By: L. Duarte
Publication Date: January 23, 2017
Publisher: LD Publishing LLC
Cover Designer: Okay Creations
Everyone has a story. Mine went like this: Once upon a time, I met a boy. He was the most handsome fella in the land. I fell in love. Together, we had cosmic chemistry. I believed I would live a life of unending bliss. Until he broke my heart. Shattered it to pieces. And I lived unhappily ever after instead. The end. Or so I thought. Life found a way to reunite us. But to change that unhappy ending, I had to learn how to forgive. And my heart seemed unable to do so. This is a love story. But it is also, much more. Itâs the story of how I coped with my shortcomings, my fears and rewrote my destiny. Everyone has a story. This is mine.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
âI never met anyone who could speak so much with silence.â
Superstar, singer and songwriter, Gray Davis cancels all of her tour dates and returns home to deal with family. She returns to a place that she never dreamed of coming back to. A place where she could run into him. Galel Asner. He broke her heart. Into pieces that never mended. And he has never forgiven himself. So when she sees him in the very exact spot where she needed him the most, she is taken back by how the feelings come rushing back, but her heart is not ready to forgive. And sheâs not sure it ever will.
âThe very absence of you in my life is the greatest source of pain. Being with you would never be oblivion.â
Gray and Galelâs story is unlike anything youâve ever read. Itâs seamlessly told between past and present, allowing the reader to see how their love came to be and how it fell apart. You are placed deep within their heartbreak. Without going into the detail of the plot, this book is heartbreaking, yet one of the most beautiful and heartfelt stories you will ever read. There are many twists and turns that you never see coming. There is a backstory to everything and nothing is at it seems. I found myself completely consumed by this book. Your heart will beat for this Gray and Galeâs story. It will move you. Itâs so much more than a story of lost love, hope and forgiveness. Itâs an experience.
âI flew through infinity. Time, space, became boundless because my soul, when united with Galelâs, became unlimited.â
Despite his actions so long ago, Galelâs love has never been so strong. So determined. The guilt he carries is heavy and you feel it throughout the book. And Grayâs reluctance to look at him the way she once did is unwavering. There is an intensity thatâs felt when these two get together. Even with what occurred in their past, their electricity still remains. And Galel wants nothing more for Gray to see how much heart still belongs to him. To feel how strong his heart still beats for her. His soul is tethered to hers. And you feel it with every declaration of love he makes. He loves Gray fiercely. His love protects. Covets. Consumes. But is love enough? Can his love overcome what kept them apart so long ago?
âThe feelings I had for Galel were more than love. They were a dependency, madness, sickness. Or perhaps it was true love defined. An unrepentant insanity that lurked inside the soul and could not be purged.â
I got lost in the words of this book. It reads like poetry. I was mesmerized. Completely engrossed within the story. The author writes in such vivid colors. You see everything she writes. Her words are loud when they need to be. And when they are silent, you still hear and feel everything. Her words and the emotions she elicits simply jump off of the pages. The author writes with such purpose and meaning. And this is felt with the thoughtful development of her characters and the execution of the story itself.
âAnd together, we were in unison with the infinite and massive universe. There was no beginning and no ending, for we were our very own alpha and omega.ââ
Flightless is a deep and poignant story. One that I will never forget and will stay with me for a long time to come. Even with darkness, there is light. Gray and Galelâs story is a testament to all that love can endure and overcome. Itâs a reminder that even when evil tries to destroy, love always prevails. Destiny always overrules. Everything. Every time. If I could, I would talk of this authors words forever.
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I stepped back. Not literally, just figuratively. I did that with every concert. I allowed my mindâs eyes to hover over me and my fans while I analyzed and dissected the unique relationship between us.
As I watched the multitude of peopleâa beautiful kaleidoscope of different races and social statusesâmy heart, in utter bliss, roared.
The audience held their hands upwards as if in an offering or a request. I never knew which. In perfect synchrony, their arms rolled in waves like the swaying of a stormy sea. Their voices cried out my name, and the smell of their sweat and the heat of their mingled bodies emanated from them, unfurling to me like the sweet perfume of incense.
I held the mic near my motionless lips and stared at them. At that moment, I became one with thousands. At that moment, I took back from the crowd all the energy I had fed them. And their vibe made me high and drunk. It was my personal Nirvana. The kind of rapture that can only be attained through uttermost intimacy. A oneness I had only felt with one other person. A person who had severed that connection and shattered my heart into a million shards of pain.
I worshiped them as they adored me. The exchange of atomic energy contained nuclear power. I was drained from giving. They were wasted from receiving. But we were both impossibly happy and satisfied.
My motionless lips finally moved, uttering the final words for the night. The parting words. âGood night, Sydney!â I waved a hand back at them. âYou looked beautiful tonight. All forty thousand of you.â
I bowed. They deserved my reverence. People had spent their time camped outside the venue waiting for a closer glance at me. They had spent their precious earned money to see my performance. They were worthy of my respect and gratitude.
Another wave of a hand. A kiss. Another bow. And I was out. Another show was done. Eight more to go.
I jogged backstage and gave the mic to Jeremy, my makeup artist, in exchange for a bottled water. He opened a portable case containing all the potions that would quickly improve my appearance for the meet and greet.
Before I took a swig from the bottle, Clara, my assistant, brusquely interrupted my post-concert ritual. She snatched the bottle from my hand and returned it to a confused Jeremy. âGray. With me,â she demanded, grabbing my elbow and urging me toward my changing room.
I glanced back at the stunned face of Jeremy. It was time for meet and greet with the VIPâs. I needed to freshen up. My makeup had all but melted under the stage lights.
Once inside the privacy of the room, I demanded, âWhatâs going on?â
She raised a finger and said, âWait.â
I opened my mouth to protest. Instead, I swallowed the words. Clara was usually a chatterbox; her clipped words quickly clued me in that something was seriously wrong.
As I waited, Clara dialed a number on her phone. Her silence became as unnerving as the red glare of an alarm light.
âBetty, I have Gray,â Clara said. Wordlessly, she shoved the device in my hand. The door closed with a thud after she exited in a flurry of silent drama.
âMama?â I asked holding the phone to my ear.
âHey, Puppy,â Mama said in a soft, almost regretful tone.
âWhatâs going on?â I asked. Silence filled the other end of the line, only increasing my concern. Mama knew I had just left the stage. She followed my tour from home. Minute by minute. It was unusual for her to call me so soon following a show.
âHow was, um, the, um, concert?â she asked.
âMama, did you call me to ask how the show went?â I furrowed my brows and every hair on my body stood at attention. Mama knew my routine during a tour. After a performance, I had a brief meet with fans and then I would go on hours of silence to rest my vocal cords. Although she knew she could call me at any time, she never called until at least ten hours following a show.
âMama?â I prodded after a long silence.
âI have cancer,â she said bluntly.
The phone connection was perfect. No static. But Mamaâs words hummed in my ear with a tunnel-like quality. Distorted, altered, garbled. My mind, however, had remained sharp and alert. Without much thought and after a brief pause, I uttered the words, âIâm coming home.â I hadn't said those words in over a decade. Somehow, they didn't taste as foreign as I had imagined they would.
âGray,â I said. The word hovered on my tongue, saturating my taste buds with an acrid taste. âGray,â I repeated, letting it roll off my tongue. I did that a lot. It was my name.
Often, I mused about my name. It hadnât been given to me because it was fashionable. Nevertheless, it had a history. My history.
When I was little, I liked to fancy its origin. The sky, I would think, was painted gray the day I was born. I loved the theory. The unattainability of the infinite mass of gray made it a great namesake. Whenever gray clouds hovered in the sky, I would lay on my back and stare at them, dreaming that when I grew up, I would build an enormous ladder, climb it, and touch the gray painted dome. It was all, of course, a foolish childâs dream, born out of vain imagination. I wasnât born during the day, nor was the sky gray. And it was most definitely not the inspiration behind the choosing of my name.
I was born in a graveyard. Serene Hills Cemetery, it was called, though its surface was flat. It was a fall night, October 20th, approximately 11 pm.
They found me covered in vernix. I used the term âtheyâ loosely. A dog found me. A female German Shepherd mix that went by the name of Sunshine. Her fur was golden. Shiny like sun rays. I had a newspaper cut-out of her. Itâs black and white, but it described her that way. In the shot, she looked straight at the camera, two vivid round eyes dotting a long and alert face. She had the knowing stare of someone who was aware she had done a good deed.
Obviously, I donât recall the details surrounding my birth. I was an infant. But I had Mama tell me the story so many times, which after a while, the images ingrained in my brain like the roots of a tree embedded in the fertile soil. They became so real in my imagination that it felt as if they were my recollections.
I was a born a preemie. Weak, small, and blotchy-faced. I was skin and bones with a mop of black spiky hair, and a bad case of a cold.
A miracle, they called me. But I knew I was no wonder. I happened to have the perfect concoction of healthy lungs and a loud cry. These, and the sharp canine sense of hearing and smelling had saved me. I didnât believe in miracles. Not anymore.
When they found me, decay from the trees covered the ground on a fascinating palette of colorsâan array of red, yellow, purple, brown, orange, golden, bronze.
I used to question why the leaves change colors and fall off the branches. According to a scientific explanation, leaves are a weak and feeble part of a plant. So, before the weather gets severely cold, the trees should toughen up to protect themselves. Or simply dispose of the leaves, the weak part.
Personally, I believe they turn colors before falling as revenge. A personal vendetta. And for that I applaud them. They turn their death into a poetic and alluring sight. That line of thought made me believe death was beautiful. It fascinated me. Itâs more interesting than birth, although similar.
I had been abandoned under a pile of dead foliage. According to the police investigation, it appeared my birth mother had buried me under the leaves. Hid me. Like a criminal attempting to cover its tracks. Supposedly, I spent the night under a cocoon of leaves. The treeâs decay was soaked with blood and amniotic fluid.
According to Sunshineâs owner, they were walking on the sidewalk by the cemetery when she heard a whizzing sound. Sunshineâs owner discarded the noise as being the cry of squirrels.
Sunshine didnât. At odds with her sweet nature, she became agitated and broke loose. She squeezed through a small gap in the fence and disappeared between the gravestones, leaving her owner in a frenzy.
Less than a minute later, Sunshine returned. Her mouth muzzled around my small waist, my umbilical cord dragging, rattling the decayed leaves.
I found my story fascinating, unique. Or so I told myself whenever I got teased at school.
The hospital staff called me the Graveyard Miracle. Soon after, Gray for short. It stuck.
I spent three months in the hospital. Thatâs where Mama worked. The graveyard shift. She fed me. She bathed me. She caressed my skin. âMy heart had not a chance. It fell madly in love with you,â she said, whenever she told me my story. Her pale hand, dotted with freckles, caressing my black, straight hair.
When I became her child officially, she quit the night job. âI had brought home my very own Graveyard Miracle.â
She found a day job at a pediatric clinic, occasionally helping at the hospital for extra income. She continued working at the clinic throughout my childhood, adolescence, and after I left home. She remained there until cancer said, âNo more.â Until cancer said, âI want your time. From now on, you are going to dedicate every waking hour to me. Iâm egocentric. I want it all. I want your flesh and the total sum of your soul.â
Thatâs why I was there, sitting in the back of a limousine Clara had rented to pick me up from JFK airport and take me home.
âWhen should I schedule your flight to LA?â she had asked. âOnly a one-way ticket for now,â I responded.
32 Lorelai Lane, my childhood home. It was a small Victorian-style house, built in 1929. The colorful foliage of a maple tree and an oak tree framed the dwelling as if it was extracted from the pages of a fairy tale book. When I was little, I used to fancy my house was lovely. The most enchanting place in all realms. Staring at the house, I discovered that I still thought that. It was the most magical place in the world because it was the place that humans refer to it as âhomeâ. And home is a thing of fairy tales. Rare and pure.
The car door was wide open, awaiting me. I climbed out. The driver stood straight as a pole. His hands perfectly folded in front of him, his face impassive. I wondered how long he had stood there, waiting for me, questioning my sanity. The luggage was lined up at the front porch. His face remained expressionless when I pulled a generous tip from my purse and handed it to him. âThank you,â I murmured.
He drove off, the sound of the engine trailing off into the quiet street. It was late at night. The crisp air smelled of burnt wood and autumn, reminiscent of bonfires and fireplaces.
I crossed the stone path leading to the front steps.
The hinges of the front door squeaked, and Mama slowly appeared as light spilled out from inside the house. She leaned against the doorframe, cocked her head, her eyes fixed on me. She knew me so well. She knew I needed the time.
I peered up, carefully examining Mamaâs face. It had been only two months since I had last seen her, but she appeared decades older. Even under the porchâs pale yellowed light, I could detect the lines circling her mouth. Small bags sagged under her eyes, and her plump skin appeared loose, dripping like melting wax. Her hair showed inches of gray and her usual square and proud shoulders were smaller, fragile. But what got my attention the most were her eyes. Their vivid green had turned opaque.
The grief and sorrow in her stare set my feet in motion, and I climbed the steps.
When mama stepped forward, the old wooden floor groaned and creaked under her feet. She came to a halt at the top of the stairs. Her lips curved into a small smile, and her arms spread open in an inviting hug.
As I stepped forward, my legs felt wobbly with the weight of so many years of absence.
I have found that there is only one thing better than reading, and that is writing. I am always torn between the two. I am also frequently torn between chocolate and coffee. However, I emphatically do not like the month of February, lies, and flies. For me, bravery is defined by the courage to do what we fear the most. I live in Connecticut with my husband and two children. Drop a few lines. I would love to hear from you.
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Title: A Taste of Utopia
By: L. Duarte
Publication Date: January 4, 2016
Seth Phoenix knows how it feels to have lost it all. Which is why he worked so hard to gain it all back. As one of the best male escort in the country, he has it all—money, looks, and the greatest job description: to pleasure women. He wants for nothing in life. Until one day, completely captivated by a beauty and innocence he had never seen before, he marries one of his clients.
Charlotte “Lottie” Cahan is a student at the prestigious Yale. As a self-professed geek, she wears thick glasses and her nose is always buried in a book. But on her 21st birthday, her best friend convinces her to go to Vegas for a night of fun. Despite her insecurities and unworldly innocence, at a whim, she marries a man she just met. What she doesn’t know is that this man was hired to give her 21 orgasms on her 21 birthday.
This steamy relationship seems to be destined for forever. But the world is a smaller place than they both believed and secrets, long forgotten and abandoned, will resurface to haunt them. Can they survive? Or is this fated to be just a taste of utopia?
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I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“Something about her tugs at my heart, a magnetic pull of sorts.”
Seth loses it all. Including himself. But buries his loneliness in his job of pleasuring women. He has no other goals, but to make money and live life. Until he sets his eyes on Charlotte (Lottie) Cahan. He’s drawn to her. So when destiny places them together at the right time, they make a huge decision that changes everything.
“In order to preserve my soul, I relinquished pieces of me.”
When Seth and Lottie embark on this journey together, they are scared, but something just feels right. They feel right. You ever feel you’re missing something in life? Your soul is bleak and dark? Their journey to love is moving, emotional, funny, beautiful. Despite how they came to be, it’s real.
“Can you feel it? Can you feel my heart beating? Because ever since I saw you under that consolation, I have felt every fucking beat of my heart.”
Seth is a broken soul, but he finds healing in Lottie. Despite how undeserving he feels about love, he wants to hold on to it as long as he can. He loves with conviction. His heart is so big and so full. Seth loves with honesty and fearlessness. How amazing is it to be loved by someone as deeply and relentlessly as Seth loves Lottie. And Lottie? She loves Seth beyond reason. Her love is light.
“God, I’ll take whatever you feel. Even if it’s just a sparkle. I’ll flame it to life.”
A Taste Of Utopia is a compelling story about two people that never knew love could exist for them until they found each other. While the synopsis makes it seem that these two fall instantly in love. That is not the case. There is an immediate connection, but there is so much more. Their pasts have made them the people they are today. It has affected them. Molded them. Their past is what has brought them together by fate. And fate? It’s magic. And so are Lottie and Seth. You know the moment where you can’t breathe? When you’re in a room and you only see one person. That is Lottie and Seth. Completely. Two lost souls finally make their way home.
“It’s like I existed all these years with the beating of my heart suspended. Then you came along and started it in motion.”
This story has a unique storyline and is much deeper than you could imagine. This story is fascinating and the author flawlessly brings her reader directly into the heart of her characters. Secrets are revealed. You understand the rash decision that Lottie and Seth make. You see that their hearts outweighed their minds. The writing is gripping and I found myself easily lost in the story. The author has a true talent in writing beautifully flawed characters that love deeply and wholeheartedly.
“Seth has just seared through my soul and rooted in the most hidden place of my heart. A secret place we reserve for the unique soul that belongs to us.”
A Taste Of Utopia attests to the fact that love knows no time. Love doesn’t care about circumstances. It just is. I suggest you make no preconceptions about this book. It is multilayered and the author is truly talented in putting her own spin on love stories that you can never find anywhere else. This was an unconventional love story. But it is theirs.
I have found that there is only one thing better than reading, and that is writing. I’m always torn between the two. I’m also frequently torn between chocolate and coffee. However, I emphatically don’t like the month of February, lies, and flies. For me, bravery is defined by the courage to do what we fear the most. I live in Connecticut with my husband and two children. Drop a few lines. I would love to hear from you.
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