Spotlight & Giveaway: In Ruins by Danielle Pearl

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The first New Adult spin-off novel in the bestselling YA Something More series by Danielle Pearl!

She wanted to start again. To be someone—anyone—different. . .

Freedom. When Carleigh Stanger thought of college, that was the word that came to mind. Freedom from her unhappy home life. Freedom from high school mistakes. Freedom from the memory of that terrible morning. Only instead of bringing a sweet escape, Carleigh’s first campus party traps her in the scornful gaze of the last person she wants to see, Tucker Green.

It wasn’t long ago that being close to Carleigh was everything Tucker wanted. But that was before he realized she was just another scheming girl who’d do whatever it took to get her way. Even lie to the guy she claimed to love. Unfortunately while Tucker’s brain remembers the pain Carleigh caused, his body only remembers the pleasure . . .

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ExcerptI linger half in a dream, wondering why I feel as if I’m waking up inside my past. My fingers automatically reach to the base of my throat for the white gold crown charm Tucker gave me before graduation last year, a reminder that I would always be his princess. But always didn’t last, and my fingers come up empty as I recall tearing off the necklace and stuffing it unceremoniously into my bathroom drawer minutes after he broke my heart.

The subtle scent of fresh spring soap, aftershave, and the faint musk of last night’s sweat ambushes my senses. My eyes flutter open to find dawn breaking in through the window shades. It’s still early enough that I doubt anyone else will be awake for a while, but I know that whether it’s minutes or an hour, once Tucker’s eyes open, it won’t be long before I’m asked to leave.

It takes no more than another second or two to register the pattern of his breathing, too lively to indicate sleep, and I stiffen above him. I swallow anxiously and reluctantly look up.

He’s watching me, gaze impassive, but his arms don’t move. His fingertips dance, feather-light along the small of my back, and I wonder if it’s what woke me. I clear my throat, though I have no idea what to say in this moment. But Tucker speaks first.

“This can’t happen again. You know that, right?”

I nod. Because I do know. We’ll never be friends if we blur the lines with this. Not just the sex. Not even mostly the sex. But this. This intimacy. This is what could break us. Break me.

In an instant, the haze of last night’s lust begins to lift, and anxiety settles in its place. Because I doubt I could survive his breaking my heart a second time, and that’s precisely what I’m setting myself up for. I’ve laid my own trap, and I need to free myself before it’s too late.

“We shouldn’t be laying in bed like this,” I tell him.

His smile is wistful. “I know.”

But he makes no move to disentangle himself from me. Instead, he does the opposite, his hand leisurely roving up the avenue of my spine, as if it’s going for a Sunday drive.

I shrug it from my body and sit up, startling him. “Stop doing that,” I snap.

“Touching you?” His brow furrows.

“No! Yes. Touching me, and agreeing with me but continuing this… this affection anyway.”

“Sorry,” he murmurs half-heartedly.

“No you’re not.”

He frowns as I yank the sheet out from under the bedspread and drape it around myself.

“Maybe it was wrong of me,” I admit. “Coming here last night. Maybe I was stupid to believe we could just hook up and walk away. Or that I could. But Tucker, if you wanted to fuck me, then why couldn’t you just fuck me?” My words drown in regret. “You can’t say these things—about my eyes, how you think about me… You can’t stare at me the way you do, or call me Princess. It isn’t fair.”

“Carl—”

No, Tuck. You know how I feel about you. And you said it yourself. When you love someone more than your own life, you don’t let them go for anything.” I stare at him meaningfully. “Anything.”

Tucker shakes his head, eyes lined with exasperation. “Carl, I tried to talk to you about that last night—”

“No, Tuck. I get it now,” I assure him. “And maybe I always should have known. But you must have, right? Or at least you do now.”

“Know what?” His brow furrows deeply, vaguely bewildered.

I glare at him, trying to determine if he’s undermining my intelligence or if I’m somehow not making sense. But I know him better than that, and as easy it would be to vilify him right now, I can’t lie to myself. “Maybe you really did believe it at the time,” I admit. “That you loved me back.”

“Carl—”

“Or maybe you really did love me. Just not enough, you know?” I don’t bother fighting the tears. He’s seen them plenty of times now anyway, and if there’s ever been a time to let them flow, it’s now.

And Tuck stops his attempts to explain. He blinks at me, stunned silent, and I suspect he’s finally grasping the weight of his own words. And I realize that even though he’s the one who said them, it’s only now that he’s really understanding their implications. The truth is obvious and cruel, and with it I can stop wondering. I can stop analyzing his words and guessing at their meaning. Because now I know.  

Eventually Tucker sighs, raking his fingers through his hair as he searches for words to placate me. But I don’t want his guilt, and I definitely don’t want his pity.

I avert my gaze and it lands on his overnight bag, three feet to my right. I force in a deep breath and shove my hand inside it, pulling out the first piece of clothing I can grab, grateful to discover it’s a t-shirt—fitted for him, but oversized for me. I hastily slip it on.

I look back at him, feeling utterly defeated. “You let me go.”

We both know now what that says about his love, but this isn’t about blame—this is about acceptance. It’s about moving forward. “So let me go,” I beg him, and then hurry out the door.

authordanielle-pearl-credit-lidia-anichDanielle Pearl is the bestselling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her three delicious children and ever-supportive husband, who—luckily—doesn’t mind sharing her with an array of fictional men. She did a brief stint at Boston University and worked in marketing before publishing her debut novel, Normal. She writes mature Young Adult and New Adult contemporary romance. Danielle enjoys coffee, wine, and cupcakes, and not in moderation.

Website/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Goodreads

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Jordan

Release Day Blitz: In Ruins by Danielle Pearl

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She wanted to start again. To be someone—anyone—different . . .

Freedom. When Carleigh Stanger thought of college, that was the word that came to mind. Freedom from her unhappy home life. Freedom from high school mistakes. Freedom from the memory of that terrible morning. Only instead of bringing a sweet escape, Carleigh’s first campus party traps her in the scornful gaze of the last person she wants to see, Tucker Green.

It wasn’t long ago that being close to Carleigh was everything Tucker wanted. But that was before he realized she was just another scheming girl who’d do whatever it took to get her way. Even lie to the guy she claimed to love. Unfortunately while Tucker’s brain remembers the pain Carleigh caused, his body only remembers the pleasure . . .

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author

Danielle Pearl is the Amazon and iBooks best selling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her three delicious children and ever-supportive husband, who–luckily–doesn’t mind sharing her with an array of fictional men. She did a brief stint at Boston University and worked in marketing before publishing her debut novel, Normal. She writes mature Young Adult and New Adult Contemporary Romance. Danielle enjoys coffee, wine, and cupcakes, and not in moderation.

Website/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads/Amazon

Happy reading, 

Jordan

Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway: ReCap by Danielle Pearl

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ReCap (Book 1.5)

Rory and Sam fell in love in NORMAL, and we all fell in love right along with them. Now see it all unfold through Sam’s eyes, and learn just how the new girl with anxiety issues stole the heart of the gorgeous heartthrob, and turned his world upside down.

You already heard the story. The one of how Rory and I fell in love, supposedly, even if she couldn’t handle it in the end. You know how it all went.

Or you think you do.

You only know her side. But I have my own point of view, and even Rory couldn’t know my thoughts in those few months it took for her to go from being a stranger to my whole entire world.

Every moment is permanently ingrained in my memory. In my goddamned soul. From the moment I stumbled upon the girl panicking outside of calculus – the one with the tight little body, the angelic face, and the fierce attitude – to the night she abandoned me in Miami. It was the sum of those moments that changed me irrevocably.

Our story isn’t over. I won’t let it be. But this, this is what happened so far, the way I saw it.

I’m Cap. Or Sam, to Rory. And this is my story.

review

4/5 Stars

***I received this ebook as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author.

From the first page of this series, I’ve been hooked. I love everything about Rory and Sam, their complex relationship, the past trauma, how they heal each other’s wounds and see how strong they truly are just by being loved. It’s beautiful, uplifting, heartbreaking, everything you could ever want in a story and so so so important. The Something More series deals with crucial issues that are not voiced enough, that people look away from rather than take action against like domestic abuse and rape. In many ways, when we do hear these stories, they’re from one side, or maybe two, the victim and the attacker, but what about the people who are there after, those who love and cherish those who have been hurt so deeply? ReCap is that other story. The powerful and life-changing POV of those who fall madly in love with someone who has been abused and the everyday struggles that come up.

Sam is…I mean, he’s amazing. That word somehow seems less. Sam is empathetic, strong, fierce, protective, and soul-crushingly, swoon-inducing, devoted to Rory. He sees her scars and worships at the altar of her strength. Rory is something holy and angelic to him. No matter how broken she sees herself, she’s the epitome of perfect to Sam because she has overcome so much.

It’s intense reading Sam’s emotions as he watches Rory fight for control of her PTSD. The thoughts that race through his mind, his struggle to understand, and the way he beats himself up when he makes mistakes are incredibly raw and honest. The fine line between treating her like she’s fragile and comforting her is hard to master and Sam makes tons of mistakes. 

It’s all the things you don’t think about that are brought to your attention in this book. The way we take things for granted, like casual touching, or grabbing someone when you want to get their attention. It’s eye-opening to witness how things we brush off can trigger someone who has been through trauma. 

How Sam sees Rory. It’s like seeing the sun for the first time. That bright, almost startling brightness, the magic of its beauty, the way it warms and occasionally burns, but brings so much comfort. That is what Sam feels every time he looks at Rory, like he’s awake for the first time. The emotions are off the charts, almost too much. I might be a little in love with Sam. 

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ReCap and the Alternate POV 

I’ve heard every opinion you can think of regarding the highly controversial alternate point-of-view companion novella, or novel in many cases. They’ve been published by some of the best in the genre–Hoover, McGuire, Stephens, Evans, and countless others. Some readers love them with their whole book-loving hearts, thrilled to get more of their favorite characters however they can get them. Others hate them with every cell in their one-clicking finger–or perhaps a decidedly different finger, considering the sentiment–frustrated to pay to read a story they feel has already been told.
 
Personally, as a reader, I’ve been on both sides of the book aisle. For me, I find that whether or not I enjoy reading the same story from a new vantage has a great deal to do with how much I enjoyed the original novel. It also helps to know what to expect. Sure, it’s always nice to get access to some new scenes, but I’ve found that rare in these kinds of books. Instead, what you’re getting is access not to new plot points, but to new insights. 
 
Sam “Cap” Caplan is deeply special to me. He’s the first book boyfriend I published, and he will always be one of the loves of my life (don’t tell my husband). He’s gorgeous, yes, and he should be–I invented him. But he’s also incredibly patient and compassionate, strong in all the ways I love a man to be strong, yet sensitive in all the ways a girl like our heroine, Rory, desperately needs. When you’re writing a girl who struggles with PTSD, and a debilitating anxiety disorder as a result, you need a special kind of hero to make her feel safe enough to open herself up again. When that girl’s trauma was caused by the worst kind of betrayal by the men in her life who were supposed to love her the most? Lets just say it was a challenge to find that balance between alpha protectiveness and patient empathy in a way that would both do justice to the subject matter, and be organic for the development of their relationship. 
 
But–*sighs dreamily*–oh, Sam
 
Let’s just say, as far as I’m concerned, he’s it
 
So when I posted on Facebook asking readers if they would be into a novella retelling some scenes from Normal from Sam’s POV, and the response was a resounding, “hell yes!”, I was immediately in. 
 
ReCap (which I realized too late almost no one realizes is a play on Sam’s nickname), was written in about a week and a half. Once I jumped into Sam’s head, there was nowhere else I wanted to be, and it flowed out of me with barely a conscious thought. I loved being in there. I loved seeing Rory through his eyes, and experiencing his extreme emotions–the consternation of his strong reaction to this girl he didn’t even know, the inexorable affection he couldn’t quite explain, the rage as he slowly uncovered just what she’d survived, and most epically, the love that started as a small spark, that gradually kindled until his heart was being consumed by an inferno he had no way of escaping. 
 
I always new Okay (Book 2) was going to be told in dual POV, but it was writing ReCap that really made me understand how critical it was to experience these stories through Sam’s observant, insightful eyes. He just sees so much, feels so much. And I wanted readers to feel it with him. 
 
ReCap is book 1.5 in the series, and it isn’t necessary to read it between Normal and Okay. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t my favorite in many ways. You don’t lose anything by skipping it, but you do gain so much by reading it. 
 
So my final thoughts: If you enjoyed a novel, embrace the alternate POV book. Go in knowing what to expect, and not hoping to read an entirely new story. Because in real life, we never get to see through anything other than our own eyes, and how incredible is it to have the chance to do that with the characters we already love? 

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES (INCLUDED IN BOXED SET)

eBook-Normal-by-Danielle-Pearl

It’s the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That’s what I’m counting on.

A year ago, Aurora “Rory” Pine was just a normal teenage girl – just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after.

But this isn’t a year ago.

Rory is broken, and suffering from a new debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that’s easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There’s a witness – and a gorgeous one at that.

Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly can’t ignore.

But Sam has issues too, and Rory’s past won’t just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they’re lucky – love. This is not a flowery romance – not for the faint of heart.

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After the horrors she’s survived over the past year, Rory never expected to find the one thing she certainly wasn’t looking for – love. But after the painful realization that her past has left her a dangerous liability to the person she cares for the most, she finally understands that for her and Sam, love means letting go.

Can two people hopelessly in love ever revert back to just friends? Neither Rory nor Sam knows for sure. But the one thing they do know – it’s the only choice they have.

As Rory recovers from a devastating assault, Sam will do anything to make sure it never happens again. But how far will he go to keep her safe? Their choices will change everything, and they will either bring them back together, or destroy them irrevocably.

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Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Excerpt

I climb into the passenger seat of Carl’s Audi. She tells me that Tina is already at the party and we’ll meet her there. I look at the clock on her dashboard and estimate that I’ll need to kill about three hours before Mom goes to bed and I can sneak back home.

When we arrive, Tucker hands us both red plastic cups and points us to the keg, but I set mine down on the first flat surface I can find. I haven’t taken a pill today, but I still don’t really like to drink. Tina and Andrew are laughing and talking with a group of people and Carl goes off to join them while I hang back a few feet from the crowd. I watch as a minute later Tuck jogs over, slings his arm around Carl and plants an exaggerated wet kiss on her cheek. She playfully pushes him away, but it’s clear she doesn’t mean it. Everyone looks so happy and carefree… normal.

I don’t belong here.

“Having fun?”

I startle but catch myself quickly. Somehow I recognize Sam’s voice instantly, and his tone tells me he can tell just how much fun I’m having.

“Didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”

I shrug. “Tons,” I murmur, unenthused. “You?”

“A blast.” He matches my level of excitement. “Can I get you a drink?” he offers.

“I don’t really drink.”

“How about some water?”

“I- uh-“

He hands me his unopened bottle of Poland Spring, and my lips part to thank him, but for some reason I stay silent.

“You don’t seem to want to be here,” he observes.

I frown. He’s right, I don’t, but it’s rude of him to point it out, isn’t it?

“Neither do you,” I counter. Sam smiles, and it’s an unexpectedly wistful smile. I’m surprised by it. I’d expect something more cocky from such a gorgeous, confident guy.

“Touché… I have a lot on my mind.”

If he expects me to ask him about it, he’s going to be disappointed. Even though I find that I am interested to know what’s plaguing the mind of this beautiful boy, I worry that if I ask about his problems, then he’ll have the right to ask about mine. But he doesn’t give me a chance to ask, and I think maybe he didn’t want me to after all – maybe he didn’t even mean to say it.

“You wanna go for a walk?” he asks, nodding in the direction of the open grassy area that leads to what appears to be a pond.

Is he seriously hitting on me?

He doesn’t even know me, and the one thing he does know is that I obviously have issues. He probably thinks the crazy ones are easy. My eyes narrow. I straighten my shoulders indignantly and square my stance. False confidence all the way.

“No. I don’t want to go for a fucking walk. I’m not gonna fuck you, or hook up with you in any way. Or anyone else for that matter. Spread the fucking word,” I growl. My throat is suddenly desert-dry, so I take a swig from his water bottle to soothe it, praying it doesn’t betray my anxiety.

Sam stares at me like I’ve just grown another head, so I turn and stomp away from the hordes of people, toward the pond, marching in the exact direction I just insisted I did not want to go. My heart pounds mercilessly, but this isn’t panic, this is anger.

Ugh! Guys! They’re all the fucking same.

“Hey!” Sam calls after me.

Can’t he just take no for an answer?

He catches up to me and his unexpected grip scorches the skin of my arm like wildfire.

I don’t think. I wrench out of his hold, turn, and smack him across his face. “Don’t touch me!” I hiss. “Don’t ever touch me!” We’re now far enough away from the crowd that no one notices us, but if I scream, they’ll hear me.

Sam’s fingers caress his cheek where my palm made contact, eyes wide and round.

“What the fuck is your problem, Rory?! I wasn’t fucking hitting on you!” He rubs his reddened cheek again. “Damn it!”

He wasn’t hitting on me?

My boiling blood starts to simmer and shame floods my veins. All of a sudden I can’t for the life of me remember what made me so certain his invitation for a walk was code for a hook-up – what made me think he’d want me that way at all. God, if he didn’t already think I was crazy…

Damn it, Rory, don’t panic.

Sam is glaring at me, but something in my mortified expression must warrant pity, because he sucks in a deep breath and I can sense his anger begin to dissipate.

“I was… you just didn’t seem like you were up for a party. I thought you’d want to get away from all those people.” He gestures to the crowds, now off some distance, and shoves his hand through his messy chocolate locks in frustration. “I wasn’t trying to fuck you. I realize that we don’t know each other very well, but what about me that you know so far, exactly, makes you think I’m the kind of guy who would lure you down to a lake, lay you down on the dirty ground, and have sex with you with a hundred of our friends not fifty yards away?”

I swallow anxiously. I’ve offended him. Moisture pricks the back of my eyes and I will it to stay put. It’s beyond reason how much I’ve humiliated myself in front of this guy in just one week.

“I-” I choke back what threatens to be a sob, close my eyes, and silently count back from ten in double time. When I open them again, I’m greeted by his expectant midnight blue gaze. “I’m so sorry,” I breathe.

Sam exhales sharply, his fingers raking that familiar path through his hair . “Look, I shouldn’t have grabbed your arm like that. I wasn’t thinking,” he murmurs. Now he’s apologizing and I’m more than certain he has nothing to be sorry for.

“Not just for slapping you.” Oh God, I freaking hit him!God, but I am so sorry for that. But I’m sorry for assuming- I wasn’t thinking. I…” I pause and look away. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” It’s a lie. I know exactly what’s wrong with me.

Sam’s expression warms, and it’s not full of pity either – it’s… compassion. Empathy.

He sighs. “There’s nothing wrong with you, Rory.”

I look away again, anywhere but at the deep blue oceans that unnerve me so. They seem to know more about me than they should. “Sure there isn’t,” I mutter bitterly under my breath.

Sam takes an abrupt step so he’s directly in front of me, silently demanding eye contact. His arm twitches, like he wants to touch me but thinks better of it.

“There’s. Nothing. Wrong. With. You.” He glares at me like he can convince me of this with just a look.

Everything in my gut screams that he’s a good guy. Like Cam. But if there’s anyone whose instincts can’t be trusted when it comes to guys, it’s me. I was even wrong about Cam. I thought I knew everything about him. But he was keeping his secrets, too.

But Sam saw me freak out. He knows I have issues, but no one else here does. Which means he’s kept my secret. Otherwise it would have been all over the school in a heartbeat. That’s got to count for something.

“Sam, you… thank you. I mean it, but you know that’s not true. And I know you didn’t tell anyone what happened my first day. When I…” I trail off and shake my head. He doesn’t need a recap, he was there. “Thank you for that. You’ve been nothin’ but nice to me. There’s nothin’ about you that would make me think anything bad about you,” I say meaningfully, answering his original question. “Except that you’re a guy,” I add quietly.

Sam looks sad for a moment, but offers me a weak smile anyway. “I was just hoping we could be friends. Just friends.” He covers his mouth and whispers conspiratorially, “no public fucking on the grass outside of parties. I promise Not even if you beg.”

I smile, but it’s a wistful smile, because I could never be Sam’s friend, even if something in my bones really wishes otherwise. But I no longer believe that guys and girls can really be just friends, and I’m too attracted to him to even try. I could never fully trust him, not really, and I could never trust myself with him.

“Why would you even want to be my friend?” I ask. Because really, if I were him I’d have fled screaming in the opposite direction.

He considers me a moment. “I don’t know, Ror, you just seem… real.” He shrugs. Something about the way he says “Ror” reminds me of Cam, and the memory of our friendship cuts me so deeply I wince.

“I wish I could be your friend, Sam,” I murmur.

His eyes are full of some unfathomable emotion, and I wonder how this conversation has grown so intimate. We barely know each other. When Sam speaks again his voice is so low it’s practically a whisper. “Who hurt you, Rory?”

I tell him the truth, matching his tone – barely audible. “Everyone.”

authDanielle Pearl

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Danielle Pearl is the Amazon and iBooks best selling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her husband three delicious children. She is a life long book enthusiast who has been writing ever since she could hold a pencil.

Danielle went to Boston University and worked in marketing before self-publishing her debut, Normal, in August of 2014. She writes mature young adult and new adult contemporary romance. She is represented by Erica Silverman of Trident Media Group.

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Cover Reveal: In Ruins by Danielle Pearl

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The first book in the New Adult spin-off to bestselling author Danielle Pearl’s Something More series.

ABOUT THE SOMETHING MORE SERIES

It’s the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That’s what I’m counting on.

A year ago, Aurora “Rory” Pine was just a normal teenage girl – just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess was named after.

But this isn’t a year ago.

Rory is broken, and now suffering from a debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that’s easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There’s a witness – and a gorgeous one at that.

Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly couldn’t ignore.

But Sam has issues too, and Rory’s past won’t just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they’re lucky – love. This is not a flowery romance – not for the faint of heart.

HERE ARE MY REVIEWS OF THE SOMETHING MORE SERIES:

NORMAL Review

OKAY Review 

It’s taken me a while to write this review not because I was busy or lazy but because I had so much to say and this review was harder to write than others. When I first read NORMAL, I was absolutely stunned and impressed with Danielle Pearl’s voice. The way she captured the anxiety, the terror, and just how debilitating living with PTSD is on a daily basis was precise, accurate and showcased a substantial amount of research and understanding. Generally when people think of PTSD, I think they assume soldiers. PTSD has many faces and many levels of distress. Danielle Pearl does an amazing job informing the reader of the little things, the tiny day-to-day activities that those who do not suffer from PTSD don’t think about and sheds light on the strength it takes to endure when anxiety and memory strike. OKAY is a continuation of Rory and Sam’s romance and hones in more on self acceptance, learning to love in the face of a traumatic series of sexual abuse, and discovering that no matter how dark and horrendous the past can be, hope is as resilient as the human spirit.

Both of these reviews are 5 STARS

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal: Okay-Danielle Pearl

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Expected Publication Date: Feb 24, 2015

cooltext1712921505 copyAfter the horrors she’s survived over the past year, Rory never expected to find the one thing she certainly wasn’t looking for – love. But after the painful realization that her past has left her a dangerous liability to the person she cares for the most, she finally understands that for Rory and Sam, love means letting go.

Can two people hopelessly in love with one another ever revert back into just friends? Neither Rory nor Sam know for sure. But the one thing they do know – it’s the only choice they have.

As Rory recovers from a devastating assault, Sam will do anything to make sure it never happens again. But how far will he go to keep her safe? Their choices will change everything, and they will either bring them back together, or destroy them irrevocably.

OKAY is the follow-up to NORMAL and Book 2 of the Something More series. It is NOT meant to be read as a standalone novel.

Normal, the first book in this series, was one of my top reads of 2014 and one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2015.

For my review of Normal –>Normal Review

Keep reading,

cooltext1754437870 copy

Review: Normal-Danielle Pearl

 

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Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 11, 2014

cooltext1790897456 copyIt’s the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That’s what I’m counting on.

A year ago, Aurora “Rory” Pine was just a normal teenage girl – just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after.

But this isn’t a year ago.

Rory is broken, and now suffering from a debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that’s easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There’s a witness – and a gorgeous one at that.

Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly couldn’t ignore.

But Sam has issues too, and Rory’s past won’t just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they’re lucky – love. This is not a flowery romance – not for the faint of heart.

cooltext1790896132 copy5/5 Stars

***I received this book in exchange for an honest review via the author

+++This book does contain triggers- sexual, physical, and psychological abuse as well as MATURE content

PROS:

  • Normal is the kind of book that opens your heart, examines its parts and then stomps all over it only to put it back together again, better than before. It’s feels overload. The flashback scenes are gut-wrenching, horrifying, the sort of paralyzing trauma that leaves you breathless in sheer fear and trembling with tears. Rory’s suffering is incredibly moving and heartbreaking. Every remembered incident is an open wound and your heart will bleed right along with her. Grab your tissues. Lots of them. 
  • The violence is graphic and brutal. The details physically are coupled with Rory’s internal dialogue. Her thoughts are she was in the moment are scattered and conflicted as she tries to process the reality of her situation and to understand how something so horrific can happen. Some scenes may have you averting your eyes or skimming. It’s hard to read because it is emotional chaos. The scenes in the car, omg, and the locker room. I’d never been so scared for a character in my life. The terror will consume you and open doors to understanding.
  • When you get to the back of the book, there’s an explanation of the inspiration behind this novel. Danielle Pearl said she wanted to write a book about abuse that is not black and white but the perfect shade of gray. Pearl exceeded by expectations. There are times when you want to be mad at Rory, that you want to shake her and scream for her to get out of there but her thought process will have you pausing, rethinking. Rory’s mentality, her youth and inexperience are highlighted and very believable. For a girl who was just coming into her sexuality and unsure of what it means to have a boyfriend let alone a sexual relationship, her innocence and confusion really challenge the notion that everything is black and white. Rory doesn’t know, she feels alone, diminished, and broken with no one to talk to because she has been taught to feel shame. My heart broke for Rory and the rage was intense. Every time I hear the justification for assault as someone was asking for it incites my fury. It’s ridiculous and Rory epitomizes how this notion sinks under the skin, making girl question whether or not rape is their fault. Also, the excuse for cheating as “I have needs.” UGHHHHH.
  • Rory’s anxiety, her triggers, her life-preserver of just knowing her pills are there if she needs help are accurate and insightful portrayals of PTSD. That Rory should have to feel paralyzed to be alone in a room with a male, that she has to constantly adjust her life so as to not aggravate her triggers is unfair and honest. Every ounce of uncertainty and how it comes over her in sudden waves of fear granted more psychological understanding of a character than I’ve experienced.
  • Rory is brave. Her courage is an inspiration and made of awe. That she, knowing the possible consequences and the Golden status of her abuser, had it in her to make a report is powerful to read. Despite everything she’s suffered and her severe psychological and physical scars, she took a stand to save herself. Rory is that character that forces you to think, to feel, and experience. She’s the kind of character that will leave you all over the place, bogged down with emotion. Rory is a tiny broken bird, thirsting to disappear into the background but when she shines, she’s a phoenix. Rory is resilient in body and spirit, she’s an example of hope that everyone should read.
  • Sam is a lesson in patience and compassion. He cradles and soothes Rory. He understands her on a deep level that transcends his years and his playboy attitude. He gets it. His own story is sad and violent, he struggles with control but realizes that he is a better person, that overcoming is an everyday challenge. 
  • Sam and Rory together are therapeutic. They’re a wonder couple. They have their challenges, every day is a little better when their together and in each other’s arms they can move on from the past that haunts them. They’re playful and real, they share their secrets and feel safe with each other. It’s beautiful and a little tragic but the kind of love that speaks of forever.

CONS:

  • The cover is not something that would make me pick it up.

cooltext1790891142 copy??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????cooltext1790890114 copyHe is a walking trigger for me. Gorgeous. My God is he gorgeous. And gorgeous guys in high school are assholes. Especially jocks. And judging by his physique, that’s exactly what he is. He’s tall. Built. Six plus feet of lean muscle… athletic. Something I’d have found incredibly attractive a year ago.

Now, all I can think is how easy it would be for him to overpower me.

No matter how many self-defense classes I take, I’m still just an average height, slight figured girl. No match against him. No match against any man really.

Suddenly all I register is the desolately empty hallway, the absence of any other souls. The fact that there are over a thousand people in this building, including thirty or so just on the opposite side of the door he just exited, is completely and utterly lost on me.

My pulse races again, ten times worse than before. I gape at him in shocked panic, but can’t catch my breath enough to speak. My hand reaches for the front pocket of my backpack again, but this time for the zipper. I can’t get a grip on it, my fingers shake too much. My gaze makes its way up this stranger’s frighteningly powerful body, up past a chiseled jaw, and lips so full and soft looking they are in total contrast to his masculine bone structure. My gaze inexorably continues its path past a straight nose framed by perfectly defined cheek bones, and lock on his eyes.

The sneer I expect is missing. He’s not looking at me like I’m a crazy weirdo – though I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ve become – instead, he’s watching me with genuine concern. His eyes are the deepest blue, like a midnight sky, and his brow is creased with worry.

And the strangest thing happens. As we keep eye contact, I start to calm. I breathe in, and out. In, and out. I am still panicking, but I can breathe, and my fingers stop shaking enough to get a grip on the zipper pull. I look down to unzip the pocket and grab the bottle, but as soon as our eye contact is broken, I can’t remember what calmed me in the first place and start breathing hard again. My chest constricts. The bottle tumbles from my trembling fingers and rolls a few feet away. Before I can scramble to pick it up, he does it first.

I freeze, waiting for him to hand me my medication, but he pauses, and reads the label. His brow furrows again in concern, or consternation, and as he reluctantly hands me the bottle, I can feel him judging me. But I don’t care yet. I can’t. I need to calm down. I need a pill. I twist open the lid and look up and down the hall and silently thank God when I see a water fountain. I force myself the thirty or so feet to it, pop the pill, take a drink, and then lean back against the wall and close my eyes, waiting for the magic to take effect.

Slowly, the pressure in my chest alleviates. My breathing starts to even out, and though my mind is a bit cloudy – the whole reason I want to stop taking the pills in the first place – the attack is passing. A few more moments and I’ll be able to open my eyes, maybe even venture into math class.

“Better?”

My eyelids fly open. I hadn’t realized he was still here, let alone followed me to the water fountain.

“Fine. Like I said,” I mutter ungratefully. He furrows his brow and hesitates and I wonder why he’s even still here. For a split second, even calmed by modern medicine, I worry he might want to hurt me, and I swallow nervously and hold my breath.

“Why don’t I know you, Aurora?” he asks casually, as if he didn’t just witness me breaking down in the hallway.

“Rory,” I correct, before I realize he just called me by name. “Wait. How do you know my name?” My tone makes me sound paranoid, and the irony is that had I not just ingested anti-anxiety medication, just the idea of this tall, ruggedly beautiful boy knowing something about me I hadn’t offered him would have sent me spiraling into another attack. But I took the pill. I caved. So I can come across like a relatively normal person, at least for now.

“It was on your… um… bottle,” he replies.

I look down, mortified. Vaguely I wonder if he knows what Alprazolam is prescribed for, even though he obviously just witnessed my attack. I’m thankful the bottle says the generic name, and not just Xanax, which teens generally recognize. Some even take it for fun, which doesn’t make sense to me. There is nothing fun about any of it.

“So why don’t I know you, Rory?”

“I’m new,” I practically whisper.

“I see. Well, welcome to Port Wood. I’m Sam. Sam Caplan.”

“Nice to meet you,” I breathe, still without looking up.

“So, can I, like, walk you to the nurse’s office or something?”

Now I look up. “No. Like I said, I’m fine. I just need to get to class.” I turn and start to walk back toward room 313 when another student comes barreling down the hall. I pause and step back toward the wall, out of his way.

“Cap! What’s up? I’m late as fuck!” he announces to explain why he’s taking the halls like a bat out of hell. However, as soon as his gaze skates over me he comes skidding to a stop. “Well, hi there.” His eyebrows rise with interest and he rakes my entire body with his gaze, he doesn’t even try to hide it.

I take another automatic step back and fold my arms protectively over my middle. I tell myself that he’s just flirting. It’s harmless. It’s normal.

But I’m not normal.

I’m so glad I’m medicated right now.

Sam seems to sense my unease and steps in front of me, practically shielding me from someone who is obviously his friend. His friend’s brows draw together as he looks at Sam, clearly confused at his stance, as am I.

“Sorry, Tuck, we’re late too, gotta get to class,” Sam explains as he gently takes my hand and leads me back towards calculus. I’m momentarily stunned by his touch. A strange man taking hold of my hand should have freaked me out, even medicated. But his touch was somehow… comforting.

“Uh, okay. Catch you later, I guess,” Tuck calls out and resumes his jog down the hall in the opposite direction.

As soon as he’s gone I yank my hand back, ignoring the fact that a part of me doesn’t want to.

“Sorry,” Sam offers.

I just shrug in response.

“He’s harmless. Tuck. Tucker. He’s just a flirt.”

“Whatever. It’s fine. I’m-“

“You’re fine. I got it.”

I look up at him. Back into those eyes. Big mistake. I start to feel guilty. It appears that I’ve grown so accustomed to being the victim that I can’t even recognize when someone is trying to help me. Great. Now I’m a bitch. “I’m sorry,” I mutter.

“Whatever, it’s cool. You in my class? Calc?” he gestures to the door to 313.

I nod.

“Cool, let’s go.”

“Didn’t you… weren’t you headed somewhere?” I ask. After all, he must have had somewhere he’d needed to go – before he got sidetracked by the new girl having an episode in the hallway. Sam chuckles and it’s a lighthearted, genuinely sweet sound. The kind of laugh that instantly puts you at ease, that intimates sincerity and warmth. I’m surprised by how it affects me.

“Nah. I just get bored in calculus sometimes and ask for a bathroom pass.” He shrugs and opens the door for me.

I go in ahead of him and to my surprise, he grabs the form out of my hand and slams it on the teacher’s desk. “New student,” he murmurs, as if it’s the most ordinary thing in the world and then takes a seat in the second row.

The teacher barely looks up as he directs me to take a seat, which I do – as far back as I can – and the few students who look up, mostly girls, look only at Sam. And I can’t blame them.

And just like that, I’m back to being invisible.

cooltext1790891890 copyFacebook/Smashwords/Twitter

Danielle Pearl is a novelist focusing on the New Adult genre. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two delicious little boys, and has been writing since she could hold a pencil. Danielle is a book addict and spends every free moment consuming as many novels as humanly possible. She grew up on Long Island with her parents, twin brother, and younger brother and sister who are also twins. She is the eldest granddaughter of Zus Bielski, famous for leading the Bielski Partisans who saved over 1,200 Jewish men, women, & children in Nazi occupied Poland. Her grandparents and family were featured in the 2010 film Defiance, starring Liev Schreiber, who played Danielle’s grandfather, Daniel Craig, and Jamie Bell, and was directed by Edward Zwick.

 

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