Monday, 13 October 2014

Review: Side Swiped by Lia Riley Plus Giveaway

**** 4 Stars

I read Lia's debut book Upside Down ,back in the summer and it knocked me for six. I loved everything about it the characters, the location, the writing, the dynamics. That was book one in the Off The Map series so I have been eagerly awaiting book two, Side Swiped to see where the story of Talia & Bran would take me. Luckily I was invited to take part in Lia's blog tour so I got a sneak peak at book two.

The Blurb

It was only meant to last the summer . . .

Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless NorCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that’s what she’ll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows.

Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he’ll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can’t stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won’t give up without a fight—because while time may have limits, their love is infinite . . .

My Thoughts

Side Swiped starts out with Talia packing up her family home now that her father has sold it and moved away. She is moving to Tasmania to study on a temporary visa and more importantly to be with Bran. Leaving her home is a big deal for Talia as it is the home she shared with her older sister before tragedy struck & tore her family apart but she is looking forward to a new future with Bran.
Inside is the crawl space where my older sister, Pippa and I once played castle. Now I'm the only one left, a princess with a broken crown, my home a shattered kingdom
The story pretty much picks up from where Bran & Talia left off, again told from both their points of view and the humour from Upside Down continues. They are now living together in Tasmania, desperate to stay together but at the same time both wanting to follow their individual dreams. At first living together is a novelty, they are playing happy families but things become more real and they have to work even harder at their relationship - the honeymoon period is well & truly over.

Bran is given the opportunity of a life time to live his dream working on an expedition in Antarctica. Talia has always wanted to join the Peace Corps long before she even met Bran and that dream comes bubbling to the surface again whilst she is in Tasmania. Bran is fighting is dream and also fighting the reality that Talia will have to return to the US when her visa expires. His solution to this is a shock to Talia and ultimately makes her Peace Corps dreams stronger. Talia is determines that she doesn't want to be the reason that Bran doesn't follow his dream, she doesn't want him to end up resenting her.

It is almost as though Talia has become Bran's obsession, he seems unable to see that they could both follow their dreams and then return to each other. He is so hung up on his previous failed long distance relationship that he becomes unreasonable and offers Talia an ultimatum that looks set to tear the couple apart.
Before I met Talia, my foot was on the gas - in the wrong -ass direction. She stepped into my blind spot when least expected. I didn't have time to duck or avoid her. I tried a few defensive maneuvers but nothing could change the irrevocable course of our collision.
Talia's strength shines through in this book, she has really become a much stronger person than we saw in Upside Down. Bran on the other hand seems far more messed up than the man that we saw in the first book. At times he often came across as a spoiled child, whiny and throwing tantrums, throwing out his ultimatum. 

Lia does a great job in Side Swiped of developing the characters we met in Upside Down. We see a lot more of Bran's family in this book and this gives us a better understanding of him and how he behaves. He comes from a wealthy background that he ignores and keeps hidden where possible, a lot younger than his sister and estranged from his parents he has tried hard to make it on his own.

The book is full of the same quirky charm as Upside Down, the same level of heat burns from Talia and Bran and Lia writes the emotional stuff so well that you can't help but feel you a living right alongside the characters.

Again Lia builds the tension as the book comes to close and where with Upside Down we were left with an ending, with Side Swiped we are left with an almighty cliffhanger. I finished the book and just couldn't believe what I had just read, I sat for ages wondering where Lia Riley could take Talia and Bran's journey now.

I am now eagerly waiting for book three, Inside Out, desperate to know how everything pans out and knowing that as soon as I get it in my hands everything else will cease to exist until I have finished.

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