As a fan of the previous books in the Shattered Past series I'm excited to bring you the heartwrenching third installment that deals with intense emotional baggage. Keep reading to get a tantalizing taste of Once Pure by Cecy Robson, along with my impressions of it, and learn even more about this book by visiting the other sites hosting this tour. You'll also hear from the author herself listing sure-fire signs that prove you're an author. In celebration of Ms. Robson's visit make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a Loveswept mug, a Flirt mug, and a bundle of select eBooks too!
Thank you so much for inviting me to be on your blog. Now, I know that there are a lot of readers out there, but I also know there are a lot of authors. For those who write who aren’t sure whether they’re “real” writers yet, I’ve developed a few sure-fire signs that could help you decide. *clears throat* Shall we begin?
15. Every idea is a brilliant idea until it’s not.
14. Your characters crack you up, bleed your soul, piss you off, and shock the hell out of you.
13. You think the book you’re writing is your greatest work ever, but then it’s not, then it is, then it’s not again, until you finally feel good about it . . . only fall apart when you go back and edit.
12. Vacations are a joke and mostly excuses to research new settings.
11. You plot. All the time. It doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re doing, or who’s
watching you muttering to yourself.
10. Ideas come at during inopportune times, like during job interviews, when you have to wake up early for work, or when your spouse is asking you if you’re listening to him/her.
9. Your characters talk to you and you answer them back.
8. You resolve plot holes seconds from falling asleep,resulting in you not going to sleep.
7. You can’t understand how people can go about their daily lives when you just killed one of your most beloved characters.
6. You Google things like: cyanide, rohypnol, medie
val torture devices, and assault rifles, terrified you’ll end up on some “list.”
5. Your characters are real people who stay with you long after you type “The End.”
4. You view people who don’t enjoy reading as unnatural, bizarre, and possibly from another planet.
3. Deleting a scene is the equivalent of demolishing a piece of your soul.
1. You love it, and regardless of its trials and torment, you know you’ll never stop.
Sofia Tres Santos remembers a time before her life went sour, before her innocence was ripped away, before she began punishing herself with risky behaviors and unworthy men. Now, at twenty, she just hopes she’s ready to rebuild some of what she lost. One way or another, it always comes back to her childhood friend and longtime crush, Killian O’Brien.
As strong as Killian is, Sofia has always been his one weakness. He knows Sofia has suffered and wants to ensure she’s never hurt again—not like before, and definitely not under his watch. When Sofia agrees to work at his mixed martial arts gym, Killian seizes the opportunity to help and protect the sweet girl he’s always cared for. And yet, as he trains Sofia to defend herself using his hard-hitting MMA techniques, he’s drawn to the vulnerable beauty in ways he never expected.
As Sofia grows stronger, she also grows brave enough to open herself up to love. And along the way, she challenges everything Killian believes to be true, showing him that no matter how much he dominates in the ring, the real battle is fought in the heart.
The steady pummeling of fists against the speed bag continued as if the body slams and swears weren’t bouncing off every wall of the MMA gym. Every strike, every blow, promised pain and demanded respect. I tried not to react to each loud smack, or cower from supersized bodies dripping with sweat, but it was hard. Controlled chaos was the best way to describe the scene unraveling before me. And no one owned it like Killian O’Brien.
I slipped my fingers into the computer bag hooked to my shoulder, pretending to fumble with the files tucked against my laptop, while totally checking out Killian behind the safety of my sunglasses.
His broad and muscular back was to me, but that was okay. I liked the way his Celtic cross tat crawled down the length of his spine and spread across his shoulder blades. I liked the way his wavy jet-black hair tickled the base of his skull. I liked the way—okay, who was I kidding? I liked everything about him. I had since I was seven, when he and his large Catholic family moved into the row home across from ours.
Killian hadn’t noticed me. He was busy kicking what remained of a heavy bag, showing the younger MMA brawlers how it was done. At six feet five, and fighting at super heavyweight status, Killian shouldn’t have been so flexible. But he was. Dear Lord, he so was.
His foot skimmed the top of the bag with each brutal thump, causing the chain holding it to rattle and jolt with hard shakes. Killian was best known for his kicks. If he caught his opponent in the face with his foot, the poor guy was done, and so was what remained of his face.
I jumped when the youngest O’Brien approached. “Oh. Hi, Finn.”
The dimple on his right cheek deepened when he grinned. He motioned to my nylon
computer bag. “You ready to work?”
“Oh, yeah. Ready to go.” I patted the bag like a total loser, then rather awkwardly let myhand fall to my side. In an attempt to regain some sense of grace, I slipped my sunglasses to the top of my head, pushing the strands of my long, bouncy curls behind my ears.
Finn’s grin widened. He likely sensed my nervousness. His toothy smile made him appear younger than his nineteen years, but it was sweet enough to soothe the tension my first day back had caused. I liked Finn, I always had. He was smaller than his brothers, but just as tough, working his way up the MMA ranks as a welterweight.
He slapped his gloved hands together, full of energy as usual. God, it seemed, had dumped all the O’Brien muscle onto Killian’s heavy-duty frame. God was funny that way. That didn’t mean Finn wouldn’t take on a guy twice his size. Finn was funny that way.
He scratched the top of his curly ginger hair. “Killian know you’re here?”
“Ah, no, but that’s okay. I can just head to his office and start on his website—”
“Kill, Kill!” Finn cupped his mouth with his hands, yelling at the top of his lungs. “Yourwoman is here!” His attention cut to my mortified face. “You are his woman, right, Sofia?”
“Ah . . .”
Killian’s head jerked our way, along with most of the behemoths training. I wasn’t sure if he could see how red my face was from where he stood, but the easy smile spreading along his strong features told me he could. He abandoned what remained of the heavy bag and crossed the padded floor as the rest of the fighters resumed their free-for-alls.
I froze, watching him prowl forward like the mad beast he was, his hulking and densely tattooed arms swinging loosely against his sides. It wouldn’t take him long to reach us, despite the large expanse of the converted warehouse, so I tried to speak fast. “I’m not his woman, Finn.”
“So you’re just banging?”
“But you want to.”
“Want to what?”
“Bang my brother like a pair of cymbals,” he said, like I was the stupid one.
“Yes—no.” Oh, good heavens.
“He’s a good guy.”
“Finn, I’m not having this conversation with you.”
“Do you want to have it with Kill instead?”
“Have what with me?” Killian’s deep voice rumbled like thunder as he stopped just infront of me.
It had been a few weeks since I’d last seen him. Dark stubble grazed his chin, forming a mini-goatee and emphasizing the angles of his square jaw. But his face didn’t hold my attention for long. My stare traveled down his body, taking in his light skin glistening with sweat . . . before I remembered that my sunglasses now rested on the top of my head and I was blatantly gawking at him.
“Like what you see?” he asked, playfully.
“I . . .” The urge to bolt had me shifting my weight, hard enough to slap the hem of my long white skirt against my bare legs. But I stayed put, trying not to faint from his scorching level of badassness and working to form a decent response. “I was just admiring your sweat.”
So much for a decent response. He stopped smiling. “My sweat?”
I punched him in the arm, because, yeah, I was just that lame. “Totally. You must have had quite the workout, huh, asskicker?”
Finn grimaced as if it pained him to watch me go down in flames. I was good with computers. I couldn’t say the same about men. If the fate of the world depended on me successfully interacting with the male species without stuttering, blushing, or recoiling, the world would just end and we’d all die some sick apocalyptic death.
Killian analyzed me closely like most would a bug they were debating on squashing, before his chest shook with laughter. God, this is Sofia. Please strike me dead.
Killian closed the distance between us, the fingertips of his large hand extending to tickle my chin. “I was just getting started. Nice to have a pretty girl appreciate my efforts.”
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
Into a series known for its emotional intensity and respectful yet vividly detailed handling of serious issues comes the third installment in the Shattered Past series. The name of this series is meaningful as past events weigh heavily on many characters forming who they are today as they continue to battle with their pasts or reuniting readers with those who have won their battles to reach their HEAs. It's a series that's heartwrenching at times but ultimately uplifting. It's realistic in the emotions displayed and its multiethnic representation makes it relatable for the age we live in and shows that family is broadly defined with love and support being the foundation.
Sofia has been through a lot in her life. From the abuse of her father, to her disappointment in her passive mother, to the rape that went unreported...Sofia was left spiraling. It led to poor decisions and an undeserved reputation that's still haunting her today. For so long she did all she could to kill herself, but being reunited with the man she's loved since they were children has given her newfound strength and a reason to quit letting her past define her. At the start of the story Sofia is a timid girl letting her fears and self-hatred rule her. She's holding back from Killian and from life but as the story progresses his love and belief in her have her emerging from a cocoon full of strength and belief in herself. Whereas she used to get knocked down and roll over, she now gets up and fights back. I was rooting for this change every step of the way as she frustrated me a bit at the beginning. Her extreme shyness and timidity had her looking like a victim but the mere fact that she survived all the pain in her past makes her anything but a victim. She always saw herself as unworthy because of the choices she made out of pain but survival alone makes her worthy of respect and love.
Killian is the quintessential hero as he's strong, sexy, and not afraid to show his caring side. His only flaw is his inability to say "I love you". His cheating father had made a mockery of that sentence and it's a huge roadblock in his relationship with Sofia who needs to hear those words uttered unconditionally. Even though he can't say the words out loud every other word and deed shows how much he cares. He'd kill anyone who'd try to hurt her, supports her in everything she does with work even if he thinks it's silly, and knowing her sexual fears he lets her set the pace. He's always been a patient man and to help her heal he'll need all the patience he can muster. As she's dealing with her past and the choices she made so too is he. In protection of family he took the law in his hands and has to see the results on a daily basis. Dealing with this guilt eats at him and battles with his need to be the protector and ultimately it all endeared him to me. I adored him from the first page and smiled at the sweetness of the childhood affection he had for Sofia while aching for his frustrations at not being there when she needed him most. He made up for lost time though in a relationship that started off slowly morphing into sensual tension and ultimately scorching encounters showing the maturity of their connection.
This story had me fully immersed in its outcome from the very first page as we immediately got reacquainted with characters from past books. Seeing the O'Brien family along with Teo was like seeing family. Their playful interactions and gentle barbs added to the family feel and made for numerous heartwarming moments. Sofia might have started off weak but her progression to someone so self-assured was richly rewarding to see. Killian was supportive every step of the way to make him a swoon-worthy book boyfriend. With this story set in the world of MMA Ms. Robson vividly depicted the blood, sweat, and tears needed to make it to the top. The fight scenes were exhilarating with every punch being felt by readers. With brother Finn's involvement in the sport too, along with his own issues that need to be dealt with, I look forward to revisiting this gritty world soon. With its sensitive yet realistic handling of serious issues Ms. Robson pulls you into the character's pain and leaves you rejoicing in their overcoming it. Readers are put through the emotional wringer alongside these characters in an immensely satisfying journey that I recommend all readers to take and that has her on my auto-buy list.
My rating for this is an A-
*I got this book from NetGalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Cecy Robson is the New Adult author of Once Perfect, Once Loved, and Once Pure and the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A self-proclaimed professional napper, Cecy counts among her talents a jaw-dropping knowledge of useless trivia, the ability to make her hair big, and a knack for breaking into song despite her family’s vehement protests. A full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest, Cecy enjoys spending time with her family and silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.
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