Release Day Blitz & ARC Review: Pocketful of Sand-M.Leighton

Pocketful of Sand M. Leighton

A story of heartbreak, loss, redemption and second chances: Pocketful of Sand from New York Times bestselling author M. Leighton

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She’s beauty for my ashes. And I’m hope for her heartache.

-Cole Danzer

“We stand in silence, practically nose to nose, for at least two full minutes. I realize as I stare up into his ocean blue eyes that I could drown in them and die a happy woman.” 

“She looks up at me, those big hazel-gray eyes melting me all the way through. This is right. She is right. For me. For my life. She’s beauty for my ashes. And I’m hope for her heartache. We fit. Like we were made for each other.”

cooltext1790897456 copyI don’t know what makes a great love story. Is it that instant attraction when boy meets girl? The passionate kisses and the fairy-tale ending? Or is it a lifetime of tragedy, paid in advance, for a few stolen moments of pure bliss? The pain and the suffering that, in the end, you can say are worth it for having found the missing piece of your soul?

The answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know what makes a great love story. I only know what makes my love story. I only know that finding Cole when I did, when Emmy and I were running from a nightmare, was the only thing that saved me. That saved us. He was more broken than I was, but somehow we took each other’s shattered pieces and made a whole. If that is what makes a great love story, if that is what makes an epic romance, then mine-ours is the greatest of them all.

Contains material that some may find disturbing. Not intended for readers under the age of 18.

cooltext1790896132 copy4.5/5 Stars

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual abuse and adult scenarios.

Pocketful of Sand is a beautiful lesson in love and loss, in recovery and finding happiness after a life lived in darkness. The broken are never truly destroyed, they’re just waiting for that magical someone to glue their mangled pieces back together again. Cole and Eden are two aching souls who found solace in each other’s arms and there’s nothing more perfect, more beautiful than their mutual healing through their simple brand of raw, broken love.


  • Pocketful of Sand contains scenes that may be difficult for some readers to get through. Sexual assault, rape, and violence might be too much for some and could be a trigger for others. That being said, the scenes themselves were not especially graphic and for that, I was grateful. Descriptions were blunt and to the point without unnecessary lingering. Every emotion, every sickening, grotesque word was conveyed with such power and precision that they become stark realism. I’ve never wanted to reach through the pages and tear a character apart more than this horrible, disgusting rapist. Ryan is an appalling nightmare of a man, his lewd words, his terrible actions all combine into a strong, evil character, one that is nowhere near redeemable. Sometimes in books that contain sexual assault, authors try to romanticize, they go through painstaking detail and M. Leighton did none of those things. She understood how to craft a monster and make him a devil with the face of an angel.
  • Loss is a huge theme in this story. The pain of living with a mistake that alters your whole life, the agony of going on day after day living with regret, the ways we punish ourselves for living when our loved ones are gone-all of this is written with honest, poignant emotions, no holding back. The feelings are raw and brutal with no apology and this makes them immensely authentic. The sadness is sometimes so profound that it moves you, it breaks you, and it makes you want to call up a loved one and let them know how much you appreciate them.
  • Eden is a protective momma bear who seems much older than she is and after all she’s been through you really can’t blame her for having her guard up. Taking a hiatus from men to make time for mother daughter bonding and recovery, Eden is thrown for a loop at her heady attraction to Cole. Eden is a fierce, independent woman who knows what she wants but will sacrifice to build a safe, reliable environment for Emmy. Eden and Emmy’s interactions are pure love and respect. They understand each other and analyze one another to the point that it’s remarkable how well they can detect each other’s emotions. Eden is the epitome of a compassionate, attentive mother but that is not all she is. With Emmy’s help and blessing, Eden learns to let herself blossom, to appreciate who she is and what a beautiful woman she can become. Eden lives with fear as her constant companion and sometimes she thinks she’s too damaged for anyone to want. It hurt to read how scarred she is and the moments she relived her trauma were tortuous.
  • This man. OMG. Cole believes that he must punish himself for his mistake. A horrible, tragedy of a mistake it is. He doesn’t think he deserves happiness and just about everyone in the small town thinks he’s crazy. Cole is a man of habit. Like clockwork he makes a ritual of his nightmare, sanctifying and living in memory. His world is split between illusion and duty. He keeps himself busy so that pleasure is unattainable. Cole is a kind, genuine man with a dirty side, that will shock and delight. The room-by-room tour in his house. Holy hotness. That mouth. Cole is a dazzling mystery that when unraveled will break your heart and leave you twisted in sympathy for him.
  • Together, Cole and Eden are a blaze of sexual chemistry. The harder they fight their attraction the more powerful it becomes. Everything from roving eyes to blunt confession will woo and kindle your heart. The desire is bold and big and leaps from page to page.
  • Emmy is an angel. She’s a burst of sunlight in this storm of loss. Her trauma is heartbreaking. Every time she hides herself away and sticks her adorable little thumb in her mouth made me want to cry. Knowing that she suffered, someone so small and innocent was gut wrenching. As Emmy slowly starts to open up, there’s a steady stream of hope that grows into something effervescent and transcendent. Emmy’s smiles and drawings are enough to give anyone faith that you can find happiness and reasons to laugh again after trauma.
  • Jordan was a surprising delight. The town lush, it’s easy to dismiss her as a flirty little hussy but if anything, she’s an illustration of why you don’t judge a person without hearing their backstory. Jordan has suffered and been beaten down, bullied and trampled on and yet, she can be confident and full of so much joy and life. When I found out about her past, everything made sense. All people cope with pain differently but that doesn’t make them worth less than another person who might’ve handled their hurt better. Jordan’s lines were hilarious and occasionally shockingly deep.
  • I lost track of how many times my heart just about stopped. Whether it was from tear or sadness or ecstasy, so many moments will leave you jarred and breathless, waiting for the next drama. This was a fast read because I was flipping pages like made to find out what happens next. 


  • The romance was sort of like instalove. They were ensnared from the second they laid eyes on each other. While the sexual tension was ever present, I would have liked more of an emotional build up as opposed to the blatant sexual.
  • I’ve read nearly everything M. Leighton has written so far and this was the first time I’ve encountered a choose your own ending option. At first, I was excited and enthusiastically plowed through the HEA segment. But of course, I had to know what the other option was. I went on and read that as well. I don’t know if it was the order or what but I came out of it extremely confused and stunned. Maybe it was the late hour I was reading or the sheer weirdness of the second option but I closed the book asking myself what the heck just happened?

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mleightonNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author M. Leighton is a native of Ohio. She relocated to the warmer climates of the South, where she can be near the water all summer and miss the snow all winter. Possessed of an overactive imagination from early in her childhood, Michelle finally found an acceptable outlet for her fantastical visions: literary fiction. Having written over a dozen novels, these days Michelle enjoys letting her mind wander to more romantic settings with sexy Southern guys, much like the one she married and the ones you’ll find in her latest books. When her thoughts aren’t roaming in that direction, she’ll be riding horses, swimming in ponds and experiencing life on a ranch, all without leaving the cozy comfort of her office.


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Happy reading, 

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