Title: A Beholden Heart
Author: M.L. Steinbrunn
Genre: YA/NA Romance
Release: January 15, 2016
Have you ever looked around at your life and thought to yourself, this can’t be what the universe had planned for me?
This thought enters my brain…Every. Single. Day.
I have no clue what I’m supposed to be doing, but this isn’t it.
I don’t want extraordinary. I’ve never wanted extraordinary. I just want normal…whatever that is.
When I enrolled in Middleton High School, I was just looking to find some resemblance to the typical high school experience.
Then I met Matt Rhodes. He lives the life of envy: popular, athletic, top of his class. Yet he wants none of it; he would gladly give it all up to gain back everything that he’s lost.
Together we will redefine normal.
M.L. Steinbrunn’s foray into the young adult genre is a shining success. A Beholden Heart was sweet, hopeful, full of life, and incredibly poignant. The emotional weight of this story took me by surprise as M.L. Steinbrunn explored love, loss, and what it means to truly live. While Gwen and Matt were the main focus of the story, this book unquestionably also belonged to Sam and Spencer. These vibrant characters brought A Beholden Heart to life and made this story something truly special. I found myself effortlessly consumed by the world M.L. Steinbrunn has written; mesmerized by the familiar dynamics of life during the high school years and the teenage angst we’ve all experienced. M.L. Steinbrunn took this story in unexpected directions that pulled so many emotions from me, leaving me anxious for the next book in the series. A Beholden Heart explores the value of true and unconditional friendship, the redemption that can be found in forgiveness, and the freedom achieved by living life on your own terms in a way that will stick with you long after you finish reading.
“When are you going to learn, kiddo, one foot or 1000 miles, our love for you will never change.”
Gwen is the kind of character you can’t help but instantly love. Her fresh outlook on the world and enthusiasm for life is infectious. Her sheltered upbringing has left her feeling isolated and overlooked so when the opportunity to live like a regular teenager comes along, she jumps at the chance for a taste of normalcy. M.L. Steinbrunn allows readers to see the world anew through the eyes of the naïve and inexperienced Gwen, capturing the forgotten magic of football games, driving around with friends, and falling in love for the first time. As part of the popular crowd and a member of the football team, Matt’s high school experience was very different from Gwen’s but beneath the surface was that familiar feeling of no control. They connect in a way that is tangible to the reader, finding qualities in one another that allow them both to grow. As Gwen’s excitement teaches Matt to appreciate uninhibited living, he begins to live life on his own terms. Seeing Matt stand up for himself with Gwen’s support and encouragement was empowering and I found myself in awe of their incredible friendship and the courage to live they find in each other.
“Haven’t you noticed, I need all the help you’re willing to give? I will forever be beholden to you.”
What I enjoyed most about this storyline was the way in which all of the characters were so carefully interconnected. It kept me invested in each and every one of the characters and gave A Beholden Heart an overall feeling of camaraderie. The slow unraveling of the clearly complicated relationships between the characters and the subtle hints at hidden feelings made me all the more curious about the direction of the story and the series as a whole. M.L. Steinbrunn kept me intrigued by the secrets and lies that so clearly tainted the innocence and youthful naiveté of Gwen, Matt, Sam, and Spencer. I found myself totally enthralled by this book and anxious to figure out what had happened to alter the relationships between childhood friends. Delving into the toxicity of anger and holding grudges, there were definitely some moments that made my heart ache, but M.L. Steinbrunn provides the perfect balance with her easy humor. Along with Sam and Spencer, Gwen’s grandmother provides the perfect comedic relief to this otherwise emotional story. As the book came to a close, M.L. Steinbrunn had me on an emotional rollercoaster. There was love, laughter, and some totally ugly crying, but most importantly there was an overwhelming sense of hope. A Beholden Heart is a fantastic journey and I look forward to seeing where these incredible characters eventually end up.
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My name is M.L. Steinbrunn and I am a young adult and contemporary romance author. My work includes the popular Redemption Series and a young adult series, which includes my new release, A Beholden Heart.
In addition to writing, I work full-time as a high school educator and coach in rural Colorado where my husband and I are raising our four young children. Through education I have enjoyed guiding others on their paths and helping students build their own stories. After countless evenings of discussing story ideas, it was my husband who encouraged me to follow my own path of self-publishing.
I want to send a huge thank you to those who have been overwhelmingly supportive of this journey.