Tuesday, December 9, 2014

RELEASE/REVIEW BLITZ: Natural Love by S. Celi

Natural Love Banner
Design: Berto Designs

My whole life, I wanted one thing: to be the perfect son.
Growing up, I did everything my father required. Straight A's in school. Perfect manners. I forced myself to live up to his standards--standards that pushed the Chadwick family name to the highest rungs of society.

Over the years, we climbed so high that my father hoped we’d never fall.

If only he’d been right. With each successful year, the Chadwick family skeletons grew bolder and darker. Each member of my family had something to hide. Every lie threatened to undo us.

The secret Avery Jackson and I shared was the worst one of all.

She was the one person I shouldn’t love--the one person I couldn’t love. But I did. I loved Avery Jackson. I wanted her, even though a romance with her threatened everything.

It all felt so natural.

And that was exactly the problem.

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“You look beautiful tonight,” I said.
“Thank you. I hoped you’d like this dress.”
We stopped walking just under the trellis, next to a corner of the
house. From here, we couldn’t see the rest of the party, but we
could hear everything. Hundreds of people stood just a few feet
away from us, and they’d come looking for us soon. We had
commitments and expectations to fulfill, but at that moment, my
eyes and my attention were on her.
Only her.
“Did you wear it just for me?” I said.
“Yes,” she said under her breath. “Just for you. I do everything
just for you –”
My mouth covered hers in a rough, intense kiss. I gripped her
face with one hand and the small of her back with the other,
crushing her to me in a split second of passion that didn’t have
any boundaries, a passion that broke every rule, and defied
everything that made sense in my life. My tongue twisted and
shoved against hers and she opened her body beneath me as
our kisses deepened. Before long, I forced us against the ivy wall
of the house, and there we were, locked together in a moment
that somehow we’d claimed as ours and ours alone.
I only broke the kiss when she moaned against my mouth.
Something about the sound made me remember where we were.
Who I was. What we were doing. How wrong it all was from the
standpoint of everything I had ever been taught.
No. We couldn’t do this. No. No. No.
Someone might see.
Above us, inside the house, a light in the study flipped on and I
heard two voices. Had they seen us already?
“I’m sorry,” I said as I forced our lips apart. I took an immediate
step away from her, but it did little to calm us both. Her breath
came out hard and fast, a series of quick pants, as if she hadn’t
wanted to breathe while we kissed.
And I don’t know what unsettled me more: the kissing or the look
of extreme pleasure she had on her face.
“I am . . . I’m . . . I should go.” I said.
Without another word, I turned and disappeared down the
pathway, leaving her alone against the ivy.

BOOK REVIEW: Natural Love by Sara Celi
Natural Love Front
3.5 Stars

After being shipped off to two years in the Peace Corp in South Africa, Spencer Chadwick, 24, returns to his family home in Ohio poised to take his position in the family business. The Chadwicks are rich and his father is more focused on appearances and the integrity of the Chadwick name to the point that most of the family members, in an attempt to avoid blemishing the family image, are suppressing their own demons and running away from the things that haunt them. This includes Spencer’s step-sister, Avery Jackson. Almost 22 and ready to start graduate school, Avery is shrouded in personal secrets as well.

Pretty much from the start Spencer and Avery emit chemistry which Spencer struggles with it, rightfully so given their relation. But yet you can just feel their desire for each other, and I was silently chanting for them to just say to heck with it and throw caution to the wind. I know, I know, I must clearly read too much contemporary romance where nothing is no longer taboo. ;-)

This book was a little hard to rate as it has a lot of potential and while the elements of a phenomenally engaging story are all there, it feels like it falls short in certain areas. Some of that may rest in the pacing. There were places I would have loved to see developed further and other places that could have benefited from some tweaking. For example….

So I have a little pet peeve in books when it comes to a big secret. It drives me nuts when said secret or secrets are constantly referenced or discussed in veiled conversation that dance around what said secret is. (In this instance it happens often between two people who are alone in a room together and both know the secret—who talks like that?) Don’t get me wrong; I understand it’s all part of the suspense. But personally I prefer a mystery where the clues are more ingeniously dropped. And there are some good clues hidden in the story but they are minimal and overshadowed by all the conversations that talk in circles and are filled with cut-offs sentence (the characters interrupting, not a writing mistake).

The book touches on a lot of heavy issues. A lot. However, I’m not sure all of the characters are sufficiently developed considering the content — as in I felt it could have achieved so much more emotional depth if we could have known more about them and how they ticked.  The story opens with Spencer and Avery already clearly fighting some major sexual tensions and strong feelings for each other, but we’re not really treated to scenes from the past that help develop that romance. It’s more tell, little show. Even later it’s established how they bonded, but not necessarily how they fell in love. And given the fact they’ve grown up together, I think I needed a little more background to see how this evolved. I liked both Spencer and Avery; I just wanted to delve a little deeper into them. Told solely via Spencer’s POV, I really craved Avery’s perspective as well in lei of everything going on.

It would also have been nice to see more development with their parents. I felt like things were wrapped up a little too quickly considering everything that transpired and was revealed to them. Again perhaps fewer references to the secrets and more development of the fall-out might have gone a long way.

There is an aura of angst throughout the book, largely stemming from regrets from the past, vices of the past and present, and fear and uncertainty of the future. While there is plenty of sexual tension, there are minimal sweet romantic moments.

Overall, lots of promise and interesting premise but falls a little short on execution and romance. I liked it but craved a little more depth that could have really made it stellar.

~About the Author~
s CEli
Journalist. Novelist. Broadcaster. Blogger. An overactive imagination has always served Sara Celi well. Starting from age 10, with an epic tale about a soldier during the Civil War, Sara has made creating stories her life’s work. After graduating cum laude from Western Kentucky University in 2004 with a degree in Broadcast News and History, Sara Celi started her decade-long career in broadcast journalism at TV stations in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Ohio. Her love of the written word came to fruition with the publishing of her first novel, The Undesirable, in 2013 and has since published The Palms and Prince Charming. Born in New Orleans and having lived all over the United States, Sara Celi now calls the Greater Cincinnati area home. In her spare time, she likes to read, shop, travel, run, volunteer with the Junior League, serve on the board of Wesley Community Services, and work with Cooperative for Education, a non-profit providing educational opportunities for the children of Guatemala.
To keep up with Sara Celi and find out about her future works, subscribe to her mailing list, The Celi Circle. Subscribers can participate in exclusive giveaways and events. You can also follow Sara via the following:

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