Wednesday, 12 August 2015
[BLOGTOUR] Souls Unfractured by Tillie Cole Review + Excerpts
Drawn to collide into an impossible bliss.
Labeled a ‘Cursed’ woman of Eve from birth, Maddie has endured nothing but pain and repression at the hands of The Order’s most abusive elder, Moses. Now living with her sister in The Hangmen’s secluded compound, finally, Maddie, is free. Free from the suffocating faith she no longer believes in. Free from endless years of physical and mental torment.
At age twenty-one, the timid and shy Maddie is content to live within the confines of her new home—safe from the outside world, safe from harm and, strangely, protected by the Hangmen’s most volatile member; the heavily pierced and tattooed, Flame.
The man who ceaselessly watches over her with his midnight dark and searing eyes. The man who protects her with a breath-taking intensity. And the man who stirs something deep within her numbed heart.
But when circumstances conspire for Flame to need HER help, Maddie bravely risks it all for the broken man who has captivated her fragile soul.
The Hangmen’s most infamous member, Flame, is ruled by one thing—anger. Plagued by haunting demons from his past, an all-consuming rage, and isolated by an abhorrent hatred of being touched, Flame's days are filled with suffocating darkness, pierced only by a single ray of light—Maddie. The shy, beautiful woman he cannot purge from his thoughts. The woman he has an overwhelming need to possess…
... the only person who has ever been able to touch him.
Flame’s mission in life is to protect Maddie, to keep her safe. Until a trigger from his troubled past sends him spiraling into madness, trapping him in the deepest recesses of his disturbed mind.
His Hangmen brothers fear that Flame is beyond saving.
His only hope of salvation: Maddie and her healing light.
Dark Contemporary Romance.
Contains explicit sexual situations, violence, disturbingly sensitive and taboo subjects, offensive language, and very mature topics.
Recommended for age 18 years and over.
Cover: Another beautiful cover. For some reason the covers to this series really draw me in. Dark and beautiful.
I read It Ain't Me Babe and Hearts Recaptured back in February this year, one after the other - and immediately fell in love, with the world as well as the characters.
So I have been eagerly anticipating the third installment.
Ok, so I was hyperventilating a little bit when this arrived on my Kindle, and I actually paused what I had been reading and started this one straight away.
This is something that I do not normally do.
THAT'S how excited I was for this book.
And it did not disappoint.
Flame and Maddie both have horrific pasts.
Neither can be touched or stomach the thought of intimacy, but long for it with each other.
Maddie calms the raging flames that Flame feels infest his veins, and Flame finally makes Maddie feel safe after her abuse at the hands of a sadistic cult.
They each have to fight their demons if they can leave their pasts behind them and have the future together that they both so desperately want, and deserve.
This book has cemented this series as one of my absolute favourites.
This, book, wrecked, me.
So many feels.
I couldn't stop reading this. I resented every single pause and interruption to my reading that I was forced to endure.
Having to stop reading and work was a seriously inconvenient to my life.
Maddie and Flame- I just absolutely loved them. So freaking much.
I love an all consuming romance- and I definitely got that from Maddie and Flame.
This series is an absolute must read.
Read from August 04 to 06, 2015
Below are a few excerpts from Souls Unfractured.
Gathering my floor-length dress in my hands, I walked into the body of the church, rushing forward until the bright sun from the open entrance lit up the dark wooden floor.
“I won’t say it again. I need you to leave or I’ll call the police.” Pastor James was talking when I arrived at the large doors. The man from the choir immediately saw me and tapped her on her arm.
Pastor James turned round and paled. “Maddie, darlin’, stay in the church and call your sister, or even better, Mr. Nash.”
Her face betrayed her fear but her protests quickly turned to white noise in my ears as I reached the exit and saw, waiting below, at the edge of the busy road was him… Flame. He was pacing back and forth. As always, I counted his steps. Eleven to the right, eleven to the left.
As I drank in how he looked, I feared my legs would collapse. That confusing sensation of my stomach swooping hit me as my eyes focused on his leather-clad legs and the Hangmen cut partly covering his bare torso.
His strangely cut dark hair was in its usual state of disarray. His skin was pale and he had lost weight. I frowned. His muscles were twitching more than usual. His hands clenched into fists more than normal. His lips were muttering something inaudible from this distance, yet… he was still Flame. He was still the man who protected me. He was still the silent shadow that kept me safe.
The man I had missed with the most incredible fervor.
His friends, Viking and AK, stood off to the side. Viking, the enormous red haired brother, looked distressed as he talked to the dark-haired AK, and when he ran his hand through his hair, he turned and his attention locked on me.
Viking’s large chest deflated in what looked like relief and he said something to AK. AK looked toward me and threw a small tired wave.
But I did not have the time to spare for them. All I could concentrate on right now was Flame.
I winced as I caught sight of white gauze on the side of his neck. The gunshot graze. The bullet that should have hit me if he had not thrown himself in its path...
... to protect me.
Flame’s pace increased. I could see his hands shaking as his fists became impossibly tight. Then, with a corded neck, he began to scream. His croaked and rough voice made it to “MADD—” before his eyes whipped to the top of the stairs.
Where they collided with mine.
Flame’s bellowed call caught in his throat and his body came to an abrupt stop. He staggered on uneasy feet as though he was too tired to be standing. But that midnight stare remained. His hands stopped shaking, his wide bare chest pumped at a heady speed, yet a strange kind of calm seemed to flow over him.
I wanted to speak to him.
I wanted take his hand in mine and thank him. Thank him beyond words for saving my life.
But I could not. I did not have the courage.
“Maddie? What’s wrong?” Mae said from beside me. Stepping out of Mae’s protective arm, I turned. As soon as I did, a tired looking Flame stood near me. Styx was still talking with his hands, but Flame watched me as I took a hesitant step forward. His dark eyes widened as I continued to slowly, and apprehensively approach. His hands at his sides clenched, and his jaw became rigid with tension.
I heard the quiet sound of Mae rushing to Styx and whispering something I could not hear, but I had one intention, and one intention only.
The smell of oil and leather hit me first, then something I could not make out, something distinctly Flame. Now only a hairsbreadth away from Flame, my eyes now to the ground, a silence had descended on the group.
Clasping my hands together to maintain my composure, I lifted my head. This close, I realized I had missed him with a devastating intensity. I realized, that not once, had I felt safe since he had been gone.
Flame swallowed hard and watched me. My heart fluttered when I admitted to myself that I liked the way he watched me. I liked that, when I was near, the pained expression he always wore fell away.
Steeling my fraying nerves, I whispered, “Thank you.” I inhaled a quick breath to steady my shaking voice, dropped my eyes from his penetrating stare, and added, “Thank you. Thank you for saving my life.”
I sat bolt up right in the chair and stared at the dark line of the forest. My heart slammed against my ribcage when a figure emerged from the heavy foliage.
My breathing paused, fear taking hold, then a familiar pair of leather boots and trousers entered the moonlit lawn. Blades hung at his sides, and his torso was naked under the heavy leather cut.
My heart, that was already racing, seemed to beat at an impossible speed. And then Flame lifted his head, and it ceased to beat at all.
The frown that was on his face instantly blanked. His lips mumbling something under his breath, stilling mid-speech.
I clutched the blanket lying over my knees to my chest. I remained frozen, as did Flame. I had not expected him to come tonight, his friend had taken him back to his home. I could see from my window how exhausted he had been. I could see, even in the haze of moonlight, how tired he was still.
Flame’s hands clenched at his sides. His chest heaved with movement that was too quick, then he abruptly turned on his heel, and with a rigid back, he headed back into the forest.
My stomach sank as he turned to leave, and without conscious thought, I slammed my sketchpad shut, shuffled to the edge of the seat and called out, “Wait! Do not go!”
Flame stopped dead.
As did I.
Swallowing back my nerves, my shock at what I had just done, I said, “Please, Flame. Do not go… I… I am glad you are here.”
Flame’s fingers curled and uncurled at his side, then straightening his shoulders, he slowly turned. His large frame was rigid as he faced me once
more. Then he just stood. Stood at the end of the forest, his attention fixed forward.
But I wanted him closer.
Still perched on the edge of my seat, I asked, “Would you like to come closer? I… I have been sitting out here alone as I could not sleep. It…” I took a deep breath, fighting my natural instinct to flee, and continued. “It would be nice to have some company.”
Flame remained still, his rigid body convincing me that he would not come any nearer. Then, to my surprise, he began walking, his powerful legs bringing him closer to where I sat.
In the still and silent night, I could hear him counting his steps one to eleven, then repeating it back to himself under his breath. My head tilted to the side as he approached, a swirl of anticipation and fear mixing in my stomach.
His skin on his arms looked newly cut, and I could not help but feel sad for him. For whatever had happened to make him need to harm himself in such a way. Grasping the blade in his hand, his fingers tightened on the handle. Like he needed the blade as a comfort.
As though he was nervous to be here with me now.
Inhaling a long breath, I asked quietly, “Would you like to sit?” I pointed at the chair to in front of mine. Flame looked at the chair through his long black lashes, and exhaling sharply through his nose, sat beside me. I smelled the oil and leather. I smelled the rich musk and spice scent that only belonged to Flame and warmth filled my bones.
He was sat beside me.
Flame was sitting right beside me.
Dropping my eyes to the frayed edges of the gray blanket wrapped around me, I played with the clustered strands of wool just for something to help with the nerves accosting my body.
But Flame was absolutely still. Absolutely silent.
Then I glanced to the side only to see him watching. As soon as our eyes met, he dropped his. A blush raced to fill my cheeks, and for some unknown reason, a whisper of a smile pulled on the corner of my mouth.
Lifting my head, I stared at the large moon, and found the courage to speak, “I did not think you would be coming to see me tonight.”
After several seconds of silence, I believed Flame would not respond. Until I caught him shift in his seat, and he said roughly, “I couldn’t stay away.”
My pulse raced at his response and I whispered, “Why?”
Flame’s shoulder shrugged, then focusing back on the blade in his hand, he said, “I couldn’t stop thinking about you. And I…” Flame trailed off.
“And what?” I pushed.
“I needed to be near you. I needed to know you were safe.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off his face. I had never looked at men. After what I had endured at the hands of males, I could not think of them as handsome. I had given no thought to the matter at all. I simply did not think like that. I had never felt butterflies in my stomach. I had never felt my heart flutter, had never felt myself losing my very breath. When Lilah and Mae
would talk of Ky and Styx, when they would blush just describing their love’s faces, eyes, lips, I did not comprehend.
But standing here, over Flame, right now, staring at his anguished face—his sharp features: slightly crooked nose, full lips, dark short beard, and those soulful eyes, those incredibly long black lashes—a feeling previously unknown to me bloomed in my heart, filling me with light. With an incredible heat. This close, I felt a tension spark between us. I felt something magnetic.
I… I wanted him as my own. In this moment, seeing the man who had become the center of my world, breaking, I wanted nothing more than to save him. To gift him the peace he so richly deserved, even if it meant sacrificing my newly-awakened heart in the process.
On a loud hiss, Flame’s body stiffened. My grip tightened on the handle of the knife. It felt like a ton weight in my hand, but I knew what I had to do. For Flame, I told myself, You must do this for Flame.
Steadying my shaking grip, I raised the blade, leaving it suspended it in the air. I inhaled deeply, then looked down at Flame. His beautiful eyes stalked me. With tears filling my eyes, I whispered, “Flame… I know you are lost right now, but I want to save you. I want to save you as you have so often saved me.” I swallowed the lump clogging my throat and continued. “I know you want eternal peace, but… but… I cannot… I cannot take your life.” Tears streamed from my eyes, but I lowered my mouth to a few inches from his ear. “I know the flames pain you greatly. And I know you live with pain. I know you no longer want to live. I…” I sniffed back my emotions as Flame became eerily still. “I have been there too. I have felt the urge to fade, to never wake again. But then something happened to me. Someone happened to me… You.”
Flame’s erratic breathing blew against the hair falling over my face, but he did not move. His body was completely and utterly still.
Rearing back slightly, I searched his glazed eyes and prayed to the Almighty that he was seeing me. That he could hear my words. I itched to run my fingers through his hair, like I had seen Mae do to Styx, but I held back.
“I have watched you, Flame. I have watched you as you have watched me. And I have seen you free the flames. I have counted with you from my window as you have administered the slashes to your flesh, releasing what you believe runs within you.” My legs began to shake as I lifted the knife, and lined up the blade over his arm. “I will not take your life, but I will help you release the flames. I will stay here with you, in this room, until you come back to me.”
The hand resting near her head inched forward in my direction. I stopped breathing as I thought she was going to touch me. But her hand stopped about an inch from mine.
I wondered what she was doing, when she said, “I like how your hand looks next to mine. It is so big and mine is so small. Yet I feel they look compatible.”
I focused on our hands and noticed that my hand was bigger than hers. Maddie’s little finger then extended, landing right next to mine. I thought of ripping my hand away, but something stopped me. I didn’t want her to touch me; I didn’t want her to be hurt. My touch only ever caused people to be hurt. But I left my hand where it was, our little fingers staring at each other.
“I sometimes imagine what our hands would look like, touching. What they would look like with our fingers intertwined. I wonder if it would make me smile. At times I daydream that it would be something we could do.”
Maddie’s voice was so quiet as she spoke. I couldn’t take my eyes off our hands. I tried to picture in my head what she described. I saw her hand reaching out for mine, but then I thought of how it would make me feel, and I shook my head.
“Our hands can’t ever touch. I can’t… I couldn’t do it.”
Maddie’s lips pulled into a half smile, but water filled her eyes and her voice hitched.
“Why are your eyes filling with water? Why is your voice breaking?” I asked, confused. I had to understand what she was thinking. What she was feeling. I didn’t know, and I had to.
“I am sad, Flame. It makes me sad to know that we can never touch.”
The muscles in my stomach pulled tight with the knowledge that I’d made her sad. Then that warm feeling I’d felt cooled and I no longer felt good. “I don’t want to make you sad. Not you. I just can’t be touched. It makes the flames worse. I can’t touch you.”
“It is okay, Flame,” Maddie said in response, then she looked up at me and added, “Because I cannot be touched by a man either. But I dream about it regardless.”
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