Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blog Tour {Review & Giveaway}—Strength by Carrie Butler

Stopping by The LUV'NV today is the Strength blog tour, organized by Xpresso Book Tours!
We got the pleasure to read and review this fabulous New Adult PNR, and you can enter to win an eBook copy!

by Carrie Butler
Book #1 of Mark of Nexus series
Publication: March 7th 2013 by Sapphire Star Publishing
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance

Book Depository Amazon B & N Goodreads
When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, her rumor-laced notions are shattered. Handsome, considerate, and seemingly sane, Wallace Blake doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, screaming and banging on the walls of his dorm room. Hell, he doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, period.

Too curious for her own good, Rena vows to uncover the truth behind Wallace’s madman reputation—and how two seconds of contact had left her with bruises. Of course, there are a few setbacks along the way: guilt, admiration, feelings of the warm and fuzzy variety ...

Not to mention the unwanted attention of Wallace's powerful, supernaturally-gifted family.

They’re a bloodline divided by opposing ideals, two soon-to-be warring factions that live in secret among us. When Rena ends up caught in their crossfire, Wallace has no choice but to save her by using his powers. Now they’re really in trouble. With war on the horizon and Rena’s life in the balance, he needs to put some distance between them. But Rena won’t let go. If fighting is what it takes to prove her own strength and keep Wallace in her life, then that’s what she’ll do—even if it means risking a whole lot more than her heart.

I'll admit I was first drawn to Strength  because of its cover. Sharp intake of breath, drool, and sigh—those were my first reactions. Next was grabby-hands when I read the blurb and learned it was a New Adult Paranormal Romance. Both sets of reactions aren't shockers—the cover's hot, the summary leaves one wanting to know more, and NA PNR is fast becoming a popular genre as well as one of my favorites. What I didn't expect, though, was how strongly I'd feel about the book when I finished it.

Sculpting her debut novel around a man's insurmountable, barely controllable strength, Carrie Butler captures the strength of friendships, family, general and spiritual faith, as well as the power behind memories and the past, presumptions and the expectations of others, and how it affects lives.

She does it slowly and subtly with realistic, refreshingly "average" college students. Although Rena, the female protagonist, doesn't have stunning looks, a set goal or grand purpose in life, and superpowers or killer ninja skills like many paranormal heroines, she is loyal, all heart, and fierce, especially in her conviction to right the wrong of helping spread rumors of Wallace.

He may not be the psycho or beast she, her friends, and the entire campus have thought—he's actually tall, dark, handsome—but Wallace does have issues, which aren't the typical. He doesn't have a jealous past girlfriend, immature guy friends, or a sordid past creating drama. (He's actually a self-induced loner.) Nor does he have trouble keeping it in his pants or a wicked signature smile he uses like a weapon. He's not the "bad boy," doesn't have one bone of that persona in his body at all. He's what one could consider the "good guy" or the nice guy who finishes last whom we all root for. I loved that. Both characters were real and genuine and had a quiet, intense goodness, and one can't help but adore them.

The relationships were fantastic—Rena with her circle of friends, Wallace with his grandmother and his twin brother. But Rena and Wallace's relationship was by far one of the things I loved most about this book. Developing naturally, easily, over great conversation and interaction, not simply attraction, it reminded me of Tamara Webber's Easy. I appreciated how Rena and Wallace complemented each other's weaknesses and highlighted strengths.

And the smexing ... well, there isn't any, per se; they can't since Wallace would end up hurting Rena with his power, but the choice was also made between them because it means something more. There is, however, sizzlin' hot make-out sessions that make me eagerly anticipate and squirm for what can only be an amazing first time (which better be soon, Carrie Butler!).

While not apparent until halfway through, the Paranormal aspect was complex and unique. The action picks up, and the character growth was wonderful. I would've liked more info on the supernatural dynamics—the history of the magic, bloodlines, and the source of power—but it's sketchy to even the characters, and I think their discovery of those details will be delved into more deeply as the series continues.

If you're looking for strong characters, strong relationships, and a strong Paranormal plot, I highly suggest you try Strength. Carrie Butler captured them all and encompassed the one-word theme with her debut novel.

eARC provided by Carrie Butler via Xpresso Books Tours.
Thank you!

Favorites lines:

"How can you with one breath praise God and then the next, scorn your own existence? Did you leave your faith in your church clothes or what?" A moment ticked by in silence, and I pushed myself up a little bit, staring down into his face. "You might as well be dead, Wallace, because you're terrified of living."

* Quote taken from the advanced reader's copy *

Carrie Butler

Her Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Carrie daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.


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