February 12, 2012
by Debra Anastasia
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Release Date: November 22nd 2011Author Website
He counts her smiles every day and night at the train station. And morning and evening, the beautiful commuter acknowledges him—just like she does everyone else on the platform. But Blake Hartt is not like the others . . . he’s homeless. Memories of a broken childhood have robbed him of peace and twisted delusions into his soul. He stays secluded from the sun, sure the world would run from him in the harsh light of day.
Each day, Livia McHugh smiles politely and acknowledges her fellow commuters as she waits for the train to the city. She dismisses this kindness as nothing special, just like her. She’s the same as a million other girls—certainly no one to be cherished. But special or not, she smiles every day, never imagining that someone would rely on the simple gesture as if it were air to breathe.
When the moment comes that Livia must do more than smile, without hesitation she steps into the fray to defend the homeless man. And she's surprised to discover an inexplicable connection with her new friend. After danger subsides, their smiles become conversation. Their words usher in a friendship, which awakens something in each of them. But it’s not long before their bond must prove its strength. Entanglements from the past challenge both their love and their lives.
Blake’s heart beats for Livia’s, even if her hands have to keep its rhythm. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love never fails. Love never fails, right?
I’m always amazed at how one novel can arouse differing emotions in different people. We all have specific messages or emotions in that same novel that resonates with us. So for me, even though this novel is categorized as a Contemporary Romance, I found it to be something different. It’s a story about three boys that grew up in foster care and how they forged a lifelong bond that goes much deeper than friendship. The three struggle with haunting demons while providing an incredible support system for each other. They have matching tattoos – a knife, a music clef, and a cross intertwined as a symbol of their brotherhood and love for each other. There’s romance of course, however I actually enjoyed reading about the brotherly love more than the romance.
In my opinion, the author has delivered a great story of all kinds of love and the sacrifices that people make. She forces us to think about or rethink our humanity, our beliefs and our way of thinking. If love can conquer all and is vengeance worth what it can do to your soul? She has created a complex and extraordinary story and delivered it expertly. The novel made me laugh uncontrollably and at times, it made me ugly cry.
There’s a good plot and lots of action that compliments the characters beautifully. In my opinion, character development in this particular story is key. If the author’s skill in this area weren’t superb, this story would not have worked. Luckily for us, her talent is exceptional and she made this novel first class. She skillfully delivers complex and tormented characters that I found true to life with some humor that eased some of the seriousness of their situations.
The Main Characters…
There are so many key characters that I’m hesitant to say Blake and Livia are the only hero and heroine. The others have essential roles and have overcome such odds in the story so I considered them all to be heroes and heroines.
Blake & Livia
Blake is homeless. At 25, he doesn’t have the mental capacity to function in the real world. His problems are too deep. Livia is the type of person that’s always happy and says hello to and smiles at everyone hoping it’ll make a difference to their day. She even has a smile for the homeless man she sees every day at the train station while everyone else tries to ignore him. While they call him Crazy, she calls him Green Eyes. She refuses to look at him other than how she would anyone else.
After an incident at the train station, they start saying more than hello. Gradually, a bond develops and blossoms into more. Studying psychology at the university, she knows not to push too hard but tries desperately to bring him out of his shell. In the process though, she finds an inner strength she didn’t realize she had.
Blake looks forward to her smiles so much that he… get this… counts them. ahhhh!!! Livia finds out about this at smile number 446. Now, I ask you ladies, who would not move heaven and earth to be with a man who counts your smiles?
From the innocent to the opposite extreme, there’s Beckett. One of my favorite characters in this novel, he is the protector. He is one badass man and to some, evil. Drug dealer, loan shark and killer, he dirtied his hands with all sorts of things so his brothers wouldn’t have to. He has done and will do anything to protect them.
However, when it comes to his brothers, he is capable of the most incredible love. Growing up, Beckett took beatings from their foster father so other smaller kids wouldn’t have to. That is until Blake and Cole came to the same house where he was. They stepped in to share in the ruthless beatings to share Beckett’s pain. Thereby developing the lifelong bond that nothing in life could touch.
Cole turned to the Church as redemption for his sins. Despite some reservations, he intends to become a priest to pay the church back for helping him work through his demons. He is the calm and levelheaded one of the brothers; however, he has an incredible violent streak deep inside stemming from his upbringing. He is suspicious of Livia for a long time thinking she’s playing a game with Blake and will eventually tire of him and crush him to a point beyond help.
Livia’s sister, Kyle, is very complicated character. She provides lots of entertainment value with her sense of humor and shenanigans. However, their mother abandoned Livia and Kyle as children leaving Kyle with deeply rooted insecurities. Her feelings of despair and a little resentment of Livia’s perfection led Kyle to find attention where she could and that happened to be in all the wrong places.
She is a kick-ass assassin who has a secret agenda that will eventually make her realize that vengeance does not fill the emptiness she expected it to. She has some very tough decisions to make during the entire story and we always wonder which path she will take.
Arrogant, emotionally abusive and full of hate is Livia’s boyfriend. He portrays himself as the “big” man with everything. He’s very mean to Livia and his actions throughout the novel have dire consequences. I will however try to be kind and say that perhaps he used his aggression to hide deep-rooted insecurities. See… my lesson from this novel is to be more understanding and humane.
So, those are the main characters, however, there were other supporting ones whose actions will endear you to them. As I said above, this author is incredibly talented at characterization to effectively portray so many great characters in one story.
One thing I’ll mention about this novel is that I found it to read more like a Young Adult novel instead of an Adult Contemporary Romance. Things like Livia and Kyle (20+ year olds) still living with their father and sneaking out of the house at night were a couple things I found a little unrealistic for their age. Perhaps the author’s intent was to illustrate the extreme difference between the character’s upbringings. Regardless, this is in no way a criticism of the author’s abilities, it’s only said because of my personal preference of genres.
In my opinion, the author has delivered a great love story that forces us to think about our humanity and our beliefs. She’s created complex and multi-faceted characters and delivered the story expertly. This novel will evoke emotion. No doubt! I highly recommend reading it!
5 Bad Boys – Absolutely Loved It!!!!!________________________________________