Today's featured book, Painted Boots by Mechelle Morrison, is from the NA genre and deals with some very heavy and adult issues of domestic abuse and suicide. Keep reading to learn how the author blends these issues with romance and get my impressions of this release as well. Make sure to leave a comment telling us why you're drawn to these intense kinds of stories for your chance to win a $25 Amazon GC and a hand-crafted bookmark too!
And to help you get a more in-depth look into this book is my question to Ms. Morrison...How do you successfully balance heavy issues with romance to make a satisfying story for all readers?
I start with the assumption that most people, by the time they’re 25, have had some kind of ‘heavy issue’ occur within, or because of, a romantic relationship. One affects the other; if you’ve been there, you know it’s impossible to avoid. We all fall in love and we all deal with serious issues from time-to-time; it’s just part of being human. I genuinely believe that none of us experiences love or problems in the exact same way, so the challenge becomes writing the story’s conflict in a way that creates empathy in others . . . even if the situation is one the reader might never face.
I have read many books in which the protagonist goes through something I would never want to experience for real . . . and yet I’m drawn to stay with them, curious to learn how they deal with the situation. This vicarious sort of interest is seemingly coded in our DNA – why else would we watch soap operas or crime shows or want to know the latest gossip from our friends?
How a particular heroine navigates her trials has always interested me. I learn things when a character makes an unexpected choice in the face of a common dilemma, just as I learn things when a character does something predictable in the face of the unexpected. Though I may or may not agree with what the character does (or with the situation in which they find themselves), I enjoy seeing the world through another’s eyes for 300 pages or so. Honestly, if I only read books that shared my values and opinions, I would probably find them a bit dull . . . .
When her father drags her to a new life in Wyoming, Aspen Brand doesn’t expect to fall for a cowboy named Kyle Thacker—but she does. Aspen and Kyle share unexpected ground: guitar, running, physics. And guilt. Aspen blames herself for her mother’s car accident, while Kyle can’t find a way past his brother’s suicide.
On their first date they open up to each other, forging an unbreakable bond between them. But Kyle has spent two years living with a vicious secret—one his ex-girlfriend will do anything to protect—and sharing his truth with Aspen makes her a target. Now if Kyle is to be her love story, Aspen must first win the fight of her life.
“My parents had a great relationship,” I say. “They were always touching each other, like they’d never evolved beyond infatuation. I lost my mom, yeah. But my dad lost more. He lost his other half, his best friend, the girl he’d been with since he was sixteen years old. It’s like I don’t know him, since Mom died.”
“If your mom was anything like you,” Kyle says, “I guarantee your dad’s hurting.”
“It’s hard for me to see him without her. I still think of my parents the way they were—loving and physical and fun with each other, all the time.”
Kyle slides his hand beneath the hem of my tank top, resting his fingers on the bare curve of my waist. Goose bumps spread across my skin. He pulls at me until our bodies touch. “Any guy’d want that,” he says softly.
BUY LINKS: AMAZON | BN | KOBO
BOOK TRAILER here.
MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
With the continuing popularity of the NA genre comes this release by Mechelle Morrison which combines memorable protagonists, a sweet romance, and an intense and thought-provoking storyline to get people talking. From the moment Aspen loses her mother and is forced into moving to a small rural town, life and the way she sees it will never be the same. Aspen cuts off everything having to do with her past as any memories of her mother are too painful. This leads to finding new friends and creating a whole new wardrobe ala Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. What Aspen experiences though isn't always pleasant as a girl and her friends go out of their way to make her feel unwelcome. One in particular, the vindictive and abusive Em, goes out of her way to make Aspen pay for the perceived hurts she's caused. The one bright spot for Aspen is meeting the artistic and sweet-natured Kyle who's been equally hurt by Em's possessiveness and his own loss in the past. They bond together in a sweet and slowly evolving relationship that gets put through the emotional wringer from the over-the-top Em and a father bound to see his little girl safe and hesitant to let her grow up.
With the story told from Aspen's perspective I felt that we got a good understanding of her while Kyle remains a bit of a mystery. The only time we get a deeper look into his psyche is in his talks with Aspen or through his song lyrics. While the pain Aspen is going through is vividly depicted in this story with it's impact vitally important to discuss, I don't want to discount what Kyle went through at the hands of Em and the need to deal with domestic abuse issues, especially during the under-reported teenage years. His scars were just as disturbing for his stoicism and constant support and protection of Aspen at the expense of himself.
My rating for this is a C+
*I received this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
As a child, Mechelle filled her journals with someday-my-prince-will-come fantasies. Then one day her prince arrived, driving a silver Tundra, and they adopted a fine daughter. Life got busy—work, family, daily cooking—but she still spends her evenings giving voice to the stories inside her head. Only now, instead of locking them away, she publishes them.
Mechelle will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour and a unique, hand-crafted bookmark to one randomly drawn commenter at each stop.
-To be entered, LEAVE A COMMENT LETTING US KNOW WHY YOU LIKE ROMANCES THAT DEAL WITH HEAVY ISSUES, along with your email addy (no email=no entry).
-Winner will be chosen randomly from all comments made throughout the tour, so the more you comment the greater your chances of winning. A list of all participating blogs can be found here.
-Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM CST on 2/6.