Friday, February 8, 2019

Review Tour: Rat Park by Marina Vivancos (Giveaway)

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 71,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Natasha Snow


Dominic has lived with an empty ache inside him for as long as he could remember. Maybe it started when he was six, hiding beneath his blankets as the wild animal noises of one of mom’s parties echoed in his head. Maybe it began the first time an adult plied him with drinks just to watch him stumble about.

Or, maybe, it was that he couldn’t even imagine what being loved should feel like.

Drugs washed all that away. It didn’t cure the ache, but it made him forget it for a while. Anything was better than being conscious. Than being himself. But life had another hard lesson for him: With drugs, the only way is down.

Dominic hits rock bottom when he’s twenty-three. Turns out, rock bottom looks a lot like the bars of a jail cell. With little left but his own thoughts, Dominic has to decide: Is this what I want for the rest of my life?

The world has never been kind to Dominic, but when he meets the Romeros, he wonders if that is about to change. Officer Catalina Romero seems to see something in Dominic that he is sure isn’t there. The more she pulls him towards her family, however, the harder it is not to go.

All his resistance disappears under the force that is Flor Romero. Spitfire, stubborn Flor—even at sixteen, he refuses to be taken lightly. As he grows older, putting a stop to what Flor obviously wants to happen between them is harder than Dominic would ever want to admit.

Dominic knows that he has too many demons to let anybody get too close. But life doesn’t prepare him for Flor, who just might be ready to fight tooth and nail for a place in Dominic’s life—and his heart.

The question is, will Dominic’s past keep him from his future?

5 Stars

Marina Vivancos is a new-to-me author. The blurb was intriguing and sounded interesting, yet at the same time had me incredibly nervous about what I would be reading in this book.

Dominic... I have so many thoughts and feelings about Dominic. What he had grown up dealing with, and being around people, including his horrible mother who should have never been allowed to be a parent. Those types of things will definitely shape a person on how they act and react to situations further down the road. No matter how horrible things got for him, he still turned out to be a halfway decent person and it really shows in everything he does in this book. He could have taken so many different and easier turns in life and it really showed his strength when he chose the harder path. Dominic is definitely someone who does deserve to be loved and find love in return. I think that finding the Romeros was the best thing that could have ever happened to him, and I love that he knew that as a fact. Catalina saved him...

Flor... Now, Flor was an interesting character. He was so much younger than Dominic, starting out the book at like, 15/16yrs old, but growing into quite the adorable young man. His personality was a bit off and irritating to me at times. Sometimes he really showed his young age in the things he did and the way he acted, and sometimes he really had the wisdom needed in order to help him deal with all of Dominic's past baggage and hurts. I loved the two of them together. And the difference in their age really never felt like too much for me, especially since nothing happens until Flor is an adult. Flor's family is a really great addition to this book.

I really did love this story, and even though some of it was hard to read and gutted me, I'm glad I picked it up and stuck with it. I kind of wanted to quit reading around 20-25% in because I was terrified to read more on what Dominic was going to have to endure, but luckily Catalina and the rest of the Romeros showed up by then.

Great book. I'll be keeping an eye out for more from this author.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement.***

5 stars

Rat Park is a stand-alone by Marina Vivancos. Damien is the son of a single mother drug user. Growing up he sees her using and partying, and doesn’t quite understand what’s going on. Eventually, after witnessing an overdose, he is removed from his home. He is finally somewhat happy and feels normal until he gets put back into his home, where he starts using and selling drugs himself, and one day finds himself in juvie. When he gets released he finds out he is not welcome back home; from there he spirals out of control and ends up in prison. Once released he goes and sees an old friend who overdoses. The cop who shows up, Cat, saves him in more ways than one…

I liked Damien from the start; he did the best he could with the family he was given. You see him spiral down and you feel so sad for him, but he gets himself back up slowly and with a new family he starts to make something of himself. I did find it a bit creepy that the Romeros allowed him to date Flor at all. I mean he was in his twenties, with Flor who was 16 when they met, and they just accepted it rather happily. I did like Flor, however, he came on so strong, Dominic didn’t have much of a choice but to give in.

This was my first 5-star read of 2019. It starts off kind of weak but then it gets better and better as you go on, until you cannot put it down. I read the whole book in a day with short breaks. I actually had to give it a day or two before I wrote the review just because I had to think about what to write. It did get tricky to read for a bit since the subject matter is very real - a child of a drug addict falls through the cracks and ends up addicted themselves. Luckily this story had a happy ending but a lot of real life similar situations don’t.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. *** 

January 28 - OMG Reads, Amy's MM Romance ReviewsFebruary 6 - Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Wicked Faerie's Tales & Reviews, February 8 - Diverse Reader, Boys Meets Boy Reviews, Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Bayou Book Junkie

Author Bio

When Marina was a child she couldn’t sleep. Night after dissolving night she just couldn’t sleep. Nothing much worked – until she started making up stories in her head. Suddenly, the transition into unconsciousness was a smooth dive into calm waters.

Marina is currently in a period of sleepless upheaval, and she hopes writing down the stories in her head will cast the same spell it did decades ago.

Marina hopes to write in a variety of romance sub-genres, from contemporary to supernatural to sci-fi. Her style, however, tends to focus on character-centred stories that explore different facets of the human experience, such as mental health. She also enjoys writing explicit, drawn-out sex scenes, so expect those to be a prominent feature of her stories.

Marina tends to keep to herself unless prompted, so don’t be shy in approaching her!

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