Sunday, March 9, 2014

Author Spotlight w/ Guest Reviews, Excerpt, Interview & Giveaway: Between Breaths Series by Christina Lee

The Between Breaths Series by Christina Lee

All of You (Between Breaths #1):

Avery has just met her hot upstairs neighbor. He's irresistible. Tattooed. And a virgin.

Nursing student Avery Michaels wants nothing to do with dating—she's perfectly happy single. Privy to too many of her mother's bad decisions and even worse taste in boyfriends, all Avery can handle is a string of uncomplicated hookups whenever the mood strikes.

When she meets smoking hot tattoo artist Bennett, she wants him—for just one night. But he won't accept a no-strings-attached arrangement. He lives by a straight-laced code of values based on his own troubled upbringing.

Bennett sees something special in Avery and he wants more from her. Way more. As Avery wrestles with her emotions for Bennett, danger and tragedy force them to open up to each other. And Avery must face the terrifying realization that she wants more from him, too.

So she needs to make a choice—let Bennett go or finally let him in.


Guest Review:

All of You in five words or less -- fun, sweet, sexy, intense, refreshing.

This is Christina Lee’s debut novel? Seriously? So many times I sit down with an author’s first work and no matter how much I like it, there seems to be something missing, something not quite yet refined, something that once cultivated and after time and experience becomes amazing and complete, but misses the mark just enough to leave you feeling a bit unfulfilled or still wanting. This was never the case while reading this book. I relished every word, action, and situation and enjoyed every minute of this story.

In All of You a damaged, no nonsense, no-strings-attached, tough girl meets and initially gets rebuffed by a chivalrous, hot tattoo artist who we later find out is a VIRGIN. That’s right, you heard me, total role reversal and it was fantastic! This 180 from the typical archetypes seen in many new adult and contemporary romances was original, dynamic, and immensely refreshing. Sex for Avery is about gratification and control while it’s about connection and love for Bennett. It was such a nice change of pace for the male to have this outlook as well as experience the shift in Avery’s frame of mind as opposed to the good old man-whore who just needs to find the right woman to settle down with trope.

I absolutely love anticipation and sexual tension in a story; in fact it is probably my favorite part. This book is rife with white hot chemistry and tension. There is much to be said for feeling the emotions of characters and really being drawn into a story and when these feelings you are experiencing make your heart race, your palms sweat, and your breathing labored just from the characters being in close proximity of each other you know you are in the hands of a master.

There are so many aspects to this story that it is completely engrossing and keeps you glued to the pages. Avery and Bennett struggle to keep their feelings at bay all while dealing with broken families, difficult backgrounds, peril, and loss. There is never a dull moment.

I simply cannot say enough good things about this book and I can’t even think of a single thing about All of You that I didn’t love. The writing was superb, the premise was different and alluring, all the characters, not just Bennett and Avery, were fun and loveable and irresistible.

Five Fingers to describe Avery and Bennett – resisting, roots, freeing, beautiful love. You may not understand that now, but run, don’t walk, to get this book and you will understand and appreciate it as much as I do.

Rating: 5 Stars

Before You Break (Between Breaths #2):

A sexy, emotional New Adult romance about a bad boy on the edge and a good girl about to lose control…

The star catcher of the college baseball team isn't supposed to have skeletons in his closet. But Daniel Quinn is hiding a guilty past so dark he refuses to let anyone get close. Except there’s something about gorgeous, studious Ella Abrams that goes beyond the electric attraction between them—something that makes him want to open up.

Ella has suffered enough heartache and guilt to fill one of her psychology textbooks, but she keeps that part of herself hidden behind a bubbly exterior. Until she receives an anonymous call while working the suicide helpline and the voice on the other end touches something inside of her that she can’t ignore.

Soon Ella and Quinn’s physical connection heats up, even as their deep and revealing hotline talks intensify. But by the time Ella realizes that her seductive jock and her sensitive caller are the same guy, it might be too late to save him—or to stop herself from falling too far.

*A companion novel to ALL OF YOU


Click to Buy the Between Breaths Series on Amazon:

Guest Review:

Christina Lee has done it again. She has made me fall head over heels for Before You Break. If I were being completely honest here, in comparison to All Of You, the first book in the series, Bennett and Avery still very much have my heart. Ella and Quinn did not go down without a fight though, and captured a piece for themselves as well. Their story is much more complex and intensely emotional than the first, a stunningly beautiful and powerful story of guilt, grief, and absolution that is absolutely mesmerizing.

Christina Lee has attraction and longing down to a tee. Ella has a boyfriend, he may not treat her very well, but her loyalty still lies with him. Quinn swears he will never go there again but just can’t seem to stay away from the sexy siren. Once again Ms. Lee creates an atmosphere that is all about the buildup where every near miss, close contact, and moment of yearning is heavenly yet deliciously sinful. The chemistry between these two is palpable and the off the charts sexual tension permeates every interaction and leaves you breathless.

This story is forceful and emotive and much heavier than the first with tragedy and anguish in both characters’ pasts making for a stirring, tear-jerking ride. Turns out these two have much more in common than either anticipated and while Ella is in the position to help Quinn deal with his suffering she herself finds hope and healing in working out her own feelings of culpability and loss. The pain is so potent it sits like a weight in the middle of your chest until it is finally heaved aside by the culmination of a passionate magnetism, an undeniable connection, an unfortunate history that makes it all too easy to empathize with one another, and an unparalleled reverence and adoration of each other.

Christina Lee certainly knows what she is doing. Before You Break is another compelling, strikingly beautiful love story and a definite home run.

Rating: 5 Stars


“My mom likes you,” I said, biting my lip. “I can tell.”

“Yeah?” He turned to face me, his voice softening. “You think she can tell that I like her daughter?”

My breath caught in the back of my throat. Something had shifted in the air between us. It was heavy and heated. Something so commanding I felt it down to my toes. My heart was thrashing so loudly against my chest, I was sure he could hear it.

He moved closer than any two friends should rightfully stand and his spicy scent enveloped me. Oh Lord, if I didn’t get a taste of those full lips I would die on this very spot.

Right this very instant.

When I looked up into his face, his eyes had become hooded.

Words were shouting inside my skull. And then they worked their way onto my lips. They were hanging there, dangling for dear life.

Just take a chance, damn it. Take a gamble, Quinn.

Kiss me and let’s find out what this magic is between us.

But he’d been the one who’d held back that other night, so the ball was in his court.

“It’s not just me who feels this, right?” Quinn mumbled. His fingers curled around my neck, his thumb mapping patterns in the hollow of my throat. “I’m not crazy?”

The words that had been so readily available just moments before had flitted away on the wind. I’d wanted this moment for days. Weeks. Maybe even years.

“There’s something here, Ella. Between us,” he whispered. His lips were a breath away and I momentarily shut my eyes to gain control of my erratic breathing.

“I don’t know what this is or what the hell might happen,” he said, rubbing his finger along the edge of my earlobe. “But I do know one thing.”

Still, I couldn’t move or even speak. I was motionless—hypnotized by his eyes, his lips, his words.

Finally, my hands became unstuck and I slid them up his chest to his shoulders as he shuddered against my touch.

“I know I need to put my mouth on those pretty lips and kiss you,” he said with so much conviction, it felt like a swarm of butterflies had been let loose in my stomach. “Do you know that, too?”

His eyes now held me prisoner and all I could do was mouth the word Yes.

About the Author:

Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives in the Midwest with her husband and son--her two favorite guys.

She's addicted to lip gloss and salted caramel everything. She believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.

NA Contemporary Romance ALL OF YOU, out now (Penguin/InterMix). BEFORE YOU BREAK in February and WHISPER TO ME in May, 2014. Repped by Sara Megibow.

Also the creator of Tags-n-Stones (dot com) jewelry.

Social Media Links:

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Author Interview with Christina Lee:

1. Where did you get the inspiration to write the Between Breaths series?

I’d been writing YA in different genres the last few years but was always an avid romance reader—YA and adult. Then I picked up my first New Adult romance in 2012 and fell in love with the age category. It was shortly thereafter that Bennett popped into my head as a potential character, along with Avery, and I had to write their story down.

2. When you first thought of making these books into a series, did you plot each book and couple ahead of time or did the sequels develop as you were writing All of You?

I’m not a huge plotter. I’d gotten a two-book deal with Penguin, had already written All of You, and owed them an outline for the next book. I had a few side characters in All of You and definitely wondered what their stories could be. At a certain point, I realized book two needed to be Ella’s story—but so many readers asked me about Rachel that I figured she needed her own story as well.

3. What is your favorite line you have ever written?

Eep, it’s hard for me to choose one line because I’ve written so many books. I’d prefer to choose a favorite short passage. Probably this one, from All of You, because it’s a turning point in the book:

“As I sat there listening to him, something profound happened in the very center of me. Stuff began rearranging and clicking into place. My heart burst through my chest and landed at Bennett’s feet—asking, pleading, begging him to smooth out her creases, sooth all her wounded parts, mend her shattered center.
I couldn’t even talk any sense into her.”

4. Which of your characters is closest to your heart and why?

Probably Quinn. He is such a tortured soul—but has so much to give, so much love to share—except it’s buried deeply inside of him.

5. If you could inhabit the life of one of your characters for a day, who would it be and why?

It would definitely be Avery. I’d want to know what it was like to be that uninhibited and unapologetic about sex. I think we could all use of some of that freedom instead of the slut shaming that goes on in our society.

6. What made you decide to change things up and make the guy rather than the girl a (gasp!) virgin?

Back in 2012, I had just devoured tons of romance books, plenty with female virgins, and I wondered what a guy virgin would look like. Then Bennett was born in my head.

7. So far, your heroes have been a tattoo artist an athlete and a musician (in the upcoming book). What trope would you like to tackle next?

Oh, I hadn’t actually thought of them as tropes, but I suppose they are. Well, I’m working on two different books that I cannot talk about just yet, so I guess you’ll have to see. ;-)

8. In Before You Break you address depression and suicide. What made you decide to delve into these topics?

I worked in the mental health field for over ten years as a clinical social worker and knew the ins and outs of crisis intervention and therapy. I’d come across plenty of broken people and families. In book one, ALL OF YOU, Ella was studying psychology. When I decided to have her work on a hotline in book two that’s when I knew where my story was headed.

9. Both All of You and Before You Break are powerfully emotive with searing sexual tension. Which is more difficult to convey?

Of the two, probably emotion. I really enjoy writing sexual tension, it comes easy for me. Showing the right emotion on the page can sometimes be challenging.

10. Whisper To Me is releasing in a few short months in which we will finally learn about Rachel and her mysterious past. Are there any other projects in the works?

Yes, definitely! And I hope to be able to announce those projects soon. Thank you for having me!

About Michelle Tikal:

I am a stay at home mother of three small children under the age of 5. I met my wonderful husband in high school and we have been together for 15 years now. I have a bachelor's degree in Accounting of all things, but have found there's a very good probability of never actually putting that degree to use as I'm much more inclined to all things literary. (Not to mention I sort of hated the profession) My biggest pet peeve is simple grammatical errors. I am a huge animal lover and worked as an Animal Control Officer for 3 years before my oldest came along. I love to read and whenever I have free time (is there such a thing?) I can always be found with my reader in hand. I love contemporary and New Adult romance, the more angst the better! I'm a sucker for a happy ending, there is nothing better than a book that can make me ugly cry, and I simply cannot pass up a hot rocker read. My ultimate book boyfriend is a bad boy rock star with plenty of tattoos and piercings but I would be more than willing to forgo multiple tats and the piercings for Kellan Kyle.

Connect with Michelle:

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  1. Great reviews and interview! Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Books look amazing! Can't wait to read

  3. seriously I never have to go searching for anything to read Nose stuck in a book always posts the best stuff =]