Tuesday, August 26, 2014

~Review: Sweet Fall (Sweet Home #3) by Tillie Cole~

We all have secrets.

Secrets well buried.

Until we find the one soul who makes the burden of such secrets just that little bit easier to bear. 

Lexington "Lexi" Hart is a senior at the University of Alabama. Surrounded by her best friends, her loving family and having fulfilled her life-long dream of making the Crimson Tide cheer squad, everything is going exactly as she always dreamed it would. But beneath her happy exterior, demons lurk, threatening to jeopardize everything Lexi has worked to achieve. When events in her life become too much to cope with, Lexi finds herself spiraling down into the realm of her biggest fear. Lexi falls hard, victim once again to the only thing that can destroy her and, on the way, finds herself falling straight into the dangerous tattooed arms of a guy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Austin Carillo, starting Wide Receiver for the Alabama Crimson Tide, must get picked in this year's NFL draft. He needs it. His brothers need it. Most importantly, his mother desperately needs it. Brought up in a world where the poor are forgotten, the sick are left to fend for themselves and no hero miraculously appears to pull you out of hell, Austin had no other choice but to make a living on the wrong side of the law—until football offered Austin the break to get his life back on track. But when a family tragedy drags him back into the clutches of the gang he believed he had left far behind, Austin finds himself falling. Falling back into criminal ways and falling deep into a suffocating darkness. Until a troubled yet kindred spirit stumbles across his path, where Austin quickly finds he is falling for a young woman, a young woman who might just have the power to save him from his worst enemy: himself.

Can two troubled souls find a lasting peace together? Or will they finally succumb to the demons threatening to destroy them?

New Adult/Contemporary Romance novel—contains adult content, sexual situations and mature topics. Suited for ages 18 and up.

Can be read as a stand-alone novel.

Overall Rating:  4.5 Rockin’ ★★★★☆
What defines a person?  Is it the shape of their body or face? Is it their upbringing? Is it their past?  Is it their soul?  Author Tillie Cole attempts to answer these questions.  From the beginning of the story, the heroine and hero are at odds. He is a former gang member from the wrong side of the tracks.  She is the bubbly carefree cheerleader from a secure loving home.  They are both students attending the University of Alabama.  He is the star wide receiver and she is the best flyer on the cheer squad.  The author conveys introspective elements in this book that are soul searching and thought provoking.  Society teaches us to strive for the perfect face and body that conforms to its ideal and being different is wrong.  The stigma of not having model qualities or the ideal home life, fuels our indifferences and intolerance of others.  The author makes this the focal point in her book. 

Austin is the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. He has had a rough life but not by choice but through circumstances of his birth. He is gorgeous, covered with tattoos and piercings that he uses to hide his battle scars.  Football is his release. He's a great wide receiver and has potential to play professionally.  His brother is second in command in his former gang and now his younger brother Levi is being initiated into that world.  Austin’s mother is gravely ill and is in the last stage of ALS, a horrific disease that has ravaged her body and caused her great suffering.  In order to pay for her medication, the brothers sell drugs.  They agree that family is the most important thing and no matter the consequences or the cost their mother will not have to suffer this debilitating disease and unbearable pain without help.

Lexi hides her disorder so well no one recognizes what is happening to her until it is almost too late. She has a problem with her self-image so she starves herself to achieve the perfect "photo-shopped" body her mind demands.  Lexi finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time when a drug deal is going down on campus.  She is confronted by Austin's older brother and told that she must keep this a secret and if anyone finds out she could end up dead.  Slowly, a truce and friendship begins to bloom between Lexi and Austin. As their relationship develops into more both find themselves at odds with the world’s encroaching problems surrounding them.  My thoughts were all over and I kept wondering…Will Austin succumb to the demands of his former life? Will Lexi give in to the voices plaguing her?  Do they have a future, let alone one together? 

Would I recommend this book:  Yes.  Tillie Cole delivers again an extraordinary book that opens up a world that is often hidden because of the stigmas associated with it.  This is a heart wrenching story beautifully written and delivered through this thought provoking book.  The depth of the characters’ anguish brings the drama to life while the plot heightens their plight and enables us a glimpse at their suffering and traumatic existence. 

Would I recommend this author:  Yes.  Tillie Cole is on my favorite author list and she once again proves why.  Sweet Fall is an intricately woven story using life’s hardships and experiences to engage the reader in an unforgettable read. 

***Received an ARC of this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review***

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