Saturday, November 9, 2013

After the Storm by M. Stratton Review and Giveaway

Alexia “Lexi” Hanson moved across the country to rebuild her life after the attack that almost destroyed her. She enjoys the simple things in her beach cottage. Life is finally complete. 

Noah Matthews is Rock & Roll’s hottest star and on top of the world. After years without a break he finds the solitude he craves at his beach house. Enjoying his early morning coffee, Noah is surprised to see his neighbor sneak into his garden and crawl around. 

They never saw that fateful morning coming. Someone was watching them. Someone who thought Lexi belonged to him and would stop at nothing to have her. 

Lives are changed forever when they meet amongst the blooms in his garden. Even when things seem darkest, there is always light After the Storm.

Alexis “Lexi” Hampton has moved across the country after she was brutally attacked. She is currently living in her grandmother’s old beach house that she inherited. She enjoys the solitude, peace, and quiet that she gets living there. It has allowed her to heal.  The only house near her is next door, and the owner does not live there. However, she quickly becomes friends with the homes caretakers, Martha and Sam.

Noah Mathews is taking a much needed and overdue vacation from his band, Last Stand, at his beach house next to Lexi’s. The two meet when he finds her crawling around in his garden taking pictures. I really liked Noah. He is a fun, strong, and very grounded character. He is much different than the typical rocker.

While there is an instant attraction between the two, Lexi is smart. She does not want to rush into anything, especially since he will be leaving in a few months to go back to LA. She insists that they be friends. However, as they become closer, the attraction becomes harder to deny. As they take their relationship to the next level, incidents start to happen to Lexi and around her home.

I really wanted to like this book. I think the storyline held A LOT of promise. Honestly, I didn’t have a problem with the direction the story went at all. My problem lay with the characters. They start out really strong. I really liked Lexi at the beginning. However, as the story progresses, she began to get on my nerves. I understand wanting to wait until you are sure about a physical relationship. I applaud that. But she just, I don’t know, couldn’t seem to make up her mind. Then, she is stubborn as all get out, and her “need” for independence made me want to pull my hair out! She has been attacked before. Since that has happened, you would assume she would be more cautious. She would be willing to let people help when it comes to her safety. But no; she is miss independent.

I liked Noah throughout the whole book. He was a pretty strong character. Though I don’t see what he saw in Lexi. To me, she is just a whole bunch of drama. The duo starts out strong, but as they become closer, the dialogue and some of the scenes become cheesier. I’ll be honest and say that I had to skim through some of it just to get through it. However, their relationship is built on friendship, and I DO like seeing this in books. It just seems more real.

Lastly, we come to the older ladies in Lexi’s life: Evelyne, Leigh, and Marie or the Troublesome Trio. While at first I thought their behavior was a bit fun. It QUICKLY became old and over the top. They behave like young 20 year olds or something. I wouldn’t even say that. I can’t even imagine 20 year olds acting this way. They are just 3 crazy, horny, old women who were constantly out of line. Adults do not behave that way, and if they did, I am sure that they would get arrested for harassment and for some of the things they do in this book.

Don’t get me wrong, the overall story was pretty good. That author did a great job at building up the suspense. There were some really creepy parts, and she did those parts very well. Just thinking about them now gives me the shivers. I totally did not see the twist she throws in at the end coming. It really threw me for a loop. She even sets up for a second book. Like I said, I just felt at times that the characters/situations were a bit much. Just because I didn’t enjoy the characters doesn’t mean someone else won’t either. So, give it a try.

*Warning this book does have some disturbing scenes that made me shiver and might cause me some nightmares. Granted I am a wuss when it comes to stuff like this but still I want to throw that out there*

Where to begin, where to begin. When I started this book I really didn’t know what I was jumping into. After the prologue I thought WTH did I say yes to???
Noah Matthews is a rock star who has been going hard since the day his band was discovered. He’s been on the road the majority of that time living the single life. While he’s been single his band mates have settled down and gotten married, some have even had kids. After the guys pushed him a little bit to slow down he thought his perfect vacation would be to head to his beach house.

Alexia “Lexi” Hansen is a photographer looking to start her life over, far away from La Jolla, CA where she was brutally attacked seven years ago. Her grandmother had a beautiful beach house, which Lexi inherited after she passed away four prior. She knew it was the place she wanted to live and decides now is the time to make that dream come true. She adopts a wonderful golden retriever named Pepper from a shelter and is finally able to feel security in her life. She loves her next-door neighbors, Sam and Martha, who are live-in caretakers for Noah. Lexi has never met Noah, since he’s never there. Sam allows Lexi access to Noah's garden to take photographs and that is how they meet one morning as she's rolling around the garden unaware that he's home.

After the two get to know each other a little better they can sense they have a special connection. Noah decides he needs to be around her more and starts showing up wherever she is. Lexi really doesn’t mind and they fall into an easy relationship. Everything seems great. Lexi feels she’s finally become herself again, even though some things seem off. So consumed in Noah and the upcoming Talent Show at the senior center that she is putting on, Lexi brushes off any uneasy feelings she has. Noah is wonderful, he has the strong urge to take care of Lexi even though she is stubborn and thinks she has everything under control. He’s starting to get feelings for her and is thinking she could be who he wants to finally settle down with.

After a long day, Lexi is heading home, when out in the middle of basically nowhere, her car breaks down. She just had her car looked at so could this really be car trouble or is a force at work? As she waits for Noah to come to get her she sees someone in the middle of the woods watching her. Could it be him, her attacker? He’s in jail in California… right? She contacts the police in San Diego and they confirm that he has been released but assure her an ankle bracelet is monitoring him…it is all in her imagination. As Lexi and Noah grow closer, it feeds an evil that is watching them, stalking them and ultimately makes it’s self known in a show down that will twist you up.

Aside from Lexi & Noah we are introduced to the “Troublesome Trio”; these ladies are Lexi's grandmother's best friends. When she was alive they called themselves the "Fearsome Foursome". OMG they are HILIARIOUS! Every time they were up to something I couldn’t stop laughing. The Talent Show was awesome, couldn’t have picked a better act for them to do. I truly hope my friends and I are just like that when we hit their age. I mean you only live once right?! Lexi’s best friend Evie is also mentioned throughout the book. She’s been by Lexi’s side through everything that has happened to her. She is a very strong character and I am happy to see that book two looks to be about her. We also get to meet all Noah’s band mates and their families. I loved how they were very warm and honest with Lexi, it was refreshing.

This story was addicting, I couldn’t didn’t put it down. I only stopped to try to wrap my head around the creepy things that were laid out in front of me. I seriously felt like I was reading scenes from America’s Most Wanted and it made my stomach turn. I honestly wouldn’t take it out of the book. M. Stratton can do the creepy factor, I will say that. Beyond the creepiness there was a truly beautiful love story going on. With Lexi’s past and Noah’s non-stop life it was amazing to see them grow together and watch how their future could pan out. I loved how protective Noah was of Lexi and how he was always there for her when she seemed to need it most.

This story was different from anything I’ve read lately and I think that is why it pulled me in so much. I got to the end thinking NOOOO its ending like this?! I am VERY happy book 2 will be out in February since I need it like right now! I can’t wait to see where this heads next!

M. Stratton is a wife and mother who grew up in a small town north of Chicago before moving to Arizona. She is currently working in accounting for a plumbing company.

M. Stratton has spent years telling herself stories to fall asleep at night before deciding it was time to get them down on paper for the world to see. 

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