Monday, January 16, 2017

Blog Tour: Too Close by R. Phoenix (Review + Giveaway)

Blog Tour: Too Close by R. Phoenix (Exclusive Excerpt, Review + Giveaway)

Too Close - R Phoenix

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 52,000 words


Skylar Orion's life has been complicated ever since his mother abandoned him and his sister Evie. Making ends meet seemed impossible until Tate Chandler took them in -- his knight in shining armor who promised to make life about more than just surviving. But Tate is not the man he seemed to be, and even his whispered I love yous and generous gifts do little to soothe the pain he causes. Knowing he can't give his sister all that she deserves without Tate, Skylar stays with him, relying on bad puns and a worse sense of humor to keep up the charade.

He will do anything for his sister, even if that means acting the responsible adult and going back to his old high school to meet Dexter Weston, the hot math teacher who can make even algebra interesting. Sparks fly between the two of them, but with his dependence on Tate, Skylar isn't free to follow his heart. He wants what is best for Evie, but can he pass up the chance to find love that heals instead of harms? 

Warning: This book contains scenes of domestic abuse and violence that some may find triggering to read.

Exclusive Excerpt

Long after Skylar, Evie, and my other students leave, I sit at my desk, my face buried in my hands. I’m not stupid, even if my yearning for Skylar makes me feel like I am. I started putting the pieces together a while back, but I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to admit that someone might be raising a hand to Skylar, who’s always vibrant and quick to smile.

But I’ve been at this job a while, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen this.

No. I need to acknowledge what it really is.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen abuse.

The difference is that this time, I’m helpless. Usually I can contact the guidance counselor and relay my fears; usually the school can do something, alert someone. But Skylar isn’t a kid.

I feel impotent in a way I rarely have. I keep seeing his black eye, the way he barely seemed to be here at all… the way he didn’t even smile at a joke he would’ve loved the last time we talked.

The acknowledgement that there’s nothing I can do is one of the hardest, most devastating things I’ve ever faced. I want to play the hero. I want to be his knight in shining armor. I want to race after him and insist that he tell me what really happened so I can rescue him and take it all away for him.

I can’t. This is his life, and I can’t live it for him. The thought is nauseating. This isn’t right.

Because there’s only one logical explanation, one logical source of that blow, and I saw him the night before at that party.


It’s my fault. If I hadn’t kissed Skylar…

I want to do something, but I don’t know what I can do.

I could get his phone number from Evie’s file. But I know that even if I did, I wouldn’t dare call it. I’d risk making it worse. If I email him, I might still make it worse. Tomorrow’s Friday; I won’t see him again until Tuesday. More than four days. So much can happen in four days, and I know I’m going to be a wreck.

I can ask Evie, but I’m not sure she’ll tell me anything. She’s fiercely protective of her brother. Still, I’m going to try. I can’t not try, because now that I know, it’s going to eat away at me.

All of my humor is gone; I can’t even muster a smile to Constance as I pass her in the hall. She touches my arm, and I pause, glancing at her. I don’t know what she sees in my expression, but she asks, “Are you all right, Dexter?”

Am I? Not even close. I shake my head.

“If you’d like to talk about it…”

I want to, but I feel like I’d be breaking some sort of code. “Thank you,” I tell her, and I mean it. “But it’s not really my place to tell.”

So, first things first. This is not a book for everyone, it has a domestic violence warning and if that can be a trigger for you, please, don't read any further. If you decide to continue, though, just proceed with caution.

Skylar has been taking care of his sister since their mother left them two years ago. He dropped out of school and worked hard trying to make ends meet to no avail, finally striking a deal with Tate Chandler, who he thought was his knight in shining armor and took both him and his sister in, making sure they wanted for nothing material. The shining armor isn't that shiny after all, and Sky's love isn't enough for Tate, who turns into a different man when he's angry. Sky tries to keep it all from his sister, knowing he needs to endure this for at least two more years so she would have all the chances he missed. He finds solace in the knowledge that his sister is taken care of, in his quirky sense of humor and in his garden, which is his pride and glory.

Derek is Sky's sister's Math's teacher and contacts Skylar when Evie starts failing his class. There's a spark between them from the start, despite the age difference and the fact that Sky already belongs to someone else. Derek is unable to stop thinking about Sky and does his best to help in any way he can, but is Sky strong enough to break the dependence he feels for Tate for the chance of finding something better with Derek?

I loved Sky in all his pun-tastic glory. My heart broke for all he had to go through for his sister and what he suffered while living with Tate. He was so young, barely 18, but he seemed older, wearier, just trying to make the best of the situation he found himself in, unable to break the cycle for fear of what could happen with his sister if he did. I loved Derek, too, he was amazing and I adored that even if it killed him, he didn't push Sky that much, or try to pressure him into leaving Tate when Skylar wasn't sure he could do it. He gave him the space Sky needed and for me, that was a sign of the strength of his feelings and how different Derek was from Tate.

While the last 25% of the book felt a bit rushed and we didn't really get to see much of Sky's healing process, the story was still awesome. Fantastically written, heartfelt and angsty and I cried for Sky so much, but I also laughed at his puns and was happy with how hopeful the ending was. The way R. Phoenix managed to show the reader what was going on inside Sky's head throughout the book was nothing short of masterful, and while I haven't been in such an extreme situation myself, it felt both believable and relatable.

Very recommendable!

Rating: 4.5 Stars!!!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author for my reading pleasure, a review was not required.***

January 9 - Because Two Men Are Better Than One
January 11 - Sinfully MM Book Reviews
January 13 - The Blogger Girls
January 16 - Bayou Book Junkie
January 19 - Love Bytes
January 20 - Alpha Book Club
January 23 - MM Good Book Reviews
January 25 - Prism Books Alliance
January 26 - The Novel Approach
January 30 - My Fiction Nook 

Author Bio

R. Phoenix has an unhealthy fascination with contrasts: light and dark, heroes and villains, order and chaos. She believes that love can corrupt and power can redeem. Her muse is a sadomasochistic slavedriver who thinks it’s terribly amusing to give her the best ideas when she just got comfortable and warm in bed, and she passes on that torture to her readers.

If she had it her way, she would describe the books in her “Ripples in the Status Quo” world as: “Supernatural creatures take over the world and turn humans into pets and food. There’s some sex between guys. And… um… fucked up things happen.” It’s probably a good thing she has people around her to remind her that she actually wants people to read her books. (They should really be more diligent, especially when they know she’s writing her author bio.)

She’s an author, stay-at-home mother, housewife, second time college student, and duck herder extraordinaire. She’s learning how to cook without burning the house down, her garden is somehow neither drowning nor drying up, and one day she might remember what that mythical thing called “free time” is. She’s starting to wonder who thought it was a good idea to write bios in third person.

She also tries entirely too hard to be funny, and she mercilessly inflicts her terrible sense of humor upon anyone who speaks to her. Really, it’s not you. It’s her. All the same, she’d love it if you’d say hello, because it makes her day to hear that someone read something she wrote. If they enjoyed it, there’s usually an awkward happy dance and embarrassing sounds of joy to accompany it (no, not that kind of sound, you perv). If all of that hasn’t scared you away, please say hello!

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