Blog Tour and Giveaway: Unraveled: Jen Frederick

The Woodlands book 3
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RELEASE DATE: January 20th

Twenty-five-year-old Sgt. Gray Phillips is at a crossroads in his life: stay in the Marine Corps or get out and learn to be a civilian? He’s got forty-five days of leave to make up his mind but the people in his life aren’t making the decision any easier. His dad wants him to get out; his grandfather wants him to stay in. And his growing feelings for Sam Anderson are wreaking havoc with his heart…and his mind. He believes relationships get ruined when a Marine goes on deployment. So now he’s got an even harder decision to make: take a chance on Sam or leave love behind and give his all to the Marines.

Twenty-two year old Samantha Anderson lost her husband to an IED in Afghanistan just two months after their vows. Two years later, Sam is full of regrets—that she didn't move with her husband to Alaska; that she allowed her friends to drift away; that she hasn't taken many chances in life. Now, she's met Gray and taking a risk on this Marine could be her one opportunity to feel alive and in love again. But how can she risk her heart on another military man who could share the same tragic fate as her husband?

Sam and Gray together:

“I’ve been watching you all night.” His mouth was right above the tip of my ear and I felt something crack inside me, a fissure was forming in the mask I’d donned earlier today or perhaps his breath, his touch, his words were simply hastening the demise of the barriers I’d held between myself and everyone else for two years. Because inside my body, it felt like there was an awakening and every fiber of my being reached toward him, upward and outward as if I was a flower on the first day of a spring rain. I lifted my head to gaze up, wide-eyed and anxious with anticipation.

Some part of my brain was telling me that the storage closet was just two steps to my right at the end of the hallway and the exit door was just beyond that. My Rover was outside and all three were safer than standing here almost in his embrace but I couldn’t hear the warning over the pounding of my heartbeat. He bent toward me, his face serious and even in the low light of the corner I could see the gold flecks feathering out from the center of his eyes.

“I'm going to kiss you now.” His voice was deep, rough and matched the rest of his thoroughly masculine body.

“I know,” I whispered back. And I wanted that kiss from Gray who ordinarily wouldn't be my type at all. I wanted it more than I wanted to breath. When his mouth molded against mine, it felt like bliss as if my whole cold body had been submerged into a warm bath. If I thought I was engulfed before it was nothing like I felt at that moment. My entire world—my thoughts, my feelings, my senses—were full of him. I tasted the mint and hops on his tongue. I inhaled the cinnamon, bergamot, ocean of his faint cologne into my airways. I felt the calloused palm on my waist and then lower against the exposed skin of my thigh. His dense muscles were drawn tight under his skin and the fabric of his t-shirt and he felt as strong as a citadel. The moan that had been building since he first backed me into the wall escaped. It had been so long since I’d had the touch of a man’s hand on any part of me and I nearly wept at the pleasure of it.

Dream Character Casting:

Sgt. Gray Phillips (Kellan Lutz)

Samantha Anderson (Shailene Woodley)

We met Gray in Unspoken as a friend of Noah and Bo's from the Marines. In this story, he is on a forty-five day special leave from the Marines so he goes to visit Noah and Bo and enjoy some down time while trying to figure out if he will re-enlist or leave the service.

Sam is a young, lonely war widow who works at a bar where the guys hang out. She lost her best friend/young husband in Afghanistan and has basically just shut down for the past couple of years.

Neither of them is looking for a relationship. But their chemistry is hard to resist. They are both in need of a temporary fix to scratch the itch. They have several false starts and misunderstandings and even try to avoid the situation at times.  But they can't stop thinking about each other. 

"Sam. I don't know what's going on between us but this is too damn good not to explore, even temporarily."

He's a man at a crossroads trying to decide what direction his future will take. She's safe and grounded but craves adventure. He loves the adrenaline rush and challenge. But they are also both afraid of relationships and commitment. He has been burned in the past and has trust issues. She has felt loss and pain that caused her to quit really living. They know they have a timeline and as the clock ticks down, they realize that they feel more than they should. 

I recognized grief and loss and sorrow and pain. I lived with it for years. Those feelings were intimate friends of mine and they dogged Gray too. 

Can they push past their fears of relationships and their ghosts from the past to move forward together or will it all just be temporary. 

Gray was charismatic and swoon-worthy. He totally thought he could resist entanglements. He has such fears, but he just got sucked right in by Sam. Underneath his tough Marine exterior, he is sweet, funny, thoughtful, and caring. Sure he makes some poor decisions, but he is generally a good guy who is just confused about what he really wants. 

Sam had been through so much at such a young age and was just finding her feet again. She is the calm, stable girl who knits as a hobby. But she is now ready to try to be more spontaneous and take more risks and Gray is the perfect guide. But she also knows the heartbreak of being tied to a military man.

"You know you're my adventure."
"And you know I'll keep you safe."

Together they have a good rapport, strong chemistry, and an intense connection. They fell into an easy relationship without trying. Unfortunately they are also both affected by some fears and insecurities from past experience. And of course they had some issues that caused tension, avoidance, drama, and pain. They frustrated me a few times with miscommunication, but overall I liked them. There were some moments that were totally sweet and swoony, and quite a few sexy times too. 

I enjoyed spending time with Noah, Grace, Bo and AnnMarie as well as Adam. Adam was featured a bit more in this one as he hung out at the bar a lot. Their rapport, teasing, humor are so much fun. And I love seeing the happy couples together and interacting. We met a new character, Sam's brother-in-law, Tucker who has leading man potential.  Like the other books in this series, this one was sweet, humorous, moving, sexy and romantic. It was not quite as dark and angsty as Unspoken. It was a quieter, sweeter read with only mild angst, but still enjoyable.  I look forward to more in this Woodlands series...we still need Finn, Adam, and Mal for sure...

Thanks to Jen Frederick for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review. 

Having just finished the first two Woodlands books, I was excited to continue with the series. Unraveled is a story about two people learning to trust and love again.Sam is a young widow, tired of being identified as only that one aspect of her life. Gray is at a crossroads as a Marine - re-enlist or separate and become a civilian. Neither plant find love in the other, in fact, they both start the book identifying the others' "type" as not for them. 

I know what it feels like to be in true love. It's not just the longing for a body next to you, but his particular body.

I liked that even though Sam was married once before, she never disputes what she felt for Will as anything but love. She doesn't deny that her first marriage was based on love, an easy brush off that often happens when a character has a new love. It left that first love as part of her past without weakening her past feelings and for some reason that really resonated with me. Instead, she recognizes that she did love him but that because he died so young she has to move on. 

Initially I was wary about Gray being the hero in this book. I mean, as far as the men of Woodlands, he was a new arrival and a temporary one at that. I wasn't sold prior to reading, mostly because I was really hoping this third book would be Finn or Mal's. But by the time I was a few chapters in, Gray was it for me and I couldn't imagine reading any one else's story at this point. There was limited appearances by Adam, Finn and Mal, but Bo and Noah do make several cameos as friends of Gray. He may not be a permanent resident of Woodlands, but he fits in with the guys well and made it his place while he was there.

Overall this was a great smooth read and I once again enjoyed my time at the Woodlands house. I loved that despite so many miscommunications and miscues between Gray and Sam, the story never felt overdramatic or full of angst. I can't even say that any mixed signals sent bothered me in this case, after learning the background of each character. The set up and plot events felt true to the characters' personalities with nothing forced or created simply to fill space. It was just a great, enjoyable read and I look forward to the next in the series.

Thanks to Jen Frederick for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review. 

Other books in this series:
Note: Although these books are part of a series, they do not need to be read in order

Undeclared (Book One)
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For four years, Grace Sullivan wrote to a Marine she never met, and fell in love. But when his deployment ended, so did the letters. Ever since that day, Grace has been coasting, academically and emotionally. The one thing she’s decided? No way is Noah Jackson — or any man — ever going to break her heart again.

Noah has always known exactly what he wants out of life. Success. Stability. Control. That’s why he joined the Marines and that’s why he’s fighting his way — literally — through college. Now that he’s got the rest of his life on track, he has one last conquest: Grace Sullivan. But since he was the one who stopped writing, he knows that winning her back will be his biggest battle yet.

Unspoken  (Book Two)
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Whore. Slut. Typhoid Mary.
I've been called all these at Central College. One drunken night, one act of irresponsible behavior, and my reputation was ruined. Guys labeled me as easy and girls shied away. To cope, I stayed away from Central social life and away from Central men, so why is it that my new biology lab partner is so irresistible to me?

He's everything I shouldn't want. A former Marine involved in illegal fighting with a quick trigger temper and an easy smile for all the women. His fists aren't the danger to me, though, it's his charm. He's sliding his way into my heart and I'm afraid that he's going to be the one to break me.

Impulsive. Unthinking. Hot tempered.
I allow instinct to rule my behavior. If it feels good, do it, has been my motto because if I spend too much time thinking, I'll begin to remember exactly where I came from. At Central College, I've got fighting and I've got women and I thought I was satisfied until I met her.

She's everything I didn't realize I wanted and the more time I spend with her, the more I want her. But she's been hurt too much in the past and I don't want to be the one to break her. I know I should walk away, but I just can't.

Bonus Content: Upon reaching the USA Today Bestselling milestone, I wrote a 10,000 word epilogue as a thank you to the readers who loved and supported Unspoken.  I posted it for free on my blog but at the urging of readers, I have added it to the original version. 

Note: This is a New Adult Contemporary Romance with mature content and sexually explicit scenes. 91,000+ words. Standalone novel.

Jen Frederick 

Jen Frederick lives with her husband, child, and one rambunctious dog.  She's been reading stories all her life but never imagined writing one of her own. Jen loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at jen@jenfrederick.com.

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