Three years ago she was left in pieces . . . Most college freshmen love the newfound freedom of living on campus, but none of them craves it like Beth Caplan. One ill-fated night when she was fifteen left her locked in a posh prison of private tutors. It's for the best, everyone said, and maybe it was. But after years of hard work and healing, the one person who never thought of her as broken could be the one to break her all over again. And Beth can't seem to stay away now any more than she could all those years ago. As soon as David March learned his best friend's little sister was enrolling at his school, he promised to look after her, and promised himself he'd keep a safe distance. But the sweet little girl he'd grown up with has transformed into a gorgeous young woman, and she's attracting attention from people she shouldn't-like the ex who nearly destroyed her and a strange new student with a disturbing habit of showing up wherever Beth goes. But for David, the most troubling discovery is realizing that he doesn't just want Beth to be safe. He wants her to be his.
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I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Beth Caplan is a survivor. Once shattered by a decision that she can never forget, she is determined to enjoy all that college life has to offer. David March is Beth’s brother’s best friend. When he finds that Beth is enrolling at the same college, he makes it known that he will do everything in his power to protect her. To make sure she’s safe. He just didn’t know he’d be sacrificing his heart in the process. While her past comes crashing back, Beth is determined not to break. Not again.
“This feeling- this is what is most dangerous. Because I could become addicted to this.”
David and Beth were like magnets on every page. Every word, every scene, it was simply electricity flowing through the story. While their relationship is seen as off-limits, that did nothing to take away from the fact of how drawn these two were to each other. My heart raced as I felt each intense emotion of their desire. Completely enthralled by the depth of their story, you can’t help but feel that Beth and David were simply magic on the pages. There was a push and pull that kept me inherently invested in their triumphs and their times of heartbreak. This. Will. Move. You.
“Do you know that I love you?”
Despite being off limits, David’s love rebelled against anything logical. He pursued her heart in the only way he could, by guarding it. He loved in silence. In secret. But his love was no less felt. Loving Beth could cost him so much, yet the thought of not loving her was never really an option. It was so much more than the typical brother’s best friend romance. When loving someone, you abandon all regard and everything that comes with them. It reminds you that love can come at a price, but it’s worth the cost.
“It’s imprinted into every goddammned day of my life, every fucking thought – caring about you more than I should.”
Ms. Pearl is a master of crafting stories that speak for the voiceless. For those that live in silence. She writes their stories with a grace and understanding in a way that very few are capable of. Inspiring in it’s execution, thought provoking in its unraveling, there are not enough stars to truly capture the magnitude of the sheer beauty and bravery this story holds. Bewitched by the devastating beauty of the author’s romantic and refined prose, I was absolutely lost in the story of David and Beth. I never wanted to put this one down! Palpable, meticulously written, In Pieces is love in its most powerful form.
About the Author
Danielle Pearl is the bestselling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her three delicious children and ever-supportive husband, who—luckily—doesn't mind sharing her with an array of fictional men. She did a brief stint at Boston University and worked in marketing before publishing her debut novel, Normal. She writes mature Young Adult and New Adult contemporary romance. Danielle enjoys coffee, wine, and cupcakes, and not in moderation.
Title: IN RUINS
Author: Danielle Pearl
Series: Something More, #1
On Sale: October 4, 2016
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The first New Adult spin-off novel in the bestselling YA Something More series by Danielle Pearl!
She wanted to start again. To be someone—anyone—different. . .
Freedom. When Carleigh Stanger thought of college, that was the word that came to mind. Freedom from her unhappy home life. Freedom from high school mistakes. Freedom from the memory of that terrible morning. Only instead of bringing a sweet escape, Carleigh's first campus party traps her in the scornful gaze of the last person she wants to see, Tucker Green.
It wasn't long ago that being close to Carleigh was everything Tucker wanted. But that was before he realized she was just another scheming girl who'd do whatever it took to get her way. Even lie to the guy she claimed to love. Unfortunately while Tucker's brain remembers the pain Carleigh caused, his body only remembers the pleasure . . .
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Carleigh (Carl) Stanger is looking for a new beginning. Freedom. That is what college will bring. She can start over. No longer carry the heavy baggage she once did in high school. This is until one night at a party she sets her eyes on the man who was once the love of her life, Tucker Green. He doesn’t look happy to see her. He looks disappointed. Disgusted. And all the pain and their past comes rushing back with what she did. But there’s also something in his eyes that she will never forget. The way they still spoke to her heart. Yet, Carl can’t believe she is looking into the eyes of the man who simply let her go.
“Because I didn’t know then that he could do something worse than end us. That he could erase us.”
Carl and Tucker find it impossible to ignore each other on campus. So they simply exist, at times ignoring each other even while in the same room. Their circumstances keep them apart. Can they ever go back to what they once were? Is friendship even an option? Their emotions are still so raw. There are battle wounds there that are not healed. Their deep connection? Now severed. There were words exchanged that cut each other deep. And the love for each other? In ruins. But their love still remains. It still stands. What will it take for that love to come to light?
“That’s what Tucker is. He is light in darkness.”
Tucker Green. His love protects. And you feel it the moment the first time he sees Carl since their devastating breakup. Despite the lies, the heartbreak, and the unspoken truths, their love is palpable. Your heart will ache for them. And the time they have lost. Their unwavering current of love is inspiring. Transcending. Consuming. Absolute. Their earth shattering love story will annihilate your heart yet slowly piece it back together.
The writing is absolutely flawless in its delivery and captivating in it’s execution. I was consumed from the very last page and did not put the book down until the very last. The author inherently and masterfully weaves a touching story about two people with an unequivocal and powerful connection that were ripped apart because of secrets and uncovered truths. With her unparalleled talent, Ms. Pearl has this innate ability to deliver riveting and vivid scenes. This was highlighted as she effortlessly placed readers between past and present with dual POVs.
In Ruins is a powerful and astoundingly moving story that simply defies everything you ever felt about getting a second chance at love. Carl and Tucker battle a lot of their own demons, but it is their love that will make your heart race. This is no cookie cutter love story. It will leave you speechless as you are placed within the pages. The courage to love again is compelling.The perseverance of their love will inspire you. Their pure unadulterated love will make you weep, smile, and promise to never doubt what love can truly endure. The author is authentic in her approach to showing that love is more about loving someone through darkness rather than loving them in the light. She is skillful in how she tackles relevant themes in this book. Emotional, gripping, and brilliantly written, In Ruins easily holds a spot as one of my top reads this year.
I linger half in a dream, wondering why I feel as if I'm waking up inside my past. My fingers automatically reach to the base of my throat for the white gold crown charm Tucker gave me before graduation last year, a reminder that I would always be his princess. But always didn’t last, and my fingers come up empty as I recall tearing off the necklace and stuffing it unceremoniously into my bathroom drawer minutes after he broke my heart.
The subtle scent of fresh spring soap, aftershave, and the faint musk of last night's sweat ambushes my senses. My eyes flutter open to find dawn breaking in through the window shades. It's still early enough that I doubt anyone else will be awake for a while, but I know that whether it's minutes or an hour, once Tucker's eyes open, it won't be long before I'm asked to leave.
It takes no more than another second or two to register the pattern of his breathing, too lively to indicate sleep, and I stiffen above him. I swallow anxiously and reluctantly look up.
He's watching me, gaze impassive, but his arms don't move. His fingertips dance, feather-light along the small of my back, and I wonder if it's what woke me. I clear my throat, though I have no idea what to say in this moment. But Tucker speaks first.
"This can't happen again. You know that, right?"
I nod. Because I do know. We'll never be friends if we blur the lines with this. Not just the sex. Not even mostly the sex. But this. This intimacy. This is what could break us. Break me.
In an instant, the haze of last night's lust begins to lift, and anxiety settles in its place. Because I doubt I could survive his breaking my heart a second time, and that’s precisely what I’m setting myself up for. I’ve laid my own trap, and I need to free myself before it’s too late.
"We shouldn't be laying in bed like this," I tell him.
His smile is wistful. "I know."
But he makes no move to disentangle himself from me. Instead, he does the opposite, his hand leisurely roving up the avenue of my spine, as if it’s going for a Sunday drive.
I shrug it from my body and sit up, startling him. "Stop doing that," I snap.
"Touching you?" His brow furrows.
"No! Yes. Touching me, and agreeing with me but continuing this... this affection anyway."
"Sorry," he murmurs half-heartedly.
"No you're not."
He frowns as I yank the sheet out from under the bedspread and drape it around myself.
"Maybe it was wrong of me," I admit. "Coming here last night. Maybe I was stupid to believe we could just hook up and walk away. Or that I could. But Tucker, if you wanted to fuck me, then why couldn't you just fuck me?" My words drown in regret. "You can't say these things—about my eyes, how you think about me... You can't stare at me the way you do, or call me Princess. It isn't fair."
"No, Tuck. You know how I feel about you. And you said it yourself. When you love someone more than your own life, you don't let them go for anything." I stare at him meaningfully. "Anything."
Tucker shakes his head, eyes lined with exasperation. "Carl, I tried to talk to you about that last night—"
"No, Tuck. I get it now," I assure him. "And maybe I always should have known. But you must have, right? Or at least you do now."
"Know what?" His brow furrows deeply, vaguely bewildered.
I glare at him, trying to determine if he's undermining my intelligence or if I'm somehow not making sense. But I know him better than that, and as easy it would be to vilify him right now, I can't lie to myself. "Maybe you really did believe it at the time," I admit. "That you loved me back."
"Or maybe you really did love me. Just not enough, you know?" I don't bother fighting the tears. He's seen them plenty of times now anyway, and if there's ever been a time to let them flow, it's now.
And Tuck stops his attempts to explain. He blinks at me, stunned silent, and I suspect he's finally grasping the weight of his own words. And I realize that even though he’s the one who said them, it’s only now that he’s really understanding their implications. The truth is obvious and cruel, and with it I can stop wondering. I can stop analyzing his words and guessing at their meaning. Because now I know.
Eventually Tucker sighs, raking his fingers through his hair as he searches for words to placate me. But I don't want his guilt, and I definitely don't want his pity.
I avert my gaze and it lands on his overnight bag, three feet to my right. I force in a deep breath and shove my hand inside it, pulling out the first piece of clothing I can grab, grateful to discover it's a t-shirt—fitted for him, but oversized for me. I hastily slip it on.
I look back at him, feeling utterly defeated. "You let me go."
We both know now what that says about his love, but this isn’t about blame—this is about acceptance. It’s about moving forward. "So let me go," I beg him, and then hurry out the door.
The Something More Boxed Set
Author: Danielle Pearl
Publication Date: April 18, 2016
Genre: New Adult Romance
Cover Design by Cover Couture
NORMAL (Book 1)
It's the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That's what I'm counting on.
A year ago, Aurora "Rory" Pine was just a normal teenage girl - just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after.
But this isn't a year ago.
Rory is broken, and suffering from a new debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that's easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There's a witness - and a gorgeous one at that.
Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly can’t ignore.
But Sam has issues too, and Rory's past won't just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they're lucky - love. This is not a flowery romance - not for the faint of heart.
ReCAP (Book 1.5)
Rory and Sam fell in love in NORMAL, and we all fell in love right along with them. Now see it all unfold through Sam's eyes, and learn just how the new girl with anxiety issues stole the heart of the gorgeous heartthrob, and turned his world upside down.
You already heard the story. The one of how Rory and I fell in love, supposedly, even if she couldn't handle it in the end. You know how it all went.
Or you think you do.
You only know her side. But I have my own point of view, and even Rory couldn't know my thoughts in those few months it took for her to go from being a stranger to my whole entire world.
Every moment is permanently ingrained in my memory. In my goddamned soul. From the moment I stumbled upon the girl panicking outside of calculus - the one with the tight little body, the angelic face, and the fierce attitude - to the night she abandoned me in Miami. It was the sum of those moments that changed me irrevocably.
Our story isn't over. I won't let it be. But this, this is what happened so far, the way I saw it.
I'm Cap. Or Sam, to Rory. And this is my story.
After the horrors she’s survived over the past year, Rory never expected to find the one thing she certainly wasn’t looking for – love. But after the painful realization that her past has left her a dangerous liability to the person she cares for the most, she finally understands that for her and Sam, love means letting go.
Can two people hopelessly in love ever revert back to just friends? Neither Rory nor Sam knows for sure. But the one thing they do know – it’s the only choice they have.
As Rory recovers from a devastating assault, Sam will do anything to make sure it never happens again. But how far will he go to keep her safe? Their choices will change everything, and they will either bring them back together, or destroy them irrevocably.
Normal (Book 1)
I climb into the passenger seat of Carl's Audi. She tells me that Tina is already at the party and we'll meet her there. I look at the clock on her dashboard and estimate that I'll need to kill about three hours before Mom goes to bed and I can sneak back home.
When we arrive, Tucker hands us both red plastic cups and points us to the keg, but I set mine down on the first flat surface I can find. I haven't taken a pill today, but I still don't really like to drink. Tina and Andrew are laughing and talking with a group of people and Carl goes off to join them while I hang back a few feet from the crowd. I watch as a minute later Tuck jogs over, slings his arm around Carl and plants an exaggerated wet kiss on her cheek. She playfully pushes him away, but it's clear she doesn't mean it. Everyone looks so happy and carefree... normal.
I don't belong here.
I startle but catch myself quickly. Somehow I recognize Sam's voice instantly, and his tone tells me he can tell just how much fun I'm having.
"Didn't mean to sneak up on you."
I shrug. "Tons," I murmur, unenthused. "You?"
"A blast." He matches my level of excitement. "Can I get you a drink?" he offers.
"I don't really drink."
"How about some water?"
He hands me his unopened bottle of Poland Spring, and my lips part to thank him, but for some reason I stay silent.
"You don't seem to want to be here," he observes.
I frown. He's right, I don't, but it's rude of him to point it out, isn't it?
"Neither do you," I counter. Sam smiles, and it's an unexpectedly wistful smile. I'm surprised by it. I'd expect something more cocky from such a gorgeous, confident guy.
"Touché... I have a lot on my mind."
If he expects me to ask him about it, he's going to be disappointed. Even though I find that I am interested to know what's plaguing the mind of this beautiful boy, I worry that if I ask about his problems, then he'll have the right to ask about mine. But he doesn't give me a chance to ask, and I think maybe he didn't want me to after all - maybe he didn't even mean to say it.
"You wanna go for a walk?" he asks, nodding in the direction of the open grassy area that leads to what appears to be a pond.
Is he seriously hitting on me?
He doesn't even know me, and the one thing he does know is that I obviously have issues. He probably thinks the crazy ones are easy. My eyes narrow. I straighten my shoulders indignantly and square my stance. False confidence all the way.
"No. I don't want to go for a fucking walk. I'm not gonna fuck you, or hook up with you in any way. Or anyone else for that matter. Spread the fucking word," I growl. My throat is suddenly desert-dry, so I take a swig from his water bottle to soothe it, praying it doesn't betray my anxiety.
Sam stares at me like I've just grown another head, so I turn and stomp away from the hordes of people, toward the pond, marching in the exact direction I just insisted I did not want to go. My heart pounds mercilessly, but this isn't panic, this is anger.
Ugh! Guys! They're all the fucking same.
"Hey!" Sam calls after me.
Can't he just take no for an answer?
He catches up to me and his unexpected grip scorches the skin of my arm like wildfire.
I don't think. I wrench out of his hold, turn, and smack him across his face. "Don't touch me!" I hiss. "Don't ever touch me!" We're now far enough away from the crowd that no one notices us, but if I scream, they'll hear me.
Sam's fingers caress his cheek where my palm made contact, eyes wide and round.
"What the fuck is your problem, Rory?! I wasn't fucking hitting on you!" He rubs his reddened cheek again. "Damn it!"
He wasn't hitting on me?
My boiling blood starts to simmer and shame floods my veins. All of a sudden I can't for the life of me remember what made me so certain his invitation for a walk was code for a hook-up - what made me think he'd want me that way at all. God, if he didn't already think I was crazy...
Damn it, Rory, don't panic.
Sam is glaring at me, but something in my mortified expression must warrant pity, because he sucks in a deep breath and I can sense his anger begin to dissipate.
"I was... you just didn't seem like you were up for a party. I thought you'd want to get away from all those people." He gestures to the crowds, now off some distance, and shoves his hand through his messy chocolate locks in frustration. "I wasn't trying to fuck you. I realize that we don't know each other very well, but what about me that you know so far, exactly, makes you think I'm the kind of guy who would lure you down to a lake, lay you down on the dirty ground, and have sex with you with a hundred of our friends not fifty yards away?"
I swallow anxiously. I've offended him. Moisture pricks the back of my eyes and I will it to stay put. It's beyond reason how much I've humiliated myself in front of this guy in just one week.
"I-" I choke back what threatens to be a sob, close my eyes, and silently count back from ten in double time. When I open them again, I'm greeted by his expectant midnight blue gaze. "I'm so sorry," I breathe.
Sam exhales sharply, his fingers raking that familiar path through his hair . "Look, I shouldn't have grabbed your arm like that. I wasn't thinking," he murmurs. Now he's apologizing and I'm more than certain he has nothing to be sorry for.
"Not just for slapping you." Oh God, I freaking hit him! "God, but I am so sorry for that. But I'm sorry for assuming- I wasn't thinking. I..." I pause and look away. "I don't know what's wrong with me." It's a lie. I know exactly what's wrong with me.
Sam's expression warms, and it's not full of pity either - it's... compassion. Empathy.
He sighs. "There's nothing wrong with you, Rory."
I look away again, anywhere but at the deep blue oceans that unnerve me so. They seem to know more about me than they should. "Sure there isn't," I mutter bitterly under my breath.
Sam takes an abrupt step so he's directly in front of me, silently demanding eye contact. His arm twitches, like he wants to touch me but thinks better of it.
"There's. Nothing. Wrong. With. You." He glares at me like he can convince me of this with just a look.
Everything in my gut screams that he's a good guy. Like Cam. But if there's anyone whose instincts can't be trusted when it comes to guys, it's me. I was even wrong about Cam. I thought I knew everything about him. But he was keeping his secrets, too.
But Sam saw me freak out. He knows I have issues, but no one else here does. Which means he's kept my secret. Otherwise it would have been all over the school in a heartbeat. That's got to count for something.
"Sam, you... thank you. I mean it, but you know that's not true. And I know you didn't tell anyone what happened my first day. When I..." I trail off and shake my head. He doesn't need a recap, he was there. "Thank you for that. You've been nothin' but nice to me. There's nothin' about you that would make me think anything bad about you," I say meaningfully, answering his original question. "Except that you're a guy," I add quietly.
Sam looks sad for a moment, but offers me a weak smile anyway. "I was just hoping we could be friends. Just friends." He covers his mouth and whispers conspiratorially, "no public fucking on the grass outside of parties. I promise Not even if you beg."
I smile, but it's a wistful smile, because I could never be Sam's friend, even if something in my bones really wishes otherwise. But I no longer believe that guys and girls can really be just friends, and I'm too attracted to him to even try. I could never fully trust him, not really, and I could never trust myself with him.
"Why would you even want to be my friend?" I ask. Because really, if I were him I'd have fled screaming in the opposite direction.
He considers me a moment. "I don't know, Ror, you just seem... real." He shrugs. Something about the way he says "Ror" reminds me of Cam, and the memory of our friendship cuts me so deeply I wince.
"I wish I could be your friend, Sam," I murmur.
His eyes are full of some unfathomable emotion, and I wonder how this conversation has grown so intimate. We barely know each other. When Sam speaks again his voice is so low it's practically a whisper. "Who hurt you, Rory?"
I tell him the truth, matching his tone - barely audible. "Everyone."
Praise for the Something More series
"Bound and riveted, readers will want to unveil the dark skeletons as a grappling strength simmers and beckons the heroes to keep on fighting. Pearl has written a thought-provoking and enjoyable story... Witty and heart-felt, Normal is a journey of self-reflection, a maze to personal fulfillment in the face of adversity, and a staggering road to recovery." –Sandra Lopez, Author of Esperanza & Beyond the Gardens
“Normal is the kind of book that opens your heart, examines its parts and then stomps all over it only to put it back together again, better than before. It’s feels overload!” – Young Adult Book Madness
“I cried, I laughed, I bit my fingernails in anticipation. It was AMAZING!!! I loved this book so much I couldn’t put it down!” – Trusty Page Turners
“This book is a gem. No. A masterpiece… The author does such a wonderful job crafting the story. The pacing was never too quick or too slow. The plot was smooth. The characters were easy to remember -and easy to love. I can't wait to see what more Danielle Pearl has in store for us.” – Of Books & Book Thoughts
“Normal was a hard-hitting, dark, contemporary novel that touches upon some heavy and emotional themes. While it isn't an easy read, it's one that captures your interest and moves you. When I first started reading Normal, I didn't expect to not be able to put it down. The writing flowed well and each chapter made me want to read the next one, and then another after that.” – Lost to Books
“Rory, Sam and Cam's story is gritty, a little dark, beautifully heart-touching with a steamy hot romance. Danielle Pearl has written an amazing New Adult story with so many fantastic characters. Normal is one of those amazing books that will totally take you by surprise with its in-depth storyline and a beautiful, hot romance. I recommend Normal as a must, must read.” – I Heart YA Books
“Wow, Normal was intense, gritty, dark, sad, uplifting, and heartbreaking all in one. This was a story rich in detail, and by the end I truly felt as if I lived in between the pages.” – The Book Hookup
“Normal is a riveting and magnetic story of abuse, love, and hope. It pushes the reader in every way possible. Normal is one of the most thought provoking stories I’ve ever read.” –Biblio Belles
About the Author
Danielle Pearl is the Amazon and iBooks best selling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her husband three delicious chidren. She is a life long book enthusiast who has been writing ever since she could hold a pencil.Danielle went to Boston University and worked in marketing before self-publishing her debut, Normal, in August of 2014. She writes mature young adult and new adult contemporary romance. She is represented by Erica Silverman of Trident Media Group.
Danielle Pearl is a novelist focusing on the New Adult genre. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two delicious little boys, and has been writing since she could hold a pencil. Danielle is a book addict and spends every free moment consuming as many novels as humanly possible. She grew up on Long Island with her parents, twin brother, and younger brother and sister who are also twins. She is the eldest granddaughter of Zus Bielski, famous for leading the Bielski Partisans who saved over 1,200 Jewish men, women, & children in Nazi occupied Poland. Her grandparents and family were featured in the 2010 film Defiance, starring Liev Schreiber, who played Danielle's grandfather, Daniel Craig, and Jamie Bell, and was directed by Edward Zwick.
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