December 10, 2013

Book Review: On Solid Ground by Michelle Kemper Brownlow

On Solid Ground by Michelle Kemper Brownlow
(In Too Deep #2)
Publication date: December 3rd 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Purchase Links:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble


Gracie survived an emotionally abusive relationship that wrecked her. Her ex, Noah, systematically chipped away at her self-esteem through intimidation, humiliation and infidelity which left Gracie unable to trust her own perception of his intentions. But after falling head over heels for Jake, her best friend and the man who stood by her through it all, she is ready to experience life in the way it was meant to be lived.  However, Gracie may find it impossible to simultaneously heal from the trauma of abuse while navigating a relationship with Jake. Can she put her heart on hold in order to heal her soul?The sequel to the five-star debut novel, In Too Deep, chronicles Gracie’s steps toward healing as she falls deeper in love, reaches out for help, stands on her own, steps out of her comfort zone, faces her biggest fears, and reconnects with a sensual, talented soul from her past all in hopes of finding herself on solid ground.

On Solid Ground (In Too Deep, #2)On Solid Ground by Michelle Kemper Brownlow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While this book isn't quite as emotionally wrenching as In Too Deep, I think that it was the perfect follow up for Gracie and Jake's story. In book one, we watch Gracie be systematically torn down and ripped apart by her verbally and emotionally abusive boyfriend, Noah. She finds her savior, and her strength, in her best friend Jake, and she eventually works up enough courage to end things with Noah. Then she is able to begin a loving, healthy relationship with Jake.

On Solid Ground picks up where book one left off. Gracie and Jake are in the honeymoon stage of their relationship, although truthfully I don't know that these two will ever be out of this stage, lol. They are so in love with each other, and neither one of them has a problem expressing their feelings in every way possible. The only hang up with their seemingly perfect relationship is that Gracie is still haunted by her past with Noah. It blindsides her out of the blue, and in seconds she can be reduced to a crying, shrinking mess. She has nightmares about Noah and her old relationship, and she and Jake both feel like there is still a part of her that is tied to Noah. A part of her that is not free to love Jake and just be at peace. Gracie and Jake decide it would be best for Gracie to begin seeing a therapist, and at the same time she takes that huge step, she also rediscovers something about her former self that she had almost forgotten. Gracie loves to play the guitar and write music, and she just happens to be an amazing singer. She quickly realizes that music is a balm to her soul, and the perfect outlet for all of the emotions that she still has bottled up inside. All of these new beginnings for her culminates in the realization that she has to take a step back from her relationship with Jake, and focus on healing herself on her own. It's time for her to stand on her own two feet, on solid ground, before she can feel like she is giving herself wholeheartedly to Jake - because he deserves nothing less than all of her, not just the parts that are salvageable from Noah.

There is so much more to this story, but above is the gist. The most important point is that this is a story about new beginnings, and about learning to handle and let go of the past. Gracie finds her own strength for the first time in her life, and while Jake is beside her every step of the way, this time she is able to stand on her own two feet instead of leaning on him. I definitely have to say after reading this book that Jake is an absolute freaking saint. I don't know any boy, or man, who would stand beside a girl so steadfastly from start to finish thru a journey this grueling. I believe most guys wouldn't have the patience or understanding to deal with the heaviness of so much baggage. But he is a rock. Even when he deals with his own issues of jealousy and insecurity, he still handles himself in such a way that it is amazing. To me, Jake is absolutely the number one, most perfect, book boyfriend that I have ever read about. I love him!!

I just have to say, Gracie still cries way too much for me in this book. It wasn't nearly as bad as book one, but still. I truly understand that for someone like Gracie crying is cathartic and is a way to release what is inside of her. Maybe it is a sign of strength. But I think that since that's not the way I am, to me it just comes across as annoying and repetitive. However, I tried my hardest to come into this book with a more open mind to the crying than I did in book one. Anyway, that's just my honest opinion. It doesn't take away or add to the story for me - it just is.

What I loved most of all about this book was Gracie's transformation. She truly does find herself in this story, and where she ends up is nothing short of a miracle. I would have never been able to imagine that she finds herself in the way that she does, or that she would be doing what she is doing by the end of the book. My respect for her grew leaps and bounds the further into the story I got, and by the end she was my freaking hero. I love how karma came around in the end too and gave Noah and his buddies exactly what they deserved.

Overall, this was the perfect addition to Jake and Gracie's story. I won't say that it was the ending to their story, because who knows what will happen next. I am truly excited to read Becki and Calon's story in the next book, and hopefully there will be more info about Jake and Gracie in there too!

View all my reviews

In Too Deep by Michelle Kemper Brownlow
Publication date: June 6th 2013
by Sapphire Star Publishing
Genre: New Adult Romance

Purchase Links:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble


Gracie has just finished her freshman year of college in Memphis when she takes a job at a local pizza joint in her home town of McKenzie, Tennessee. She is the epitome of innocence when she meets Noah. Noah is unabashedly handsome, intriguingly reckless and just cocky enough to be sexy. Gracie’s instincts tell her to stay far away from him and based on the stories she hears from her co-workers he leaves broken hearts in his wake. But still, she can’t explain her fascination with him.

Noah puts aside his bad boy ways when what he thought was a summer crush has him unexpectedly falling in love. But soon after Gracie transfers to UT Knoxville to be with Noah, their unexpected love becomes riddled with anger, deceit and humiliation.

Jake, Noah’s former roommate and Gracie’s best friend, can no longer be a bystander. Gracie’s world falls out from beneath her and when she breaks she turns to Jake for strength. As Jake talks her through a decision she’s not yet strong enough to make, together they uncover a truth so ugly neither of them is prepared for its fallout. Will Jake pull her to the surface or is Gracie Jordan finally In Too Deep?

In Too Deep (In Too Deep, #1)In Too Deep by Michelle Kemper Brownlow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book should come with a warning somewhere along the line of: Do not read unless you want to feel like you were hit by an 18-wheeler, and then while you were trying to drag your mangled body to safety, the fucker backs up over you again. You know, except figuratively instead of literally, and in a more emotional punch-to-your-heart feeling. But in a good way.

Seriously though, this book will definitely put you through an emotional wringer. In Too Deep deals with the emotionally and verbally abusive relationship between college students Gracie and Noah. The relationship starts off in a seemingly perfect way, but quickly goes downhill after Noah pledges a fraternity. He confesses to cheating on Gracie after she becomes suspicious one night at a party, and then everything goes to shit after that.

Michelle Brownlow does an eerily spot-on job of describing the subtlety and depths of an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship. Noah is a real pro at twisting Gracie's words, and manipulating every situation until she is doubting herself and thinking that maybe she is the real problem. He is a grade "A" douchebag that is easy to hate. There are moments in the book where you might feel a little twinge of sympathy towards him, and then WHAM! He stomps that out right quick.

Gracie starts out as a sniveling, cowardly, mess. I wanted to slap some sense into her right off of the bat - and Oh My God, every time you turned a page she was crying - but I couldn't help but empathize with her. I wish she would have grown a backbone sooner, but I guess in this instance better late than never really does apply. But, her whole "maybe he will change, I don't know how to be without him" mentality does really start to wear thin. Especially after all of the many, many horrible ways he treats here. And don't even get me started on how lame his excuse was about how he was such a big jerk and treated her like shit because he was just afraid of how much he loved her. Puh-leeze. I can't believe she bought that for a second. However, even though I rolled my eyes at this, it did bring a big dose of reality and honesty to the story, because I personally know people who are in relationships like this. So, once I got over my knee-jerk reaction to it, the story hit even closer to home.

And then there's Jake. **Sigh** Handsome, sensitive, eternally patient, sexy, understanding Jake. He starts out as Gracie's best friend, but quickly becomes her rock that she turns to when her and Noah's relationship implodes. Jake is seriously the perfect man. He wipes her tears and listens to her for hours on end, whining and crying about the loser that she let hurt her again. Then when the time is right, he can become a super sexy, orgasm inducing, M-A-N. How Gracie even has to think twice about who she needs to be with is beyond me. But apparently she is "conflicted."
My heart held two men. Once because I wanted him to help me find what we once had, and one because he could help me find the girl I once was.
To me, the choice was clear from the beginning, but for some unexplainable reason, Gracie keeps returning to Noah. She keeps letting him in and letting him hurt her over and over again. It is truly painful to read. That is definitely a credit to Michelle - it is written well enough that I feel Gracie's pain.

I really, really, loved this book! I definitely recommend it as a must-read for everyone. Just don't forget to have lots of tissue handy....and maybe a pillow to punch once or twice when you think of Noah's face.

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Michelle Kemper Brownlow has been a storyteller her entire life. Her debut was on the high school cheerleading bus granting requests to re-tell her most embarrassing moments for a gaggle of hysterical squadmates.

Earning her Bachelor’s degree from Penn State University in Art Education and then marrying her very own “Jake,” she moved to Binghamton, NY where she taught high school. After having two children she quit work and finished her Master’s degree in Elementary Education at Binghamton University.

The Brownlow family of four moved to Michelle’s hometown of Morgantown, PA while the children were still quite young. A few years after moving, her family grew by one when they welcomed a baby into their home through the gift of adoption. The family still resides in PA, just miles from where that high school cheer bus was parked.

Michelle has been an artist for as long as she can remember, always choosing pencils and crayons over toys and puzzles. As a freelance illustrator, her simple characters play the starring roles in numerous emergent reader books published by Reading Reading Books.

“Writing is my way of making sense of the world. When I give my characters life on the pages I write, it frees up space in my mind to welcome in new stories that are begging to be told,” says Brownlow.


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1 comment:

  1. This is definitely right up my alley! I love how character oriented it sounds and Gracie seems to grow a lot throughout the books which I think is important for a contemporary series. Even though she cries so much she sounds easy to connect to. Emotional reads like these often end up being the most memorable for me! Great reviews! :)


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