REVIEW – Guarding Hearts by L.L. Collins

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Title: Guarding Hearts
Author: L.L. Collins
Series: Living Again #3
Release Date: May 21, 2014

Guarding Hearts

Synopsis

Ellis Warner is a police officer, everyone’s friend and every girl’s fantasy- funny, dedicated, and too good looking for his own good. Thanks to a childhood he would rather forget and a young adulthood riddled with mistakes, he knows that no one can ever find out who he really is. He lives his life pretending to be the guy everyone sees on the outside. The one thing he knows for sure is that he can’t be serious with anyone. When he takes a second job as security for a new country star coming into town, he has no idea how that one decision will change his entire life and expose everything he has worked so hard to bury.

Samantha Kerrigan won a nationwide contest that immediately forces her into the spotlight. Her dreams of being a successful country singer have come true, but dreams always come with a price. While going out on her first tour, a stalker’s advances threaten her safety, forcing her team to hire more protection.

The second she meets Ellis, she knows there’s something about him and immediately makes him her private bodyguard. But he’s determined just to do his job, and she’s determined to make him open up. When her life is threatened and his secrets are exposed, will Ellis be able to guard Sam from danger, and his heart from her?

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Review

Guarding Hearts is one of those books that induces a huge happy sigh. Just when I think the Living Again series can’t possibly get any better, Ellis and Sam’s story comes along and blows me away all over again. Not only do we get to see the couples from the previous novels basking in there happily ever afters, but we are also introduced to some truly intriguing new characters. As always, L.L. Collins writes with purpose, carefully crafting a story that will make you think, feel, and fall in love. Her writing flows easily, allowing the reader to be swept up by her words and floated into the brilliant world she has built amongst the pages. Ellis and Sam share an instant connection that is absolutely magical. While they seem to be fated, L.L. Collins is careful not to let them succumb to disingenuous instalove. They fight their feelings and keep their personal secrets, adding to the build up of chemistry that absolutely sizzles between them and gives this novel a sexy edge that is utterly addictive.

“I feel like, when you look at me, you see me.”

Sam and Ellis are both complex characters and I was curious to see how deep their secrets went and how much growth they’d experience before they’d finally find their way. L.L. Collins did not disappoint, putting these two through the wringer as they faced their intense feelings, dealt with occupational hazards, and fought to keep their pasts behind them. The emotional rollercoaster that ensues had me connecting with these characters and fully investing myself in their happy ending. Initially Ellis and Sam appear to be total opposites, but as their story progresses, L.L. Collins unraveled these characters to expose vulnerabilities, insecurities, and fears that were surprisingly similar. Sam is dynamic in a way that lights up everything around her, while Ellis’ strong presence casts a shadow that can’t be ignored. Together they represented a perfect balance. Their different views of the world pushed them to evolve alongside each other into the best versions of themselves. I loved getting to know this couple and thoroughly enjoyed experiencing their journey right alongside them.

“He knew he would never be the same after this week. Meeting Samantha Kerrigan had changed his life, even if he never got to be with her again.”

Guarding Hearts is definitely an enthralling journey full of unexpected twists, hidden truths, and surprising pasts that came together to deliver something powerful. Guarding Hearts explores the challenges of overcoming the events of our youth and delivers a rather poignant message – the person we choose to become is far more important than who we were born. The emotional depth of this story touched me in unexpected ways. I swooned from the sweet romance, laughed at the witty banter, blushed my way through the steamy scenes, and even shed a few tears at some seriously heartbreaking moments. The secondary characters, both familiar and new faces, made Ellis and Sam’s world even more vibrant. They challenged Ellis and Sam to let go, give in to the magnetic pull, and follow their hearts, all while being unconditionally loving and supportive. I can’t wait for the next book in the series where I can once again revel in the comforting feeling this unconventional little family so easily delivers. L.L. Collins has written a story of loss, longing, and love that is undeniably sweet and absolutely captivating. Guarding Hearts is a great read!

Rating
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Book Links

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Guarding Hearts_4

Don’t miss the rest of the Living Again series:

Living Again (Living Again #1)

Living Again

Read our review HERE
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | B & N

Reaching Rachel (Living Again #2)

Reaching Rachel

Read our review HERE
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Buy on Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | B & N

Finding Forever (Living Again #4)

Finding-Forever

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Breaking Free (Living Again #4.5)

Breaking-Free

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Author Links

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Website

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REVIEW – Reaching Rachel by L.L. Collins

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Title: Reaching Rachel
Author: L.L. Collins
Series: Living Again #2
Release Date: January 18, 2014

Reaching Rachel

Synopsis

Rachel has always been seen as a wild child, never committing or settling down. She wants it that way, so that no one ever finds out the truth. Deep down, she is crushed over something that happened years ago that resulted in losing the only man she ever loved. Then she meets someone who tries to convince her that she’s ready to commit again. But some things are not what they seem. Realizing too late that she’s in over her head, and with her life on the line, she comes face to face with her past in a way she never thought possible.

Devin was in love once, and it destroyed him, making him swear off love forever. After a promotion and subsequent move unexpectedly brings him into the middle of her dangerous situation, he must come face to face with his past and to the woman who broke him into pieces. But she needs help. Desperately. And maybe, just maybe, he didn’t know the real truth of their past. Can he help her survive the terrible ordeal she’s been through, and during it all, can he safeguard his heart from her? Or will the truth of the pain that has kept them apart show him that he can’t live without her after all?

**AUTHOR NOTE**
This book contains difficult topics that may be hard for some readers and is suggested for a mature audience only. It contains strong language, sexual situations, abuse, and other content that may be problematic for some to read. Please keep this in mind when choosing to read this book.

Reaching Rachel_1

Review

Reaching Rachel was an absolutely fantastic addition to the Living Again series and once again L.L. Collins has managed to emotionally steamroll me. Rachel’s story is gut-wrenching and raw, dealing with difficult realities and the struggle to survive in the aftermath. It is becoming increasingly apparent that L.L. Collins strives to make her readers ugly cry with each and every tortured word. The fantastic character development and turbulent storyline delivered a journey that hit me hard, right in the heart. This book made me think and dream and feel, all of the things I hope for in a romance. I was immediately captivated by the flawed characters I could easily relate to and it took no time at all for me to find myself thoroughly invested in their happily ever after. While just as emotionally powerful, Reaching Rachel had an entirely different feel than Living Again, which allowed me to completely appreciate L.L.’s talent for unique, heartbreaking, and hopeful stories.

“He gave his heart to you all those years ago, and you still have it.” 

Rachel is an unquestionably genuine character that had me on her side within minutes of beginning her story. There was a false confidence and an honest fragility about her that drew me in and kept me on edge while I waited for her story to play out. Rachel’s fear and vulnerability was so tangible that my heart ached for her every time she was faced with another reminder of her traumatic past. On the other hand, every bit of strength she demonstrated lightened my heart and made me proud of the growth L.L. Collins was demonstrating with this character. Devin might be one of my favorite BBFs of all time. His protective nature and total devotion to Rachel was enough to make me melt, but then we see the cracks in his armor, how afraid he is to lose Rachel, how helpless he feels when he can’t protect her from outside forces, and he turned me into a puddle. I love when an author isn’t afraid to expose the weaknesses of their male characters. It gives them an authenticity you can’t help but fall for.

“Are we going to spend the rest of our lives talking about what could’ve been, or are we going to live together the way we should’ve always, because we love each other now?”

I was greatly intrigued by Rachel when we first met her in Living Again, but I could not have prepared myself for the heartbreaking story that would unfold in Reaching Rachel. L.L. Collins really tugged at my heartstrings with this one. If there is one thing L.L. has perfected, it is bringing her characters emotions to life. I could feel every moment of sadness and regret that Rachel experienced but I also sensed how overwhelmingly haunted this young woman was by her past. I connected with her pain and felt the emotional weight of her story. I was completely consumed by this book, completely immersed in every high and low of Rachel and Devin’s journey. L.L. Collins has once again proven her incredible gift for bringing broken and damaged characters to life and forging a meaningful connection between them and her readers. I can only imagine what ugly-cry-inducing story L.L. has in store for us next in this series!

Rating
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Book Links

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Don’t miss the rest of the Living Again series:

Living Again (Living Again #1)

Living Again

Read our review HERE
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | B&N

Guarding Hearts (Living Again #3)

Guarding Hearts

Read our review HERE
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Buy on Amazon US Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | B&N

Finding Forever (Living Again #4)

Finding-Forever

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Breaking Free (Living Again #4.5)

Breaking-Free

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REVIEW – Living Again by L.L. Collins

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Title: Living Again
Author: L.L. Collins
Series: Living Again #1
Release Date: January 12, 2014

Living Again

Synopsis

Kayley Carson thought she had it all…married to the love of her life, a great job, and a baby on the way. Then one day, her life changes forever when she loses her husband in a tragic accident. No longer sure how to navigate life after her enormous loss, Kayley clings to her newborn baby, her family, and her friends to keep herself living.

When she meets someone that challenges her belief that she’s better off alone, she has to decide if she is capable of letting him in after swearing she was never going to love anyone the same way again.

She’s not the only one with a painful past. He is struggling with trust issues after a previous relationship went horribly wrong. After a terrible misunderstanding brings out both of their insecurities, will the painful memories of the past keep them both from living again?

Living Again_3

Review

Living Again absolutely swept me off my feet. This is romance at its best. Each and every moment of this book was emotionally charged and full of love. Kayley’s story was all at once devastating, overwhelming, sweet, and heartwarming. This journey felt incredibly personal from start to finish and I couldn’t help but find myself fully invested in both Kayley and Alexis. When Ben enters the picture, all bets are off, because he is the epitome of classic romance. His words and gesture are enough to make any woman melt, but combined with his imperfections and moments of humility he is BBF perfection. Living Again was never just Ben and Kayley’s story. It always belonged to Alexis too. This story was about redefining love and family after tragedy and I think that added depth is why I fell so hard for this one.

“I understand you’re scared. You lost a lot. You thought you were with the one man you were going to stay with forever and he’s gone. I get that. But please, baby. Please. Give me a chance to show you he wasn’t the only one that can love you.”

Ben and Kayley both deal with very different heartbreak over the course of this book. L.L. Collins made sure that the resultant hesitancy and fear was ever present as they navigated through their new relationship. The genuine uncertainty allowed me to lose myself in the story, enjoying the transformations these characters went through. L.L. Collins does a wonderful job growing her characters and nurturing their relationships. The changes in her characters as they experience life and begin to fix what’s broken were beautiful and inspiring. I also adored every single secondary character in Living Again. You don’t just get a fabulous couple, but a slew of family and friends whose love and support knows no bounds. I couldn’t stop myself from being swallowed up by the vibrant and lovable characters that colored Ben and Kayley’s story.

“You see, this girl’s first love story ended much too soon, and tragically. This one can’t end that way, because this story deserves to go forever.”

This book is more emotional than I could have ever prepared myself for. I’m pretty sure I spent the whole beginning of the book crying only to find myself getting through the end the same way, but with an entirely different feeling. The pain and sadness that L.L. writes absolutely crushed me. She also knows exactly the right words to make your heart soar. There were plenty of fun and flirtatious encounters that left me grinning as well as just the right amount of steam to keep the chemistry between Ben and Kayley sizzling. This book will touch you, break you, surprise you, and mend you, ultimately leaving you feeling full and satisfied. L.L. Collins has managed to capture every type of love with this story. She hits you with the love of a partner, a family member, a best friend, and a child all at once until you’re so overcome by the warmth and grace surrounding this story that you can’t help but be absolutely consumed by it.

Rating
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Living Again_2

Book Links

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | B&N

Living Again_4

Don’t miss the rest of the Living Again series:

Reaching Rachel (Living Again #2)

Reaching Rachel

Read our review HERE
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | B&N

Guarding Hearts (Living Again #3)

Guarding Hearts

Read our review HERE
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | B&N

Finding Forever (Living Again #4)

Finding-Forever

Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | B&N

Breaking Free (Living Again #4.5)

Breaking-Free

Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon US |  Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | B&N