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Monday, September 30, 2013

Blog Tour: LEFT, Still Standing #1 by T.R. Graves

Left (Still Standing #1)
Author: T.R. Graves
Publisher: Indie/Self via CreateSpace
Published: September 2013
Length: 330 pages
Edition: eARC
Source: Tour Organizer for an honest review

Your own two feet are all you have when you've been left.

A naive Baylee loves Colt, her boyfriend of four years, more than she ever thought possible. After a little snooping, she's convinced she's well on her way toward hearing an once-in-a-lifetime proposal and starring in the wedding-of-the-year event. Instead, she's blindsided by a very public breakup and the crushing news that Colt is marrying someone else… someone more befitting him and the role his father expects him to take in his law firm.

Baylee may have spent years resenting Ariana, her mother, and her suicide, an intolerable show of weakness in Baylee's opinion, but after Colt leaves her just short of the altar, Baylee sees the world through her mother's eyes. She sympathizes with Ariana's actions and realizes that some things—soul-deep aches—can irreparably damage you and make moving on nearly impossible.

At least that's how she feels until she meets Ryker. With his help, Baylee discovers there is life after Colt, and she prepares to move on by pulling herself up by the bootstraps, holding her head high, and standing on her own two feet. Unfortunately, a new jealous and hateful Colt has his own plans for her, and they are plans no one—especially Baylee—ever saw coming.

A_TiffyFit's Review: This is one of those books that suck you in immediately. You can feel Baylee's joy as she's telling her friend that she is expecting a proposal from her boyfriend of four years. You even get a little annoyed at the friend as she's asking, "But HOW do you know?" as if she's trying to burst Baylee's bubble. Secure in knowing that she found a ring and is expecting a proposal, you are enjoying the romance of her trying to keep the spark in her relationship with Colt which has been waning lately. And then...the date comes and BAM! Break-up. No worse than a break-up; he treats her like a prostitute, offering her a check for a million dollars to go away. Baylee has integrity and I was cheering for her!

Colt is a douchebag. And now ... there's Ryker. Talk about a FAST rebound! Ryker is one sexy modern hero, swooping in to save the damsel in distress. As Baylee and Ryker spend a week together, falling for one another, Colt keeps reappearing. Even though he's tossed Baylee to the wayside, apparently she isn't allowed to live her own life and move on. Oh no. He takes back every single present he EVER bought for her - jewelry, clothes, furniture, art, whatever. He shakes her so hard she gets whiplash, and it begins to escalate. Ryker is especially attuned to this and helps Baylee as his own mother survived an abusive relationship.

Difficult subject matter, one that I don't think is discussed often enough, and in this book I think it's brilliantly written because Baylee doesn't see herself as a victim. She has a hard time realizing that she IS INDEED A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. She's trained in self-defense, is a brilliant nurse AND business woman, but she's changed herself to accommodate Colt and his daddy's desires: dresses differently, changed from the job she loved to a job that fits Colt's schedule, trying to be something she isn't, everything is in deference to Colt and his needs. True, he hadn't hit her until after they broke up, but that whole leading up to it, she didn't see the flags and so many women find themselves in that position.

While this has romance and sex, there is also this domestic violence. Luckily, Baylee has support in the form of Ryker and his mother, Joss. Author T.R. Graves kept me attached to my kindle to see what is next, what will happen, and how this resolves. Eden, an enemy of Baylee and an ex-girlfriend of Ryker, oozes maliciousness. I was flabbergasted at the ending (it's KIND of a cliffhanger. I mean, one portion is resolved, but a WHOLE OTHER can of worms is there!) and kept flipping pages on my kindle to see if it was acting up again. Nope...gotta wait for book 2. 

T. R. Graves, the author of The Warrior Series and The Secrets Series and The Underwater Series, is a 2012 NaNoWriMo Winner.
She lives along the Texas coast with her husband. Together, they raise T. R.'s beta reading daughter and their football-loving son. Besides being blessed with a supportive family, she counts her career as a registered nurse in not-for-profit hospitals high on her list of fulfilling accomplishments.

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