Friday, February 26, 2016

review || 9 LETTERS { blog tour } by Blake Austin

Self-Published | February 24, 2016 | Contemporary Romance


Luke Cawley is a broken man. After his wife's tragic death, he lost everything that mattered in the world. Now, his life is filled with hard days, harder nights, and a steady stream of alcohol and the wrong kind of women. Nothing helps.

Until the letters arrive on Luke's doorstep.

Nine envelopes. Nine messages. Nine chances to find his way back.

Rae Goode is looking for the real thing. After fighting her way out of a string of bad relationships, she's ready for something different--something true.

She meets Luke while piecing her life together, and right away she can tell that he's different. Drawn together by fate and the desire to heal, Rae and Luke discover new ways to mend their broken hearts--one letter at a time.

{ about blake austin } .

Blake Austin is a guitar playing father of one, who lives in Los Angeles. He's written music for as long as he can remember and was inspired to add book writing to his repertoire. 9 Letters is his debut novel.

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{ excerpt } .

I was about twenty minutes early for my shift, but I got up to the bar, grabbed a rag, started wiping it down, bussing some dishes.

"Damn, Luke," Jake said, watching me work. "You win the lotto or something? Royals win the pennant last night and I forgot to watch?"

"I'm just in a good mood, that's all," I said.

I thought about it a moment longer, decided I should tell him more. Impart some wisdom learned from my not-particularly-advanced years.

"When everything's dark for so damn long and your eyes get used to it," I said, "just a little glimmer of sunshine lights up the whole world."

He nodded, then grabbed a bus bin and headed back into the kitchen.

Warren though, Warren wasn't impressed. He was sitting by one of the daytime barflies, but he'd stopped talking and was just watching me. I was on thin ice, and I knew it. I couldn’t afford to lose my job. A heartbroken, drunk, angry widower is probably as unemployable as the average ex-con.

I came on at the end of the day shift. Warren liked tending bar during the day, because it meant just shooting the shit with the regulars. That day I had a smile for every customer, sparse words of wisdom like day drunks want to hear. Tending bar wasn't my dream. But to hell with letting that make me lazy. I kept the place clean, I poured drinks like I cared.

I was getting into the swing of it when happy hour kicked in and a few more people filtered through the door. Couple of middle-aged bikers, a retired couple that parked their RV out front.

The door swung open again, letting in a little bit of that early-evening cold, and I glanced up to see a crowd of three women, with two men. One of the women was a reddish blonde, radiant. Sort of stole the light out of the room. It was Rae. Our eyes met and her smile gave the room back its light.

She'd been in jeans at the shelter, but she was in a blue dress now and she looked damn fine in either. Took my mind right off Maggie, faster than I thought it would be possible. I met her eyes, and she gave out a little gasp and giggle. I was probably smiling in surprise myself.

The crowd came over to the bar. I'd thought the other four were two couples, but I realized pretty quick that the black girl with the afro was dating the quiet white guy in a beard and glasses and tattoos, and that the other guy was trying to impress Rae. He had a John Deere hat, but his clothes were way too clean for me to buy it that he worked on a farm. I hated him, right off. I probably would have hated him if he was the best guy in the world, though. The other girl, she was tall, latina, and for some indiscernible reason was interested in the poser farmer.

Most of the time, I'm awful at reading people. But for some reason, at work I can tell you everything about everyone who walks in the door. About who's into who, about who had a bad day at work. Who wants to get drunk and miserable, who wants to get drunk and happy, who wants to get drunk and start trouble. Maybe it's some magic of the job, maybe it's just how people carry themselves at a bar. Helps with tips, that's for certain. You wingman right, and the money flows in.

Warren, he likes to upsell them drinks when he's doing that. Get them excited about the top shelf. Not me.

"Hey, Rae," I said.

"Luke," she said.

John Deere looked at me like I was the scum of the earth. And maybe I was, but if I was the scum then he was... I don't know, something worse than scum. Wannabe scum.

She introduced me to her friends. Nicole had the afro, her boyfriend was Eric. The girl with bad taste was Irina, and John Deere had some name but honestly it went in one ear and out the other. He was John Deere to me. Yeah, maybe I'm an asshole.

"So, how do you know this guy?" Deere asked, tossing me a look that said I clearly wasn’t good enough to be friend with someone like Rae.

"Oh, he came in just the other day. Adopted the sweetest dog, a bloodhound." She turned to me, flashing that dimple high on her cheek. "How is he? You guys call a truce yet?"

"King's great," I said. "I mean, he's probably at home right now, eating everything I've ever owned, but I figure I was due for a purge anyway, right?"

It was a lame attempt at humor, but Rae laughed.

"What can I get you all? Friend of Rae's is a friend of mine."

{ review } .

This was a sweet read -- but it was one of those reads that have you second guessing what it is you're actually reading. This was a Christian-type novel disguised as a contemporary romance novel. Have you ever started watching a movie, only to realize as the previews are rolling, that the football movie you picked up was actually a Christian based football movie? There's nothing wrong with it -- the movie's still good, but you were kind of lead astray.

Which was what happened for me in this book. The difference in the Christian movie disguised as a football movie, versus this book, is while in the movie you get all of your God references and the beliefs that He was bringing the team where they were meant to go -- it was still a football movie. With 9 Letters, though, there are a lot of God references in both Luke's healing, and Natalie's bitterness, but when it comes to the romance aspect... Well, it was there, it just didn't quite fulfill my expectations (and by that I mean, the end disappointed me like the ending of A Walk to Remember, the movie edition, because the book gives the reader so much more to imagine).

So now that that spiel is out of the way...

The book was still sweetly written and Luke's journey was most definitely a tear-jerker. Luke was with his wife for what felt like forever -- and when she passed, they were still young. He had a hard time moving on; their house became a bachelor pad, her organization became disorganized... On the anniversary of her death, Luke received a box with nine letters, and instructions on how to move forward -- very P.S. I Love You, but still it's own ideas. Luke's first mission to moving forward is getting a dog, and it is on that mission that he meets Rae.

Rae works with the shelter animals, and believes that you don't choose the dog, the dog chooses you, and it's the lonely King that chooses Luke. 

...and so begins the journey.

I enjoyed watching as Luke moved forward with the help of his late wife's words. I loved that Rae was open to Luke healing. Rae was definitely a bright light in Luke's dark life, and watching as she went through his journey with him as lovely. I would have simply liked more in the growth of their relationship than what we were given.

{ giveaway } .

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