Release Day Promo and Reviews: Vital Sign: J.L. Mac

Vital Sign
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I used to have a great life. My little world was bright. I had no complaints. My perfectly simple life made the fall from grace that much more devastating. I plummeted from the heavenly little bubble that I shared with Jake. I fell fast and hard straight into the fiery pits of hell. The knowledge of how things used to be is a bittersweet torture that refuses me even one moment of respite. I live in a painful reverie that I can’t escape. 
I had it good once.

That’s gone now. 

All of it disappeared like vapor into the ether. I’m a lost woman, wandering through grief and struggling to come to terms with my new title: widow. My family says I need understanding and closure. I say a cigarette and a bottle of wine is a much better option for instant gratification.

I’m the awkward, depressed one standing in the corner making everyone around me miserably uncomfortable. I’m the one with vacant eyes that society strives to help but can’t. I’m the one who hands out tight smiles and derisive snorts. I’m the widow adrift in this world with no direction. No meaning. No hope. No vital sign.

Sadie sets out on a journey to healing without knowing that things will get far worse before they get better. Despite her general indifference to organ donation, she finds herself on a journey to seek out the only people who benefited from her husband’s tragic death.

Resentment runs rampant as she meets the thriving organ recipients. Anger and jealousy spiral, sending the delicate structure of Sadie’s emotions into a tailspin.

Alexander McBride got a second chance—one that he didn’t necessarily want. Alexander is a game changer for Sadie. She hates him for his health but can’t help feeling at home in his presence. He soothes her grief in a way that is intoxicating, addictive even.

The heart that once fell in love with her now resides in Alexander McBride’s chest. It’s a circumstance that forces her to wage an internal war fueled by grief, anger, guilt, love, lust, and loyalty.

Sadie must discover the things that are vital to going on with her life if she has any hope of finding her way through the all-consuming grief that dominates every waking moment.

Being a police officer came with its job hazards. Some were far worse than others. Some were the types that left my sweet husband restless and locked within the confines of his mind with the awful things that his line of work sometimes forced his eyes to see. I couldn’t help him un-see all the dreadfulness, but I did what I could. 

I stood guard like only a woman knows how. I wasn’t brooding or territorial. I wasn’t pushy or incessant. No. I was tender and attentive. I watched and I waited. I held Jake to me when life leeched the spark from his eyes. I kissed his forehead when he needed a gentle touch to remind him that the world may have more bad than good, but I was his good. I’d always be his good. And when times came where no words nor actions were needed, I stood vigilant, my silent presence beside him a testament to what I vowed on our wedding day. It seemed to be all he needed. It seemed to soothe whatever worried him. It was all he wanted and keeping his head and heart safe was all I wanted. I kept that heart safe before, Zander’s heart, when it was Jake’s, and my reflexes haven’t changed. If anything, they’ve intensified.

This book grabbed me from the first page, had me totally on guard, then ripped me apart. We learned what happened on the fateful night that ruined Sadie's life.

And then two years later, at the insistence of her concerned family, Sadie is on a journey to meet several of the people helped through her husband, Jake's organ donation. 

She is angry, depressed, lost, and striking out. Her life has no meaning for her. She sees nothing good or beautiful in the fact that these people lived due to Jake's death. 

But then she meets Alexander Hamilton, one of the recipients. He is charismatic, handsome, alpha-like, and has a bit of an attitude himself. He isolates himself and feels guilt about his past and current situation. He thinks he is unworthy of his second chance and has secrets. 

She is drawn to him although she does not want to be. It makes her feel more guilty, confused and edgy. He feels an immediate pull to her as well, but sees her turmoil and pain.

They both are bothered, broken, and stuck. But something about the other compels them and causes dormant feelings and reactions to awaken.

I loved Zander. His unfiltered thoughts and determined alpha personality made me smile. He had a checkered past, notariety, and family issues. These were slowly unraveled throughout the story. But he had such guilt about the past that he just withdrew into himself. His vulnerability and self hatred broke my heart. I just wanted to soothe him. 

Sadie was a bit much to take at times. Her own depression, guilt, loss, and self loathing was hard to handle. But it was understandable due to what she had been through and the depth of her loss. But she also had a snarky and sarcastic sense of humor that broke through at times. She had a long emotional journey and needed to face who she had become. And Zander gave her reason to take a closer look at her life and consider making difficult changes. 

Their path was in no way easy or uncomplicated. They both had such emotional baggage, fears, and insecurities that they had to overcome in their own ways and own time. They struggled, pushed, pulled, denied, became consumed, and scared each other senseless. But they also challenged each other to break free of the past binding them and strangling the life out of them. 

This was raw, angry, powerful and heart breaking. But it was also an inspirational story of healing, hope, and second chances. They were two broken people unable to move forward alone, but somehow helped the other begin to face their lives, begin to heal, and move on. It was emotional and dark at times, but funny, sweet, sexy and hopeful at others. 

This had a unique and intriguing plot line and characters with real depth, flaws, and personal demons. My emotions were all over the place. I loved getting both of their points of view so I could see their inner conflicts and true feelings. I was completely invested in their story the entire time. I got frustrated and sad at times, but also smiled, swooned, and fell for the broken hero with a slightly used heart of gold. 

Thanks to J. L. Mac for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. 

My world revolved around that heart. He carries it now, but I’ve carried that heart too. I was once responsible for seeing that it was kept safe. Just in a different way.

Two years after the murder of her husband, Sadie Parker is still deeply grieving his loss. He was her best friend, her first love, her whole world. Trying to help her grieve, her family encourages Sadie to contact the recipients of Jake’s organs. She is has withdrawn from everyone around her, and agrees only to appease her family. When she meets the man who received her husband’s heart, the shell she’s built around herself begins to crack as her curiosity about the man grows.

Zander has withdrawn in his own way. Having changed his entire lifestyle after his heart transplant, he lives separate from his family, isolated in his beach house. But in each other, they find something that makes sense. 

Zander intrigued me from the moment he entered the story. He seems to be feeling a guilt/remorse about receiving the second chance at life but the reason behind that emotion is not clear. His actions towards Sadie, while hiding certain aspects of the transplant and his past, all point towards a man unsure of how to help Sadie heal while not letting her go. 

The emotional bond between Zander and Sadie forms really quickly. From their initial meeting, both are fighting unfamiliar feelings. For Zander it is the desire to protect Sadie. For Sadie, it is the draw she feels towards Zander despite holding on to Jake. From those first feelings more develop, forcing both to confront things they’d rather leave untouched.

“Whatever this is between us, it’s inescapable. You can deny me if you insist, but that’s one truth that neither one of us can deny.”

While the point of view shifts between Sadie and Zander, this is heavily weighted towards Sadie’s journey. The focus remains fully on their relationship and Sadie’s grief throughout. There are scenes with their families, to juxtapose just how different their experiences have been, but the family characters remain outside the meat of the story. The one side character that I loved to pieces was Dawn, the hotel owner Sadie meets when she goes to Tybee. Their conversation over breakfast was a much needed influence and the ripples from that one conversation come back time and again through the rest of the book. 

This was an emotional read with hope and healing along the way. While it seemed to be a case of insta-love, the journey was far from over when the characters met and what looked like a quick tumble into love turned into a struggle through grief, guilt, and letting go. 

Thanks to J. L. Mac for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. 

J.L. Mac Facebook † Twitter † Blog † Goodreads

USA Today Best Selling Author,J.L. Mac is twenty-seven years old and currently resides in El Paso, Texas, where she enjoys living near her family. She was born and raised in Galveston, Texas. J.L. admittedly has had a long and sordid love affair with the written word and has loved every minute of it. She drinks too many glasses of wine on occasion,and says way too many swear words to be considered “lady-like.” J.L. spends her free time reading, writing, and playing with her children.
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