Tuesday 29 December 2015

Review - With Every Breath by Lia Riley

Title: With Every Breath
Author: Lia Riley
Release Date: December 29, 2015

At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It's also the last spot a "play-it-safe girl" like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she'll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.

After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it's up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can't resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn't enough.

Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expected—love.

Sexy Scottish mountaineer? Sign me up, stat! I had been looking forward to reading this book for what seemed liked forever, and I was not in the least bit disappointed. The light-hearted playful banter alongside a smoldering chemistry kept me constantly entertained. There isn't a book out there that can compete with its originality. 

While the emotional aspect might not be as dark and heartbreaking as some books, this dialogue was so entertaining that there didn't need to be a huge tragedy to have me fully engaged in the novel. And with quotes like this, how can you really go wrong?

“Suddenly, I'm a half-naked girl snuggled against a stranger with the kind of face I'd pin to my 'Sexy Man' Pinterest board.” 
~ Review by Kelly

When I open a book written by Lia Riley, I expect something different. Heart-rendering, beautiful words that form a story that has the capacity to bring you to your knees—while holding your heart firmly inside your chest, like that's the only way it's going to survive...and stay put. With Every Breath is one such story.

An unexpected journey to Patagonia, the treacherous La Aguja Mountain, and a brutal storm, brings Auden Woods into the path of infamous mountaineer, Rhys MacAskill. While Auden is looking to land her dream job at an adventure magazine, Rhys is looking for something deeper—a chance at redemption. Not that he thinks he deserves it. 

Neither Auden nor Rhys expect love to be on the cards, but thrown together by something like fate, a connection is formed, tying the two together. But Rhys is also tied to his demons, and cutting them loose is not a task of which he believes himself capable…

This book is…something akin to crack. I was entranced by it. Despite being a touch apprehensive about it, because I've read enough of Lia Riley’s work (and also, that blurb) to know that my heart was in for a pounding, I soon found myself sucked into the journey of Auden and Rhys. And what a journey it was. Where Auden—who was impossible not to love— was quirky, passionate, and increasingly self-aware and strong in the face of her challenges, Rhys was gruff, rough and perhaps even a little blind—that kind of broken, scarred, edgy man who makes a girl swoon when he reveals an inner strength cushioned by softness. He was, by turns, rude, elusive, sexy and so giving of himself in small ways, one could easily forgive him for not always being forthcoming or rational in the face of his pain. 

Pain that, for me, bordered on cruelty. To face what he did—and to have it doubled-down it seemed—gave me an ache inside that wasn't *quite* eased by the remainder of the story. After finishing With Every Breath, I'm feeling this remarkable mix of joy over this couple, and hurt over what they faced—together and separately—that I am struggling to articulate it. It feels, on some levels, like there's something missing from the end of this story; key moments that might have been built on or communicated better that verily disappeared into the fog at the top o’ the mountain. And yet, I feel rewarded for simply having meet these people on their journey to a perfect, hopeful future that neither thought possible, but for different reasons. 

With Every Breath is something else. It's different—lyrical almost, funny at times, sexy for sure, touching most definitely—and yet, it's left me feeling a little off-kilter. And not just because—as beautiful as it is—the cover made me question the characters’ descriptions. (I'm aware this seems an odd thing, but as a not-overly visual person, I often build a picture based on a cover, and this instance it clashed in my mind, throwing me.) *Sigh* What I wouldn't give to spend just a little more time on the mountain and in the ‘real’ world with this grumpy Scottish climber and his sparkling American girl, grabbing hold of just a touch more information. Perhaps they—and it—could assist me in keeping my heart where it belongs? 
~ Review by Beth

Auden Woods is looking to change her life. She’s lived a pretty average, “good enough” life—but she’s going to have to do better than that to make a name for herself at her new job as a journalist for an outdoor enthusiasts magazine. Impulsively, she decides to travel to Patagonia to write a profile on the climbers seeking to conquer the mystical La Aguja—a move she hopes will be not only liberating to her personally, but also provide her big break professionally. When an unexpected storm shoves her into the arms of notorious mountaineer, Rhys MacAskill, it seems she’s hit pay dirt. Only her heart is bigger than her ambition, and love triumphs over any gritty news exposé.

Rhys MacAskill is a shadow of a man. He’s grumpy and broody and, since the accident that cost him his brother, he prefers to be alone. When Auden comes bumbling into his life, he’s not sure what to make of her at first. He’s nervous and edgy, waiting for the other shoe to drop. He trusts no-one, least of all himself, so keeping Auden at arm’s length is of the utmost importance. It is time and physical proximity that lower his emotional barriers, and Auden’s quirky, sweet personality that ultimately wins him over. 

Auden and Rhys are both heartbreaking in their own ways—they both have so much baggage to overcome. Her time in Patagonia with Rhys helps Auden shed some of her baggage and in turn, she tries valiantly to help Rhys shed some of his own. When tragedy strikes again, Rhys is lost to her and my heart broke into a million pieces watching the two of them try to navigate their way through their own shattered lives.

I loved Rhys and Auden together; they balance each other out and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. Rhys makes Auden stronger, gives her more confidence—helps her realize her worth in this world. Auden softens Rhys, gives him a safe place to land, and helps him wrestle his own demons. They have a lot to overcome, and the road is far from smooth sailing, but so worth it in the end.

Rhys was sexy and broody and one of those gruff, tough guys with the big, soft underbelly (which, by the way, is one of my favorite things). But for me, Auden stole the show in this book. Lia Riley has a gift for writing these adorable, quirky heroines that are impossible not to root for. Even if they are fighting their own battles, they’re works in progress and are never weak. I really did love Auden—she cracked me up, broke my heart, and made me so very proud. 

I was hopelessly sucked into this story, reading well past my bedtime to figure out where things were going. I loved the sometimes snarky, sometimes playful give-and-take between Rhys and Auden. I loved their intensity, and their physical chemistry. My only complaint is that it felt a little rushed towards the end—like due diligence wasn’t given to some extremely emotional plot twists—and some of the smaller things were sort of left hanging. I also would have liked to have seen a bit more emotion packed into the end—so much happened so quickly that it sort of had a glossed over feel. It was a little bit of whiplash, but it didn’t take away from how beautifully the book was written or how completely I was hooked on the story. 
~ Review by Shelly

Lia Riley writes offbeat New Adult and Contemporary Adult romance. After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, she scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling XXXX with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments.

A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn't mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c'mon, who doesn't love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about future books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound mighty fine.

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