Title – Kaleidoscope Hearts
Author – Claire Contreras
Publication Date – January 21, 2015
Series – Hearts #1
He was my older brother’s best friend.
He was never supposed to be mine.
I thought we would get it out of our system and move on.
One of us did.
One of us left.
Now he’s back, looking at me like he wants to devour me. And all those feelings I’d turned into anger are brewing into something else, something that terrifies me.
He broke my heart last time.
This time he’ll obliterate it.
From the very first page, I knew this book was special. There was something indescribable about the emotional undercurrent of this story. Everything about Kaleidoscope Hearts pulled me in until I found myself so consumed by this story that I was dreading reaching the end of the book. What Elle and Oliver share is raw and tangible and completely genuine. As they cross in and out of each other’s lives over the course of many years their connection deepens, evolves, stumbles, and is reborn many times in much the same way these characters do. I found pieces of myself in the characters and in the story, ensuring that I fell hard for this unforgettable couple. Claire Contreras’ writing is almost lyrical. Her words flow smoothly and freely across the page until you are completely swept up in the emotions of this book, losing yourself completely in the world she has created.
“Life is short, and brutal, and painful, and it takes loved ones away from us as quickly as it brings them into our lives, but it’s also beautiful.”
Elle is a woman anyone can relate to. She’s the kind of female character every woman can get behind. She has had her heart repeatedly broken the one man she wants more than anything and yet she stands strong and confident and beautiful. Elle has more than enough reason to be mad at the world, and yes, there were times when it was all too much for her to take, but she was so steady and brave in facing life head-on that I couldn’t help but admire her. Her kindness and generous spirit flooded the world around her with light. I found Oliver to be refreshing. He didn’t really fall into a particular category. He isn’t a bad boy or a billionaire or a rock star. He’s an every day guy, working hard, trying to hold onto the family he has created for himself, while moving forward professionally. He doubted himself and the choices he was making, but he wasn’t afraid to admit when he was wrong.
“This is life. This is what happens when you stop living in the moment. People grow up. They change, they move on, and you find yourself wishing you had looked up in time to walk with them.”
The journey Claire Contreras takes you on in Kaleidoscope Hearts is absolutely exquisite. There is no definitive moment that awakens Elle and Oliver to their happily ever after. Growing up and the search for their individual purposes in life complicate their story. Following their own paths, they learn to be whole on their own and are forced to decide whether or not there is anything between them worth fighting for. This long and winding road is so unpolished and down-to-earth that their journey has an inherent magical quality that only comes from finding love amongst the obstacles of reality. This story shines because it is charismatic and simple in a way that will leave your heart feeling whole and happy. This book can only be described as an anomaly, absolutely one-of-kind. The emotions Claire captured and portrayed throughout this journey are strong and vibrant, but they were never so overwhelming as to pull me away from the pure love that drove this story. This is one of those books I wish I could experience for the first time over and over again. Claire Contreras has earned a spot in my favorites list with this breathtaking and satisfying story.
When I saw the cover of Kaleidoscope Hearts, I knew that I had to read the book. I honestly had no idea what it was about, but if an author can come up with a concept like the one on this cover to match the title, I knew that what was inside of it could only be golden. Needless to say, I was not even remotely disappointed and my heart was slowly filled with each turn of the page.
“It’s a heart. They always break at some point. Sooner or later someone will come along and shatter it anyway – might as well be you.”
Kaleidoscope Hearts is the heartbreaking, yet heartwarming, tale of Estelle and her journey to believing in love again. I found her to be one of those characters that I took an instant liking to and continued to fall deeper and deeper in love with everything she stood for. I appreciated her apprehension in diving into things with Oliver given his past actions, yet the inner turmoil and desire beyond her control. I also think the death of Wyatt was handled graciously and the confusion and guilt Estelle experienced lent to a very genuine feel to her overall persona. Even in her moments of weakness with Oliver, it never felt like she was being indecisive; I could tell that she was obviously confused and just trying to figure out what her heart needed.
“I’ve never felt like I’ve had to compete with anybody for someone’s affection, and now I feel like I’m competing with a ghost, and sometimes memories are better than realities.”
I also became instantaneously curious about Oliver and who he was. Because we see him as an adult with glimpses into the past, you get growth but in a whole different dynamic. His character is like a puzzle where you’ve seen the end result, but have to piece together what made him this person. His persistence was charming and his loyalty was admirable. There is just something about him and the way he is written that allows the reader to see why Estelle fell in love with him all those years ago, and has never been able to let go.
“I realized that sometimes in order to move forward you have to let go of the past, even if it hurts. Especially if it hurts.”
There’s simply a magnetism to Claire Contreras’ writing. She pulls you in and utterly captivates you with her characters and their stories. I found myself falling down a rabbit hole with no desire to come up for air. Kaleidoscope Hearts absolutely devoured me with its friends to lovers, yet forbidden feel. It’s definitely my favorite read of the year so far and I can’t wait to see what Contreras comes up with next!
“Look at me, Elle,” he says, using the deliciously low demanding voice that once made my toes curl and my eyes roll back, and I have no choice but to tilt my head to give him my attention. “Forget those lame guys you’re dating. Let me take you out.”
My heart, if possible, spikes further in my chest, overriding all warning of the impending chaos that’s sure to come. I try turning my attention to the poster hanging beside me, but the kissing couple makes me look back at him and the deep green eyes that are burning into mine. My stomach does a flip-flop, the way it always does when he looks at me that way and I try to take my hands back because these feelings are too scary for me to deal with right now, but he holds them tighter, bringing them up to his mouth and kissing the tip of my ring finger. Why did he pick that finger to kiss? I pull harder and he finally lets my hand drop.
“I can’t,” I say, my voice coming out hoarse.
A myriad of emotions flash in his eyes before they settle on determination and I’m forced to take a step back, away from his scent, away from his warmth, and into the cold closet behind me.
I sigh, finally looking away, back down to his naked feet. “I just can’t.” He knows why not. He shouldn’t ask me that question. “What’s Vic doing, anyway?”
His body moves into mine so quickly that I don’t have time to react to his large hands clutching my arms or his face dropping until we’re nose to nose. I just stare, wide eyed, waiting for his lips to fall over mine, but they don’t. He just looks at me, breathes on me, lets me breathe on him, and he groans. And that fucking groan travels from his body into mine and crawls into the core of me, draping over every fiber inside of me.
“What do you want, Oliver?” I whisper against his lips. “What do you want from me? You want to kiss me? You want to fuck me? You want to come into my life like the hurricane that you are and tear down everything I’ve rebuilt and disappear just as quickly?”
His lips brush slightly against mine, just a breath of a touch as he stands there, crowding me like he’s about to devour me. But he won’t. He never goes in for the kill. He just lures me, casts me, reels me in and pulls away. His hands drop and his face leaves mine with the same quickness and I feel a pang deep inside me that I wish wasn’t there.
“I’m sorry,” he says quietly, shaking his head in a movement that makes his hair sway back and forth. His eyes are soft on mine now and I can almost hear his thoughts: I should have never kissed her. I should have never—
My brows rise in surprise at the apology, though. There are so many things I can say to him, but the sudden defeated look in his eyes keeps my mouth shut. Finally, I exhale and push off the wall, standing in front of him, with enough distance between us that we can’t reach out and touch each other.
“It’s okay just… don’t do it again. The kiss the other day was a mistake…” I stop talking and walk past him, putting my bra away and sorting through my underwear drawer like it has some sort of hidden treasure or something. This time when I feel him come up behind me, I drop my head and exhale. He really needs to stop sneaking up behind me.
“Oli—“ I start and gasp when I feel his lips on the back of my neck, soft and warm. My heart thunders and my hands begin to shake inside the drawer so I close my eyes and focus on breathing. He drops another kiss right beside that spot. I never knew the back of my neck was so sensitive. The feeling sends a ripple of sensation down my arms and through my body.
“It wasn’t a mistake,” he says in a husky whisper that makes my flesh break out in goose bumps. “You’ve never been a mistake. You want me to tell your brother that I want to take you out? Is that what it would take?”
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Don’t miss the rest of the Hearts Series:
Torn Hearts (Hearts #1.5)
Paper Hearts (Hearts #2)
Elastic Hearts (Hearts #3)
Claire Contreras graduated with her BA in Psychology from Florida International University. She lives in Miami, Florida with her husband, two little boys, and three dogs.
Her favorite past times are: daydreaming, writing, and reading.
She has been described as a random, sarcastic, crazy girl with no filter.
Life is short, and it’s more bitter than sweet, so she tries to smile as often as her face allows. She enjoys stories with happy endings, because life is full of way too many unhappy ones.