Hello, my lovelies!
Happy Monday! *wink* I hope you have all had a great weekend.
Today, I am so honoured to be a part of the book blitz of this amazing debut novel of Layla Hagen – besides my review, you will find an excerpt of the book, a few fun facts about the author and a giveaway.
Title: “Lost In Us”
Author: Layla Hagen
Genre: Contemporary/New Adult Romance
Release Date: 15th February 2014
James is a successful entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. A man who has amassed a fortune by taking risks. A man who has shunned commitment completely, and still does. He’s the exact opposite of Serena. But sometimes opposites attract. Sometimes they give in to burning passion. Sometimes opposites are perfect for each other.
ARC received by the author in exchange for an honest review
Although this most definitely is a love story, it is also a story about loss, pain, and fear. And let me not forget to add guilt and overcoming it. It is a story about two very different people meeting each other who have the same kind of shadows in their souls, and both are afraid of letting themselves find hope and happiness in life.
The story is told solely from the viewpoint of Serena: she is English, but due to a family tragedy years ago, she lives in America and is close to finishing her degree in economics and computer science at Stanford. She is extremely focused towards reaching her goal, but it is not passion that drives her: it is determination to make sure that her parents will never want for anything. Serena is most certainly not a woman who likes to take any kind of risk in life – the most important thing for her is to be sensible, not reckless. She knows, or think she knows, that being reckless in life can ‘ only bring heartbreak and pain and she refuses to find herself in any kind of situation in life that will bring her to her knees.
Imagine Serena’s surprise when she meets James at a bar the first night she is out clubbing after being dumped by her boyfriend of six years: just by looking at him, she almost immediately learns that James is her exact opposite. He has a certain air about him that draws her to him, and even though she tells herself to stay away from him, she accepts to go out with him the next night.
Thus begins Serena’s affair – if you can even call it that – with James. It would be very unfair of me to go further into the exact storyline because I feel it will ruin the experience for you if I do. But let me say this: Serena and James’ first date? Well, it will definitely impress you. *wink*
But what can I tell you about James? Well, he is such a complex character. Hot one moment, cold the next. Attentive, then distant. Extremely charming when he has to be, yet with a most volatile temper. You would think that these characteristics would make you see him as a bit of a mad-man, but please do not think that is so. His demons – because he certainly has them – play a huge part of who he is and how he leads his life. Did I want to throttle James on occasion? Oh yes, indeed I did! Having said that, though, I completely understand his actions and how he handles certain situations, however wrong he may be. Bit by bit, we learn about James’ past and his guilt and how he refuses to absolve himself of this guilt. I can almost promise you that your heart will ache as you get to know him and his story.
“‘Doesn’t matter when it happened,’, he says softly. ‘The pain never really goes away. You just learn to survive it.’ ” (James)
As for Serena…She is a very driven young woman, and although determined to stay on her fixed path, she really longs to take the plunge: being with James makes her want to try being reckless once in a while. As I already said in my review, she is still suffering from losing her sister, Kate, years before, and I really wanted to give her a hug when I learned how much pain she is in, and how she, like James, cannot seem to let go of her guilt. Or her fears of losing her heart to James.
“It’s here again. The illusion. It takes over my mind, my heart, my everything.” (Serena)
Another thing I really love about the story is the fact that these characters do not simply change their ways immediately upon meeting each other; had that happened, I would not find it realistic because I honestly believe that changing your life does not simply happen overnight. And both Serena and James will have to do some soul searching and learn that letting go of the past and really start living is more than acceptable.
I really want to stress that this is a very emotionally charged book, and that the author manages to have you sitting on the edge of your seat until you reach the very last page, because you really have no idea how the story will end. And I love that! I find it to be quite astonishing that this is a debut novel because Miss Hagen shows true talent with this story: there is depth, heartfelt emotions, believable characters and let us not forget the funny moments as well.
I absolutely love Jess, Serena’s roommate and friend of many years, and Parker, James’ cousin and business partner. These two seem to be getting on each other’s nerves quite a bit and I really hope that the author will give us their story in the near future.
If you are in doubt, I fell in love with Serena and James. They are both real, believable characters, and that is so important to me. And I truly believe that if you love your romance novels to be filled with angst, heartache, laughter and (of course) with a happy ending, I believe you will love this book as well.
Random facts about me and Lost in Us:
James was initially called Liam. . .because I had a crush on Liam Hemsworth. I got over it in the meantime (am now crushing on his brother Chris) 😀
I love chocolate as much as Serena does. Unfortunately I can’t get away with eating as much of it as she does.
I wrote a *certain* steamy scene on a piece of paper—on the back of which I then printed an official letter. Which I sent. Oh, the joy of being a writer J
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Layla Hagen and I am a New Adult Contemporary Romance author.
I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later.
I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world.
And I drink coffee. Lots of it, in case the photo didn’t make it obvious enough
Here’s the excerpt, everyone!
“Red suits you,” a voice calls behind me. I’m suddenly very grateful for being squeezed in, because my knees seem to have turned to rubber. But my relief only lasts for a few seconds, because the music starts and everyone around me disperses, moving to the dance floor.
I don’t fall. I can’t move, either.
When he finally comes into view, my breath is cut short. There is something about seeing his beautiful blue eyes behind a mask that makes every inch of my skin burn.
So it wasn’t the tequila last night.
“Dance?” He extends his hand.
“I can’t dance.” Out of the corner of my eye I see Sophie watching us, crestfallen.
“That makes two of us,” he says, though unlike me, he doesn’t sound panicked in the slightest. I really can’t dance. Especially not waltz. But he doesn’t lower his hand, and instead of protesting further, I raise my hand and place it in his. As if in slow motion I see him putting his
other arm around my waist, and pulling me so close to him that I feel his every breath against my skin. This doesn’t help the burning sensation. At all.
“You came,” he says and his lips curve into last night’s same conceited smile.
“I make a habit of honoring my invitations,” I say, surprised by how aggressive I sound. I bite my lip and look away, fixing my gaze on the highest point of the glass arch.
“Did you and your friend arrive home safely last night?”
Small talk. Fantastic.
“If safely includes Jess throwing up twice on the way home, then yes.”
“Quite a party girl, your friend,” he says appreciatively.
“What makes you think I’m not one?” I regret the question instantly. Thinking that a former math whiz kid isn’t the most hardcore party girl at Stanford is not an absurd conclusion to draw. But his answer takes me by complete surprise.
“Having a steady boyfriend usually means you spend your free evenings and weekends
“You asked Dani to spy on me?”
“Of course not,” he says with fake affronting. “I just know how to get the info I need from her.”
“What happened to old-fashioned questioning?”
“It’s old-fashioned,” he answers with a smirk. “I like to consider myself modern.”
“Make that lazy and sneaky.” I finally unhitch my gaze from the ceiling and look him in the eyes again. They are so much darker than a few minutes ago.
He tightens his grip on my waist. “Fine. Tell me three things about you.”
I try to put on my most serious look. “I grew up in London and San Francisco, used to play volleyball in a minor league, and want to work in investment banking.” Did he really think I’ll make it easy for him?
“Let me rephrase,” he smirks. “Tell me three things about you I won’t find in your CV. Three dreams.”
The next sentence rolls out of my mouth despite my firm resolution to torment him by not really telling him anything about me. Especially not the weird things.
“I want to taste every single recipe in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, get myself kidnapped by elves and locked up in Rivendell, and attend the midnight release of the next book about the wizarding world that I know Rowling will write. If that last thing fails, I want to learn how to fly on a broom, at the very least.”
He bursts into a cascade of laughter. But it’s not in the slightest mocking or mean. It’s warm and heartfelt.
“Your turn,” I say, in an attempt to stop him, because we are attracting less-than-friendly stares from the couples around us. “Stop laughing like a maniac and tell me three things about yourself. Three fears.”
He laughs for a few more seconds before assuming a solemn face.
“I hate snakes and always keep a light on when I sleep. And I suffer from chronic commitment phobia.”
His words hit me like a whiplash. Amazing how lighthearted and playful he throws them at me.
“So I’ve heard,” I say, trying—and failing—to keep my voice steady.
“I wanted to make sure you know it from me,” he says in a soft voice. Yet for all the softness, it still feels like whiplash.
“That’s very considerate of you.”
Why do his words have this impact on me? Why do they have any impact at all? I guessed a while ago how things are. I wish we weren’t dancing so I could run away. Put as much distance as possible between him and me. My wish is not far from being granted. Though I haven’t listened to many waltzes in my life, I’m sure the orchestra is playing the ending tones right now. I try to distance myself from his intoxicating presence, but his grip on me is firmer than ever.