The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar @TantorAudio

The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar @TantorAudioon November 17, 2015
Pages: 390 pages
AmazonNarrator: Shirl Rae, Zachary Webber
They say it takes 21 days to form a habit.
They lie.
For 21 days she held on.
But on Day 22, she would have given anything for the sweet slumber of death.
Because on Day 22, she realizes that her only way out means certain death for one of the two men she loves.

A haunting tale of passion, loss, and redemption, The Paper Swan is a darkly intense yet heartwarming love story, textured with grit, intrigue, and suspense. Please note: This is NOT a love triangle.

A full-length, standalone novel, intended for mature audiences due to violence, sex and language. Subject matter may be disturbing for some readers.

This book had few enjoyable moments for me as the Revenge portion lasted about 80% of the book and the Forgiveness portion the last 20%. I will give it credit to remaining real and gritty throughout most of the book. ★★★½ for the writing, ★★ for the characters.
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The book starts with a kidnapping, which is quickly revealed a revenge plot. Damian Caballero is exacting revenge against the man who robbed him of a loved one using the eye-for-an-eye rationale. Damian kidnapped Skye Sedgewick, a pampered rich girl, whose father Damian blamed for his loss.

We soon learned that a decade or so ago, mob employee Warren Sedgewick made some hard choices for the protection and safety of his loved ones. In the same manner, his nanny Mama Lou made some choices to protect her young son and those decisions set events in motion pitting Damien against the mobsters for retribution.

I am sure many people ultimately had forgiveness for the brutal ways Damian went about to gain his pound of flesh. Maybe he was even justified but I had sympathy for the widow Warren Sedgewick. I had a hard time with Damian’s actions. As a parent, I felt that while as Warren made some selfish choices, I would wager that most parents make similar sacrifices when faced with real possibility of losing a child. Warren had already lost his wife to the life. Now, he was being threatened with his young daughter’s life. I am not sure what other choice he could have made.

I didn’t feel this consuming love between the characters as their initial relationship felt more like a sibling relationship to me. The time an attraction began to bloom was during the captor-captive situation, which made it feel more like Stockholm syndrome than romantic love.
Skye wasn’t a strong heroine to me, but I admire her courage to forgive. Damien went from an unfeeling criminal to in love with his captive after 1 week in a boat, which didn’t fit for such a scrupulous, grudging holding guy.
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The pace of the story was a bit slow and but I did find that both characters grew up during the latter 25% of the book. Both Damien and Skye ended up letting go of their pain and anger, which gave way to redemption. They made consistent efforts to rebuild their lives, but aid others to have a safe haven and an out from criminal life.

I think the author did a realistic portrayal of how people hold on to pain and anger. A lot of times finding love doesn’t erase past hurts. So I thank the author for not being predictable and making Damian go soft overnight. In the end, while I was pleased with the happy ending. I wasn’t engaged to the story as I felt part of my empathy was cut off like finger during the initial kidnapping.

Special thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook, which was given in exchange for an honest review

Unexpected Fate (Hope Town #1) by Harper Sloan

Unexpected Fate (Hope Town #1)  by Harper Sloanon February 17th 2015
Pages: 301 pages
AmazonNarrator: Sean Crisden, Shirl Rae
Have you ever felt like you were living your life for a future that was predetermined? Like there was some bigger picture you just prayed you would someday see clearly? That picture has been crystal clear to me since I was old enough to recognize it for just what it was.

Or I should say recognize him for who he was.

I’ve loved Cohen Cage since I was a small child. He’s been my everything for the last twenty-two years. I’ve loved him through every girlfriend he’s ever brought home. Through his college years and then mine. I’ve loved him through two deployments. And ever since the day I told him how I felt, he’s acted like I’m a stranger.

My name is Danielle Reid, and it’s time for me to get my man.

Our future is an unexpected fate, and no matter what our parents, siblings, and friends say…it’s going to be worth every second of the fight to make it happen.

I could tell this book was a spinoff even though I have never read the original series nor anything by this author before. After some research on goodreads, I found that the main characters were “Corps Security” Series, the next generation. I liked that Danielle Reid was confident in her love for Cohen Cage even if she was an adolescent. It never wavered through the book. She pursued Cohen while he ignored her. She stood by him while he served overseas in the military. She welcomed him back when his tour was over.  Then the struggled for Dani and Cohen was to get re-acclimated with their new realities.

I knew early into the audiobook that this one wasn’t going to be as fun because there was too much crassness to the characters. It wasn’t as refined of a love story as I typically prefer.  I liked the characters well enough, but the overly dominant alpha male thing was overdone. I thought Danielle was smart and savvy enough not to have Cohen constantly acting like a caveman. I have read enough to know that the over-territorial alpha male plot seem to go with Biker books so I guess for fans of that trope, this book would be enjoyable. I also didn’t enjoy the sex scenes as I like more romance and less dirty talk sex. I am not a prude but I found most of the scenes a tad vulgar (not kinky). My friends who loved the original series were very happy with this spin-off. Unfortunately, I wasn’t entertained enough by plot to want to read further into this series.


*Special thanks to Tantor for the audiobook for review.