06 June 2014

Say The Word Tour Stop!

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 "The heart isn’t like the liver. It doesn’t regenerate, no matter how much time passes. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. I’d left mine with Sebastian when I walked away that day, and I hadn’t seen it in the seven years since." — Lux Kincaid

At eighteen, Lux is forced to make a choice. One that nearly destroys her.

She breaks a boy’s heart.

She breaks her own, too.

Seven years later, Lux never expects to see Sebastian again — especially not when her career as a journalist is hanging by a thread and she’s stumbled onto the story of a lifetime. As she chases down leads and explores the dark underbelly of Manhattan, Lux will put her life on the line. But after crossing paths with a still-unforgiving Sebastian, it’s her heart she’s most worried about.

Amidst the blame and the betrayal, the hurt and the heartbreak… can two lost lovers ever find their way back to one another?

Lines will be blurred. The past will be unearthed. And Lux will find out that some secrets aren’t meant to be kept…
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I’m a sucker for a second chance love story, which is why I decided to read this book.  What I was surprised to find is that it’s not just a second chance love story, but a mystery as well. 
Lux Kincaid is the proverbial girl from the wrong side of the tracks.  She meets Sebastian Covington, the son of a senator, when they are teens and despite the roadblocks fall in love.  Desperate love.  Alas, it is not meant to be.  Choices are made, circumstances change and they are torn apart.  7 years later, they are reunited, but it’s not a case of long lost love rekindled.  She’s working for a fashion magazine, he’s following in the footsteps of his political father…and you can tell there’s no love lost on his part.  But, as secrets are revealed it causes them both to view the past differently.  Can they make love work a second time?
This book was really surprising to me.  As I mentioned, it’s not a run of the mill second chance romance, the story delves deeper into the disappearances of young women.  It’s got mystery, intrigue, love, sex…I liked it. Plus, it’s written really well.  I really loved Lux’s voice in this book.  It was original, and she was snarky and quick witted. 
Another thing that I really liked was that it wasn’t easy for them to learn to love each other again.  They pretty much couldn’t stand each other when they are first reunited, but the sexual tension is THICK…deliciously thick.  Chemistry abounds in this book, and I loved every single minute of it.
Overall, I thought this was a great book.  Great characters, an original and interesting story that kept me reading.  4.5 stars!

Can you call a book’s blurb the understatement of the year? Because seriously folks, the blurb for Say the Word does not even come close to conveying how much romance, action, intrigue and heartbreak can be found within its pages. I laughed. I cried (oh yes, you will want to keep the Kleenex box handy). I grieved. I cheered (Go Mrs. Patel!). I was shocked. I was exhilarated. I was scared. Most importantly, I fell in love…with Sebastian, Lux, Jamie, Simon, Fae and even Mrs. Patel.

Say the Word is so much more that a second chance romance. The blurb tells you that Lux breaks Bash’s heart, but it’s absolutely heart wrenching when you find out why. While I reasoned out part of the why long before the reveal, I was still be surprised when I learned all of the details. While it’s difficult to discuss a HUGE part of the storyline because of the romantic suspense aspect (can’t spoil the story for potential readers), the relationship development between Lux and Bash – both then and now – adds such depth and realism to the book that I became invested more and more with each scene. Although there may only be a few sex scenes, the sexual tension between Lux and Bash sizzles off the page and leaves the reader wanting more as these two together are explosive. Factor in the comic relief provided by Jamie, Simon, and Fae, it’s no wonder I practically devoured this book in less than a day.

Ms. Johnson has crafted a brilliant story that covers so many different genres there’s something to appeal to wide array of romance readers: contemporary romance, new adult romance, romantic suspense, mystery, thriller, action, and a second chance romance. I should note that Lux and Bash’s story is presented from Lux’s point of view and part of it is through flashbacks, which allows for a deliberately timed reveal of the details, but the author does it in such a way that I never felt lost or confused. If you’re a reader who prefers their books presented in a linear fashion and doesn’t do well with flashback scenes, you may not want to read this book … but you will be missing out on an excellent read if skip it. Ms. Johnson is a talented writer and I look forward to reading more of her work. 
“Don’t do this, Lux,” he pleaded, his eyes full of anguished incomprehension.
I don’t want to do this, believe me. I would give anything to not be doing this right now. But I don’t have a choice in the matter.
Not anymore.
I schooled my face into a mask of callous indifference and forced myself to say the words in the flat, cold tone I typically reserved for the bitchy cheerleaders who ran in the popular cliques of our senior class, and who’d never approved of their perfect Sebastian dating the trailer trash girl on welfare.
“I don’t want to be together anymore, Bash,” I bit out. “We’re going to college in a few months and I think the long-distance will be too hard.”
Lies, lies, lies. Falling from my lips like raindrops in a storm.
“We’ve talked about this,” Sebastian said in a steady voice, as though he thought by remaining calm he might somehow change my mind or force me to see reason. “I don’t have to go to Princeton. I don’t even want to go there, Lux… It’s just my dad – you know,” he broke off.
Yeah. I knew all about his father and the big dreams he had for Bash, his only son. The golden boy who was destined to carry on the Covington legacy.
“I’ll go to State with you,” Bash continued, moving closer to me. “We don’t have to be apart, Lux. Not ever.”
“It’s college,” I shrugged in what I hoped was a casual my-heart-isn’t-splintering-into-itty-bitty-pieces-at-this-very-moment gesture, moving a step backward so he couldn’t enter my space. I knew if he touched me, I’d either shatter to pieces or breakdown crying in his arms, unable to conceal the true reason I was doing this.
I forged on, determined. “There’ll be tons of other girls at Princeton. It’s not fair for either of us to be tied down.”
He shook his head, taking another step toward me. “I don’t want anybody els–” he began.
I cut him off before he could finish the thought.
“I don’t love you anymore,” I said.
I love you more than anything, I thought.
“You’re lying,” he denied, his eyes fierce.
He was resolute in the belief that I loved him. He thought our love was stronger than anything.
I had to shatter that belief, wreck it so completely that he had no choice but to walk away. Sure, I’d be ripping out my own heart in the process, but that was just collateral damage. All that mattered in this moment was that he believed me.
“I never loved you, Sebastian.” My sharp peal of laughter rang out harshly in the empty space between us, as though the very idea was ludicrous. I tried to ignore the note of hysteria that had crept into my voice, instead forcing my lips into a malicious smirk.
“How could I love someone like you?” I asked him, sidling closer like a rattlesnake moving in for the kill strike. “Someone so entitled and egotistical? Poor little rich boy, up in his mansion,” I singsonged in a patronizing tone that made me sick to my stomach. I’d gone for the jugular, pushing the exact buttons I knew would inflict ultimate damage. His eyes flashed with pain and disbelief — it almost leveled me. Still, I forged on.
I took a step toward him, my gray-blue eyes flinty and devoid of feeling. My voice was scornful, my tone mocking. “It was fun, you see. Kind of like a game, only better because you fell for it and played along, even though you didn’t understand the rules. It was simple enough – make the prince of the county fall for the girl from the wrong side of town.” I pushed the words from my mouth, each traitorous syllable stabbing at my heart like a dagger. Getting right up in his face, my voice dropped to a belittling whisper. “Did you honestly believe that someone like me would ever fall for someone like you? That I’d feel anything but resentment for the life you lead? That I could ever actually love you?”
His eyes were swimming with ghosts, unfocused and far-seeing as he played back memories of our time together. He flinched as the new lens created by my words slipped over his mind’s eye, casting a dark shade on every touch, every kiss, every smile we’d ever shared. His mouth gulped open as if to respond but no sound escaped, and I knew I was dangerously close to the point of no return – a hairsbreadth away from complete and total wreckage.
If I stopped now, if I took it all back, maybe there was still a chance for us. Maybe I could laugh and punch him lightly on the arm and say, You big dummy, don’t you know how much I love you? Don’t you know nothing could ever make me stop?
I kept going.
“Ah, yes, I can see by that wounded puppy-dog look in your eyes that you did believe it.” I forced out another painful laugh. “Well, checkmate, baby. Game over. I win.”
The memory of his face at that moment will haunt me until the day I leave this earth. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when I said the words that destroyed us – shock, rage, betrayal, grief. The blood drained from his face and he recoiled from me, as though I’d dealt him a physical blow.
I’d heard stories about racehorses who are pushed to their limits, running so fast and so far that their hearts literally burst within their chests mid-race, killing them instantly. At that moment, I wondered vaguely if my own heart might explode — not from physical exertion, but emotional. It beat so fast I could feel my blood pulsing beneath the skin, hear the hollowed out thumping that echoed in my empty chest. My fingernails dug harshly into my palms as I prayed the tears gathering behind my eyes wouldn’t escape down my cheeks.
“You don’t mean that,” he whispered, his voice broken, hollow with disbelief.
“Life isn’t so easy outside your mansion, is it?” I plowed on, headfirst into heartbreak. I felt my heart splinter and dissolve into pieces, the void left in its place quickly filled by a sense of self-loathing stronger than anything I’d ever felt before.
I watched as the lies sunk in and he accepted my words for truth. Saw the hard glint of hatred and distrust cloud over his normally warm hazel eyes. Witnessed the change in his demeanor from welcoming to foreboding, as his shoulders straightened and his chin lifted. He looked down at me with an arrogant frigidity I’d only ever seen him adopt in his father’s presence.
He despises me. The thought nearly brought me to my knees.
You see, the thing about Bash and me was that we didn’t lie to one another. Not ever. So even that day, when I was lying through my teeth for the first time since he’d come into my life, he believed me. He trusted me to tell him the truth.
And I used it to destroy him.
Worse, even though he might hate me, I knew he would never lash out with cruelty or disrespect. In a twisted, backwards kind of way, it might’ve made me feel better to hear him yell and rage against my cruel words, to put up a fight when I broke his heart. But it simply wasn’t in his nature to lose control in front of other people – especially not those who’d hurt him. He accepted my words with grim resolve and, true to his blue-blooded upbringing, banished any pain deep down, where no one could see. His expression was calm – an unrippled lake on a windless day – but his eyes were a turbulent sea, offering the only glimpse of his devastation.
 “Goodbye, Lux,” he said in a strangled voice, stuffing his hands into his pockets and staring at me with that quiet intensity he constantly radiated. The look in his eyes undid me.
I drank him in, knowing full well it was the last time I’d ever see him.
“Goodbye, Sebastian,” I choked out, my voice catching as I said his name.
I turned quickly so he wouldn’t see the tears that had finally broken free and walked away from the love of my life, leaving my heart behind.
I never let myself look back. Not even when I heard the unmistakable sound of a fist repeatedly hitting the trunk of our oak tree with enough force to strip away a layer of bark.

Julie JohnsonJulie Johnson is a twenty-two year old Boston native. When she's not writing, Julie can most often be found drinking too much coffee, stalking Goodreads for new books to add to her ever-growing TBR list, watching reruns of Veronica Mars, or studying psychology. Julie enjoys cooking, travel, photography, and spending time with her friends and family. You can find Julie on Facebook at www.facebook.com/juliejohnsonbooks or on her website at www.juliejohnsonbooks.com. Sometimes, when she can figure out how Twitter works, she tweets from @AuthorJulie.

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