Monday, March 5, 2018

Promise Me We'll Be Okay by Nell Iris Release Blitz

What do you do when your past comes knocking?

Six hundred and ninety-five days. That's how long it's been since Jude's fiancé broke off their engagement. With the help of his brother and his all-encompassing love for music, Jude glued the broken pieces of his heart back together, but when his ex shows up on his doorstep late one evening, Jude fears it will fall apart again.

Two years ago, Vincent made a terrible mistake. He left the love of his life for stupid, ill-advised reasons. It took a traumatic event to bring what was truly important in his life into focus. Older and wiser, he's now ready to do whatever it takes to win Jude back.

Their chemistry is as explosive as ever, but will they be able to work through the real issues? Can trust once broken be rebuilt?

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I was still wide awake when someone knocked on my door half an hour later, and I knew who it was before I even got out of bed. Who else could it be at four in the morning but Vee?

I didn't bother to turn on the lights or get dressed, and I opened the door in my boxers. My heart lurched at the sight of him. He still hadn't shaved and he had black rings under his eyes. His usual confidence was nowhere to be seen. Usually, his presence took over the entire room, but today he looked as if he was trying to make himself smaller.

Without a word, I stepped aside and let him in. I grabbed his hand and led him to the den. "We'll talk in the morning. You can sleep on the couch," I said. "I'll get some sheets." I got some fresh linen from the closet and grabbed an extra blanket – he was always cold when he slept – and made up the sofa for him. He didn't move from the spot where I'd let go of his hand, and he didn't take his eyes off me.

"You gonna sleep in your clothes?" I asked.

He shook his head and peeled off his lavender V-neck sweater – probably cashmere – and flipped open the jeans' button while I fluffed his pillows and spread out the cozy blanket. When he pulled down his pants, I had to avert my eyes. To stop myself from staring, I jogged to the kitchen and brought back a bottle of water for him.

He was tense when I returned as if he'd thought I'd gone to bed without saying goodnight. I didn't like seeing him uncertain. He was a guy who was assured of himself. Never doubted himself or his intelligence. But he was never arrogant. No, he hid a kind and generous man behind his cocky smile. It was one of the things that had attracted me to him in the first place; all the different layers of his personality. The sides of him he only ever showed me.

"Go to bed," I murmured and lifted the blanket in invitation. After a brief hesitation, he lay down and curled up on the couch. I tucked him in – pulling the blanket all the way up to his chin – and made sure it covered his naked toes, too.

I resisted leaning down and kissing him on the cheek. I managed to keep myself from ruffling his hair or touching the unfamiliar stubble to see if it was as silky as I imagined. And I didn't beg him to take off his T-shirt so I could run my fingers through his treasure trail. I simply gave him a smile and said, "Sleep well Lovee."

As soon as the old endearment slipped out I wished I could take it back. He, on the other hand, lit up, and for the first time since he'd knocked on my door yesterday, something looking a lot like hope shone from his eyes.

I whirled around and ran out. Dove under my covers, and buried my face in my pillow, not moving until my lungs screamed for oxygen.

Gasping for air, I tried to find a comfortable sleeping position. My questions had disappeared and been replaced with the image of him on my couch, all pleading eyes, and heartbreaking vulnerability.

I turned to the other side and fluffed my pillow, but it was too hot from my breathing into it, so I flipped it over. I rolled over on my back and flung my arm over my eyes. Then I tried to lie on my stomach with my arm tucked under the pillow, but it quickly went numb. It got too hot under the cover, so I threw it off and then it got too cold. I shivered and pulled it back up, but kept a leg outside.

After twisting in my bed for what felt like an eternity, I gave up. I sighed, stood, and padded back into the den. Vee looked up at me when I entered, as awake as I was. Tilting my head in the direction of my bedroom I said, "Bring your blanket."

He scrambled off the couch and followed me. Tucked under my covers at a safe distance from him, I could finally fall asleep. The last thing I remembered before closing my eyes, was his sooty lashes fanned out on pale cheeks, and the snuffling sounds he made as he slept.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆
M/M Second Chance Romance

Jude and Vincent used to be happy. They used to rely on the fact that their relationship was solid. They were so happy that they were engaged! But meddlers got in their way and it left Jude in mourning and Vincent floundering.

Jude is surviving his breakup. He has his brother, who is constantly checking on him. The relationship between the brothers is one of love and respect. You know that Harrison will kick anyone's butt who messes with his little brother.

Vincent realizes that he made a horrible mistake. He never should have let his father and outside forces sneak bad thoughts into his head. Despite knowing that he broke Jude's heart, he is hopeful that Jude will see him again.

This was just okay for me. You can tell that Jude and Vincent had great chemistry before their breakup because they have great chemistry again. However, I did think that it was strange that Jude took on so much of their relationship troubles too. If someone doesn't communicate, I am not sure how you're going to know that something is wrong.

Overall, this was a sweet second chance story. However, with the simple flaws, I found it somewhat hard to believe.

I discovered and fell in love with Nell Iris’s writing this past holiday season. I got the opportunity to read two of her Christmas novellas and loved how the author gave the reader a peek at the characters’ lives at a moment in their romantic journey. Promise Me We’ll Be Okay is written in a similar manner as it’s a look at Jude’s life at the moment his ex-fiancé re-enters his life, almost two years later.

Iris drops the reader in right at the moment Vincent knocks on Jude’s door, and despite having only known Jude for three pages, I felt his shock at opening the door to find Vincent standing on the other side of it. I felt his confusion as he couldn’t decide if he wanted to punch Vincent or kiss him. I felt his hope and his fear of being rejected as they battled it out to see which one would take center stage as Vincent tries to convince Jude that he messed up by leaving Jude and that he didn’t mean what he said when he broke off their engagement. And that fear of rejection becomes so much more poignant when Jude finally lets Vincent explain why – my heart hurt for Jude so much, especially when we learn that the manipulative forces in Vincent’s life are still present. But when Vincent explains why he’s back, what led him to realize how monumentally he screwed things up, and why he’s able to promise Jude that they’ll be okay, my heart finally hurt for Vincent. It’s not that I disliked Vincent, but rather that the story is told from Jude’s perspective and I only knew Vincent through Jude’s eyes, so I didn’t know him well enough to like or dislike him before that revelation – although, I did like that Vincent seemed committed to winning Jude back, but wasn’t arrogant or overconfident about it.

Because Promise Me We’ll Be Okay is a novella, Iris relies on Jude and Vincent’s shared past, providing enough background through Jude’s memories and the characters’ conversations that I felt the connection between the men. While I enjoy a well written insta-love storyline, I prefer when romance novellas utilize a built-in history for the main characters as I find it easier to believe that such a connection will lead to the couple’s happily ever after, even if we don’t get to see it in the actual novella. And that’s how Jude and Vincent’s story is written – we get to see them as they rip the band-aid off and begin to heal, as they try to shake off past hurts and take their first steps toward a future together, as they begin their journey to their happily ever after. While this is only my third book by this author, Nell Iris writes the kind of romance novellas I adore – stories that make me feel, that make me hope, and that let me imagine the couple’s happily ever after because I’ve gotten to see into their lives and their hearts long enough to feel like I know them. Would I love to read more of their story? Absolutely, because I fell in love with Jude and Vincent, but… I’d just as happily read Benji’s story next (hint, hint).

This is a short story with some significant punch. It is a second chance romance, which gives us a happy ending.

Two years later Jude is still counting the days since his engagement ended. So, when his ex-fiancé turns up and says he made a mistake, his world is turned upside down all over again. Even his usual solace of music isn't working. As they finally talk and he finds out why, he has to decide whether to admit how he feels, and whether he can trust again. I am not usually a fan of inner musings, but here I found Jude's thoughts to be really meaningful and carefully thought out. I love how they come to understand how to move forward together.

For a short book, I felt that we got a lot of story. Thank you, Ms. Iris.

Nell Iris is a new-to-me author, so I was unfamiliar with the writing style. I need to be forthcoming. I don't believe I was the intended audience for Promise Me We'll Be Okay. However, I do believe it was everything it was meant to be, as the author intended.

Jude is a music teacher, living a lonely life after his fiancé broke it off with him two years prior for not being ambitious enough for the up-and-coming lawyer. One night, out of the blue, Vincent returns to win Jude back.

This is meant to be light and romancy, warm and fuzzy, a hit of feel-good romance. It skirts along the upper layers of emotion, never truly diving deeper into the more realistic, darker emotions. This is where I realized I wasn't the intended audience – I live for the realistic bite. With words like silly and tummy being used by grown, professional men on many pages, I believe the novella was meant to be 'light' even with the emotionally painful premise.

With the heartbreak and confusion, there was a lot to work with on the emotional front, but the instantaneous romance was front and center, ignoring the natural human emotional responses.

Jude accepted Vee back before they even talked about anything. At. All. It was half the book later before Jude, along with the reader, found out the reasons why Vee broke up with Jude. I also couldn't swallow Jude's response of how this was somehow his fault.

As a survivor of domestic violence (me), Jude's inner monologue after finding out the reasoning was too close to that of the skewed thinking of someone who had suffered from emotional and mental abuse, because it was too irrational to contemplate how Jude felt it was his fault for not being a mind-reader, detective, or psychic. Jude felt he should have just 'known' why Vee left, when Jude had taken Vee at his word when it happened. Vee didn't leave without explanation, he just didn't delve deeper into the why of it. Yet two years later, Jude decides it's all his fault, when that response felt emotionally unstable to me. Without communication and trust, both their behavior was too immature for a relationship.

To be honest, the novella made me uncomfortable how quickly Jude fell under Vee's spell, without a shred of self-respect. If this were real life, and my real friends, I would've asked Jude how Vee will act in the future, since he didn't have to work to win Jude back, knowing he could just make Jude feel as it was his fault for whatever Vee pulled and get away with it again. (This isn't how it was written, but this is how human nature does react/act.)

I realize this is supposed to be romance, and I'm reading too much into it. As I said, I was evidently not the intended audience. However, I do believe those looking for warm and fuzzy, quick and light, and don't take the novella too seriously, they will thoroughly enjoy the journey the characters take.

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies’ room), loves music (and singing along but, let’s face it, she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (“Make it so”). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a forty-something bisexual Swedish woman, married to the love of her life, and a proud mama of a grown daughter. She left the Scandinavian cold and darkness for warmer and sunnier Malaysia a few years ago, and now spends her days writing, surfing the Internet, enjoying the heat, and eating good food. One day she decided to chase her lifelong dream of being a writer, sat down in front of her laptop, and wrote a story about two men falling in love.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angst, and wants to write diverse and different characters.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Promise Me We'll Be Okay by Nell Iris to read and review for this tour.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting my release blitz and for your reviews. I appreciate all of them! :-)


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