Title: Saving Tatum
Series: Trace + Olivia #4
Author: Micalea Smeltzer
Release Date: September 18, 2014
Even tough girls need saving.
Jude Brooks is bad news. He’s the kind of guy that leaves behind a string of broken hearts and Tatum O’ Connor is not about to be one of those girls, despite all of Jude’s advances. They have a past, and Tatum’s determined to make sure they don’t have a future.
Unfortunately for her, “no” isn’t a word in Jude’s vocabulary.
The more she backs away, the more he pushes.
But what if he pushes too far?
Tatum’s hiding a pain that no one sees and holding on to a hurt that may never heal. Letting Jude into her heart could shatter her completely—and what if she opens up to Jude and he can’t handle her baggage?
Love is never easy—especially when the person you’re falling for is the person you blame for the worst event in your life.
Love, heartache, and despair.
That’s the name of the game when you’re Saving Tatum.
Micalea Smeltzer has an inimitable talent for exposing the raw feeling of any given situation. Each and every story she has written stirs up a storm of emotions that, more often than not, demand to be felt. Saving Tatum is the final piece of the series that began with Trace and Olivia and it was, hands down, the perfect last addition to this phenomenal collection. I didn’t think another BBF could compete with Trent (from Tempting Rowan), but Jude made short work of stealing my heart. Together, he and Tatum set forth on a heartwarming journey that left me begging for more.
“He won the bet. He won my heart. He won it all. I was his.”
Tatum’s story is tragic. Constantly surrounded by ghosts, she stopped living a long time ago. Micalea had me crying from the very first page of this book and I knew Tatum’s story was going to wreck me. From the moment her story began, I connected to Tate. I felt her pain deep in my heart and my mind worked furiously to find her happily ever after. Despite the hand fate has dealt her, she refuses to stop moving. She does what needs to be done, making sacrifices that can’t be avoided to keep from being swallowed by her grief. She had no idea how beautiful and strong she was and that made her someone I couldn’t help but love and root for.
“But if I didn’t hate Jude, what was I supposed to do with all this anger inside me?”
Jude has his own sad tale, but he chooses to live his life in the sunshine. He made me laugh more times than I could count over the course of his journey. He was witty, sexy, sometimes sweet, and absolutely unrelenting in his pursuit of Tate and that made my heart, his. Together, Jude and Tate undeniably sparkled. Their chemistry and compatibility saturated this book with hope, joy and the perfect amount of steam. Micalea expertly crafted and cultivated these two characters over the course of their story. They both experienced incredible transformations that left me giddy with excitement. Jude brought out the snarky, playful Tatum, while Tate allowed Jude to openly experience his emotions.
“Love made me stronger. It gave me something to fight for when I didn’t have anything else.”
From the moment this story took off running, I was sprinting to keep up with it. I always needed more and I was happy to let Micalea take me on a crazy ride with each challenge to Jude and Tatum’s relationship. I adored seeing Trace, Olivia, Rowan and Trent throughout this story too. These outstanding characters have permanently endeared themselves to me and I’m gladly a part of their beautiful family. Saving Tatum left me feeling devastated and full-on ugly crying one minute, and bursting with happiness and smiling until my cheeks hurt, the next. Once again, Micalea has written a heart wrenching, raw, and unquestionably stunning story of love and healing.
You say it’s always been Tatum for you. When was the moment you knew she was the girl for you?
When she marched up to me in high school, spouted off to me, and then kicked me. Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds weird that that attracted me to her, but you see she didn’t want anything from me. She wasn’t batting her eyes at me or showing me some leg. She was…she was real.
Things weren’t always gummy bears and McFlurrys between you two. What was going through your mind the day she finally told you why she hated you so much?
What the fuck? That was the first thing I thought. I was blindsided. I’d never figured out why she didn’t like me and I didn’t expect that. I thought it would be something stupid like she’d had a crush on me and I did something with a friend of hers or something. I should’ve known that it was Tatum and it had to be something deeper and not a shallow reason.
Spring Break. Did you have a hand in Rowan’s little plan for you and Tate?
Absolutely not. That was all Rowan. Remind me to thank her.
So Jude, how did that cake taste?
After I covered Tatum in it…delicious. 😉
Looking back and knowing how Rowan played matchmaker on spring break, do you think she was “too busy” to help with your project on purpose?
I really don’t know what I think. I mean, she is busy. Especially then with school, kids, and planning a wedding. But it was a bit too convenient that Jude was able to swoop in and save the day.
You got pretty defensive when Jude told Mr. Jenkins that he was going to marry you some day. What was going through your mind? Did you ever imagine things would work out the way they did?
(laughs) Never in a million years did I imagine I would marry that boy (leans over to kiss Jude’s cheek) but some things are unavoidable. Jude and I are perfect for each other. He saw that before I did. I was more focused on hating him because I felt like it was what I was supposed to do. When Mr. Jenkins brought it up I think the only thing that went through my mind was: Ew. No.
Ew? Really, Tatum? What are we, five? Did you think I had cooties?
Don’t hijack my question, Jude. I was just being honest. Now I know there’s nothing “ew” about you.
(grins) That’s right.
Jude takes a huge leap of faith in bringing you to his grandfather’s house with him. What did you learn about him that first time you visited? Did any of your feelings for him change in that moment?
Yeah, I think that was a very defining moment in our relationship. It was the first time I realized that he actually had feelings. Before then, I’d just thought he was a party/playboy and out to ruin my life. I realize now I was being selfish by projecting preconceived notions onto him. I wanted him to be the bad guy because I needed someone to blame, but I was wrong. He’s the good guy. I regret all the times I pushed him away, I realize that then wasn’t our time. This was.
Rowan had to throw some tough love your way when it came to Jude. While the value of her words is obvious now, when did it really hit you that she was right?
I think I knew she was right from the beginning, I just didn’t want to believe it.
What’s next for Jude and Tatum?
Uh…(eyes Jude) I’m still working on repairing my relationship with my dad. My mom’s still in a home and I try to visit her once a month, sometimes more often if I have the time. But beyond that I just take care of the house, Jerry, my online job, and Juliette of course.
And we’re going to have more babies. Should we start now?
(gulps) Like, right now?
(Takes Tatum’s hand and starts to pull her away) No time like the present, Tater Tot. (turns to look over his shoulder) Thanks for the questions, B, but I’ve gotta go put a baby in my wife. ‘Til next time. (winks)
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Don’t miss the rest of the Trace + Olivia Series:
Finding Olivia (Trace + Olivia #1)
Chasing Olivia (Trace + Olivia #2)
Tempting Rowan (Trace + Olivia #3)
Micalea Smeltzer is a bestselling Young and New Adult author from Winchester, Virginia. She’s always working on her next book, and when she has spare time she loves to read and spend time with her family.