Monday, January 7, 2019

A Place Without You by Jewel E. Ann Blog Tour

The Law of Henna and Bodhi:
When love breaks, fall inward, fall together, and fall hard. Then let time pick up the pieces.

Everything feels temporary when you’ve experienced tragedy—until Henna Lane meets Bodhi at a music festival.

Young and spontaneous, they have a lust for seizing the moment, falling hard and fast.

When Bodhi is forced to leave without a goodbye, Henna thinks she’ll never get over him. But then she meets Mr. Malone, her sexy, new guidance counselor.

They are reckless.
They are forbidden.

When their secret is discovered, Henna has to choose between finishing school—banned from seeing Mr. Malone—or dropping out to follow her nomad dreams.

Henna chooses her dreams.

Over time, she learns that life is not a destination or a journey, some things are more than temporary, and the forbidden can never be ignored. But if she returns for him, will he still be hers?

A Place Without You is an emotional story of young love, shattered dreams, and impossible decisions.

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“Let’s eat before we leave. I’m sure there’s quite the spread downstairs.”

“Rich people breakfast?” I ask.

She furrows a brow for a few seconds. “Yes. I suppose so.” Rolling away, she swings her legs around and stands up, stretching like a cat.

“Do you eat rich people breakfast every morning?” My curiosity has been piqued.

After a long yawn, she cocks her head to the side, lips slightly twisted. “Shredded Wheat with cut-up banana and almond milk. Is that a rich person’s breakfast?”

I sit up, doing a bit of my own stretching, loving the way her gaze roams along my bare chest, her lips parting ever so slightly. “No. I think that’s a solid middle-class breakfast.”

“Middle. That’s average. Average is good, right?”

“There’s nothing average about you, Henna.” I stand, following her into the bedroom.

“I’m going to shower quickly, and by quickly I mean I need an hour. Do you have an hour?”

“To shower with you?” I try to play it cool, like I’m serious.

I’m a little serious.

The color leaves her face. “Oh, um…” She twists her fingers together, drawing her shoulders inward.

“I’m kidding.”

A little kidding.

Henna’s posture relaxes as her cheeks pink up again. “We could.” Her gaze darts around the room before landing on mine for two seconds only to wander around the room again.

“My clothes are at my hotel. I’ll shower there. I need to get going.”

A slow sigh deflates her chest as she tries on a smile that misses the confident mark by a few centimeters. “Okay.”

“But thanks for the offer.” I wink.

More color paints her cheeks, and it looks stunning on her. “I kinda sorta thought we’d have sex last night, but we didn’t, and that’s fine, but now I don’t know what comes next.”

Does that make me the world’s biggest idiot for not taking what she was planning on offering? Or does that make me a gentleman? I’ve already fucked her a hundred different ways in my head, so I’m going to shy away from the gentleman label.

“How about you put my number in your phone and I’ll call you later today? That feels like a good next, don’t you think?”

Henna nods and turns, walking toward the bedroom door. Digging through her purse, she retrieves her phone. When she pulls it out, a string of three condoms comes out with it. “Oh jeez.” Quickly snatching them off the floor, she shoves them back into her purse.

I don’t respond because I’m not sure what the correct response should be.

“I was conceived at Coachella.” She hands me her phone with the contact screen open, ready for my information.

Taking her phone, I give her an expectant look, but she withholds all elaboration.

“And by conceived, you mean physical conception, not merely an idea kind of conception?” I hand her phone back and give her mine.

“In the shadows behind a stage. I know more details than most people should actually know about the moment they were conceived.” She lifts a shoulder in a small shrug. “But Juni is my best friend. She’s the absolute coolest mom ever, and the story of how she met my dad is my favorite story ever.”

I nod as she keeps her chin tipped toward the screen to my phone. “Why is that?” I take my phone back when she holds it out to me.

“Yin Yang. Opposites. Laws of the universe.” She wears a satisfied smile. “My parents were temporary. I was permanent.” Holding out her arms, she inspects her henna tattoos as if seeing them for the first time. “My mom had henna tattoos on her body when she met my dad. Henna grows in intensity over a few days before fading to nothing. It’s magical and beautiful and then it’s gone. My parents say that about their love for each other. It grew quickly into something deep and intense, but over time it faded. Their love—like most everything in life—was temporary.”

“We’re temporary.”

Her empty stare shifts to meet my gaze and she nods. “Don’t sweat it. Everything is temporary. But today…” she walks into my chest, and my arms wrap around her as she looks up at me “…we should be at our brightest, our most intense.”

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I have become a fan of Jewel E. Ann and really enjoyed Epoch and Transcend, so when this book came up for review, I jumped quick. I like Ann's writing style and the book was easy to read and flowed well. There weren't many lagging spots or too much filler that seems to be common, at least to me, these days in romance. I found Henna a little immature, and well, she WAS. At only 19 when we meet her, she's not exactly an adult. She's had a tough life thus far and finds herself battling chronic back pain from a horrific accident, which results in her being a bit of a pothead. Almost high the entire novel, I wasn't sure if I found her drug use endearing or annoying. Bodhi comes across as mature to a fault, until you realize he's actually running from life in general. The two are destined to be together from the start, just as Henna tells us from their first encounter. I was, of course, rooting for their happily ever after mid-story! Ann pulls the emotions out of us readers very well and we are just led where she needs us to go... anger and annoyance to happy and finally fully satisfied! Another well written love story. My only issue is that maybe this is just a bit more young adult than I thought it would be, especially with Henna's character being a tad immature.

A Place Without You gives off two different vibes, which gave me emotional whiplash, and not in a good way. I'm a sucker for a hefty gut-punch, but the two vibes of the novel fought each other, making it difficult to emotionally connect.

At the start, the vibe is carefree, slightly immature, a fated mates feel. Giddy. Henna meets Bodhi at Coachella, instantly knowing he's the one. The forever one. Just Henna and Bodhi. Bodhi feels the intense connection too, but fights it every step of the way.

Henna puts it all out there, wearing her heart on her sleeve. She lives life with a ‘grab it by the family jewels’ attitude, but often times this comes off as severely juvenile and reckless, but I appreciated it just as much as was put off by it. It fit her to a T, added with her age, so I forgave many of her more frustrating actions/reactions. Survivor's guilt, causing her to live life for those who passed when she survived.

Bodhi is nothing but a ball of guilt, taking care of his dying father, their ranch, while trying to provide and keep it all afloat. Classic martyr who sees himself as the bad guy in the scenario, allowing everyone to walk all over him, never taking what he deserves or wants. These borderline narcissistic traits (because the world revolves around his actions, which means if he does anything to make himself happy, the universe will implode and punish him, when Bodhi is inconsequential in the universe) means he doesn't register when he hurts Henna because the only thing that matters is punishing himself for things outside of his control.

Henna and Bodhi have complementary personalities, because Bodhi's real traits are overpowered by guilt and grief and a selfish, childlike hope.

Without giving the plot away, as I went into this novel blind and appreciated NOT knowing what was supposed to happen on the pages. A delicious, forbidden angle pops up, after a passing ships in the night scenario happens at Coachella. That yummy giddiness is fleeting at the beginning, leaving nothing but a depressive air blanketed over the entire novel.

Between Henna's zany enthusiasm and Bodhi's suffocating guilt, the plot itself was a painful one to read, totally throwing off what little balance there was at the start. As I said, I felt the vibes this gave off as clashing. To go from carefree for a few short chapters to never-ending grief for the rest, there was no balance.

Another issue I had was simply Henna saying she felt pain, but only as an after-thought, never before imbibing. The usage came off more as substance abuse, used when emotions were high, not when never-shown pain was felt. Afterward, Henna would be like, "Oh, I was in pain." But it was never shown, explained, or even given a voice in action/reaction/monologue/dialogue. I don't believe the accident in the past, nor the pain, was ever accurately shown, leaving Henna to look more like a substance abuser rather than one who was dependent on it for pain management. But at the same time, I understand that there was a fine line Henna was crossing many a time. For something so important, holding weight in the story, it was simply an afterthought.

The real premise for me was how they kept getting in their own way. Over and over, Bodhi and Henna get in their own way with SELF-CREATED issues. I felt this was because they were fated mates in the first few pages, which generally is the climax of a story, not the beginning. One of the most insta-love storylines I've ever read, so it was necessary to draw out the inevitable to dampen this problem. But it was two or three times too many of them getting in their own way, since there was only one instance where outside forces did, and that actually made sense. The other times, on the surface it sort of made sense, never making any sense from Bodhi's perspective. It just felt immature on both their parts, which means even by the ending, neither had earned the ability to be in a mature relationship, so it was hard to buy the love and romance, as it felt like they were addicted to their self-created issues and pain, finding that of more importance than each other.

With all my issues, that didn't mean I didn't crawl into bed, open my Kindle, and read A Place Without You from page one until the end, with nary a break. I read it word for word, emotional at times. I understood where the author was attempting to go with the storyline, but felt Jewel E. Ann didn't quite achieve it for me.

I don't often read coming of age romances, but for some reason this one appealed.

Interestingly, there were elements which I absolutely loved and got emotional about, and other bits which just seemed a step too far – strangely, I am not sure they would be the same for another reader. I have a feeling that there was so much in the book, that it was easy to have experienced something similar and empathise. The leads are both a mix of immature and worldly; both are stuck in situations which are sort of comfortable, yet sort of unsatisfying. Resolving these takes quite a lot of plotting, by Henna, by Bodhi, and pretty much every other character in the book!

Overall, I am glad I read it, as the sentiment and overall feel of the book was positive.

Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor.

With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business.

After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing.

When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course… heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.

Connect with Jewel

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Google+  ~  Instagram
Jewel’s Jonesies Facebook Group

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of A Place Without You by Jewel E. Ann to read and review for this tour.

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