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review 2014-06-18 06:17
UNTIL ALEX, by J. Nathan

This book gave me a ride on the let’s get in touch with all your emotions rollercoaster. It shocked me on more than one occasion, it made me laugh and smile, cry and fall in love. It’s a remarkably sweet debut novel from author J. Nathan that will grip you from its tragic start and keep you engaged with its fun and sexy banter, and heart rendering moments ‘til the very end. And one thing’s for sure, it will “seep right down to your bones.”

I’ve considered really hard about what to put in my review regarding the book’s plot because even though you can piece together some things, it still stunned me more than once and I would really hate to give anything away. I also think the blurb does a very good job at telling us what we need so I’ll include that and then tell you my personal thoughts about it.

On the outside, Hayden is every girl's living breathing fantasy, brooding and devastatingly gorgeous. He spends his nights losing himself in alcohol and faceless girls, but it's all just a facade. An elaborate cover for the emotionless shell of a man he is. One who harbors too many secrets and destroys lives the way his was destroyed. It’s the reason he avoids relationships and keeps everyone at arm's length…

Until Alex

Alex’s life just shattered into a million pieces, leaving her with more grief than she knows what to do with and guilt so deep it’s destroyed the carefree girl she once was. Now she’s hundreds of miles from home, living with an aunt she doesn't know, finishing senior year at a college she’s never been to, and trying desperately to get through a single day without breaking down. She's never felt more alone in her life... 

Until Hayden

The trouble with Hayden is who he wants to be and who he is are in constant flux. And though he’d die before letting Alex learn the truth about him, he can’t be sure he's strong enough to let her in…or push her away. She’s the one person who just might see the real him.

The book grabbed my attention and heart right from the beginning. I was barely 2% in when I was in shock and hurting for Hayden and then smiling because of the smart mouthed girl that had just met the broody “hottie” with dimples. It’s incredible writing when you are so devoted to a couple of characters you barely know. 

These two incredibly sad souls told their story from alternating points of view. And even though I think Hayden’s perspective went to the corny side at the end, I really enjoyed being in their heads.

Even though Hayden was broken and angry at the world, he was also sexy, and his pain didn’t blind him to what Alex had to offer, showing his flip side, which was sweet, loving and made me swoon and “I smiled a big stupid grin” repeatedly.

Alex’s patience and understanding with Hayden’s hot and cold attitude never frustrated me and I really admired her strength of character. She was a very grounded and real person.

The story unfolded at a perfect pace, letting us know what we, and the characters, needed for their connection to build and grow. Their sizzling chemistry was off the charts. 

“I'd have to touch you.”
He nodded… “I hope so.”
“You might have to kiss me goodnight.”
His eye focused on my lips. “Oh, sweetheart, you can count on that.”

I loved and was equally frustrated watching them get to know each other.

“I don't know what this is. This thing between us... But I really need it.” ~Hayden

As the book got closer to the ending, “my heart ricocheted off the wall of my chest.” It got so intense I couldn’t get to the happy fast enough. I felt like I hit the jackpot with this book and I’ll be looking forward to J’s next book. 

* I was given an ARC of this book for an honest review from Netgalley. The excerpts are from that copy. *

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Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/22089015-until-alex
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review 2014-06-04 00:00
Taint, S.L. Jennings Review
Taint - S.L. Jennings

4.5 stars

This book will certainly Taint you with curiosity and then grip you with its sometimes outrageous but mostly lonely, broken and sweet protagonist.

Before I tell you a bit more what I enjoyed and what didn’t do it for me, I would like to remind ourselves that this is an erotic work of fiction romance meant to entertain. It is not a hand book or a self-improvement manual. Although in my opinion it does state some very interesting facts.

“The wife drives the ship. She is the puppet master. But in order to maintain a happy home, you must let the man believe that he calls the shots.”

I mention this because I am a bit late in the reading/reviewing queue and because of it noticed some not great reviews, which is normal, but a lot of controversy as well. Really guys, the blurb not only caught my eye, it left my jaw a bit slack. That in itself is a good enough hint that the story would have more than a few shockers. So please, do your homework and spend your time and money wisely. I’m almost certain that that’s what most authors want, second to sharing with us part of their writing talent.

So, Justice Drake. Brilliant and ingenious entrepreneur or crass, chauvinist asshole? Perhaps a little bit of both, giving us an incredibly handsome on the outside, charming, egotistical and a bit dejected man on the inside. He has the name of a super hero “Never fear! Justice Drake is here… Ready to slay the villains of Scottsdale with double-headed dongs and acid lube lasers.” Mostly I think Justice Drake is an antihero, one of my favorite kind of heroes.

Drake’s chosen and very lucrative profession is to show “Stepford” wives how to sexually satisfy their wealthy but wayward husbands with very “unconventional, seemingly cruel and brash, techniques.” His job description requires a certain level of professionalism but he has also chosen to detach and isolate himself in general. Although that doesn’t stop his “sadistic soul” to rejoice in the discomfort he causes his clients.

Allison Elliot-Carr is one of those clients, but she is also different from all the rest. “She’s just so damn perfectly imperfect that it’s endearing,” with an authenticity that made her not belong there even if circumstance would indicate she does.

Her presence in his Oasis causes him to break all his strict and well defined rules, she has weakened his defenses, forcing him to face his loneliness and self-worth.

S.L. did a great job delivering this story from Drake’s point of view in its entirety. She tempered his crudeness with humor, although sometimes dry and sarcastic, and even further endearing him with his incredibly expressive inner thoughts.

“This is my favorite part of the day—when gravity pulls that scorching, desert sun above, coaxing it into the outstretched, jagged arms of mountains and cacti.”

And when he isn’t battling himself over confusing emotions,

“I’m not even sure what to make of this girl. First she’s calling me an asshole, and now she’s asking me about ice cream flavors.”

“Yeah…even her snorts are adorable. And fuck me. I’m using words like adorable.”

the way he sees Ally is both swoon worthy and heartbreaking all at the same time.

“With eyes the color of the ocean and her halo of fire burning as bright as the desert sun, she speaks to me. And while she is raw and sullied, tainted by this beautiful hell, her words breathe life into the darkest, loneliest parts of me.”

Because he’s not just a lonely man with questionable self-worth. She’s married to another man. A sad and seemingly unsolvable reality.
This love story captivated me with its original and daring plot, and kept me turning page after page interested in wanting to know more of its very complex hero, to read about the sexy attraction between Drake and Ally as well as his sweet and lyrical musings. It made me laugh and then when I was least expecting it, it hit me an OMG and WTF twist I couldn’t have imagined. I loved it and wish I had more.

“Justice + Ally”

One last though about the 4.5 stars. There were a few times when I thought Ally was being too naïve. There was also a particular scene I could’ve done without. Just the implication of what happened would have been enough with no gory details.

For more of my reviews or those of my best book buds visit our blog.

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