Review Tour ~ Out of Focus by L.B. Simmons ~ Sarah A.’s Review

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OOF FOR WEB - Copy*** Upper New Adult Spinoff Standalone to the USA Today Bestselling Novel, Under the Influence***

“Shhhh, Cassandra, it’s our little secret.”

Secrets are stubborn things when they refuse to remain hidden. They tear through your soul, clawing and lashing until the pain becomes so unbearable, you’re left no choice but to silently scream your agony. No one hears you, of course. You smile on the outside and drift through life as though your mind is at peace, but all the while, you remain your own tortured prisoner. Sealed inside the darkened, soundproof room of your conscience, deafening cries echo as you plead for someone to unlock the door and release you from your nightmares. And eventually, when no one comes, you find ways to cope. To dull the suffering the only way you know how.

But what happens when you’ve become so numb, when everything around you has become so blurred, that you begin to lose focus on the saving grace standing directly in front of you? When you’ve anesthetized yourself to the point of losing consciousness, forced to watch as his once solid image fades away, lost to your reach in the haze as it smothers you?

What do you do then?

You fight. You heal. Then you bring him back.

Well, my name is Cassie Cooper, and it’s time.

No more secrets.

This is my story.

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

 

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**POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR UNDER THE INFLUENCE (CHOSEN PATHS BOOK 1)**

When I found out that L.B. Simmons was writing a book for Cassie I knew that I had to read it as soon as possible.  The glimpses we got of her in Under the Influence made me crave more of her story.  I was honored to recieve a copy of Out of Focus for an honest review.

When I was reading Under the Influence there were some serious red flags thrown up regarding Cassie’s behavior.  I was sure there was a lot more to her than the crude, promisuous best friend.  She was silently hiding something and I knew I wanted to delve in to what it was.

My heart hurt so much for Cassie.  All of the pain that she carried within her made me weep for her.  I loved brash, outlandish Cassie, but she was nothing in comparison to the person she truly was under her carefully constructed mask.  Seeing Cassie slowly take the parts and pieces of that mask and unveil the dark and light that she truly housed within her soul was beautiful.  There wasn’t, for even one page, a time when I didn’t feel the strength that she possessed.  Even when the worst bits of her were on display there was a silent strength behind her actions.  Cassie was an amazingly well developed character and her spirit leapt from the pages of her book.

Grady was the perfect yang to Cassie’s yin.  He knew darkness, and had experienced more than his share of it, but he found the light and was able to shed his light into Cassie’s darkness.  His never ending patience and acceptance was glorious.  I had appreciated the small glimpses we had of him in Under the Inflluence, but had definitely underestimated the strength of his character.  Out of Focus was most definitely Cassie’s story of redemtion, but Grady was the catalyst that had her moving forward.  And for that I loved every single thing about him.  Any flaws he had only served to make him one of  the most perfect characters I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.

Out of Focus may be billed as a romance, and it does include one incredibly touching love story, but for me the true story was Cassie’s acceptance of herself.  Her healing.  Her learning to love and forgive herself.  Those are always my favorite stories, and this one lived up to almost every expectation I have ever had.  I absolutely adored every word that was written and all of the love and pain that was poured into Out of Focus.  L.B. Simmons has definitely earned her way on to my short list with Out of Focus and I will be eagerly anticipating her future releases.

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Only twenty-three years old, and I’m so goddamn tired.

I used to be so much stronger. I somehow kept the voices at bay, the memories locked away safely, contained within the confines of my mind. But with each passing day, I feel the glow of my once-luminous strength fading. Darkness encases me now, bowing the walls of protection I put into place years ago. My past is an ever-present nightmare, repeatedly tapping, slowly fracturing the window of my sanity.

I have no doubt that it’s only a matter of time before the glass finally breaks. Blackness will eventually seep through its cracks and deliver me from the safety of my façade into a reality that will destroy me.

My reality.

I’ve done my part. I’ve kept the secrets thrust upon me with dedicated believability. My portrayal of who I am has become a blurred, hazy version of the once very distinct Cassie Cooper.

I read an ungodly amount of trashy romance novels.

I’m the overtly sexual and foul-mouthed friend who will say anything to get a laugh.

And I have exactly zero fucks to give to what anyone else thinks about my actions.

But the reality, the actuality, is this:

I read obsessively to escape my own world. To live the dreams of others when, for so long, the reoccurrence of my nightmares has been my reality. I read to fall in love and find a happily ever after, even if it is purely imagined. With each story I read, I’m able to live and love vicariously through the characters in my books. It’s the only plausible way for me to survive.

I threw away my virginity at the age of thirteen just to prove something. And when I found that proof, that vindication I was looking for, I sought it every chance I could. Sex is about control for me. Nothing more. The act will never be about making love, like it is for the heroines in my books. I will never be granted the beauty of that gift.

I use humor as a form of avoidance. I draw upon laughter to block the pain. And I smile to mask the agony of the eight-year-old soul who weeps within me.

And the fucks . . . well, that’s not entirely accurate either.

I have given two to be exact: One to my best friend of seventeen years. She knows nothing of my past, and although she so willingly disclosed the horrors of hers, mine remains hidden for no other reason than to avoid the pity she would undoubtedly cast my way if I were to ever tell her. I don’t want her pity. I would sooner die than have her look at me in any other way than with pride.

The other died with the person to whom it was given. Anthony “Rat” Marchione. He was my one allowance of naïveté. The one person I actually wanted to touch me, to hold me, to love me. He was going to rescue me from my brokenness as though I were a character in one of my books. Young and senseless, I thought he was to be my eventual happily ever after, but tragically, he was murdered five years ago.

Black coldness waits in vain to leech the void where his once beautiful existence filled the pieces of my irrevocably shattered heart. Where he temporarily healed the hurt of the innocent child and quieted the voices that tormented her.

He’s gone now. I’ve accepted that. And in turn, I have relinquished all dreams associated with finding the light at the end of this miserable tunnel.

I will keep trudging through this life . . . this sentence handed to me for someone else’s crime, my payment shackled by secrets and weighted with lies. I will continue to do so with the same fraudulent smile on my lips and play the part of the strong heroine so convincingly, that even I believe it.

It’s only a matter of time before my fictional strength wears out—when I’m no longer hidden safely inside my protective blur—and I have to face the very real and lucid image of my past.

But until that time comes, I’ll do all I can do.

All I have ever done.

I will pretend.

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23165655Dalton,

I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.

Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.

I loved you.

I raged for you.

I wept for you.

And now, I’m letting you go.

***Author’s Note: Under the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way to finding lasting redemption.***

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

Keep up to date with all things L.B. Simmons by signing up for her newsletter or following her on social media.

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BLOG TOUR AND EXCERPT – Under the Influence by L.B. Simmons

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Under the Influence by L.B. Simmons

Available Now

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SYNOPSIS:

Dalton,

I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.

Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.

I loved you.

I raged for you.

I wept for you.

And now, I’m letting you go.

 

Author’s Note: Under the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way to finding lasting redemption.

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Author Bio:

LB Simmons

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

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Excerpt: Spencer POV

Cassie maintains her wide smile. “You go on a date and I guarantee what you find regarding Dalton and his feelings will surprise you.”

“Cassie. No one wants to go out on a date with me. Trust me.”

She shakes her head before she busts out laughing. The ridiculous sound of it reverberates around my room. “You really have no idea, do you? Every guy at school has a hard-on for you, you fool. They’re fucking scared to come within even ten feet of you because of Dalton. He let it be known that if they did, he would deal with them.”

“Oh my God! You have no idea what you’re talking about!” I’m laughing outright now. She really has lost her mind.

She shakes her head, the severity of her statement tightening her features. “I’m totally serious, Spence. I swear on my Kindle.”

At this, I take a sharp breath and sober immediately. To Cassie, her Kindle is sacred as the Bible.

She nods slowly, dramatically, as she watches me grasp the meaning of her statement. Right hand raised, she states, “On the over-abundance of trashy romance novels within my possession, I solemnly swear that before Dalton graduated, he straight-up took out a vendetta against any male in our school who dares approach you.”

“He did what?!” I screech, pressing myself off the bed and catapulting into upright position.

Anger ignites and my face heats wildly as realization dawns.

This whole year, in fact, the entire four years of high school, no one has looked at me. No one has asked me to come to parties, to go on dates, to go to prom. Not that I would go, but it would be nice to be asked, you know? Okay, I probably would go. I mean, it’s a rite of passage, right?

Two black painted fingernails make their appearance as they snap directly in front of my face, jolting me out of my inner thoughts.

“Hooker! Pay attention!”

I shake my head and refocus. Still seething, I whisper, “This whole time, I thought it was me. That I wasn’t dating material or pretty enough. Four years, Cass. Four years of feeling like I wasn’t good enough.” My molars grind together. “It all makes sense now.”

She waves her hand dismissively. “We’re getting off track here.”

My eyes bulge as she continues, “I have found someone who, luckily for you, seems to have recently acquired a death wish.”
 

Pre-Release Promo Tour and Giveaway – Under the Influence by L.b. Simmons

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Dalton,

I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.

Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.

I loved you.

I raged for you.

I wept for you.

And now, I’m letting you go.

Author’s Note: Under the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way to finding lasting redemption.

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Author Bio

LB Simmons

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

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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/L.B.-Simmons/e/B00B26XOTA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1423076274&sr=1-2-ent

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EXCERPT

Chapter 1

Dalton

I am not a good person.

And I don’t pretend to be.

There may have been hope for me at one point but now, as I stare back at the hardened face and vacant eyes in front of me, there’s no denying the truth. All hope for me was lost years ago, stripped clean from my mind as they broke me. The life I’m indebted to now is one packed with corruption and polluted with lies.

I try to breathe in deeply as I rinse the freshly spilled blood from my hands, but the bitter pang of disappointment begins to compress my entire chest. It seeps along the previously etched grooves that line it, burning the hollow channels that were created with each punch to my stomach and blow to my ribs.

I rarely have these moments of weakness, when I wish I hadn’t allowed myself to be drawn into the darkened path that is this life. But right now, I find myself wishing that I had been strong enough to brave my childhood on my own. That I had been able to fend off the monsters that lurked in dark rooms and reeked of alcohol, able to protect myself from the multitude of broken bones and black eyes inflicted by the hands of those who were supposed to fucking protect me.

But I wasn’t. And now I’m stuck, hopelessly adhered to a life in which I have chosen to forgo conscience for security.

Little did I know the day I met Darius Roe, I would be making a deal with the devil. That I would be forever bound to a life from which there is no escape.

Although I started out as his lackey, I grew quickly—both physically and within the hierarchy of his organization—to become his weapon. Not only his muscle, but a tool which has many uses. His most prized possession.

And now here I am at eighteen years of age, long since graduated from errand-boy. I watch the familiar streaks of someone else’s blood swirling around yet another porcelain sink. Someone who also made a deal with the devil but didn’t deliver on his end.

I always deliver.

After drying my hands, I curl my fingers over the lip of the sink and place my palms flat on the cool ceramic surface, silently watching the reflection in the mirror. Cold, dead eyes stare back at me. Not a spark of life left in them.

Not anymore.

In fact, the only bit of humanity I permit myself is that of Spencer Locke. She’s the one thing, the one person whose mere presence provides some sort of sense of relief from the constant feeling of asphyxiation that encompasses me.

She is my reprieve.

My air.

Spencer Locke is the one slice of happy I have in this shit pie I call life. Darius Roe is a ruthless motherfucker.

The two will never cross paths.

I would, with absolutely no hesitation, lay down my life to make sure that never happens. Spencer’s safety has been and will always be my concern—no, my priority. And in order to assure that safety remains, she must never know the real me. The cold, calculated, hardened criminal that I am. She will only know the Dalton Greer I permit her to know.

Just like everyone else that I come into contact with.

To Rat, I’m the entertaining best friend. To Spencer, I’m the overprotective big brother. And to Darius, I’m the lethal weapon.

None of them truly know me.

Because the truth is, there’s nothing more frightening in my world than those who know you—who really know you. The ones who know your deepest, darkest secrets. The ones who know what you’re going to do before you do it. The ones who know not only what buttons to push when they seek your attention, but also the ones that can be used to completely incapacitate you.

They can be your strength.

But they can also be your weakness.

And just as a chameleon changes color to blend for protection, I’ve learned to evolve into the person I need to be in order to survive the situation at hand, all while keeping people at arm’s length.

Yet sometimes I can’t help but wonder what my true colors would have been had I not been subjected to this life. I question what it would be like to just let someone in, to tell them all of your unforgivable truths and discover they still love you in return.

I find myself utterly fascinated, awe-struck even, that there are people actually capable of truly loving someone without wondering when and how they will be betrayed. However, the knowledge of their existence also saddens me because the cold reality is, I will never know that type of love. I will never know the freedom to just be with someone, without pretense or fabrication, without the endless lies and untruths.

Maybe that’s why I keep holding onto Spencer when I know I shouldn’t. When all my instincts scream for me to let her go, to cut those ties and just let her be.

I can’t.

I’m too selfish.

Therefore, I will plaster on my over-protective, big-brother face so that I can see her again, just to get my fix on the relief she provides. And in turn, I will continue the lies.

I will continue telling myself the only reason I insist on my frequent visitation is because I want to see to her protection.

I will continue convincing myself the things I say to her are merely pretenses which accompany my façade.

But in this rare moment, I will also concede that like a moth to a flame, I’m drawn to her.

To her innocence.

To her kindness.

To her ability to love…

To all the things I wish I was capable of but have sacrificed in order to survive.

Because just seeing her demonstrate those capabilities with me and willingly share them with others, the knowledge that the ability to do so actually exists in a world outside of mine somehow frees me—no matter how temporarily—from the chains that bind me here, in this suffocating place.

Yes, Spencer Locke is indeed my air.

I just hope the immorality I’ve chosen to bury deep within my soul doesn’t one day pollute her very essence.

COVER REVEAL – Under the Influence by L.B. Simmons

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Under the Influence by L.B. Simmons

Coming May 2015

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Dalton,

I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.

Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.

I loved you.

I raged for you.

I wept for you.

And now, I’m letting you go.

 

Author’s Note: Under the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way to finding lasting redemption.

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Make sure to sign-up HERE for L. B Simmons newsletter for exclusive sneak peaks into Under the Influence and a first look at Chapter 1.

About the Author

LB Simmons

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

 

LIMITED TIME SALE ALERT – The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller by L.B. Simmons

COVER The Resurrection of Aubrey Simmons

Genre~ NA Contemporary Romance


Synopsis

Death.

For some, it’s simply one of life’s certainties, nothing more. For others, it’s merely a fleeting thought, one often overshadowed by the reckless delusion that they have been blessed with the gift of immortality.

For Aubrey Miller, death is the definition of her very existence. Overcome with the guilt resulting from the loss of her beloved family, she alters her appearance from the once beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl to that of one shrouded in complete darkness, enveloping herself in her own unbreakable fortress of solitude as a form of protection for others.

As she enters her first year of college, her goal is simple: Earn a degree with the least amount of social interaction as possible. What she never anticipates is the formation of very unlikely relationships with two people who will change her life in ways she never believed possible: Quinn Matthews, the boisterous former pageant queen, and Kaeleb McMadden, a childhood friend from her past who never really let her go.

Over the years, as their connections intertwine and grow, a seemingly indestructible bond is formed between the three…

But when death painfully reemerges, Aubrey is lost once again, burying herself deeper than ever before inside the familiar fortification of her fears.

Will the refuge of friendship, the solidarity of life-long bonds, and the power of unconditional love be enough to do the impossible?

Will they be enough to finally bring about…

The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller?

 


LB Simmons

About L.B. Simmons

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

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