Title: Until I Break
Author: M. Leighton
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Release date: May 13, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Adult
Event organized by: AToMR Tours
Laura Drake is an author. She writes bestselling paranormal romances that continue to top the charts. She is sharp. She is confident. She is in control.
And she doesn’t exist.
Samantha Jansen is the woman behind the wig, the woman most of the world doesn’t know exists. She is shy. She is insecure. She is nothing like her main character or her alter ego. She is scarred—deeply scarred—by a past she can’t let go of and a present she can’t make peace with.
Samantha’s dreams are consumed by one man, the broken hero from her books. Mason Strait is both her wildest fantasy and her most terrifying nightmare.
When Samantha meets Alec Brand, a corporate consultant, it is as though Mason has come to life. Alec is handsome to a fault, as elegant as he is arrogant, and more intense than any man has a right to be.
Samantha is soon sucked into a world that mirrors the fiction she writes. Just like her main character, Daire Kirby, Samantha finds herself unable to resist the forbidden lure of Alec. And just like Daire, she also finds that she is faced with taking a chance on a man who could either set her free or destroy her.
The scale tilts toward destruction when Samantha finds out that Alec is as much a work of fiction as Mason. And he has scars of his own, scars that could ruin them both.
I know from lots of experience to let Ari sort out all the clamoring and select the next person to ask a question. So, patiently, with hands folded demurely in my lap, I wait.
It’s odd, the comfort that I feel in the wig, glasses and heavy makeup. My Laura Drake get-up is much more than a disguise, it’s a shield—a protective barrier that keeps the world out and the tender Samantha Jansen (the real me) in.
As my eyes drift through the crowd again, they’re drawn to the back of the room, to a latecomer. I feel my jaw go slack and, slowly, the earth stops spinning, grinding to a halt. For a moment, it’s as though the entire world is as breathless and reverent as I am.
My first thought is that someone has managed to find the exact image I have of Mason Strait, the one that’s only ever been in my head and in my darkest dreams, and send him here as a publicity stunt.
Even from this distance, I can see that his eyes are a soft, pale green. They’re framed in thick, jet-black lashes that match his jet-black hair. It’s cut much like I imagined it would be—business short. It’s a little mussed at the moment, like he’s run his fingers through it a few times, but that just makes it look even more like Mason’s.
His lean face is tan and his cheeks are covered in a light dusting of five o’clock shadow even though it’s still early afternoon. His lips are perfectly sculpted and his jaw is square. He even has that engaging dimple in his strong chin.
As my stunned eyes travel away from his face, I’m astonished that he’s even dressed like Mason might be when he’s out prowling around—casual, non-threatening. Sexy.
His broad chest is covered in a white button-up shirt that looks like it’s made of expensive brushed cotton. His long, muscular legs are clad in faded blue jeans that look like they were cut and sewn with his body in mind. And on his feet? Nothing less than dusty cowboy boots.
This can’t be happening! I think just before voices penetrate my thrall.
“Ms. Drake! Over here!”
People are calling my name from all over the room, people vying for my attention, people anxious to ask me a question about my books, my life or my characters. I glance around at several of the faces. Temporarily, they distract me from the breathtakingly handsome man at the back of the room.
Within seconds, my gaze is drawn to the back of the room again as if pulled by a magnet. The doorway is empty now. The bottom drops out of my stomach, so keen is my disappointment. I suppress the urge to jump out of my seat and run through the crowd, out the rear door to see if I can get one more glimpse of him. I feel desperate for one more glimpse of my Mason.
Ari’s voice brings me back to my purpose here. “You, sir,” he says in his authoritative voice.
Ari Nelson is my friend as well as my publicist. He has strawberry blond hair and a no-nonsense way about him. He makes calm out of chaos, reason out of randomness, and he can wrangle a raucous bunch like nobody’s business. He’s a thousand kinds of wonderful and he prefers his men much like I do—dark and strong.
“Ms. Drake, does inspiration for your stories stem from personal experience?” The smooth voice causes chills to erupt down my arms and I search for the corresponding face in the crowd.
My eyes stop on a familiar face. His lips aren’t moving, but I have no doubt whatsoever that the velvety voice belongs to this real-life Mason. He’s easy to spot, as he stands a few inches taller than everyone around him. I had been so focused on the doorway that seemed to have swallowed him up that I didn’t see him standing at the far edge of the crowd.
But now, I can’t see anything else, anyone else.
His eyes are locked on mine, waiting. They aren’t smiling or flirtatious, or even curious; they’re just…intense.
When I don’t answer immediately, he asks another question. “Are you Daire Kirby?”
As my mind spins over his words, he watches me. I get the feeling he’s trying to see inside me, trying to find the truth, to find the softest, most vulnerable part of me and expose it. Just like Mason would.
The physical similarities between this man and my fictional leading man leave me breathless. The similarities that seem to float just beneath the surface leave me terrified.
Although I’ve answered his question dozens of times and have memorized a nice, pat spiel to address it, my mind goes blank. It’s as though the only thing I’m aware of is the invisible thread that this man has, within seconds, tied around some battered part of my soul and is using to pull me toward him like a puppet on a string.
It’s quiet around us as the others in the room await my answer. When I give none, “Mason” moves forward. I watch, completely immobilized, as he fluidly weaves his way through the bodies until he’s within a couple of feet of me.
When I first learned about Until I Break by M.Leighton, I heard that it was dark. I got excited because I like to see characters transform. Then I received the paperback in the mail, but my fellow lovers received a digital review copy, and they started reading immediately. I had three other books on my list all scheduled for reviews and had no time to start reading Until I Break. Then my fellow Lovers started talking back and forth on our direct message thread about Until I Break, and I made sure that nothing about the plot was to be mentioned. Threats may have been made by me, but I will deny it. So I read a lot of “OMG Alec”, “I will never look at a glass of lemonade the same way again”, “Ice Cubes”, “Did you read the shower scene”, and so on an so forth. The other Lovers were driving me to distraction, and I was more than a little jealous.
I was finally able to read Until I Break and what I found was glorious bliss. This is not a dark book but a riveting novel about two broken people. The characters of Samantha (Sam) and Alec both have been deeply wounded by their life experiences. Sam is a paranormal writer who hides behind her writing and shelters her very existence in the world. Alec is the savvy debonair mystery man who unexpectedly enters her life. When their two worlds collide, I was expecting sizzle, but what is written by Leighton is an INFERNO! With Until I Break, Leighton has pushed the boundaries of sensual desire. What she does with one kiss is more than likely illegal in most states because it is so toe tingling good!
Wondering what pulled me into the story? It was the wonderful character development by Leighton. In writing Sam and Alec, she gave us, the readers, characters who are diamonds, which are beautifully faceted, have glorious color, and are deeply flawed. What made this such a fascinating read is that these characters are broken, but they aren’t irredeemable. It is that story of redemption that they both journey on that makes this an engrossing read.
I absolutely loved the way that Leighton used the backdrop of Sam’s fictional characters (Mason and Daire) to mirror the story of Alec and Sam. In fact this reviewer wouldn’t mind reading a book or two or three about Mason and Daire.
Until I Break is a journey not just a Happy Every after Fairytale, as both the characters of Sam and Alec bare their souls in the book, and it is their journey through the fire of self-discovery that is the most moving of all. Sam, and especially Alec, will get under your skin and pull at your preconceived notions of a romance. In Until I Break you find what a romance can be, and you will become a richer reader for it, for Leighton will bend your ideas of romance until you break.
What I didn’t like about Until I Break is that it ended. For this book Leighton is getting ten fingers, two palms, and I have kicked off my shoes to give her ten toes too!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, M. Leighton lives in the deep South with her super-hero husband and super-smart malti-poo. She has a fondness for coffee and chocolate, loves the color red, laughs at almost anything and often stares out her window, daydreaming of far-away places.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book directly from the author or publisher I was not paid to read or review this book. All opinions are my own, and I was never influenced by anything or anyone.
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