Release Date: February 28, 2018
Cover Design: Sarah Hansen / Okay Creations
Lost in the shadows of a tragedy that stripped Aurora June of everything she once loved, she’s back in the small town of Balsam Grove, North Carolina, ready to face all she’s kept locked away for seven years. Or so she thinks.
As one of the victims of a string of mysterious disappearances in the small, picturesque Appalachian Mountain town, darkness has become her home—her safe blanket when the world reveals its true colors. But as the walls of darkness start to move in on her, she knows the only way to free herself from her past is to face it, head-on. She just needs to figure out how.
Upon arrival, Aurora isn’t expecting her first collision to be with the boy she left all those years ago. The boy who betrayed her trust with no regrets. The boy who is no longer a boy, but a man with the same stormy eyes that swept her into his current before she ever learned to swim.
She’d thought he was safe. He’d thought their path was mapped out. Turns out neither of them was ready for the crash at the bottom of the cascade.
As I approach the edge of the winding river less than a minute’s walk from my cottage, it’s like someone has injected me with life. With a lift of my chin, I close my eyes and inhale until I’m no longer dulled and disoriented. Everything becomes clear. In Balsam Grove, I breathe the air with new lungs, feel the breeze with new skin, and see the land through new eyes.
I don’t try to navigate my way. I hike beside the river, around every curve and bend, uphill and against the current. It’s a familiar path, but my focus isn’t on the destination. Every now and then I stop to take a drink from the stream, pluck a fiery pink flower, and tune into a wild animal scampering across fallen leaves. But it’s not until I reach a steeper incline that I take a moment to assess where I’m headed.
The river has significantly increased in speed since I began walking a few minutes ago. A steeper incline forces me to distance myself from the water’s edge, onto a more manageable path through the woods. My thighs burn from the steady climb, and my throat aches from dehydration. I never planned to journey this far, but I could have at least thought to bring water. I’m ready to turn back, find the river, and drink from it when I spot the top of a familiar red house peeking over the hill. Hummingbirds unleash in my chest as I inch forward.
Mere seconds later, I’m standing on flat land again, taking in the two-story home that overlooks a waterfall, an old millhouse beside it. It’s like it came out of nowhere, but this house—it’s home to some of my best memories, my biggest dreams, and the beginning of the horrible nightmare that ended life as I knew it.
“Ah, that’s my girl,” a voice booms in the distance. “Bring it here, Lacey.”
My eyes sweep left, to the source of the river. Two waterfalls coming from different directions spill into one body of water where Jaxon treads. He’s patting the water as Lacey paddles over with a stick in her mouth.
Jaxon takes the stick, then rubs her head before she continues paddling to the edge of the river. After she climbs out and does a full body shake to dry off, he tosses the stick to the side and turns back to the water, swimming lap after lap until I’ve lost count. Every powerful stroke reveals inches of well-cut muscle and betrays his familiarity with the water.
Jaxon always loved everything about the water. Diving, swimming, fishing…sex. I shiver at the memory of how well our slick bodies fit together. Of his delicate fingers stripping me of my bikini top so he could see all of me as he inched his way into my body, my heart. Of his hot mouth wrapping around my pebbled nipple just to hear my whispered cry. Of the way he watched me with hooded eyes as I came for him, my back pressed against a boulder and the plunging falls above us swallowing my cries.
He took everything good from me, but it was me that handed it over for the taking.
He’s still mesmerizing, and I can’t take my eyes off him now. With every stroke, I imagine him swimming away from me, away from our past and deeper into the rushing swell of the stream. How long has he been swimming? How far?
I swallow my anxiety as he finally breaks from his exercise to catch his breath. When he does, I’m as breathless as he is.
I’m not sure how long I’ve been staring when he uses the slick rocks to pull himself from the water, but I’m completely captivated by the droplets coursing down his naked back and arms. He’s all strength and agility, effortlessly pulling himself to his feet. I should turn away, but I don’t. Instead, I watch as water glides from his long hair, down his narrow waist, and then over the most beautiful ass I’ve ever seen.
I gasp, my hand clapping over my mouth. But it’s too late. One slip of my breath is all it takes for Lacey’s snout to jerk in my direction and sound off the first menacing growl.
One of Five ARC’s for Waterfall Effect
About the Author
K.K. Allen is an award-winning author and Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences graduate from the University of Washington who writes heartfelt and inspirational Contemporary Romance stories mainly about “Capturing the Edge of Innocence.” K.K. currently resides in central Florida, works full time as a Digital Producer for a leading online educational institution, and is the mother to a ridiculously handsome little dude who owns her heart.
K.K.’s publishing journey began in June 2014 with the YA Contemporary Fantasy trilogy, The Summer Solstice. In 2016, K.K. published her first Contemporary Romance, Up in the Treehouse, which went on to win the Romantic Times 2016 Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best New Adult Book of the Year. With K.K.’s love for inspirational and coming of age stories involving heartfelt narratives and honest emotions, you can be assured to always be surprised by what K.K. releases next.
Connect with K.K.
My reviews for K.K. Allen:
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UPDATE: I actually bought an 8th shelf last night so the next installment for this series will look quite a bit different! I already filmed this twice so I decided to upload it as it is since I didn’t want to film it a third time around. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.
But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.
This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I am shamelessly addicted to staying up far too late (it feels like stealing time), diet coke (it burns so good), Scotland (stupid country stole my heart and won’t give it back. Interpol has been ineffective for prosecution) and thieves (so I guess I’m not that mad at Scotland).
Want to know more? Just ask!
*ARC provided by Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review*
“You’re a daughter of the desert, Shalia. You have always had the ability to pierce and sting.”
This was my first book from Gaughen and I am honestly anticipating her next novel with all my being.
One of the things that made this book a slow start for me was that I spent a good chunk of the beginning of this novel confused out of my mind. One of the things I was having problems wrapping my head around was the magic system. I eventually learned to make my way around it but it definitely took me a little while to get there.
We have our main character, Shalia, who must give up her freedom and marry an enemy King in order to bring peace to her people. She is forced to leave the desert, the only home she’s ever had, and into a new world meanwhile hiding a deep secret withing her. She underwent a beautiful character development from cover to cover and I couldn’t have asked for anything less than what it was. She first rubbed me as one of the most naive main characters I’ve ever stumbled upon but she completely stole my heart in the end. I was so over protective of her that I fell apart whenever she was in harm’s way.
As a romance addict, I actually loved the change of pace in this novel. It wasn’t romance heavy at all but it still left me with a satisfying grin on my face. Of course, speaking of romance, I have to say that Galen was my favorite character in this novel. Oh my goodness. I could go on and on and ON about how giddy he made me with just a passing appearance. He never failed to amaze me with hie beautiful heart and I’m in tears just thinking back to his character. I need more of him and I need it now!!!
Anyway, where this novel wasn’t romance heavy, it was definitely family heavy. I was in complete awe over Gaughen’s writing style and she has officially become one my favorite authors. I loved Shalia’s relationship with her brothers. The scenes where she interacted with them were my most favorite. I couldn’t stop myself from rereading them a few times before moving on with the story. Their dynamic was so addicting and it actually reminded me a lot of my close relationship with mine. I couldn’t stop seeing myself in her and it brought my attachment to Shalia to new heights.
I can’t even begin to explain just how breathless this book left me. Gaughen took me on one of the wildest and most savage emotional roller coaster ride ever. I feel like I say this a lot but Gaughen took it to a whole new level and I am still feeling raw over everything she put me through. I didn’t expect this novel to be as brutal on my feelings as it was, but I will always be grateful for the stampede Gaughen set loose on my heart. She made me cry over every little thing that went wrong, always pulling at my heart like the savage author she is.
Gaughen also brought out a strong hatred out of me towards a CERTAIN character, that will remain nameless since they don’t deserve to be named, and I swear my room felt like a thousand degrees because of it. It was the type of hatred that has you shaking uncontrollably, almost at the breaking point of your sanity.
All I have left to say is that I should’ve never doubted this book and the impact it would have on me. There are so many unanswered questions that I can’t even handle the dark voice! This novel was epically insane and I am anxiously awaiting the sequel to this masterpiece!
Honestly, like I mentioned above, Shalia’s relationship with her brothers is something I strongly related to so it comes as no surprise that my answer would be my brother.
I used to make his life hell as a little child since I didn’t know better but I can’t imagine ever being intentionally cruel to him now. It’s hard for me to reach the level of unconditional trust I have with my brother with anybody else I’ve ever met.
There is no other human being who has gone through almost the exact same things I’ve been through and raised the exact same way as I was. We both grew out of the imperfect molds our parents were trying to turn us into so we were able to bond further over that. I think what made it easier for us to stick together from the start was the fact that we actually have incredibly similar likes. We rarely disagree on anything but even if we happen to not like the same things, we don’t really focus on them since we are too busy talking about the stuff we do like. We always bounce recommendations off each other and it almost always ends with both of us finding another similarity to bond over.
It makes me endlessly grateful to have a had a sibling growing up with me almost every step of the way. We are almost a year apart so every time we moved schools (we did this a lot) we had an unspoken rule to hang out with each other during lunchtime until we made friends we could hang out with instead. It made every transition that much easier and it was a huge positive factor on my anxiety.
Most important of all is that he is also always there to lend me his ear when I am ranting or raving over my current reads. I didn’t have book-loving friends growing up, not until a few years ago, so he helped me out whenever I needed to let my feelings out before they drove me crazy.
He also has helped me A TON with my writing. He is always there to tell me when I’m being unrealistic (even for fantasy) and when I’m actually on to something; Or just to help me come up with a solution to a problem I’m having, in and out of writing. We tell it like it is without any hard feelings and that’s just one of the reasons I will always go to him for advice over anybody else. He was the first to ever draw fanart of the characters the entire world has yet to meet and it makes me appreciate our relationship that much more.
We always have people commenting on the fact that they aren’t on such friendly terms with their own siblings and it always saddens me to hear it. I know our relationship isn’t common among many siblings but I don’t know how I would have remained sane without my brother by my side. He is the only person I can completely and unapologetically be myself with. It’s not that I’m shy or scared to open myself up to anyone, I’m just always wary of everyone else.
Anyway, all we know is that no other member of my family has ever, or will ever, accept us the way we accept each other.
So if you had to ask me who I would Reign the Earth with every single day of my life, my answer would always be my brother.
Now that my sappy moment is over,
WHO WOULD YOU REIGN THE EARTH WITH?
*ARC provided by Epic Reads Insiders in exchange for an honest review*
“For anyone who has ever dreamed of finding a body in the library.”
If that isn’t the best dedication you’ve ever read, I don’t know what it.
This is the second book I have read by Maureen but I honestly don’t remember anything about the first one. As soon as I saw this book in my inbox and read the premise, I couldn’t start reading it fast enough. I literally stopped everything I was doing (and reading) and proceeded to ignore the entire world in order to devour it.
I have always been fascinated with true crime shows so the fact that this book fell onto my lap recently, felt like THE book I’ve been waiting for all my life.
“Stevie Bell had a simple desire: She wanted to be standing over a dead body.”
This book follows Stevie, who is as obsessed with true crime as I am, if not more. Definitely more. I don’t aspire to stand over a dead body. Maybe a skeleton in a cemetery/crypt, but not a fresh corpse. Anyway, before I go off track, this book takes place at a fascinating private school, Ellingham Academy, where learning is a game. I’ve never read, seen, or heard of anything like it so I have to give huge props to Maureen for coming up with something so fresh and unique. Anybody who attends this academy gets to explore it as a form of learning so of course, I was jealous of the fact that I couldn’t jump into the pages and attend this school myself. But anyway, while Stevie attends school there, she takes it upon herself to solve one of the most infamous murder cases in American history that took place there.
I really liked that Stevie had a way of giving voice to a lot of my thoughts and desires. I had many problems with some of her characteristics. Even though Stevie and I shared such a fascination over crime, I found it difficult to really care for her as a MC. It did put a damper on my mood but what drove me was the crime itself.
The reason I didn’t give this 5 stars was because I had a huge problem attaching myself to almost all of the characters. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked them but I’m just not crazy about them yet. I’m really hoping book two changes that for me.
I found that my heart pretty much only ached for the founder of the Academy and everything that he went through. I wouldn’t wish any of it upon my worst enemy and it really drove me off the wall that I couldn’t just give him a happy ending. This book is told alternately during the present and flashbacks to 1936. I enjoyed both time lines to no end and it was very surprising since I usually prefer one time line over another, but that wasn’t the case here. Since the present is a few decades after the events that transpired in 1936, the reader knows how it all ends but we are still forced to live through its every agonizing moment. I felt like I was on board a doomed roller coaster that I couldn’t get off of while knowing that it was about end in the most brutal way. Yeah, it was intense.
Another reason why I only gave this 4 stars was because the ending wasn’t much of a shock for me. I was feeling kind of ‘meh’ about the reveal of Truly Devious’ identity. I don’t know, I saw it coming and I really, REALLY wanted to be proven wrong. I just hope that we are being thrown in a loop and it actually ends up being a more ‘interesting’ killer, if that makes sense? It basically wasn’t a worthy ending for me, but my mind is still going crazy right now with anticipation for the sequel. So as you can see, I am still deeply invested in this story. I honestly don’t think I can wait until next year but it looks like I have no choice in the matter, sadly. I will definitely be stalking Maureen Johnson from now on!
“Schools may be famous for many things… They are not supposed to be famous for murders.”
*ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*
This is the second novel I’ve read by Calista and I am happy to say that I enjoyed it so much more than the first one. This is the second book in this series and I was surprised by how invested I was with the characters, their careers, and their affection towards each other.
This series follows a group of 3 girl friends, Jewel, Bayli, and Scarlet, and their not-so-normal love lives. The first book in this series followed, Jewel, but this one follows Bayli. I didn’t really like Jewel in the first novel but this one helped her grow on me as a secondary character. So for that, I am glad I didn’t give up on this series!
I may not have liked Jewel in the last book but I absolutely fell in love with Bayli from the start of this one, after finding out that she was a fellow bookworm. I mean, how could I not? Her soul was basically calling to mine and it was hard not to give in. I enjoyed exploring her mind and watching her character develop throughout the entire novel. There was ONE time when she annoyed me for having overreacted to something I didn’t think was a big enough deal but eventually Calista forced me to put myself in her shoes and my annoyance slowly faded away, leaving me to enjoy the rest of the novel in peace.
The hotties of this novel are Rory and Christian and I will admit, I could NOT choose between the two. Still can’t. I didn’t really have this problem on the last book, since I chose Vin over Rogen, but oh boy. Calista built two addicting hunks in this one that I refuse to choose between. I loved witnessing their bromance as well. Bromances are something that I can’t get enough of. I love dissecting the similarities and differences between them and friendships between girls. The one between Rory and Christian was officially one of my favorite ones that I’ve read about. I just couldn’t get enough of it. Each of their individual character developments were also a beautiful thing to witness. I grew a bit jealous over the attention and fondness they showed Bayli and vice versa. I mean, why is it so hard for me to meet guys like that?! Anyway, I would highly recommend these books for the bromances alone.
Also, did I mention that we get their POV’s? Male perspectives are so important to me that I just have to mention it in this review.
Another thing that made me love this book a lot more than the first was the fact that it centered around the restaurant business. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this in a few reviews but I can’t get enough of books that revolve around cooking/restaurant business/baking/chefs etc. I just love learning about dishes around the world and this one definitely sated my appetite.
I also love that Calista wove an intriguing plot with so much depth while also sprinkling some of the steamiest scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Basically, this isn’t about just sex and I am always grateful for well thought out characters.
One of the things I hold against this novel is that I did find it to be predictable in some aspects. I quickly knew who our bad guy was from the very beginning and I never like to be right about those things. It kind of put a damper in my mood since I didn’t get to enjoy the hunt for them as much I’d have liked to. I just found myself skimming over some passages since I wanted it all to be over with. But other than that, I enjoyed everything else so much more that I ever expected to and I can’t wait to read Scarlet’s story soon!
*BOOK NOT RECOMMENDED FOR READERS UNDER 18 YEARS OLD*