Title – Damaged
Author – Nina D’Angelo
Release Date – February 28, 2014
Series – Outlaws, #1
Running is all Stephanie Carovella knows…
After witnessing the tragic and brutal murders of her parents and her best friend, Stephanie has built a fortress around her life and refuses to let anyone inside her walls. Especially sexy, tattooed womanizers. But when Stephanie’s cautious path is uprooted, she can’t deny the sexual tension she feels for Dominic Delaney.
Love ’em and leave ’em is Dominic’s game…
Unfortunately, things change when he falls for the dangerously wild and unpredictable Stephanie. Their intense attraction encourages Dominic to seek the chase, but he soon realizes she is full of secrets. Stephanie refuses to confess how shattered she is, but falling for Dominic could be the only reason to stop running.
Can Dominic show Stephanie even the damaged deserve to fall in love, or will the lingering memories of her traumatic past resurface and ruin it all?
The first installment of the romantic suspense series—The Outlaws—Damaged will have readers gripping their book in this whirlwind drama-filled love affair.
I signed up to review this book because the synopsis made it seem really good, and look at that cover. I mean, those are some gorgeous captivating eyes! Needless to say, I’m really glad that I didn’t pass over this one! I was immediately drawn in from the first page. There were no real introductions or fluff to get to the good stuff. The characters were pulled to each other and from that moment on, you were drawn to them.
I was instantly intrigued by Stephanie Carovella. There was always an air of suspense and mystery that surrounded her. However, D’Angelo also writes her character in a way that makes you feel like deep down, she’s just a girl who wants to be loved in the right way but doesn’t feel she’s even remotely deserving of it. She’s had to conquer so many demons and obstacles that you can’t help but feel sorry for her. On the other hand, she has this take-charge, independent fierceness that you can’t help but admire – especially as her story enfolds.
Then we have Dominic. I loved his loyalty and his protectiveness. That is one of my favorite qualities in a book boyfriend, so to see how utterly protective of Stephanie he became just melted my heart. He was persistent in getting her to open up and pushed her to the extremes, but also knowing just how hard she needed to be pushed. He was so intuitive and masculine! Swoon!
The book is sort of written in dual viewpoints. You get to see what is happening in both the main (as well as some secondary) characters’ heads. However, I wish that it was explicitly stated who we were getting in a headline. Within a couple sentences, you could always tell who it was, but I think it would have been just a little clearer to have it spelled out. Also, there are a couple instances where there was a phrase or word used within the same couple sentences. For example, “…over the fogged up mirror and stared grimly in the mirror”. This tends to be a peeve of mine when it comes to reading so I just wish that there was a little variation. She does not do it a lot, but the couple times she did really stood out to me (though that could be just reader preference).
At about two-thirds of the way through, there was a serious “out of left field” moment that I NEVER saw happening. It threw me for a loop and I absolutely loved it! The book didn’t end on a cliffhanger, but there are definitely things left unanswered. I’m glad that I knew it would be a series because I would have otherwise been unsatisfied. I didn’t realize that Stephanie had her own series when I had picked up this one. Now that I do, I’ll sure be adding Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide, and Deadly Secrets to my to-read list! I’m curious to see how they all fit together.
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Stephanie took in his nauseous expression, feeling guilty that she hadn’t noticed how tense he was. Shifting in her chair, she grinned when he gripped the bar again, the whitening of his knuckles revealing his fear.
Taking a deep breath, she cupped his face in her hands, bringing his mouth down onto hers for what was supposed be a gentle kiss; a kiss to make him forget his fear of heights and to thank him for sharing this moment with her. Instead, as soon as his lips touched hers, her whole body ignited into flames and she forgot about everything except the feel of his mouth on hers. When their mouths briefly parted, she impulsively delved her hands into his hair and held his lips to hers. Their kiss wasn’t gentle or sweet. It was hot and passionate, and promised so much more.
Stephanie moaned softly against his mouth. Caught up in his touch, she slid her hands from his hair to his broadshoulders. She pressed her chest tightly against his, twisting until she was in his lap.
Dominic stroked her tongue with his. Hearing her soft whimpers of pleasure, he closed his eyes, and a shudder rippled through him as she slid her hands under the back of his T-shirt and stroked his back.
He regretfully broke the kiss when he realized the ride had finished. Lifting his mouth from hers, he grinned at her flushed expression and felt a smug satisfaction as he looked into her eyes, unfocused with passion.
“We should get off,” he murmured softly, chuckling when she muttered underneath her breath, “I think we just did.”
Taking her hand, he led her off the Ferris wheel, guiding her through the crowds, and she let him. She was shaken by their kiss. She told herself she’d only kissed him to make him forget about his fears. She hadn’t expected him to take the kiss further; she hadn’t expected herself to let him, and she certainly hadn’t expected to find herself wanting so much more.
Can you share the playlist you listened to while writing ‘Damaged’ with us?
I listened to a lot of different genres while writing Damaged. I actually made a playlist of the most common songs so this is kind of easy to write. Some of these will look familiar, as they made it to the Damaged Playlist.
I used to be a freelance music journalist before moving into writing novels. I’ve also worked in PR and administration. I realised about 3 years ago I wanted to write novels and started playing around with ideas. The rest is history.
I’m also a travel junkie and have been all over the world. I’ve lived in three different countries and still feel like I have so much to see and do. My favorite places include Dubrovnik, London, Dallas, San Francisco and Nashville.
I love reading, writing (of course) and also photography. Sounds creative huh? I wish I could say I could draw, paint, sew or embroider but I suck at anything that kind of creative. I’m a speedreader and can read a 300 page book in under 90 minutes. I’ve already read 100 books this year!!
2. What or who got you hooked on wanting to be a writer?
I’ve always been a writer. From the time I was old enough to write, I was making up stories and writing them down. I was 13 when I realised that I really wanted to be a novelist but kept getting told it wasn’t a job but a pipe dream. I ended up studying Media and Professional Writing and Editing before I went to university and did a double degree in Journalism and PR. It was while I was at university, that I took a course in criminology and started playing ideas for a novel. I started writing Nowhere to Run and published it last year followed up by Nowhere to Hide and now Damaged.
3. Tell us what the book is about in a nutshell?
Damaged is a romance with a twist. It’s about two people falling in love, despite the obstacles in their way. And, it’s about true love conquering all -including fears and demons.
Ultimately it’s a love story – it’s about a girl, so deeply damaged she truly believes she doesn’t deserve to fall in love. She’s scared of revealing to anyone who she is and what has happened to me. She likes playing it safe.
Then she meets a guy, who is anything but safe. And, for the first time in her life, she wants to fall head over heels in love. In some ways it’s also a story about closing your eyes and taking that leap of faith where love is concerned.
4. Did any real life people inspire your characters and if so who?
Yes. In some ways, this is my own personal love story. Dominic is based on someone I met and fell in love with while I was traveling around the US.
5. Do you capture your life experiences/personality into your characters?
Every character in all my novels are based on people I know. Every character also has the name of someone I know. I have used a lot of my own life experiences in my novel as well as the experiences of friends and the same with their personalities. A lot of Stephanie Carovella’s demons are mine.
6. Who is your favourite author and why?
I read a lot of different authors. I don’t even know where to begin. I think the biggest inspiration for me has been James Patterson. He’s not only a savvy marketing guru but has the same twisted sense of style I enjoy writing as well as reading.
7. What’s currently on your to be read list?
Too many!!! My current to read list are catching up on the Kristen Ashley rock chick series so I can start reading her last rock chick novel. Then, it’s anyone’s guess as to what I will read.
8. What’s your one guilty pleasure?
Guilty pleasure? curling up and reading with a good book and a glass of wine. It’s a simple pleasure but I sometimes feel guilty because there are times I should be writing and I’m reading instead.
9. What can we expect next from you?
I’ve got a few things install. I want to do a complete clean up of my first two books and re-release them. I also plan towrite the second in the Outlaws series, which is titled Shattered. I’m also planning a new series – the first book in that will be Lucky and of course, I want to write Deadly Secrets, which is the third in the Stephanie Carovella series.
10. Tell us about other books you’ve read.
Well I’ve read a lot of books. I absolutely love the rock chick series by Kristen Ashley and would recommend it to anyone who loves hot alpha males.
11. If you could invite two famous authors to dinner either dead or alive who would you choose and why?
James Patterson (naturally) and also Stephen King. Both prolific writers, who fascinate me.
12. What book/s have inspired you?
James Patterson’s Kiss the Girls was an inspiration to me but growing up the first books that really grabbed me were Jackie Collins’ Lucky series. I was blown away by them, as they were a completely new genre to me. I wanted to be the next Jackie Collins. Other books that inspire me includ Stephen King’s The Stand, Anne Rice’s The Mummy, Cormac McCarthy’s All The Pretty Horses, and of course, Harper Lee’s To Kill a mockingbird.
The list goes on. So many books have that wonderful ability to leave me breathless or in tears or just blown away.
13. What advice would you give to would be authors?
Don’t get involved in the drama that comes with being an author. Ignore the nastiness and concentrate on writing. You will meet horrible people along the way but you’ll also meet some of the most wonderful people – people, you will find are kindred spirits to yourself and lastly –
Write and never stop.
14. Hardcover, paperbacks or e-readers – which do you prefer?
For me, it’s still paperbacks. I mainly use the e-reader as it’s more conventional with travel and because I read so fast, but nothing can take the place of a paperback. I still love the way you open a brand new book and can smell the new inky aroma or the way you can pick up an old book and get that nostalgic musky scent. There’s something special about holding a book in your hand.
15 If you could set a future book in any location in the world where would it be and why?
I’m planning on setting one of my next books in New Orleans. It’s this amazing city, with all this history and charm and it’s very appealing. I was there in 2010 and fell in love with it as I wandered the streets. It made me set a crime novel there!