Monday, February 24, 2014

BLOG TOUR: All of Me (All of Me #1) – Gina Sorelle + Review, giveaway & character interview!

Released: December 8th, 2013

One year after undergoing a unilateral mastectomy, twenty-eight year old ER nurse Stella Ciaramitaro is working on healing all wounds, visible and invisible. And it’s going pretty well. Sure, she has four pain-in-the-butt sisters, an occasionally suicidal dad, and some serious trust issues. And, yes, all dreams of soul mates, mind-blowing sex, and everlasting love have gone the way of her left breast. But overall, she’s hanging in there. Doing just fine, actually.

Or at least she was until HE showed up.

Nathan Drazek is a hot mess and he knows it. The laundry list of things contributing to his dysfunction includes, but is not limited to: a childhood full of mental and physical abuse, four tours in Afghanistan, and ten years policing one of the toughest beats in East Cleveland. Adding insult to injury, he’s ridiculously straight-laced, beyond aloof, and nearly incapable of interpersonal relationships. But that’s okay, because Nathan isn’t interested in anything more than just getting by.

Or at least he wasn’t until SHE showed up.

From the moment Nathan nearly arrests Stella on, sparks fly, limits are tested, and boundaries are shattered. A tenuous, tender friendship quickly evolves into something powerful and passionate they cannot wish away or control. But as they grow closer, new issues arise and old hurts resurface, threatening to destroy their fragile new beginning.

With everything at stake, Nathan and Stella must ultimately decide which runs deeper: their scars or their love.    
"We're all fucked up, mio caro. Some of us are better at hiding it than others."

This book is honestly one of my favorites from this year. The characters were intense and definitely unique. The plotline itself was simple but the author develops the characters so well that we are pulled into the story and forced to experience their emotions, actions and reactions. A story about overcoming fears and pasts. Fucking wonderful. I don't have the words that will do this book justice.

MY GOOOOD. I was so glad when I got the copy for this book. When I went into it, i honestly wasn't expecting that much. Sure, we've got Nathan who's this really quiet, seemingly-OCD guy who's trapped in a world after his horrid, yet some honorable past. And then Stella who's loud and exciting with a family that becomes the world's weight on her shoulders, yet she loves it all.

It was so fucking adorable. They're two such different characters. Loud, quiet. Messy, OCD. Straightforward, keeps losing words.

Ladies first. I loved Stella Ciaramitaro. She was such a strong character who affected me (and Nathan too) deeply. She's always so scared of what people might think of her after her unilateral mastectomy, yet she keeps on living her life strongly instead of turning into isolation within the comfort of her own home. She isn't selfish. She always puts her family first and then always tries to understand what the hell's going on with Nathan when he's shutting down.

And the fact that she's Italian and so blunt makes it so hilarious when she's trying to deal with Nathan sometimes.
"No harm done. I get mad quickly, but I can't stay mad long. Too short of an attention span. Unless, of course, you do something really bad. And then I'm liable to tear you apart limb-from-limb and never forgive or forget. It's an Italian thing."
It's so funny when Stella tries to crack a joke but Nathan probably didn't understand it, or he's just trying to be the poker-faced man that he is, and she gets all awkward. Ugh, she's adorable!

Then there's Nathan Drazek.

Nathan is, currently (in the book), a police officer who was sent to control Stella when she goes all Rambo on this guy who hurt her sister. He's a very intense character with plenty of demons inside of him due to the events in his past. He's very quiet and awkward (especially awkward around Stella! Cutest thing ever). He doesn't know how to deal with his newly-found emotions towards Stella, because he's never once felt something as intense as what he did for her.

Before, sex to him was only a tool for him to feel some sense of normalcy. He got head and had sex with people but it was like for a sense of fulfillment instead of pleasure. But he never really got it. Until Stella.

But, Nathan is a surprisingly selfless character too.
But that was life. And a lot of people had it a lot worse than Nathan did.
He doesn't try to self-pity himself, which I really admired. Yet, he tries to reign in his demons when he deals with people because he doesn't want other to know of, and try to deal with, his fucked-up-ness. And the first night he went over to Stella's. SO FUCKING CUTE. He had run out of things to say so he gave her Danny's number because Danny was "interested" in her, which he wasn't because he knew Nathan was.
Or drive back over to Stella Ciaramitaro's and tell her his visit had had nothing to do with Danny…that it had just been his pathetic, fucked-up way of communicating. That he was sorry he had bothered her and how he really wished she wouldn't open the door to strangers in the future.
How do you not fall in love with this man?

This book honestly surprised me from beginning till end. It was heart-breaking, intense, hilarious as fuck, saccharinely sweet romantic, and it was just an emotional roller coaster that I definitely had the pleasure of riding.

A must read!


5 APPLES!!!!!

(Click book cover for Goodreads link)

♕ All of Me (All of Me #1) 
Hi there, readers! Today, I have a little something special for you guys. Because I loved the characters so much, I signed up to interview them! So, I had a list of questions and I shipped them off to the lovely, Ms. Gina Sorelle to ask our duo to answer! And I loved this interview immensely. Hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did! Here it is:

Samantha charged me with getting an interview out of Nathan and Stella and, so, here I am.  Naturally, Stella is beyond game, but Nathan…well, sufficed to say, Sergeant Stickler does not approve of interviews.  Interviews, misusage of his time, and anything at all involving feelings.

I resist the very great urge to stick my tongue out at him as I sink into the armchair across from them. 

Gina:  “Hey, guys, thanks for letting me drop in on you today.” 

Nathan leans back and slips an arm along the back of the couch, around Stella, and quirks a brow.  This means he wants me to know – in no uncertain terms – that he had very little say in the matter.

Stella: (grinning) “No problem!  We’re so glad to have you!” 

Nathan’s scoff is nearly imperceptible, but Stella and I have excellent hearing.  So we both stick our tongues out at him.

Gina (I huff):  “You know, Nathan, if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t even have Stella, so let’s just play nice, okay?” 

Nathan’s expression softens a little as he shoots Stella’s beaming face a quick glance.  He winks at her before turning back to me, miniscule smile fading.

Nathan:  “Fine.”

Stella and I exchange knowing glances and grins.

Gina:  “Okay, so, Stella…does Nathan have any odd quirks that you like?”

Nathan:  “Dear, god…” (exhales a hard sigh)

Stella: (grinning)  “Love the question…okay, let me think…” (taps her finger to her lips)  “There are just so many…”

Nathan’s brows lift.

Stella:  “He’s just so damn quirky, in general.  It’s hard to pinpoint.”  (she claps her hands together) “I know one – and you already know this, Gina – the man hangs up everything!”  (she throws her hands up)  “Who hangs up mesh workout shorts?”  (Stella shakes her head)  “He hangs up my bras, Gina.  My bras.  Throws ‘em on a hanger and puts them in the closet.  He’s hanging up belts – oh!  The other day I caught him trying to hang up a spare sheet!”  (she glances up at him, adoringly)  “I know, I know, I should be grateful I have a husband who puts away the laundry, but still…” (she playfully pinches his side and he grunts)  “Such a weirdo.”

Nathan:  “Stella, maybe you should explain to Gina – and whoever the hell else – why I do that.” 

Stella:  “Because you are an anal-retentive, OCD stickler?”

I laugh and Nathan shoots me a dirty look.

Nathan:  “No, because if I don’t, I can’t find anything.  And neither can you.  Your habit of shoving stuff into whatever drawer, closet, or cupboard is closest to you is infuriating.  And illogical.  And-”

When Stella and I fail to contain our twitching lips, Nathan shakes his head.

Nathan:  “You know, Stella is bad enough…but the two of you together…” (he scoffs softly)  “But, okay.  Fine.  Whatever.  Stir shit up, Gina.  It’s what you’re good at.”

Gina:  (rearing back)  Me?”  (Nathan grunts and Stella and I laugh again)  “Okay, Nathan.  We can leave the quirk question at that…even though Stell and I both know that list could go on forever.”  (he shifts in his seat, expression wiped clean, and I know I’m pushing my luck) 

Stella: (lips still twitching)  “Yes, let’s move on.”

Gina:  “Nathan, what is the hardest part of a relationship for you?”

Stella:  “Oh, I can answer that one.  He-”

Gina: (shaking my head)  “Can’t answer for him, Stell.  I know you’re dying to – and so am I – but he’s gotta answer it.” 

Nathan: (shrugs)  “Go ahead.  Stupid-ass question, anyway.  Feel free to make up whatever shit you’d like.”

Gina:  “Why is it a stupid question?”  (Nathan stares at me blankly for a few long seconds before I point at Stella)  “Uh, gave you her, remember?  Spit. It. Out.

Nathan:  (glances down at Stella’s expectant face and his eyes crinkle a little at the corners.  He looks back at me, clearing his throat)  “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that, Gina.  Not with you.  Not with anyone.  My relationship with Stella is between her and me.  Nobody else.”

Stella:  (slips her hand into Nathan’s and squeezes)  “I think – and correct me if I’m wrong, caro – the hardest part for Nathan is trusting that things won’t change.” 

Nathan swallows hard and stares straight at me, his expression wiped totally clean.

Stella:  (looks up at him, brows low, as she studies his profile)  “I think sometimes he worries my feelings will change or that one day I’ll wake up and decide he’s too much to handle.  Which, of course, is beyond ridiculous.  I’ve handled him just fine since the moment I laid eyes on him and I plan on handling him just fine for the rest of our lives.  Plus, I’m the huge pain-in-the-ass, so why he worries about that is beyond me.”

Nathan’s expression doesn’t change, but his posture is suddenly very stiff. 

Gina:  “Is that true, Nathan?  You worry that Stella’s feelings will change?”

There is a long, stilted pause before Nathan nods once.

Nathan:  (clears his throat, again)  “The thought has crossed my mind, yes.”

Stella:  (turns and throws her arms around him.  “That would never, ever, ever, ever happen!”  (she pulls his face down and kisses his cheek a bunch of times, making him wince.  But then a tiny smile tugs at the corner of his mouth)  “And he knows it.”  (Stella gives him one more big kiss on the cheek before settling back down next to him, patting his arm)  “He just likes to get dramatic sometimes.”

Nathan scoffs.  He glances down at her and his entire face softens.  He searches her beaming face, a wondrous look on his.  Nathan tucks a dark, loose wave behind her ear, his eyes still glued to Stella’s.   

I’m suddenly dying to get out of there, because Mr. Emotionally-Stilted looks like he’s having some feelings he’d like to express physically.

Gina:  (clearing my throat)  “Okay, just two more quick questions.  Stella, tell me the first word that comes to your mind when you think about Nathan?”

Stella:  (grinning) “Sex machine. I guess that’s two words, but, yeah…that.”

I laugh as a flush creeps up the collar of Nathan’s tee shirt. 

Stella: (her grin fades to a soft smile as she studies his hard profile)  “Sex machine and best friend.  And funny.  And kind.  And gentle.” (She threads her fingers through his again)  “And love, love, love.” 

Nathan:  (grunts, but his eyes crinkle) “As if Stella could limit her answer to one word.  Gina, you - better than anyone else - should know that.”

Gina:  “Yeah, I know…but it was worth a shot.  Alright, Nathan, how about you?  First word that comes to mind when you think of Stella?”

Nathan:  “My whole world.”

Stella:  (Her eyes well.  She squeezes his arm tightly, gazing up at him – as Nathan once put it – like her “fucked-up Superman.”  Stella suddenly looks at me, eyes wide, and points at Nathan)  “Can you believe this guy, Gina?  Is he killing us with his adorable sweetness right now, or what?”

Gina:  (My eyes suspiciously damp, as well)  “Yeah, killing us.  As usual.”  (I shake my head, trying to get back on task)  “Okay, one more question.  For both of you.  If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?”

Stella:  “Hmmm…”  (she nods, a grin slowly splitting her face)  “I would have made him arrest me that first night.  But, when we were in the cop car on the way to the station, I would have charmed his pants off then and there.  That way, I wouldn’t have had to wait so long to get in them.”  (when Nathan’s brows shoot up, Stella laughs.  She glances at me and I give her an emphatic thumbs-up)

Nathan shakes his head, a smile tugging at his lips…and a very noticeable flush rising, yet again, up over his shirt collar)   

Gina:  “Okay, Nathan, your turn.  Last question and then I’m out of your hair.”

Nathan:  “In the interest of getting you the hell out of here, I will say…I wish I had handled the, uh…situation…better.”  (his expression blanks again)  “You know what situation I’m talking about.  Obviously, I wish I had…” (Nathan glances at Stella and swallows hard, a tight, wry smile appearing) “…done things differently.  Every day I wish I could get that time back…”

Stella:  (She pats his arm reassuringly)  “But it’s all fine now.  And things happen for a reason.  I truly believe things had to go that way for us to get here.”  (she squeezes his bicep, smiling up at him)  “It all worked out just fine, my love, and that’s all that matters.” 

Nathan eyes start smoldering again and I know it’s way past time to skedaddle.

With quick good-byes said, I leave - so ecstatic for them, but missing them both, again, so very much. 

Good thing I can still irritate the hell out of Nathan while I’m writing Danny and Kat’s follow-up story.  Which makes me smile very wide. ;)

WHOO!!! Wasn't that a fantastic interview? Thank you so much, Gina, for giving us a chance to get to know these characters a little bit more. God knows I love them to bits. AND YAY! We get a clue that the next book will be on Danny and Kat, which I will definitely be reading when it's out!
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I like nice guys...I always have and I always will. I married one and now I write about them. :)

When I'm not torturing my stoic, stalwart heroes with strong, witty heroines, I enjoy reading, drinking way too much coffee, trying to be the best wife and mom I can be, and procrastinating (especially when it comes to cleaning the house). I am also a part-time student, a lover of history, and hopelessly addicted to Lifetime movies. Do not judge me. :)

I also like smiley faces. A lot. :)

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To see other stops on the tour for reviews, guest posts, and excerpts click here.
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