Monday, July 17, 2017

[Jen's Review]: The Debt Series

Today Jen's reviewing both book books in O'Keefe's newest series, The Debt. It's all in one review, with no real spoilers, and the books are rated separately at the end.



romance novel covers, contemporary romance, Lost Without You by Molly O'Keefe
Lost Without You by Molly O'Keefe
Publisher: Molly O'Keefe (June 19th, 2017)
Series: The Debt, 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
POV: Alternating 1st POV


ALL DEBTS MUST BE PAID

Tommy

Seven years ago, I thought I could save Beth, the girl I loved from the monster who was supposed to take care of us. I thought I could keep Beth and all the other kids at St. Jude’s Home for Court Placed Juveniles safe.

I failed. Badly. Now we all have blood on our hands and owe a dangerous man a very dangerous debt. We don’t know when he’ll come calling for payment, but when he does – we pay, or we suffer.

When my turn comes, I’m ready for anything.

Except seeing Beth again.

LOVE IS NEVER FREE

Beth

No one ever tells you that the cost of having your dreams come true is literally every single other part of your life. Yes, I’m a huge pop star these days, but I’m pretty much a mess, too.

I’ve spent my life hiding behind disguises, make-up and costumes, all to protect myself from the kind of pain that comes from revealing your true self to someone.

I did that once. With Tommy. The only person I ever loved. It didn’t turn out so well.

And now, with everything else falling apart around me, I’m suddenly in the backseat of his car.

Being kidnapped.

And the past we’ve both tried to run from is catching up with us.

Contains The Debt: A Prologue and 50,000 more words in the continuation of Tommy and Beth's story. 



Where to Buy*:
More Info:





contemporary romance, romance novel covers, Where I Belong by Molly O'Keefe
Where I Belong by Molly O'Keefe
Publisher: Molly O'Keefe (June 26th, 2017)
Series: The Debt, 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
POV: Alternating 1st POV


THE GIRL I LOVED IS THE WOMAN I CAN’T HAVE

It was simple: Pay the debt and I stay out of jail. Pay the debt and I stay alive.

But I sacrificed it all for Beth.

I didn’t pay what I owed. I’m sure punishment is coming, but I can take it - as long as Beth is safe. Away from her mother and everyone else who would hurt her.

I gave it all up for two days with her. And it was worth it.

She always was.

THE SECRETS WE KEEP ARE WHAT TEARS US APART

We’re supposed to be done. Over. Tommy goes his way, I go mine. Cue the heartbreaking music.

I’m supposed to forget him, but I don’t think I can. And when the danger closes in on Tommy, we’re on the run again. From Bates. From my mother. From our past. And there are no safe places to hide.

Except one. And it’s the place that will hurt Tommy the most.

But maybe it’s time for me to face my past. My demons.

Maybe it’s time for me to save Tommy for once.



Where to Buy*:
More Info:



Review of O'Keefe's Previous Novels:



Baby, Come Back
Between the Sheets
Burn Down the Night
Never Been Kissed
Wait for It
Wild Child






Jen's Review:



There are two things I hate in the world: overtime and cliffhangers. Call me crazy, but I believe that movies and books and sportsball events should end when they are supposed to end.  When it comes to romance novels, I think I could make a pretty compelling case that cliffhanger endings are anti-HEA and should be disqualifying.



So what exactly am I supposed to do with Molly O’Keefe? She’s probably one of my favorite romance authors. Her characters are fierce and compelling and the sex is sizzling...but man, no one loves a cliffhanger like Molly O’Keefe. Was the woman raised only on a steady diet of 80s soap operas? Did her parents never tell her who shot JR? Was she writing her own Harry Potter fanfic in between book installments? Did she guess that Buffy had been in Heaven instead of Hell? I consider myself lucky that I read Everything I Left Unsaid after The Truth About Him had already been released! I can barely stand to wait for sequels with interesting characters (looking at you Tessa Bailey and making Belmont so freaking compelling!), let alone full-on “ohmygodwhatsgoingtohappen” cliffhanger.



Needless to say, when she announced her newest release, The Debt series, I waited until they were both out before reading. Fool me once, Molly! The first book in the series is Lost Without You, and the sequel is Where I Belong. I’m going to talk about both, but it’s not too spoilery.



Lost Without You introduces five teenagers living in a miserable and abusive foster care situation in San Francisco. The focus of these first two books is on Beth and Tommy, both of them trapped in foster care for mysterious and painful reasons. When Beth and Tommy get caught making out in the art room during school, things go from bad to worse at the home. After a terrifying night, Beth is whisked away and the remaining four kids make a devil’s bargain with a mysterious stranger to stay out of jail.



Seven years later, and the plot picks up when Tommy is asked to pay back his debt by picking up a mysterious package and delivering it to Arizona. The focus on Tommy is a smart and compelling move here. He was abused and tortured in the foster home, and I was anxious to see what happened to him in the intervening years. He’s a loner, and it’s completely heartbreaking and believable to see him with only a sad, scrawny dog as a companion. When he’s finally asked to pay off the debt, he feels scared of what he might be asked to do, but also relieved that the terrible thing he’s been waiting for has finally happened.



The package Tommy has been asked to deliver is a drugged out zombie of a pop-star named Jada, but of course she’s really Beth, the same sad girl Tommy tried to save all those years ago. Jada/Beth is a compelling character in her own right and there are lots of small clues that the big villain in the story is her sinister and mysterious mother.



At least through this first book, there’s enough details that don’t add up in the plot that I found myself struggling a little bit---Wait, why would this guy just cut these kids loose on the promise of future debt repayment? Wait, am I really supposed to believe that a few days of sleep and some oranges can cure a drug addiction that severe? Wait, why was Beth in foster care instead of being with her Mom? Wait, do people really go from YouTube make up artists to full on pop stars in 7 months? However, despite those questions, the characterization of Tommy and Beth is so interesting and their connection felt so real that I allowed those concerns to just slide right by me. Even if the situations themselves seem far-fetched, the way these two react feels real. And that’s enough to keep me hooked and ready to read book number two.



After the cliffhanger is resolved, Where I Belong smartly parks our two characters someplace safe. While the first book was a lot of go-go-go, the second one gives Tommy and Beth time to get to know each other. It is completely and satisfyingly steamy, and Molly O’Keefe is absolutely a master at showing how sexual relationships changes as intimacy grows and develops. A friend of mine likes to say, “Hurt people hurt people” and Tommy and Beth hurt each other out of fear, even though they desperately want to connect. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that some of my earlier plot questions are resolved. While parts of the plot still felt a little mechanical, I never doubted for a minute in these characters.




Lost Without You: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Where I Belong: 4 out of 5 stars



3 1/2 and 4 STARS! 


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Jen read these through Kindle Unlimited.

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Thanks for the reviews, Jen! I'm totally with you on cliffhangers. I need to know ahead of time that there's going to be a cliffhanger. That's why I held off on starting this one myself; hopefully I can get a chance to squeeze both books in pretty soon; I do love O'Keefe.


PSA: Authors, please don't blindside your readers, ESPECIALLY romance readers, with a cliffhanger. It will not end well for you!

If you tell us, clearly and loudly, before we grab the book, chances are most won't be too upset because they'll wait for the next book(s) and binge back-to-back.



Enjoy!


Until Next Time,


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