April 8, 2014

IF YOU STAY by Courtney Cole Paperback Launch Day Blitz {Giveaway/Excerpt}

IF YOU STAY by Courtney Cole (April 8, 2014; Forever Trade Paperback; $12.00)

Twenty-four-year-old Pax Tate is an asshole. Seriously. He's a tattooed, rock-hard bad boy with a tough attitude to match. His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with an intense guilt that he doesn't understand. What he does know is that he and his dad were left alone, and they have never been close. Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the black void in his soul. He pretends that the emptiness isn't there and this has always worked . . . until he meets Mila.

Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air that Pax has never known in his life. He doesn't know how to not hurt her-but he quickly realizes that he'd better figure it out because he needs her to breathe. When the memories of his mother's death resurface to haunt Pax, Mila is there to save him from his overwhelming guilt. Mila restores his broken heart, even as she evokes his powerful, sexual desires. Now for Pax to keep Mila, he needs to work on his issues-and stop being an asshole. But is that enough to make her stay?

I am humming as I duck out of the shop to grab a sandwich for lunch. As I pause to lock the door, I notice Pax’s black car parked on the street twenty yards from my shop. My head snaps up and I stare at it, my fingers frozen. He’s not in it. I don’t know if I am relieved or not.
“Looking for someone?”
Pax’s voice is right behind me.
You’ve got to be kidding me. This is too coincidental. I slowly turn to find myself face to face with the very man who has invaded my thoughts. Pax smiles, a slow panty- dropping grin.
            “Are you stalking me again, Miss Hill?” He cocks an eyebrow.
My heart hammers.
“What?” I choke out. “This is my shop.”
Pax shrugs. “And that’s my car. You were staring at it like you were hoping I would get out of it.”
I’m guilty of that. I can’t say a word in my defense. Instead, I stare at him like an idiot.
“What are you doing downtown?” I finally manage, changing the subject.
“I don’t cook,” he explains. “I’m making a food run. The bar down the street makes good burgers.”
“Oh,” I answer dumbly. “That’s what I’m doing too.”
He lifts his eyebrow again.
“Not the bar,” I add quickly. “I’m going to the deli, next door to the bar.”
Pax smiles again. “All by yourself? Haven’t you heard that there are some bad things going on in Angel Bay? Just a while back, some dumbass overdosed on the beach. Apparently, they’re letting all kinds of assholes in nowadays. It’s probably not safe for you to walk alone.”
I have to grin now, at his audacity.
“Oh, really? Wow. That does sound bad. Assholes are just running loose on our streets? I guess I’ll never know now when I’m going to bump into one.”
“How very true,” he answers softly, his golden eyes frozen on mine. Sweet Jesus. The man has beautiful eyes. So bottomless and warm. Like hot caramel. I gulp.
“Is this when you take your lunch every day?” he finally asks, breaking the silent stare.
“If I go out,” I answer. “Are you planning on stalking me again?”
We’re still standing in the middle of the sidewalk, but Pax doesn’t seem to care. Instead, he grins.
“Maybe,” he answers, before holding his arm out like a gentleman. “Since I’m here and you’re here and we’re both going in the same direction . . . I’ll walk you today. I’ll keep the wolves at bay.”
I stare up at him as I slip my fingers into the crook of his leather covered elbow.
“I thought you were the baddest wolf of them all?”
He grins again, wickedly. It lights up his eyes with a gleam.
“That’s probably true,” he admits. “Are you afraid?”
“I should be,” I tell him.
But I’m not.
He walks me to the deli’s door and steps away from me. I feel the absence of his warmth immediately.
“Have a good day, Mila Hill,” he tells me, his eyes flickering up and down the length of me. “Watch out for those wolves.”
And he’s gone. He disappears into the bar and I realize that I’m standing alone outside. I shake my head and sigh, going inside to order my sandwich. I have no idea what just happened, but Pax Tate is firmly in my head now. And I have the feeling he’s not going anywhere. My stomach flutters and I realize that I like that thought.

Here is my review from when I posted in Feb 2013....

Mother of mercy! This is my first book to read by Cole and to say I loved this book would be a total understatement. I knew when I read her fabulous blurb for the story that I would have to read it. And then when I actually started the opening chapter all I could think about was what did I just get myself in to. All through the story I caught myself smiling one minute and frantic the next. Cole really did take her characters on an emotional roller coaster ride and we readers get to be front and center as well. Also keep in mind this is not a YA read. I am not sure if her other books are YA or not...but this one is most surely not.

It is always scary starting a book by an author that you have never read before. They could write books that have a happy ending or they could be like Nicolas Sparks…an author that has no qualms of killing off a beloved character. And with this story that is focused around something so dark, there is no way of knowing if the author wants to give her characters that happily ever after that so many of us relish. Was there a happily ever after? Ha! Like I am going to tell you.

When I started reading the book, the first scene kind of took me by surprise. I don't know what I was expecting but it sure as heck wasn't THAT. It definitely confirmed in my mind that yes...Pax is most definitely an a$$hole. And unfortunately, long ago, I knew a few guys like him: money, looks, and a habit. A habit of taking drugs and a habit of being an a$$hat. But Pax is also a very broken human being. His life so far from normal, he’d have to use google maps to find his way back. Yeah, he is that far gone.

And there is always that one girl that thinks they can change the bad boy from his wicked ways. And more times than not, it is usually not the case. So will Mila be able to be the one to change him...save him from his horrible drug induced life style? Will she even want to be a part of his life once she sees him at his absolute worst? Readers are going to fall in love with Mila the minute she is introduced into the story. How could you not? She is so sweet and so adorable; a girl with a great head on her shoulders. So what the heck is she doing getting involved with Pax? Well for someone that has always gone down the straight and narrow…I think maybe she was in need of a little danger. But when you play with fire you are most likely gonna get burned.

IF YOU STAY is an absolutely brilliant read that immediately had me hooked from the get go. I couldn’t read this book fast enough. This book devoured me and I gladly let it. And once I was done I immediately had to reread the last chapter one more time. I will definitely be stalking er, I mean looking into more of Cole's work. Her writing is just that great. 

Looking for a fast paced read that is full of epic goodness and one hot, schmexy bad boy? Oh boy, then you want this book. Like now.

Fave Lines...

He is gorgeous, and flawed and sexy. And I have no idea what I am getting into.
Her eyes widen and she shakes her head. "Pax, no. It's not a good idea. I don't trust myself around you." Her words are completely garbled of course, but I can still make them out.
I startle and stare at her.
"You can't trust yourself around me?"
She shakes her head pathetically, then leans her head on the cool window glass.
"No. I can't let you break my heart. I don't have much left."

Courtney Cole is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives near Lake Michigan with her family.  She's always working on her next project... or staring dreamily out her office window.  To learn more about her, please visit http://www.courtneycoleauthor.com/