Get to know more about author Loni Flowers and her book Taking Chances. Read my review and then enter the Rafflecopters below. You can win your own ecopy of the book from this blog. Follow the tour for other chances. You can also win a tour-wide contest for a print book, bookmark, and other fun swag.
At age twenty-three, Alex has had a hard life. His parents died when he was quite young, leaving his grandparents to raise him. Right before his high school graduation, his grandparents passed on too, leaving him all alone.
After losing everyone he's ever loved, Alex turns to the streets in a self-destructive pattern until he finally ends up in Springhill, where he tries to make a new life for himself.
Clair’s childhood was normal until age thirteen, when her father left the family and she never heard from him again. Consequently, her mother went into a deep depression, forcing Clair to grow up quickly.
After finishing high school, Clair’s heartache over her father’s absence as well as her unbearable mother drive her to strike out on her own. But having nowhere to go and no family to speak of, Clair wanders aimlessly from town to town, homeless, and without purpose. Looking for work wherever she goes and living hand to mouth on the streets is tough, Clair discovers, but living with her mother is worse.
Now twenty-one years old, Clair has found her way to the last place she and her family took their final vacation as a family--Springhill. While in town, she crosses paths with Alex and their ensuing relationship grows faster than expected. Soon Clair wonders if coming back to Springhill and meeting Alex was the best decision or the worst decision she ever made.
Read an excerpt:
Alex glanced over at Clair in the passenger seat. She stared out the window as if lost in thought. Her fingers pulled the charm on her necklace back and forth across the chain around her neck. The night definitely went better than he thought it would even though he didn’t really know what to expect. He glanced at his watch and it was a little after eleven. But he liked being with Clair and wasn’t ready for their night to end. Alex couldn’t deny the attraction he felt towards her. He had only dated a few girls after Mia, and when he did, it never lasted. Clair was different. She was vulnerable and stubborn, but determined. And she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. But more than anything, they could relate to each other since both had lived on the streets. He had to ask her out again. He wanted to know her better.**My thoughts**
When he pulled up in the driveway, Roz’s car wasn’t there. “She must be at Stu’s again,” he said. “I don’t know why she even bothers living here. She spends all her time with him.”
“Have they been together long?” Clair asked, facing him.
“A couple years, I think. I’m surprised they haven’t gotten married yet. They’re perfect for each other. After everything Stu’s been through, he could really use someone like Roz. She’s great.”
“Yes she is. He’d be lucky to have her, I’m sure.”
Alex walked around and opened Clair’s door, helping her out as she jumped down. He followed her as she walked to the far end of the yard and sat in the grass. Lying back, she looked up toward the black sky. Alex laughed as he looked down at her. “You know, if you’re that tired, I can get my blanket out of the car for you.”
Clair gave a small smile, tapping the grass beside her with her hand. “I miss it, ya know?”
“Miss what?” he asked, sitting beside her.
“I don’t know, the quietness, the stars. It’s just different. I know, it sounds stupid…it’s just, I’ve been on my own for so long without anyone caring. It’s a little overwhelming having someone care about me now; especially when they hardly know me. Everything Roz has done, I mean, who even does that?”
Alex watched her. She was so animated when she talked. Her face lit up with expressions, her hands waved through the air as if she needed them to help her communicate.
Everything was light and easy going until dinner was over. Since the drive home, Clair seemed sad, but Alex let her ramble, venting whatever was bottled up inside her.
“And you,” she said, looking over at Alex, “if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here.”
Clair sat up, crossing her legs up under her. “And this date—I mean, this hanging out we did tonight. It was the best night I’ve had since I left home. Thank you for that.” She picked blades of grass with her fingers, tearing them into tiny pieces. “You didn’t have to take me out, but you did it anyway.”
His eyes traveled up her arms to her neck. Her skin looked so fair and soft under the moonlight, it made him want to run his hands over it. “You don’t have to thank me. I wanted to take you out tonight. I’m happy you said yes. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been out on date.” Yes, a date. He didn’t want to just “hang out”; no, he wanted to know everything about her. To hold her hand, touch her skin, and taste her lips. But would she want the same things as he? He still didn’t know.
“Oh, and this,” she said, holding the charm out from around her neck, “you shouldn’t have bought me this. But I do love it. Thank you.”
Alex leaned forward, taking the charm between his fingers. “I’m glad I saw you looking at it. It looks perfect on you.” He laid the charm down against her chest. Lightly, he traced his fingers up the side of her neck, her hair cupped around her face. Alex stared straight into her eyes, dark under the night’s sky. Her lips parted slightly and Alex could feel her breath quicken on his skin. He wanted nothing more than to feel her lips on his. He slipped his hand further up Clair’s neck and heard her breath catch as if she’d stopped breathing. With his face only inches away from her mouth, he whispered, “If you don’t want me to kiss you right now, you’d better tell me.”
The story of Clair and Alex is a sweet one. The two struggling souls manage to find peace and fulfillment in each other. Their main conflict is within themselves as they forgive and forget about their pasts. Any other external conflict is minimal. Their exploration of each other as first young lovers reminded me of the good old days with the butterflies at the first touch, the first kiss.
You are grateful for people in their lives, such as Roz. You wish that all kids on the street could be given a second chance to turn their lives around. Within this story is a message to give people a second chance. Sometimes they just need a kind hand to help them to get back on track. It also reminds you to be grateful to those who offer a hand and to always pay it forward.
It does feel like everything ends up working out just a little too easily for everyone throughout the story. Nevertheless, there were some twists that I did see coming and some bigger ones that I did not. I meant to only read a few chapters and then go to bed. Instead, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, because I wanted to find out what happened. I enjoyed this debut novel by Loni Flowers and look forward to more of her work.
**I did receive a complimentary ebook in exchange for my honest review.**
Buy links: Paperback | Kindle | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords
Loni Flowers lives in Eastern North Carolina with her husband; two wild toddlers, who never slow down for a second; and three couch-potato dogs, who only raise an eye when foods around. She spends her days working full-time for a well-known bank. When she's not playing on the internet or chatting on Twitter or Facebook, she spends her free time with friends and family waiting for the next big idea strike.
She enjoys reading most anything, but is a sucker for a good romance story. Contemporary romance is her writing genre of choice but isn't opposed to writing something different should an excellent idea hit.
Some of her favorite authors include: L.J. Kentowski, Stefne Miller, Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, and Karen Marie Moning, Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Picoult... just to name a few.
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