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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - All The Ways You Saved Me (Love Unplugged #1) by Jamie Howard

 Title: All the Ways You Saved Me
Author: Jamie Howard
Publication Date: November 1st, 2016
Publisher: Swerve
Bianca Easton is the perfect senator’s daughter.

Law school? Check.

Camera-ready smile? Check.

A dull and boring existence? Double check.

But that was before. Before she lost her best and only friend in a tragic accident. Before she found that friend's unfinished bucket list. Definitely before she turned her life upside-down by deciding to stay in New York for six months to finish it.

It's while she's checking off her first item on the list--buy coffee for a stranger--that she meets Ian Mathis. Between the tattoo sleeve curling up his right arm, his guitar-roughened fingertips, and the secrets shadowing his past, he's a complication Bianca doesn't need but desperately wants.

With every item they cross off the list together, Bianca uncovers a piece of herself that she's buried under what's expected, all the while breaking her own rules by falling hard for Ian. But when her six months run out, Bianca has to decide if she's willing to risk her empty but picture-perfect life for a chance at real, messy love.

 Buy Links: SMPRomance |Amazon B&N iBooks Kobo
JAMIE HOWARD spends her days as a legal and compliance specialist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Art from Ramapo College. When she's not tapping away at the keyboard, you can find her devouring books and perfecting her gaming skills. She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs in New Jersey, and is almost always awake early enough to see the sun rise, even on the weekends.

Author Links: Website Facebook Twitter

4 “Present meets Past” Stars

ARC via NetGalley

Thank you, Swerve.

Jamie Howard wrote one of my favorite 2016 reads, Until It’s Right, so when her publisher contacted me about her new book, I went into fangirl mode. Seriously, guys, if you still haven’t read Until It’s Right, go get it. Now. And get a copy of All the Ways You Saved Me, too, because it’s also sooooo good!

All the Ways You Saved Me has a different vibe from the author’s first two books, but it made me *feel* just the same. I mean… While Until We Break got me all worked up because I wanted to hit the MC, and Until It’s Right made me fall in love with the LI so fast and so hard that I appointed myself as the President of Kyle’s fan club, All the Ways You Saved Me made me tear up more than a couple of times, which is so rare. 

This book is much more emotional than the other two, and its structure reminded me a lot of Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover, which I also LOVED.

The best way to go into All the Ways You Saved Me is knowing as little about the plot as possible, so I’ll try to keep this review spoiler-free. To do that, I’ll focus on the characters.

The MC, Bianca just finished Law School and she’s ready to go back home to Texas, where her Senator father and her uptight mother expect her to take the bar and work at a law office they picked for her. Bianca’s life is all planned for her; all she has to do is live it the way her parents want her to and keep her head down. That’s what she’s been doing her whole life, so how hard can it be?

The first thing that might come to mind after reading the last paragraph is: why is a grown, soon-to-be lawyer woman, still living the life her parents planned for her? Why isn’t she doing what she wants? I know a lot of people will assume she’s too comfortable with the money her parents give her and the privileged life she’s lived since she was born; but those people are wrong in assuming that about Bianca. 

Jamie Howard did an excellent job showing how Bianca didn’t really care about material things--she didn’t even blink when her parents cut her off; she immediately started looking for a job and a way to support herself. Good for her! The author also made sure we understood all Bianca really wanted was for her parents to love her. She wanted to please them and see them proud of her so bad, that she worked extremely hard to see that happening. She put aside her wishes to fulfill theirs, but she was still not good enough to be loved by them. 

It was heartbreaking to watch a smart woman like her so broken and insecure because she couldn’t move past her need to be loved by her parents. I’m not saying that as if it’s a bad thing. We all have things that hold us back. For Bianca, that was the lack of love from her mom and dad. Her journey was pretty clear from the start: Bianca needed to realize she didn’t need her parents to feel loved or to be who she was. A sad, but necessarily conclusion for this character.

That journey started the night before Bianca was supposed to go home. Her best friend dies, leaving behind an incomplete bucket list. The things written there aren’t all that extreme, but for a person like Bianca, they were life-changing. Challenging her parents for the first time in her life, Bianca decided to stay in New York and complete the bucket list. That was her first step toward becoming an independent woman. I was already rooting for her at that point.

The second step was meeting Ian, the mysterious man who helped her complete the first item on the list, and then stuck around to help some more. With Ian, Bianca was a little less the perfect senator’s daughter and a little more herself. Sure the changes were gradual, but we could see her coming out of her shell. I liked the way she went into that relationship knowing there was a chance it’d lead to nothing, but she still let herself go. For someone like Bianca, I could tell that was a big deal.

As Ian and Bianca start spending more time together, the second POV kicks in. Ian’s point of view takes us back 08 years and… no, I won’t tell you what happens because it’ll ruin the rest of the story. Let’s just say that it shows us why Ian is such a mystery, and knowing the reason behind it will probably break your heart. Ian, baby, come here and give me a hug.

Ian’s past will also introduce you to some amazing characters. Since this book is part of a series, I can’t wait to see whose story we’ll see next, but I’m definitely anxious to read more about Ian’s brother, Ben, and Ian’s best friend, Rachel. I need to know what happened that day at prom, and how Ben feels about Rachel, because I know she still feels the same about him as she did years ago. She has to, right? ‘Cause I need those two together.

So, as much as the similarities between All the Ways You Saved Me and Ugly Love made me nervous about this story at first, Jamie Howard wrote a story with unique elements and made choices about her characters and their lives that made this book different from Colleen Hoover’s story. So if that comparison worries you, just relax and give All the Ways You Saved Me a chance. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Once again, Jamie Howard wrote a book that will go straight to my “made-me-feel” list. As long as she keeps doing that, I’m ready for whatever she writes next.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

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