Why are you two even married?” I blurt before I can think twice. Almost immediately, I want to take the words back, but it isn’t as if Étienne cares.

He remains stoic as ever and shrugs a shoulder. “I ask myself that every day.”

His words spark a series of new questions. I have to remind myself I need to pace myself and not ask everything all at once.

“Also, it may benefit you to know that people might be starin’ because you’re walkin’ down the street in the middle of the day.”

My head whips in his direction. “Did your wife break one of her legs or something?”

Étienne gives a hearty laugh. It’s loud enough to earn the stares of people walking past us and powerful enough to make my heart speed up. God, when he smiles, it’s something else.  

“No, not at all,” he eventually replies. “People of wealth don’t walk unless it’s necessary. They take cars or horse and buggy. In fact, you see the buggy across the street?”

I crane my neck and see a buggy with a pale face staring out the back window. After the woman inside sees me staring at her, she moves away from the window. “Yeah?”

“That’s Lailah, one of your dearest friends. She probably thinks you’re gravely ill and have no idea what you’re doing right now, walkin’ down the street. I’m sure she’ll make a call to the house to see if you’re all right.”

“I can’t wait,” I say, deadpan.

Étienne stares at me with his brows furrowed as if I’m a puzzle he’s painstakingly putting together and he can’t seem to find all the pieces. I clear my throat and look away. The way he’s watching at me is unnerving.

The two of us become silent again. Fine with me; my eyes are drawn to the window display to my right. I slow down and watch as two women walk into the general store. There are handwritten signs in the window, and I stop long enough to read them. Coffee is only fifteen cents a pound, and eggs? They’re fourteen cents for a dozen. Another sign promotes a new toothpaste. The most prominent sign is for Coca-Cola that says, “Relieves fatigue. Drink Coca-Cola.” In a smaller font beneath, it says it’s sold everywhere for only five cents.

Cupping my hands over my eyes, I press my forehead against the window pane and peer inside. I can’t help myself. A huge part of me wants to go inside, but if I did, I wouldn’t be content until I’d looked at each item. This is the second-best thing.

“Serene? Are you coming?”

I turn and see Étienne impatiently waiting a few steps ahead. Reluctantly, I look away from the display and walk toward him.

“What was so fascinating?”

“I was looking at the display.”

“You don’t have Coca-Cola in your time?” he asks.

“Oh, we do. Just not for five cents.”

“How much?”

My eyes slide to Étienne; he stares at me with open curiosity.

“I don’t know how much a single bottle is,” I confess. “I usually buy a twelve-pack, and that’s about four dollars?”

For once, it’s Étienne’s turn to look shocked. I smile because I recognize the hunger in his eyes. He has thousands of questions that demand answers.

He opens his mouth and idly looks to his left before he does a double-take and abruptly stops and gestures to the door next to him. “Here we are.”

We stop in front of a door with textured glass. Embossed on the spotless, large window are the words E.A.L. Corporation.     

“Obviously you remember where I work from the last time you were here,” he remarks dryly.

I nod. “I thought your family owned a shipping company?”

“We do. Livingston works in the main office near the docks. I started my own company three years ago strictly for investments and real estate ventures.”

“Are you any good at what you do?” I challenge.

Would I typically be this blunt? No. But things between Étienne and me didn’t change overnight. I see the mistrust in his eyes. When he looks at me, he still sees his bitchy wife. And that’s okay, because I have a fiancé back home, waiting for me. Being polite is a pretense that neither one of us wants to use right now. Saying precisely what’s on my mind is a bit liberating.

“I like to think that I’m mildly successful at investing.”

I narrow my eyes at him. He’s being modest, and I don’t know why.

Étienne goes to open the door. I place my hand on his arm, stopping him in his tracks. He looks at my hand, then my face with curiously.

“Before we go in, I wanted to talk to you about something.” He says nothing, just stares at me with those whip-smart eyes. I take a deep breath and drop my hand to my side. “I can’t be like her all the time.”

“How so?”

“Oh, come on, you’re not blind. You saw how people were staring at us! It’s obvious that the two of you can’t stand the sight of each other.”

He reluctantly says, “Yes.”

“I know it’s probably in my best interest to keep up appearances, but I have no desire to go out of my way to be extra bitchy to you. I hope that means you won’t be a huge asshole to me.”

“Extra bitchy… has anyone told you that you have an amazing way with words?”

“I’m serious.”  

His eyes rake me from head to toe in that ruthless, cut-throat way of his. “You understand that a decision like that will make people talk. Some might think we’re… happy.”

“Let them talk.” I shrug. “I want to go home. And I know you’re the key. Consider me your new shadow. Where you go, so do I.”

Étienne looks at me for a moment longer before he nods. “Very well. We shall be kind to each other from here on out.”

I hold out my hand. “Let’s shake on it.”

He stares at my hand warily before his hand curves around mine.

It would be cliché to say that the minute our hands connected, I became frozen in place or a shock of awareness rushed through me. But something did happen and it was none of those things. It started with a small twist in my gut that traveled up my body, grazed the delicate edges of my heart before it seized it all together. The feeling came out of nowhere. I look at our connected hands. His is large and calloused, swallowing mine whole. As tall as I am, dainty isn’t exactly the first word I’d use to describe myself, but that’s how I feel right now. I jerk my hand back.

Étienne’s hard and unyielding face makes it impossible to tell if he felt the same way. He clears his throat and wordlessly holds the door open for me.

Calia Read lives in Texas with her husband and their five kids.

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NOW LIVE!! The Surviving Trace by Calia Read

Will is my fiancé. The shy man I met years ago in college. The person I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with.

This is the life I’ve always wanted until finding a picture of four men changes everything…

Etienne says he’s my husband and the year is 1912. He can’t stand the sight of me, but I don’t know why.

Oh, and he’s one of the men from the picture.

I’ve done the impossible and have become trapped in time and I know Etienne is my key to going home.

The more time I spend with Etienne, the further I fall for him, until I’m questioning which time I belong in and if the life I left behind is the one I truly desire.

All I know for certain is I need to survive time.

I need to survive love.

And I need to make it out on the other side alive.

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Right then, someone places a hand on my arm. I turn and see Nat. Her eyes are wide with panic. “Étienne is here.” I stare at her blankly, and she frowns. “Did you hear me? I said Étienne’s here. He’s livid.”

Judging by Nat’s frantic expression and tone of voice, I know this Étienne is someone important. But I don’t know who the hell he is or why I should be the slightest bit nervous.

I’m getting ready to say that when she plants her hands on my shoulders. It’s impossible to tell if the gesture is more for her benefit or mine. “You’re in no shape to see him. I’ll distract him. That should afford you some time to hurry to your room.”

Before I can reply or ask who in the hell this Étienne is, the whispers start. Word spreads like wildfire until conversations practically cease.

“Go,” Nat pleads.

No sooner has the word escaped her mouth before the doors at the far end of the room slam open. People stop what they’re doing. Even the musicians appear unsure and stare at each other in confusion.

Nat and Livingston move in front of me like a pair of bodyguards. I stand on my tiptoes and try to peer between their shoulders, but all I can make out is a stark white shirt. I’m confident it’s the Étienne man Nat was talking about.

In the hushed silence, I can distinctly hear his powerful steps. People inch toward the walls or the double doors.  

“What are you still doin’ here? Go!” Nat whispers to me.

Why would I go? It’s just getting interesting. A thrill courses down my spine and spreads throughout my body. Minutes ago, I wanted to leave, but the dramatic reaction elicited from everyone and the giant question mark stamped over this mysterious Étienne makes me stay put.

Plus, this is a dream. Right now, I’m merely a cat with nine lives. If danger comes my way, I’ll survive. By the ninth, I’ll wake up.

For now, I’m safe.

The closer he gets, the louder his footsteps become. My heart pounds in sync with his footsteps. When he stops walking, Nat and Livingston’s shoulders are practically fused together. All I can see is the man crossing his tan arms.

There’s a beat of silence before Nat speaks. “Étienne. This is a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know you’d be here.”

“I live here. This is my home.” His voice is laced with the same slow, Southern drawl as everyone else I’ve heard speak tonight. But I think it’s the deep timbre that makes my pulse jump. Yes, that has to be it. “Who’s behind you?”

“No one,” Livingston and Nat say in unison.

“Are you sure? Because I swear I see the top of Serene’s head behind your shoulder.”

He knows my name. How does he know my name? Once again, I remind myself that anything goes in dreams. But something about this isn’t sitting well in my gut.

Livingston and Nat turn at the same time. They wear expressions of pure shock, as if they had no idea I’d been standing behind them.

“Oh, it’s Serene.” Livingston shares a well-practiced look of confusion with Nathalie. “I didn’t know she was there. Did you, Nat?”

“I did not.”

Damn, these two are good. If this were real life, we’d be fast friends. From how they play off of each other’s body language and words, I know they’re siblings; my brothers and I covered for each other the same way.

I can’t see the man’s expression, but I’m willing to bet he’s not buying anything they’re saying.

“Step aside. I need to talk to her.”

No one makes a sound. My legs shake.

When Livingston and Nat don’t budge, he says, “Move. Now.”

Nat’s shoulders slightly sag in defeat. I’m half-tempted to tell her not to give in to his demands, but my tongue becomes three sizes too big for my mouth.

As she steps to the right, she gives me a quick once-over and whispers, “I tried to warn you.”

They move away, and it feels as if I’ve been thrown to the wolves. Now I’m facing the leader of the pack. The first thing that comes to my mind once I see him is, Shit. I should’ve listened to Nathalie.

Because this isn’t the good ol’ boy every mother wants their daughter to end up with. No. This is the man every mom has warned their daughters about. You run, not walk when you encounter someone like him.

I stand there as though I’m nailed to the floor and watch as the man gazes around the room. He sighs as if everyone is wasting his precious time.

Then he turns his eyes to me, and when he does, the realization hits me like a bolt of lightning.

It’s my mystery man.

The man from my dream.

The man from the picture.

Standing inches away from me.

Calia Read lives in Texas with her husband and their five kids.

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The Surviving Trace by Calia Read ~ TRAILER REVEAL

Will is my fiancé. The shy man I met years ago in college. The person I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with.

This is the life I’ve always wanted until finding a picture of four men changes everything…

Etienne says he’s my husband and the year is 1912. He can’t stand the sight of me, but I don’t know why.

Oh, and he’s one of the men from the picture.

I’ve done the impossible and have become trapped in time and I know Etienne is my key to going home.

The more time I spend with Etienne, the further I fall for him, until I’m questioning which time I belong in and if the life I left behind is the one I truly desire.

All I know for certain is I need to survive time.

I need to survive love.

And I need to make it out on the other side alive.

Calia Read lives in Texas with her husband and their five kids.

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Excerpt Tour ~ Figure Eight by Calia Read

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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      From that first e-mail Jackson sent you, love attacked. And now you were given two choices: continue the conversation or ignore him and go about your life.

We both know what your decision was on that.

You take your phone with you everywhere. Even when it doesn’t ring you glance at the screen on the off chance that you somehow missed a text or call. Sometimes, and you’d be mortified if anybody found this out, you fall asleep clutching your phone. You’ve even had a few late night talks that ended up with you falling asleep with your phone to your ear like some love-struck high schooler.

Right now you’re a walking cliché. And you know it too. I can tell when you think about Jackson because your cheeks turn pink. You feel ridiculous yet you can’t help yourself.

What did I tell you, hmm? I knew you’d like my gift. I’d like to say that you can’t remember the last time you felt this way but I’d be lying. If you dug deep enough, you’d remember.

But I’m wasting time. Back to you. It’s been just mere days since you first started talking to Jackson. The spectacle between the two of you is so sweet, anyone within a mile radius of you and Jackson are liable to get a fucking cavity. No one would ever guess the two of you have just started talking. That’s how intense it was between the two of you.

I don’t mind it. I find it quite fascinating; gone are the days of you being a Negative Nelly. Jackson is your passport to a whole other world, one where you’re allowed to look at your problems in a whole other light. You’re a glass half-full kind of person. You haven’t found a job, yet you’re handling it well. Your savings account is slowly drying up. Yesterday, when you weren’t looking, I glanced at your bank account. I give it one month. Tops. Before you admit defeat and cancel Internet. After that it’s just a matter of time before creditors start knocking on you door.

Yet you moved some money around and wrote down a reminder to cancel the cable. And I could see you thinking to yourself. Shit. Will the Internet be next? 

But let’s be honest, you’re in bad times. But not that bad.

It sounds strange but I feel a bit conceited because this is going exactly how I planned. Nothing really fazes you.  Look at each new day as a fresh start. Last week I saw you write a few times this past week. It was nothing major but for a while it was getting to a point where a few words within a week felt like progress. You even sent Jackson a few chapters to read.

Simply put, you were starting to have a spark back in your eyes.

Yet you’re being greedy with my gift. A little too zealous if I’m being honest. You enjoy my gifts left, right, front and center and you take every single on. Yet you continue not to see me. But don’t worry, whether you like it or now, we’re going to meet.

Because I love you so much I feel the need to warn you to slow down because you’ve never seen the dark side of love. You’ve never seen how twisted and malignant it can become. How it can eat you alive from the inside out. How it can drive you completely and utterly insane.

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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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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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Cover Reveal ~ Figure 8 by Calia Read

 

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

Title: Figure Eight
Author: Calia Read
Age: Adult
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Cover Designer: Cover Couture
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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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Series Review ~ The Sloan Brothers by Calia Read

EWW AMAZONSeverine

I made a pact with my best friend that when we went to college neither one of us would fall in love. We were going to enjoy ourselves and this new adventure. She didn’t keep her side of the pact, but I was determined to.

Then I met Macsen Sloan.

 He was quiet and kept to himself. He was nothing like his cocky, basketball star brother, Thayer.
Macsen
Severine Blake was like every beautiful girl — she crooked her finger, expecting every guy within a mile to come crawling. Not only that, but she was sarcastic, opinionated and sometimes a complete bitch.
We were polar opposites. I knew that, she knew that. But what gave me a second glance at her was that my brother was watching from afar.
He wanted this girl.
Yet she wanted me first.
Thayer
I saw her first.
She was at a party, dancing with some guy, completely oblivious that I was staring.
I knew nothing about her, yet I wanted to because I could see that her snark was just a front. She was hiding her true self.
I just never anticipated her falling for my brother.
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BTW AMAZONEmilia Wentworth would do anything for her sister.

For three years, Emilia has lived in the past, feeling her sister’s pain and hating those who are to blame, including one of the Sloan brothers.

Finally, she has had enough. The only way to be free is to create a Burn List with all the people who have ever hurt her sister.

As she crosses each name off, she gets closer and closer to her final target. But, things aren’t always as they seem.

Loyalties are tested.

Boundaries are crossed.

And the truth is revealed.

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RYC AMAZONI met Mathias Sloan in a club.
Truth.
I told him I was twenty-four.
Lie.
I told him my name was Olivia.
Lie.
I thought that I would have a one-night stand and be done with him.
Truth.
I didn’t know that he was my new piano instructor for the next six months…
Truth.
We would come together and fall apart. After him, every man was ruined.
Truth.
If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have walked to him. I would’ve turned and run…
LIE.

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The Sloan brothers.  Tortured, beautiful men.  Broken, yet stronger than anyone has a right to be.  If I took anything away from these books, it was that.  There are rare few authors who are able to make series focusing on several characters and can make each one dynamic and completely individual from the others.  Calia Read did just that in this series.  Even the secondary characters had a strong independent presence.  Every time that I read something by her I am once again blown away by how complex and sublime each person she allows on her page is.

Every Which Way

Every Which Way was the first glimpse we had into the complicated dynamics of the Sloan brothers.  It first comes when they are both vying for the attentions of Severine Blake.  It is quickly evident that not all competition is brotherly with them.  There is something more, something significant and painful, that is fueling their rivalry.

Severine was the very definition of a spitfire, in every aspect of her life; save her love life.  She was deeply guarded when it came to matters of her heart; often to her own detriment.  It was easy to see why each of the brothers was enamored with her.  I loved Severine; she was fierce, staggering, the exact opposite of what her name might suggest.  Her ability to hold her own with even the most aggressive of opponents instantly endeared her to me.  It was this that made me hurt for her when she made the safe, but obviously not right, choice when it came to the brothers.  Her fear was well-founded after watching the heartbreak her mother suffered time and again at her father’s hands.

Thayer and Macsen seemed to be complete opposites on the surface.  Thayer’s gregarious lightness opposed to Macsen’s introspective darkness.  Beneath those surface layers, it was easy to see how much of the same hurt and insecurity the brothers carried.  How much anger was brewing inside.  They were both broken, but in very different ways, by the same person.  Their differences in dealing with their pain were what truly set them apart.  Thayer found something that soothed his soul, gave him a place to literally leave it all on the court.  Macsen turned his pain on himself and did his best to destroy any good that he obtained.  Because of those differences, Thayer was more able to hold his own against such a huge personality as Severine was, Macsen lost the parts of himself he knew in her sweeping grandeur.

Every Which Way may have been Severine’s love story, but more than that it set up a family dynamic that left me clamouring for to find out more about the boys.  Their story was a perfect counterpoint to what was happening in Severine’s love life.  Just as one thing was working out, another was falling apart, abysmally.

Breaking the Wrong {Spoilers for Every Which Way}

Breaking the Wrong held more secrets within it pages than I could have imagined.  Calia Read managed to keep twisting me in circles, even after I was certain I had figured everything out.  For me, that’s everything.  I’m rarely surprised by plot twists, but there were a couple in this book that I didn’t quite see coming.

Emilia made a few brief appearances in Every Which Way, I was instantly drawn to her character and was euphoric to see that she would be playing a key role in this book.  She was so different than Severine had been I was unsure if she would win me over completely, but she did.  After getting to know her through the pages, I felt much more akin to her.  She kept herself well-hidden and had a wall a mile high built around herself, something I was quite able to relate to.  It was when she started to disassemble that wall that I truly found my love for her.  Her brokenness was so perfect for Macsen’s I was sure, no matter what, they would find a way to one another.

I was completely torn on Macsen after Every Which Way.  I knew he held so much hurt, that he seemed to find a perverted comfort in that pain, I wasn’t sure he would ever let it go enough to find happiness.  Throughout Breaking the Wrong he changes a lot.  He learns how to be himself.  How to love himself.  How to forgive himself.  Macsen becomes a person worth loving, and who is able to give real love in return.  His character arc was impressive, and I was ecstatic to take that journey with him.

Every single situation in Breaking the Wrong was predicated on the lies of another.  It was truly a lesson on the destructive nature of fallacies, no matter how small.  The ache that was caused my watching Macsen, Emilia, and their families deal with the fallout of actions and words of other people was palpable.  Knowing that, had everyone just been honest, their pain would have been lessened was heartbreaking.  This book broke my heart, it stomped on it, then patched it back together and made it mostly whole again.  I still ached for the brothers and the damage their past had inflicted on their tender souls.

Ruin You Completely

Mathias’ story.  I had been desperately waiting for this.  He completely entranced me from his first appearance in Every Which Way.  It was easy to see that the man we met in those few scenes was deeply tortured and in desperate need of salvation.

Mathias is my favorite of the brothers.  His desperate love of music and need for control in everything he did was easily relatable to me.  He further called to my soul with the deep and far-reaching pain he so beautifully carried with him.  It was evident from the beginning there was so much more to Mathias than just the gruff exterior he projected to the world.

Katja grew on me.  As much as we know about her, I still think there is a lot more that we didn’t get to see from her.  I deeply appreciated her passion for music and in knowing that aspect of her I knew she was a perfect match for Mathias’ desperation.  I felt like we were just scratching the surface with her, though.  Someone who pours so much of themselves into one thing has to have so many more layers, more than could possibly be fleshed out in one book.

The timeline for Ruin You Completely was much longer than those of Every Which Way and Breaking the Wrong; thankfully it was written in such a way that it didn’t feel that way.  There was so much tension and buildup, by the time that I got about halfway through the book I was so wound up in the Mathias/Katja drama I couldn’t dream of putting the book down.  I needed some relief.  Needed a moment of weakness.  They were few and far between, which made me all the more interested in seeing if they would both get the resolution they deserved.

****

With each installment in the Sloan Brothers series, the stories grew; they graduated from college romances to something more redemptive, something that gave hope to even the most broken of souls.  Every Which Way started pulling back the blinds on the darkness of the brothers’ relationships and their very damaging pasts.  Breaking the Wrong laid much of that past bare.  Ruin You Completely added another dimension to the past and left me needing to know more about the brothers, their pasts, and the glimpse of happiness they were starting to find.  Each boy may have found love, but they all still have a long road to find a way to be free from the darkness surrounding them.

4.5Feathers2

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calia readCalia Read lives in Arizona with her husband and their five kids.

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COVER REVEAL, SALE & GIVEAWAY – Sloan Brothers Series by Calia Read

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The Sloan Brothers Series by Calia Read has a new look. Check out the beautiful covers below created by Hang Le. Make sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed series set! Good luck! AND to celebrate the chan#OnSale for 99 CENTS for a LIMITED TIME.

EWW new Amazon

Severine
I made a pact with my best friend that when we went to college neither one of us would fall in love. We were going to enjoy ourselves and this new adventure. She didn’t keep her side of the pact, but I was determined to.
Then I met Macsen Sloan.
He was quiet and kept to himself. He was nothing like his cocky, basketball star brother, Thayer.
Macsen
Severine Blake was like every beautiful girl — she crooked her finger, expecting every guy within a mile to come crawling. Not only that, but she was sarcastic, opinionated and sometimes a complete bitch.
We were polar opposites. I knew that, she knew that. But what gave me a second glance at her was that my brother was watching from afar.
He wanted this girl.
Yet she wanted me first.
Thayer
I saw her first.
She was at a party, dancing with some guy, completely oblivious that I was staring.
I knew nothing about her, yet I wanted to because I could see that her snark was just a front. She was hiding her true self.
I just never anticipated her falling for my brother.

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BTW new cover Amazon

Emilia Wentworth would do anything for her sister.

For three years, Emilia has lived in the past, feeling her sister’s pain and hating those who are to blame, including one of the Sloan brothers.

Finally, she has had enough. The only way to be free is to create a Burn List with all the people who have ever hurt her sister.

As she crosses each name off, she gets closer and closer to her final target. But, things aren’t always as they seem.

Loyalties are tested.

Boundaries are crossed.

And the truth is revealed.

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RYC new amazon

I met Mathias Sloan in a club.
Truth.
I told him I was twenty-four.
Lie.
I told him my name was Olivia.
Lie.
I thought that I would have a one-night stand and be done with him.
Truth.
I didn’t know that he was my new piano instructor for the next six months…
Truth.
We would come together and fall apart. After him, every man was ruined.
Truth.
If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have walked to him. I would’ve turned and run…
LIE.

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AboutTheAuthor

calia read

Calia Read lives in Arizona with her husband and their four kids.

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Calia Read The Sloan Brothers Cover Reveal

EWW new full wrap

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RYC new full wrap
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