Release Week Review Event: The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller: L.B. Simmons
For some, it’s simply one of life’s certainties, nothing more. For others, it’s merely a fleeting thought, one often overshadowed by the reckless delusion that they have been blessed with the gift of immortality.
For Aubrey Miller, death is the definition of her very existence. Overcome with the guilt resulting from the loss of her beloved family, she alters her appearance from the once beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl to that of one shrouded in complete darkness, enveloping herself in her own unbreakable fortress of solitude as a form of protection for others.
As she enters her first year of college, her goal is simple: Earn a degree with the least amount of social interaction as possible. What she never anticipates is the formation of very unlikely relationships with two people who will change her life in ways she never believed possible: Quinn Matthews, the boisterous former pageant queen, and Kaeleb McMadden, a childhood friend from her past who never really let her go.
Over the years, as their connections intertwine and grow, a seemingly indestructible bond is formed between the three…
But when death painfully reemerges, Aubrey is lost once again, burying herself deeper than ever before inside the familiar fortification of her fears.
Will the refuge of friendship, the solidarity of life-long bonds, and the power of unconditional love be enough to do the impossible?
Will they be enough to finally bring about…
The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller?
I feel normal.
A normal girl, about to have a normal birthday celebration with her friends, in a normal (albeit spectacular) dress, with normal hair and make-up.
The only thing that’s missing is a pair of normal shoes.
“Shoes! I need shoes!” I exclaim.
“No, you don’t.” Quinn giggles and reaches for the knob of my bedroom door.
“What? Why wouldn’t I need shoes?”
That makes no sense.
She’s drunker than I thought.
That’s it, I’m officially hiding the champagne.
“You’ll see,” she says just as there’s a knock at the front door.
She winks. “Trust me. Just, stay in here. Don’t come out until someone comes to get you.”
After Quinn quietly shuts the door behind her, I remain seated. As the sounds of Kaeleb’s murmur filters into my room, a nervous excitement flitters through my belly and spreads into my chest. My joy takes flight and I breathe in deeply, contentment pumping enthusiastically with each thrumming heartbeat.
Damn, it feels good to be alive.
I don’t have to wait for long. After a very loud squeal from Quinn in the other room, there’s a knock at my door. My pulse kicks up and I rise from the bed, smoothing out my dress. With a glance in the mirror, I pluck a couple of sections of my new hair with my fingers and set them back into place. “Come in,” I remark, turning in the direction of the door.
The handle turns and as Kaeleb pokes his head around the corner, his eyes find mine. His eyebrows rise as his mouth falls slightly open, and he breaks my gaze as his focus shifts to take in my hair, my exposed neck and the line of my dress. He holds his stare briefly at the crystalline sash lining my waist, and then slowly drifts down to my smoothly-shaven legs and perfectly painted toenails. The left side of his mouth quirks up as he clears his throat, frozen in place. He tears his scrutiny away from my feet to fully step into the room, then turns away from me to shut the door.
I take advantage of the 1.5 seconds his back is turned, and survey him from head to toe. His light-blue button-up is folded to his elbows, displaying the prominence of the flexed muscles along his forearms. As he places both palms on the door and leans into them, his shirt rides up enough for me to see the designs on the back pockets of his dark jeans. They hug his ass perfectly, and for the first time in my life, I want to slide my hands right into those pockets just to feel the hardness of his toned body.
My fingers itch with the need to touch him, but I maintain control while Kaeleb braces against the door, inhaling and exhaling deeply. He stays planted there for a few more seconds until I suddenly begin to feel self-conscious. I run my hands over my hair and dress to make sure everything is as it should be.
Just as I start to ask him if he’s all right, he whips around with a full smile on his face. A few long strides later, and he’s standing right in front of me. Raising both hands, he traces the tips of his fingers along the sides of my cheeks, leaving a scorching trail as they run down my neck and thread themselves into the hair at my nape. With his thumbs underneath my chin, he tilts my head back and looks me directly in the eyes.
“You look amazing, Sunshine. Truly breathtaking.” His head dips slightly and he runs his lips tentatively along mine, the movement so sensual I can’t keep my hands off of him any longer. Fisting his shirt in my hands, I pull him into me and press my mouth hard against his, the need to taste him overriding my caution. A whimper rises in my throat and escapes into his mouth as his tongue slides in between my lips, slowly and deliberately, taking his time to stroke and caress mine. His hold tightens as his fingers curl deeper into my hair, the tinge of pain sending shockwaves of pleasure coursing through my body until they land right in between my legs, the throbbing sensation growing with each strike.
After another gentle sweep of his tongue, he lessens the kiss and pulls back slightly. His lips brush against mine before they slide over to the corner of my mouth, up along my cheek, and then rest them against my ear as he breathes, “Happy birthday. The dress is phenomenal.”
Raven Miller is a freak. She hides behind hair dye, piercings, crazy contact lenses, and a surly attitude. She likes to isolate herself and not get close to people. This is the life she has adopted...not for her own protection, but for others. She thinks death follows her. But she is forced to expand her horizons as she enters college at Titan University and meets her perky, blonde, pink-a-licious room mate and another student Kaeleb. He is one person that Raven never expected to see again. He shares a past with her but she does not know if he realizes it since she has so drastically changed.
As their lives become entwined they begin to bond and slowly build trust....something that Raven has not had. Each of them have issues in their past that have marked them, caused anxiety, insecurities, and behaviors. And they all have secrets. Eventually they share their deepest secrets and fears and form a close friendship that helps them begin healing.
We hold onto one another closely, silently reflecting on our own sordid pasts. Each of us lost in our own darkness, trying to find our way to a lighter place.
Raven begins to strip down her layers and we see more of her alter ego Aubrey Miller slowly reemerge. She is the girl she used to be before struck by tragedy, loss, and fear. The pretty blonde that does not hide under a protective shell. She slowly begins to accept friendship, love and let people into her heart.
"As l long as you continue to travel through life in this darkness, you will never know how beautiful your light truly shines when you let yourself love and be loved. Trust me when I say, it's a breathtaking sight to see. You burn as bright as the sun."
I loved the interactions of Raven/Aubrey with Quinn and Kaeleb as they were funny, heart warming, and became such a positive force. I liked how they challenged her and took her out of her comfort zone. Quinn was so bubbly and out going that Raven did not have a chance to resist. But she also had hidden pain and vulnerability.
Raven/Aubrey and Kaeleb shared a connection and chemistry that was strong, sweet, and heart felt. I adored him. He was so patient, accepting, and supportive. But he knew when to push and when to step back. He was a good guy who had been hurt in his own past but still managed to portray a more positive outlook in his present. They provided balance for each other.
"I think some people are just inexplicably bonded. Drawn by forces beyond heir own comprehension, they have no choice but to gravitate toward one another. Destined by fate to keep crossing paths until they finally get it right."
But life is unpredictable. Raven/Aubrey's new outlook is tested and she is still fragile. When she is faced with difficult situations will she revert back into her dark shell or be able to stay in the light? Will she maintain her close connections or go back into isolation?
"I wanted to be enough for you. Strong enough. Man enough. Enough for you to find a reason to live again. To give you that courage and strength. But I know now, you're the only one who can do that, Sunshine."
This is the story of loss, tragedy, guilt, pain and loneliness. But it is also inspiring, healing, and hopeful. It was told in Raven/Aubrey's point of view allowing us to see her dark thoughts, self loathing, fears, and insecurities and also see as her thought processes begin to shift to a more positive light. Her mind alternates between opening up and shutting down and it is difficult and painful. This book was emotional and had twists and turns. It was not an easy process and there were multiple challenges and struggles. And sometimes there are set backs and obstacles that just seem too hard to circumvent. But I enjoyed getting to know these characters. They had issues, flaws, personal demons, and strong feelings. They all were multi-faceted and diverse. None of them were all light or all dark... they all had some shades of grey. And part of the process was learning to deal with that and figuring out how to best support the others. This was a moving story of self acceptance, friendship, and love.
Thanks to L. B. Simmons for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
I will not let the fear of death rule my life any longer.
The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller is a story of one girl's grief and the way she processed (or avoided) her emotions after incredible tragedy altered her family forever.
When we meet Aubrey, she is entering her first year of college and refuses to respond to her given name. Instead, she lives under the alter-ego of Raven. Raven dies her hair black and wears pale makeup, and hides behind severe piercings and novelty contacts. Everything about her screams stay back. She has experienced a great deal of loss in her life, though it is not clear exactly what happened to her family. All we know at the beginning is she has no living relatives and feels huge amounts of grief about the deaths of her family.
Her new roommate, Quinn, isn’t put off by the armor surrounding her, and insists on forcing Raven out of the room and her shell. Quinn is a pageant princess with a bubbly personality. Her energy and laughter invades the walls Raven has around herself. The other person who worms his way into Raven’s world is Kaeleb, Quinn’s buddy from freshman orientation, and as luck would have it, a blast from Raven/Aubrey’s past. The inclusion of these two characters was so important for her story that I can’t imagine different personalities being as effective in the position of friendship. Anyone else and Raven would have been able to keep them out. But she couldn’t resist Quinn’s exuberance and the history she had with Kaeleb.
I know that girl in the reflection. It’s Aubrey Miller before she died, twelve years later.
I wasn’t sure I would like this story, just based on Raven’s attitude in the first few chapters. She is standoffish, cold, and borderline cruel to the people around her in an attempt to keep people away from her. At the time it was unclear exactly what happened in her past, but the scars were definitely visible. As Raven opens up to Quinn and Kaeleb though, I found it easier to feel for her and understand her reactions and emotions (or lack thereof). She was a tough character to love, though once her shell started cracking I was intrigued by her journey and how she would move forward.
But I knew I loved Quinn and Kaeleb from the moment they appeared on the pages. Neither of them are perfect, and in their own ways add to the fears that Aubrey has to face in order to find herself. But the perfection they did have manifested in those moments of imperfection and those moments where they stood up for and beside the girl others called a freak simply because she projected an impenetrable image.
“I wanted to be enough for you. Strong enough. Man enough. Enough for you to find a reason to live again. To give you that courage and strength. But I know now, you’re the only one who can do that, Sunshine.”
The writing style was easy to get hooked on. Told through a mix of storytelling and memories, it felt like I was sitting in the room with Aubrey as she told her story. Knowing that there was a light somewhere in the dark of the story helped keep me going even when those darkest of moments hit. And there were some very dark moments where my heart was breaking and I was sobbing. It was not an easy emotional journey for Aubrey to travel. There was so much pain and loss in her life that there were times I wasn’t sure she would find the light again.
This was a dark, emotional roller coaster of a read. The glimpses of light throughout were enough to keep it from being a complete downer, but it was not an easy read by any means. But that resolution and the wrap up that happened in the epilogue was so worth all the pain I felt reading the journey.
Thanks to L. B. Simmons for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and holds a degree in Biomedical Science. She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.