Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Release Day Blast: Against the Wall by Jill Sorenson

Against the Wall
By: Jill Sorenson
Release Date: Feb. 2, 2016
Publisher: Loveswept
Source: eARC from publisher 
in exchange for a honest review
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GR's Summary:

Fans of Katie McGarry, Simone Elkeles, and Tammara Webber will love Against the Wall! As teenagers, they fell for each other despite the odds. But now that Eric and Meghan are all grown up, they’re reunited by fierce passion and dangerous secrets. 

Eric Hernandez is the bad boy of every schoolgirl’s fantasies—and every mother’s nightmares. But after serving time for manslaughter, he’s ready to turn his life around. He just needs a chance to prove himself as a professional tattoo artist. The one thing that keeps him going is the memory of the innocent beauty he loved and left behind. 

Meghan Young’s world isn’t as perfect as it looks. The preacher’s daughter is living a lie, especially now that Eric is back. Tougher, harder, and sexier than ever, he might be the only person she can trust. But there’s no telling what he’ll do to protect her if he learns the truth, and that’s a risk Meghan won’t let him take. And yet, back in the arms of the troubled boy with the artist’s soul, Meghan can’t help surrendering to the man he’s become.

Book Series Order:

My Thoughts:

Against the Wall is the first book that I've read by Jill Sorenson.  I didn't realize that it was part of a series, until I started reading, and felt like I was missing information.  I would recommend not reading this book, until you read, Edge of Night First.  Even though the author did a good job of recapping major events from book one, I still felt like I was missing out on the overall story arc.

Eric Hernandez was incarcerated for committing manslaughter during a gang fight.  Now that he is free, he needs to find a place to stay, and a job to bring in money.  April, his good friend and the mother to his niece Jenny, welcomes him in to her home in Chula Vista.  Jenny's new husband Noah, a police detective, gets him an employment opportunity with a tattoo parlor.  Noah's only request is that Eric stay away from Noah's sister, Meghan.  

Eric was Meghan's first and only love.  They were involved in a young and passionate romance, but once Erick went to prison, he broke things off with her.  Presently, Meghan is living with her current boyfriend Chip, a controlling and abusive man.  Eric is trying to leave the gang life behind, but trouble seems to always find him.  Simultaneously, Meghan is trying survive her current relationship, and move on from the man she still loves...

Against the Wall was a realistic story.  Eric's character came across as authentic to the gang lifestyle.  His journey towards rehabilitation was extremely difficult, and the story did a good job of showing the realities of what life is like for a man who has a criminal record and lifestyle.  I felt for Eric's character, and could see how it was easy to get stuck in the cycle of gang violence.  Meghan's character also resonated with me as far as what she went through at the hands of an abuser.  Her fear and shame were painful to witness.

This story was not a traditional romance.  While it did have an element of love to it, I felt like the majority of the story was focused on these two individuals lives, and the longing that they felt for one another.  There was passion between Eric and Meghan, but I would say it was more towards the last third of the story.  Eric's actions really frustrated me at times, and I felt like even though Eric claimed to love her, sometimes the things he did just didn't make me believe it.  While there were aspects of the story I enjoyed, I struggled with connecting with Eric and Meghan as a couple.      

My Rating:

I give, Against the Wall, by Jill Sorenson, 3 First Love, Fresh Start, Second Chances Filled Stars! 

Book Excerpt:

I don’t want Chip to meet Eric. 
     I put on my clothes and makeup in a rush, hoping to slip out of the apartment before Chip gets home. Unfortunately he’s early. My stomach clenches as I hear him come through the door. He drops his backpack in a careless heap and strides down the hall. There’s nothing I can do to avoid him, so I continue to apply my mascara with a trembling hand. 
     He pauses outside the bathroom. I don’t look over because I’m concentrating on my eyelashes. Despite my lack of greeting, or perhaps because of it, he enters the tight space and puts his hands on my hips. 
     “Hey, babe,” he says, kissing my cheek. “Where you going?” 
     “To Noah’s.” 
      He grunts in disinterest. He’s only been to my brother’s house once. They didn’t hit it off. 
      I set aside my mascara and fix the smudge he made. Instead of wandering away to play videogames or watch sports, Chip frowns at my reflection in the mirror. 
     “Why are you all dressed up?” 
      I’m not wearing anything fancy, just a basic skirt and top. But I took pains with my hair and makeup and it shows. I want to remind Eric what he turned down, rub it in his face a little. Chip notices the extra effort. He’s got an eagle eye and a suspicious nature. 
      I think about lying just to avoid conflict. I’ve been doing that more and more these days. After a short pause, I push aside the urge and move his hands off my hips. “It’s a special occasion. One of April’s relatives just got out of prison.” 
     “Who’s April?” 
     “Noah’s wife.” 
     I know that Chip remembers her. He always takes note of pretty women. “I’m going with you.” 
     This is exactly what I was afraid of, but I don’t argue. I have to pick my battles with Chip. He can be hot-tempered, depending on his mood and the amount of alcohol he’s consumed. I tell myself it’s not his fault. He’s a dedicated athlete, big man on campus, born to a wealthy family. Guys like him expect their girlfriends to fall in line. 
     And I had. I did. 
     Chip follows me into the bedroom, where I choose a pair of ballet flats. He grabs a pair of metallic gold high heels instead. “Wear these.” 
     Saying nothing, I don the flashy shoes. He likes me to look a certain way when we’re together. I think he enjoys having a leggy blonde on his arm. Before we leave, I glance at our reflections in the mirror. He’s tall and handsome, with wavy brown hair. His jeans and polo shirt are sporty and expensive. We make an attractive couple, but there’s something missing between us. 
      We used to have fun together. When we first met, he was hard to resist. He followed me to my car after class one day, begging for a date. He was bold and brash and full of confidence. I felt flattered. He put a lot of effort into chasing me, and I liked the attention. I liked his persistence. Of all the girls on campus, he chose me. 
     Our relationship hit the skids as soon as I moved in with him. Then he stopped pursuing me and started trying to control me. It’s almost as if he considers me his property now that I live in his apartment. He seems to want a maid, a cook, and blowjobs on demand. I wouldn’t mind taking care of his needs if he returned the favor. 
     Maybe I’m expecting too much from him. He is what he is, an MLB-bound superstar athlete who bats .390 and fields like a dream. He’s got money to burn and family connections. I understood what I was getting into when I agreed to go out with him. There are dozens of girls who’d kill to be in my glittering sandals right now. 
     The problem isn’t Chip. It’s me. I haven’t told him that I’m not happy. I’ve stayed quiet instead of challenging him. We have a superficial relationship, and I’m reluctant to take it deeper. After what happened with Eric, I’m not up for another heartbreak. 
     I can’t bear to compare the two of them, either. That’s why I don’t want them in the same room together. There’s no contest between my live-in boyfriend and the love of my life. 
     After all this time, I still have feelings for Eric. I’m worried that seeing him again will bring up bad memories—or good ones. My desire for him might come rushing back. Or maybe the opposite will happen, and I’ll wonder why I ever gave him the power to hurt me.
     Then I’ll be free.

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About Jill Sorenson:

Jill Sorenson is the ITA-nominated author of more than a dozen romantic-suspense novels. She has a degree in literature and writing from California State University. Her books have been selected as Red-Hot Reads byCosmopolitan magazine, and have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Sorenson currently lives in the San Diego area with her family. She’s a soccer mom who loves nature, coffee, reading, Twitter, and reality TV.

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