Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book Tour for Fall by Kristen Callihan (REVIEW)

Two bruised souls find solace in each other’s arms after a lifetime of not feeling like they’re enough in this heartwarming romance set against the backdrop of the rock star world.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Fall by Kristen Callihan, along with my impressions of it, then add this third installment in the VIP series to your bookshelf!

The first time I met Jax Blackwood things went a little sideways.
In my defense, I didn’t know he was Jax Blackwood—who expects a legendary rock star to be shopping for groceries? More importantly, a blizzard was coming and he was about to grab the last carton of mint-chocolate chip.
Still, I might have walked away, but then he smugly dared me to try and take the coveted ice cream. So I kissed him. And distracted that mint-chip right out of his hands.
Okay, it was a dirty move, but desperate times and all that. Besides, I never expected he’d be my new neighbor.
An annoying neighbor who takes great pleasure in reminding me that I owe him ice cream but would happily accept more kisses as payment. An irresistible neighbor who keeps me up while playing guitar naked–spectacularly naked–in his living room.
Clearly, avoidance is key. Except nothing about Jax is easy to ignore—not the way he makes me laugh, or that his particular brand of darkness matches mine, or how one look from him melts me faster than butter under a hot sun.
Neither of us believes in love or forever. Yet we’re quickly becoming each other’s addiction. But we could be more. We could be everything.
All we have to do is trust enough to fall.


The air between us shifts. I’m filled with a strange giddiness, wanting to laugh for the fun of it, but I’m also too warm, my limbs oddly heavy as if simple movements might be too much for me.
His tone turns soft and cajoling, teasing the truth out of me. “Are you going to tell me what you do?” When I say nothing, the corners of his eyes crinkle. “I see. You’re going to torture me a bit.”
The warm, fuzzy feeling grows as I shrug. “Torture feels apropos in this scenario.”
He hums again, taking another step toward me. “What makes you think I won’t like being tortured by you?”
The heat of his body and the scent of his skin makes my head light and my pulse pound. How did it get to this point where the highlight of my day is flirting with Jax Blackwood? Despite the thrill, I know I’m in over my head. I haven’t gone out on a date in months because I form attachments, I get emotional, and then I hurt when they inevitably leave. And this man will leave. He is as bright and fleeting as a camera flash. I’ll be left with the image of him seared into my memory and nothing more.
I tell myself all of this, the voice in my head as stern as possible. But it doesn’t make me back away. It doesn’t stop my body from somehow straining toward his without even moving. Because it might be stupid of me, but I want to feel something that isn’t planned. Something, for however briefly, that’s real.
He’s too attuned to me not to notice. John’s lids lower as his attention slides down my body before easing back up to my face. Slowly, he rests his forearm on the wall beside my head. “Tell me, Stella,” he murmurs.
“No,” I whisper back, flirting, even though I shouldn’t.
His biceps bunch as he leans in, a smile dancing on his lips. “Tell.”
My breasts graze his chest, and I feel it in my toes.
“You’re crowding me.” I hate how breathy I sound.
“Can’t help it.” His voice is a rumble, the heat of his breath playing over my skin. He ducks his head, drawing close until our lips nearly brush, and when he speaks again, his tone is almost conversational, except for the husky quality that touches deep within my core. “You smell like strawberries. Fucking delicious.”
My lids flutter, and I swallow hard. “Ordinarily, I’d call you out on that cliché but since I’ve been eating strawberries, you aren’t exactly wrong.”
His chuckle is slow and easy, as he eases back and his gaze slowly travels over my face. “Were they sweet, Stella Button?”
He’s looking at my mouth like he might try to find out. My lips tremble in response, and John tracks the movement, his breathing getting deeper, faster. “You have two freckles on your lips. One on the top lip and one on the bottom corner.”
Those damn freckles. They were the bane of my adolescence. I hid them with lipstick and silently cursed whenever someone mentioned them.
Freckles don’t have any feelings, but I swear it’s as if he’s touching them.
“You’re just noticing this?” I try to make it sound like a joke, but it comes out weak and thready.
His own lips quirk. “Oh, I noticed. It’s distracting as hell. They’re like two little dots of butter toffee. Makes me want to lick them, get a taste.”
Oh, God. Lick them, please. I can almost feel it. I want to feel it.
No. Bad Stella. Behave.
John’s lips part a fraction like he just might take that taste.
“Back off,” I whisper. And yet somehow my traitorous hands find their way to his sides, running over the waistband of his jeans, holding him there.
John makes a sound deep in his throat and tilts his hips, pressing them against mine. A distinctly thick bulge nudges my belly. Both of us lose a breath, and then he’s closer, his cheek touching my temple. “You’ll have to let me go first.”
My thumbs slide under the edge of his shirt and find smooth, taut skin. A tremor goes through his body. I try to think, search for what the hell we’ve been talking about.
His lips brush the crest of my cheek as he murmurs against my skin. “Tell me what you do, Stella. You know you want to.”
My smile feels illicit. Somehow the action is directly tied to all my happy parts, making them draw hot and tight. “I don’t think I do.”
Another hum. “Liar. You’re dying to.”




Set in the fast-paced world of New York, where loneliness and indivisibility are sometimes your only friend, an unexpected romance blooms between two bruised souls who are living a lie.  With a blizzard bearing down on the city two people, a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and an unforgettable kiss changes their lives irrevocably in an exhilarating and heartbreaking journey to HEA.

Jax Blackwood, John to those closest to him, seems to have it all as guitarist and singer for the chart-topping band Kill John.  Money flows freely while women are a buffet for the taking and early on he gorged himself on all the highs he could.  Unfortunately it was the lows that constantly weighed on him and that had him making a life-altering choice.  He survived, but there’s still plenty of scars on the inside that he’s still battling with.  On the outside he seems completely recovered, sexy and carefree, a force to be reckoned with on the stage.  With his bandmates, who are more like brothers, there’s plenty of playfulness and moments that had me chuckling.  But on his own he’s clearly hurting.  As a child his upperclass British parents made their disdain for his love of music very apparent, made him feel like a disappointment who would never amount to anything despite his worldwide fame.  In a career where image is everything, he feels unworthy and adrift even when surrounded by fans.  In moments of quietness his thoughts rage at him and it makes him feel weak and dirty.  I ached for him while he struggled with these thoughts.  Though he talked to his counselor, he still felt so utterly alone.  He kept these dark feelings from his bandmates as he was tired of being coddled and afraid of disappointing them again.  Into the chaos of his mind though came the sweet and kind-hearted Stella, and with a single kiss she gave him much nicer things to think about.  Luckily fate was on his side by bringing them together repeatedly, and as next-door neighbors their crackling connection flourished.  It’s a rocky road to HEA for both of them, as each has issues with loneliness and a talent for putting on a brave face, and with each turn of the page I became even more invested in their lives.  John’s journey especially pulled me in and I shed a tear or two while he struggled with his emotions, his heartfelt words binding me to him.  John has a good heart, is loving, and loyal and I wanted to hug him at every turn.  Since I couldn’t be there though, Stella was just what John needed. Stella gave him the support he’s been longing for by accepting his dark words, never judging him, and loving him unconditionally.  Theirs was an epic love story with John being the perfect hero, all the more heroic for the battles he waged, and for his heartfelt words and deeds along the way.

Stella Grey’s childhood left its indelible mark on her too.  With her mother dying young, she was left in the care of a father who barely acknowledged her unless he needed something from her.  He too ultimately left her behind and it was her final lesson in learning that everyone leaves and no one can be counted on.  As an adult she’s clearly drifting, engaging in a career where she gets paid to be other people’s companion, which keeps her from getting close to anyone.  She has no family, no friends, but she’s slowing forming a bond with John.  Despite all she’s experienced before, she’s drawn to him.  They may start out as unlikely friends but with a slow and steady pace they become oh so much more.  Stella’s an endearing heroine with her need to take care of others and the brightness surrounding her that rubs off on others.  On her own though she’s full of self-doubts and tired on feeling alone.  This side of her hurt my heart as she’s a truly good woman who deserved happiness.  Being with John allowed her to take the comfort he offered her while sharing her own demons.  Together they were stronger and I was captivated by their emotionally intense romance.

This was an epic read that took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions.  It warmed my heart while bringing a smile to my face and a tear to my eye.  It was a romance full of heartbreak yet ultimately joyful when this couple found the one perfect person for them.  The issue of suicide was always in reader’s rearview mirror as it had a big impact on John and those around him, how he saw himself and how he thinks others see him.  The issue was handled thoughtfully and never sugarcoated and I applaud the author’s handling of it so those with such dark thoughts will know they’re not alone.  John’s clearly sexy, he exudes the label of rock star, and it definitely left me drooling.  He’s sweet though too, snarky and charming, and it made for entertaining banter between him and Stella.  Their romance was truly romantic as they evolved from friends to lovers through mere touches, burning glances, gentle kisses, until the breath I’d been holding was rewarded with their scorching encounters.  Stella was a great match to him, in what they both needed and what they both gave to each other.  She brought light to John’s darkness, and despite thinking herself plain, she became an unforgettable heroine who left an indelible mark on everyone she came into contact with.  As the third book in the VIP series, it was a delight to see the other members of Kill John and the brotherly connection they all share.  They’re funny when together, but equally capable of addressing heavier issues, though these moments usually ended with a joke.  Though this book stands strongly on its own, readers will definitely want to start this journey from the very beginning.  Seeing where each of these characters came from will make their HEAs all the richer and I’m now counting down the days until the next book in this series hits bookshelves!

My rating for this is an A.

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

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