July 31, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (30)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature upcoming book releases that they're looking forward to.

This week I'm eagerly anticipating...

The Vow
by Jessica Martinez

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Synopsis (from Goodreads):

No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him.

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?
Add to Goodreads

Another title that I've read an eGalley of, and I think is well worth checking out. The issues that Annie and Mo faced were incredibly interesting to read about, and the way that Jessica Martinez handled difficult topics was great.

July 30, 2013

The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand

The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 304
Series: Amour et Chocolat
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Dominique Richard's reputation says it all--wild past, wilder flavors, black leather and smoldering heat. Jaime Corey is hardly the first woman to be drawn to all that dark, delicious danger. Sitting in Dom's opulent chocolaterie in Paris day after day, she lets his decadent creations restore her weary body and spirit, understanding that the man himself is entirely beyond her grasp.

Until he touches her. . .

Chocolate, Dominique understands--from the biting tang of lime-caramel to the most complex infusions of jasmine, lemon-thyme, and cayenne. But this shy, freckled American who sits alone in his salon, quietly sampling his exquisite confections as if she can't get enough of them--enough of him--is something else. She has secrets too, he can tell. Of course if she really knew him, she would run.

Yet once you have spotted your heart's true craving, simply looking is no longer enough. . .
My Thoughts:
‘The Chocolate Touch’ is the fourth book in a series, though it can definitely be read as a standalone. I haven’t read any of the other novels (yet!), but I still understood the whole story, which makes sense as this fits the bill of many adult series, where the main characters change with each book. Still, I loved the connection to the other chocolatiers. The author did a great job connecting the books, explaining the relationships and including characters from past books. There were enough details that I understood what was going on, but not too many that I think past readers would feel overwhelmed with regurgitated information.

Right from the beginning of this book I felt like “sensual” was a good way to describe it. The writing style was beautiful, and you could feel the emotions of the characters so deeply. The book does delve into sexy scenes, but not ones as detailed as many adult romances have. Yet somehow these scenes were a thousand times hotter because of the true emotional connection between the characters. I mean, them talking about chocolate flavours was basically hotter than the love scenes in some books.

If you look at this book objectively the romance doesn’t seem like one I would enjoy. The whole “we’re both broken and will fix each other” type of relationship rarely works for me. While this romance technically fits that category, it didn’t feel like that at all. Dom and Jaime are just so connected right away on this deep, spiritual level. Both characters are insecure and find themselves lacking in some way. Neither of them feel like they deserve love or a happy relationship -- they don’t feel like they have anything to offer. Very quickly they prove each other and themselves wrong; they see how someone else values them, and they begin to see the value in themselves.

What I also loved was how Dom was a man with a violent past who didn’t use his upbringing as an excuse. He likes how most people see him as tough, but when it comes to Jaime he wants to protect her and cradle her gently. Dom initially thinks he can try to be perfect and hide all bad aspects of himself, but he still goes and seeks help from someone he’s seen in the past for advice on being in a relationship. He’s serious about putting his issues behind him and working at being the type of man Jaime deserves. Meanwhile, Jaime doesn’t think she can handle anything of substance, but very quickly just using Dom to replenish her emotional well-being is not enough.

I loved this book for the gorgeous writing and the emotional honesty of the characters. I fell hard for the characters, and I totally bought into their relationship, even though it technically falls into the insta-love category (another thing which usually drives me nuts). There was just something about Dom and Jaime that fit, and I could see them healing each other and teaching each other to love themselves. It didn’t feel like an emotional crutch, either; it was more about them showing the other person their true value.

If I had one tiny complaint about the book it would be that the ending seemed a bit abrupt. I’m satisfied with where it ended, but I still expected to read more about things that were discussed throughout the book and then didn’t occur within its pages. I did like the ending, but I also expected a bit more, perhaps just wanting more time with this fabulous couple. It isn’t every book where I want to keep reading and reading and not put the book down at all, but that was definitely the case here. 'The Chocolate Touch' is highly recommended for lovers of quiet, but beautiful, romances.

The Cover:
It's kind of terrible, in that it doesn't really represent the book or the characters that well, minus the fact that it is a romance set in Paris.


Find The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

July 29, 2013

Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross

Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross
Release Date: August 1, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 360
Series: Letters to Nowhere
Review Source: eARC from author

Synopsis: (from book website)
Her family may be shattered, but her dreams aren't...

From the International Bestselling Author of the Tempest series

A Mature YA contemporary set in the tough world of Elite Gymnastics. Grief, love and pursuing dreams are at the forefront of this emotionally powerful coming-of-age story.

Seventeen year old Karen Campbell has just lost both her parents in a tragic car accident. Grief stricken and alone, her gymnastics coach opens his home to Karen, providing her a place to live while she continues to train, working toward a spot on the world championship team.

Coach Bentley’s only child, seventeen year old Jordan is good-looking and charming enough to scare away a girl like Karen—someone who has spent ten times more hours on balance beams and uneven bars than talking or even thinking about boys. But the two teens share a special connection almost immediately. It turns out Jordan has a tragic past of his own, grief buried for years.

As Karen’s gymnastics career soars, her nightmares and visions of the horrible accident grow in strength. She can only avoid facing her grief for so long before it begins to surface and ultimately spin out of control in a very dangerous way. Can discovering love and lust (simultaneously) help with the grieving process or will it only provide a temporary distraction while waiting for reality to hit full force.
My Thoughts:
I loved this book because of how honest it was about grief. ‘Letters to Nowhere’ really empathized that there are different ways to grieve, and that it’s not always outwardly dramatic. The main character here, Karen, is very driven to be the best. She’s lost her parents and she feels very guilty that she might want a different path from the one her and her parents decided on before they passed away. Karen’s in a very difficult situation, and she’s also becoming aware for the first time of her true potential in gymnastics.

One of my favourite things about ‘Letters to Nowhere’ was the relationship between Jordan and Karen. These two have a very special connection, as they’re both mature beyond their years because of the things they’ve been through. Their bond right from the beginning lies with them being able to talk and actually be honest about their feelings. However these characters are realistic teens in that they’re not mature and perfectly communicative all the time. Jordan is a bit of a daredevil and does dumb teenage boy things, while Karen has been sheltered her whole life and is unschooled when it comes to boys and relationships.

I liked how this book was about Karen’s grief and trying to heal from losing her parents, but it was also about her potential as an international elite gymnast. Beyond Karen the book also focused on Jordan and his Dad working through their own issues. There were a lot of layers there, but they all worked so well together.

What’s awesome about this book is that it doesn’t offer any easy answers about grief. There isn’t a perfect concrete answer or epiphany that happens. ‘Letters to Nowhere’ features an open ending, but a perfect one. What I took away from the book is that just moving forward and trying to do your best is really all any of us can do.

‘Letters to Nowhere’ is a fantastically written book. It’s emotional, but not to the extent it will drain all your energy. It features gymnastics in a way that is technical enough to believe that Karen is a real gymnast, but also describes things well enough for people who have no clue about gymnastics (aka: me!). I absolutely loved reading this one, and I can see myself re-reading it again soon.

The Cover:
A little monochromatic, but I like it.


Add Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross on Goodreads. Purchase links to come on Julie's site on release day.

July 26, 2013

Cover Reveal: Weak at the Knees by Jo Kessel

Today I'm happy to be part of the 'Weak at the Knees' cover reveal, hosted by Tasty Book Tours. Here's a little bit about the book:

“We got so busy living life that we forgot to live our dreams.”

Danni Lewis has been playing it safe for twenty-six years, but her sheltered existence is making her feel old ahead of time. When a sudden death plunges her into a spiral of grief, she throws caution to the wind and runs away to France in search of a new beginning.

The moment ski instructor Olivier du Pape enters her shattered world she falls hard, in more ways than one.

Their mutual desire is as powerful and seductive as the mountains around them. His dark gypsy looks and piercing blue eyes are irresistible.

Only she must resist, because he has a wife – and she’d made a pact to never get involved with a married man.

But how do you choose between keeping your word and being true to your soul?

Weak at the Knees is Jo’s debut novel in the new adult, contemporary romance genre – a story about love, loss and relationships, set between London and the heart of the French Alps.

And here's the cover!

About the author:
Jo Kessel is a journalist, working for the BBC and reporting and presenting for ITV on holiday, consumer and current affairs programs. She writes for several national newspapers in the UK including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Express and was the anonymous author of the Independent’s hit column: Diary of a Primary School Mum.

When Jo was ten years old she wrote a short story about losing a loved one. Her mother and big sister were so moved by the tale that it made them cry. Having reduced them to tears she vowed that the next time she wrote a story it would make them smile instead. Happily she succeeded and with this success grew an addiction for wanting to reach out and touch people with words. Jo lives in London with her husband and three children. She loves traveling and since becoming a mother anything even remotely sad makes her cry. She’s a sucker for a good romance and tearjerker movies are the worst. She’s that woman in the cinema, struggling to muffle audible wails as everyone else turns round to stare.

Where to find Jo:
Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

July 25, 2013

This is W.A.R. by Lisa & Laura Roecker

This is W.A.R. by Lisa & Laura Roecker
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Soho Teen
Pages: 288
Series: n/a
Review Source: Edelweiss

Synopsis: (from book website)
everyone at hawthorne lake country club saw willa ames-rowan climb into a boat with james gregory, the club's heir apparent. and everyone at hawthorne lake country club watched him return.


no one believes that willa's drowning was an accident. after all, she held the club record for the 1500 meter freestyle. and the gregory family has a history of making troublesome girls disappear.

they all know james gregory killed her.

but none of them will say a word.

enter the w.a.r.--the war to avenge Willa's death. four girls. four very different motives to avenge, and only one rule: destroy
the gregory family at any cost. innocence is lost, battles are won, and the pursuit of the truth ultimately threatens to destroy them all.
My Thoughts:
I was so intrigued by this concept and I had enjoyed the Liar Society books by these authors immensely. To me, though, ‘This is W.A.R.’ felt like it had been written by entirely different people. While Liar Society features an incredibly smart and resourceful heroine, the girls here were way out of their league and were grasping for straws.

The first thing this book requires of its reader is a huge suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t believe that every single person in a community (as insular as it was) would “know” that a boy killed a girl and just wouldn’t say anything about it because of how rich and important the family is. Of course there are people, rich and poor, that would lie for their own, but there are also tons of people with morals who would never corroborate a fake story. In order to enjoy this book you also have to believe that the local police department is so inept that they wouldn't find anything strange with the murder scene. You have to believe that in the drowning of a teenager they wouldn’t check the blood-alcohol levels or do a tox screen to see what caused her death. To me, this just didn’t make sense.

I also had a hard time with the motivations of the girls and what exactly they were trying to do. They want justice for their friend’s death, and instead of trying to gather evidence of what happened and actually get the killer prosecuted, they decide that taking away the inheritance of the culprit and his brother is the way to go. So apparently being poor is a good punishment for murder? They also apparently think that stupid teenage pranks will be enough to cause the grandfather of the boys to disinherit them. Ladies, if their grandfather is paying people off to cover up a murder, do you really think that pictures of a drug deal or having an antique watch go missing will make a difference?

This book is told from four perspectives, and each girl knows a little something different about the night their friend was killed. Unfortunately the voices here really blended together and I had a hard time keeping track of who was who. The stakes of this book were just so high, and the immature teenage pranks that would have been fun or witty in another book just came off as ridiculous here. I so wish I could say I liked this one, because the authors are awesome, but I just wasn’t feeling it at all.

The Cover:
Generally like.


Find This is W.A.R. by Lisa & Laura Roecker on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (29)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature upcoming book releases that they're looking forward to.

This week I'm eagerly anticipating...

Never Fade
(The Darkest Minds #2)
by Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?
Add to Goodreads

I'm cheating again, because I've had the privilege of reading this one from Netgalley. I loveeee this series so much, but I feel like not a lot of bloggers are talking about it. You can read my review of The Darkest Minds to see how much I loved the first book, and I enjoyed this one just as much.

July 23, 2013

Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess

Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 320
Series: Brooklyn Girls
Review Source: eARC from publisher through Raincoast Books

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Fantastically funny, fresh and utterly relatable, Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess is the first novel in her brand new series about five twenty-something friends—Pia, Angie, Julia, Coco and Madeleine—sharing a brownstone in hip, downtown Brooklyn, and discovering the ups and downs and ins and outs of their “semi-adult” lives. The first story belongs to sophisticated, spoiled, and stylish Pia, who finds herself completely unemployed, unemployable, and broke. So what is a recent grad with an art history degree and an unfortunate history of Facebook topless photos to do? Start a food truck business of course! Pia takes on the surprisingly cutthroat Brooklyn world of hybrid lettuce growers, artisanal yogurt makers and homemade butter producers to start SkinnyWheels—all while dealing with hipster bees, one-night-stands, heartbreak, parental fury, wild parties, revenge, jail, loan sharks, playboys, karaoke, true love, and one adorable pink food truck. And that's without counting her roommates' problems, too. Gemma Burgess has captured the confusion, hilarity and excitement of the post-graduate years against a backdrop of the pressures and chaos of New York City life, with heartfelt empathy, fast humor and sharp honesty.

A charming debut series about five twenty-something girls and the humor, heartbreak, and drama that bring them together.
My Thoughts:
This book is so interesting to me, because in the end I’m not really sure what I think of it. I almost have two separate reactions that I’m having a hard time melding into one. On the one hand I feel like Gemma Burgess was extremely successful in creating five female roommates who each have their own stories and unique personalities. They were so well developed that I can easily see each of them narrating and carrying a whole book as part of this series. In so many ways Burgess has written a book that reflects what I wish more New Adult novels were like. This book is about a post-grad female taking on the world, trying to find her place. I adored this aspect of Pia, the main character of this book, trying to figure out who she would be beyond college, beyond the influence of her parents. I’d love to read more novels that discuss this topic, instead of just focusing on the love lives of college students.

So where did this book go wrong for me? 90% of the time I couldn’t stand Pia. Main characters don’t have to be completely likeable for me to enjoy them. In fact, I like flawed characters who make mistakes, but also learn from their actions and try to make things better. Pia, though? She was just so off-putting to me, almost immediately. She laments her boarding school life with rich parents who have provided everything for her. She makes a mess of her life time after time, throwing away opportunities, and then is upset when her parents try to control her. The thing is, I did connect with Pia on some small level, or else I wouldn’t have been able to finish the book. She begins to work hard, and I loved her entrepreneurial spirit. There are moments when Pia shines, and I wish she had tried to be more like this throughout the book. Everyone makes mistakes, but I just couldn’t forgive her taking her insecurities out on people who didn’t deserve it. I especially couldn’t accept her having a bad night and deciding to get drunk and do cocaine. Recreational use of hard drugs and a blase attitude toward it honestly just upsets me a lot. There are so many ways you can write an irresponsible party girl without going in that direction.

I feel like ‘Brooklyn Girls’ is one you’ll have to check out for yourself to see if you can stomach Pia better than I did. There’s so much good about this book, particularly talking about food trucks and thinking up ideas for local businesses, that I had to give it 3 stars. But honestly if I knew I would dislike Pia so much at certain moments I probably would have given this one a pass.

The Cover:
Not too bad.


Find Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

July 19, 2013

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 433
Series: Fire & Thorns
Review Source: Edelweiss

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
The epic and deeply satisfying conclusion to Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

"Carson joins the ranks of writers like Kristin Cashore, Megan Whalen Turner, and Tamora Pierce as one of YA's best writers of high fantasy."-Locus magazine

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she's never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most. Riveting, surprising, and achingly romantic, Rae Carson has spun a bold and powerful conclusion to her extraordinary trilogy.
My Thoughts:
I’m going to try and review this one with minimal spoilers, though some aspects can’t be avoided since this is the third and final book in the Fire & Thorns trilogy. If you’ve read the past two books you’re probably already dying to read this one. If you haven’t read this series I’m going to try and convince you! This has become of my favourite fantasy series, and I really think all fans of YA should read it.

Elisa is such a kick butt character -- she is so strong. She’s not a fabulous fighter, though she can definitely hold her own. I like that she has weaknesses that are shown to us, because it makes her seem more real. Elisa has definitely grown into her own throughout the series and has become a woman of strength, determination, and character. She’s a fair ruler who sometimes has to make tough decisions, but who always wants the best for her kingdom.

There's really not enough good stuff to say about Hector. He's strong, loyal, and loving. He's strong enough to be loved by someone of a higher standing, which might bother a man who is less secure. Without getting too specific, the romantic relationship here is so loving, honest, and full of respect and friendship. These are two people who care for each other tremendously, but who also have other duties and concerns.

What is so great about this book (and, indeed, each book of the series) is that there are so many different plots and journeys in it. I could see other authors taking the first quarter of this book and stretching it into a full length novel, but Rae never drags things out. There’s a nicely detailed plot with twists and turns, and it’s incredibly action packed. Rae Carson provided exactly what I wanted for this book, and also gave me things I didn't even know I wanted. Problems were solved, and there was examination of the prophecy and scriptures that were discussed throughout. There’s a fabulous romantic conclusion, political decisions are made, and we get to learn about Elisa's service.

What really brings this book, and the series, to life are a great cast of characters. I love how the secondary characters are so vivid that you could easily see them starring in their own books. I love the relationships they have with each other, and especially how they all relate to, and interact with, Elisa. Storm and Elisa in particular have a special bond. I loved reading about the type of connection and understanding that they have.

This was a perfect conclusion to the trilogy. I had seriously high expectations for ‘The Bitter Kingdom’ and it lived up to each one. Writing this review has me so excited to re-read this whole trilogy from start to finish. I’m jealous of those of you who have yet to read these books, because you have a fabulous treat in store for you. I really can’t praise this trilogy enough!

The Cover:
They're honestly not my favourite covers, but I don't dislike them either.


Find The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

July 18, 2013

Book Blitz: A Taylor-Made Life by Kary Rader (+giveaway)

A Taylor-Made Life by Kary Rader
Release Date: July 18, 2013
Synopsis (from Goodreads):

They lived the life they were given; they loved the life they made.

Cheerleader Taylor Smith doesn’t want to die a virgin. Unfortunately, if the terminally-ill leukemia patient doesn't find a lover or a stem-cell match within months, her fear will become reality. When her cancer mentor is revealed to be a hottie entrepreneur from California, it seems fate might finally be on her side.

Tech-geek Gavin Taylor has everything he ever wanted, except someone to grieve for him when he's gone. With his melanoma cancer beyond the help of his riches, he agrees to participate in a cancer patient mentoring program where he's matched with a dying teen from Texas. Despite his immediate attraction, the Silicon Valley whiz intends only to provide friendship and happy memories to the beautiful, young woman who is determined to win his love.

When it's discovered that his frozen sperm and her harvested eggs could lead to a cure, Taylor's mother offers to be a surrogate. And Gavin must decide if he can risk the heart he has never given and a child he'll never know to a girl he just met.

My blood rushed hot through my veins like a West Texas brush fire as Gavin pulled into the driveway and parked.

We were perfect together. Couldn’t he see that? When I’d asked about the matchmaker, I thought for sure he would sweep me off my feet and carry me away. He hadn’t.

He turned off the ignition and twisted in his seat to face me. “I had a great time the last three days.”

“Me, too.” I lifted my gaze to look at him, to really look at him. God, he was gorgeous, smart, fun, but also sweet and kind. Panic made me want to latch on to him and not let go. I’d rather get an IV in my eyeball than let him leave. I loved him. I always would.

He stared at back at me, his eyes misting with some emotion I couldn’t name. He was breathing heavily, too heavily. I didn’t move. I knew this game—the first one to blink loses.

Kiss me. Please kiss me.

His hand twitched. My lips parted, and I quietly gasped.

Finally, he closed his eyes, whistled out a long breath, and got out of the car.


I wasn’t about to give up yet.

He walked around and opened my door, offering his hand. I clasped it and yanked myself from the seat so quickly that I collided with his chest. He dropped my hand and jumped back like I’d burnt him.

I slapped my palm against my thigh. “What is your problem? Am I so repulsive you can’t stand to accidentally touch me?”

His face paled, and his Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed hard. “No. Of course not. It’s late. I’m sorry.”

It’s late? What kind of lame excuse was that? My shoulders sagged as he swiftly ushered me to the door. I tried to smile hopefully. “You wanna come in?”

He eyed me up and down then shook his head like he was trying to remove a bug clinging to his ear. “I better go. I have an early flight tomorrow.”

“So that’s it, then? You’re just gonna leave?” Everything inside me fell to my toes.

He smiled sympathetically. My hands fisted. Slapping the pacifying expression off his face crossed my mind.

“Hey. It won’t be that bad.” He reached out to brush my arm but let his fingers fall short. “We’ll talk on the phone, and maybe you and your Mom can come for a visit in a few weeks.”

He leaned to kiss my cheek, but I stuck my fingers over his lips. His mouth was soft and warm. Heat spread from my fingers into my arm and through my body. I pulled my hand away so I could concentrate. I was not about to let this end here. “I don’t want a kiss on the cheek, Gavin.”

“I understand.” He held out his hand for me to shake. Captain Oblivious.

I crinkled my nose and frowned. “No. You don’t understand. I want a kiss, but not on the cheek.”

He rubbed a palm across his forehead. “Taylor, we’ve gone over this.”

“No, we haven’t. You’re leaving and—let’s face it—I’ll never see you again. You know it, and I know it.” My voice broke. I stood tall and continued, “You came here to mentor me, take me on a few outings, and give me happy memories. You’ve done that. But I’m asking for one last thing.” I twirled my hair and met his gaze. “I want a real kiss.”

He started shaking his head before I’d even finished. “No.”

Crud-ola! “Why not?”

“Taylor, you know the answer. I told you from the beginning. It’s not appropriate.”

He hadn’t said he didn’t want to. I glared at him and decided to pull out the big guns. “It’s one harmless kiss, Gavin, and it’s a dying girl’s wish.”

His jaw twitched. “That’s not fair, and you know it.”

“Fair? Are we talking about fair now? What’s not fair is that I’ll never get married or have children or even be in love. You’re all I get.” I waved my hand between us. “This is all I get.”

He set his jaw stubbornly, but his eyes betrayed him. “I’ve offered you what I’m willing to give.”

Tears stung my eyes. Damn it. I hated crying, but I couldn’t help it. He’d hit the nail. “You’re no better than those doctors offering me another round of chemo, knowing it won’t do any good and would only make me weaker, sicker.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “Well, I won’t settle for less. I’m settling for too little as it is.” I swiped at my stupid tears. My pulse pounded. I was fighting with everything I had. “How many women have you been with?”

He squinted in apparent disbelief. “What kind of question is that?”

I stamped my foot. “How many?”

He almost yelled it at me. “A few.”

“Do you remember how it felt to be with them? To love them? Would you trade those memories because a few people said it wasn’t okay?”

He darted his gaze around the front yard, shifting his weight from side to side. Even in the dim light of the porch I could see his mind working through possibilities, making him uncomfortable.

“There’s no one out there in the dark to tell you it’s okay. You have to decide.” I pressed on. “What memory do you want to leave me with? What memory do you want to take? Is it really such a sickening thought? Just one kiss.”

He stared back at me with a wildness that scared me. My heart drummed a xylophone chord across my ribs.


I locked in on his gaze and stepped toward him. “Tonight you get to decide what you can live with—or without. I’m asking for one moment.”

Stopping inches from him, I absorbed the tension like a thirsty towel. Electric sparks flew between us. The only sounds were our shallow breaths.

Softly, I went in for the kill. “A kiss goodnight. Is it really too much, Gavin?”

Buy 'A Taylor-Made Life' today at Amazon or Smashwords

a Rafflecopter giveaway
  • Giveaway begins July 18th and will end July 23rd 11:59 EST. The winner will be announced on June 24th on Kary Rader's Facebook page.
  • Open to U.S. residents only
  • We are not responsible for items lost in the mail & have the right to disqualify anyone, at any time.
  • Personal information given by the applicant in the giveaway will never be shared. All information is deleted once the giveaway ends.

Kary Rader is a part-time Twitter sage, stay-at-home mother of three, and slave to the characters and worlds inside her head. Always creative, she's drawn to stories with fantastical worlds and creatures. With a little bit of magic and divine guidance, there isn't anything that can't be accomplished with words. It's the power of words that creates and destroys. Vanquishing evil and injustice while finding eternal love in the process is all in a day's work. With the help of her critique partners and master cartographer imaginary places come to life.

Where to find Kary:


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