Release Day Post and Reviews: Grace for Drowning: Maya Cross

Grace for Drowning 
Genre: Contemporary Fighter Romance 
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Release Date: June 28th 

Hope is a dangerous thing. I know that more than most. Everything good I've ever had has been stolen from me — my friends, my fiance, my innocence, some would say even my sanity. All I have left is the cage. Fighting is the only thing that eases the ache inside me even a little. It’s the only thing that keeps the bottle at bay. 

I was content to ride out my life alone. I was done dreaming that things could be better. But then I met Grace, and suddenly, all I could do was dream. 

She's battling those same demons, only she's losing. I don’t want to care, but something about her calls to me. That pain in her eyes is so sharp, so familiar. I know it’s only a matter of time before it pulls her below the surface. 

I can help her, and maybe, just maybe, she can help me too. For the first time in what feels like forever, I’ve got hope, and that scares the hell out of me. 

This is a full length novel with no cliffhanger. There will be a sequel, but this book resolves all the story elements by the end. It is written with dual perspectives, so both Logan and Grace get their say. 
I gave a tiny shake of my head. It felt like a big gesture, one that should have set the earth shaking and the sky falling, but it was strangely liberating at the same time. A moment of clarity in an ocean of confusion. I wanted him. I couldn’t deny that anymore. I wanted everything those absent words implied. His hands on my body, his lips on mine. I knew that given a few days, a few hours, maybe even a few minutes, my pain and self-loathing would resurface and start sabotaging this again, but right now, in that moment, I was free of that.

Before I could talk myself out of it, I lunged towards him. He was so tall that I had to stretch up onto my toes, wrapping my hands around his neck to pull his mouth down to mine. It sent a powerful longing through me, that height, that sheer bulk. I normally hate to be reminded how diminutive I am, but I liked how small he made me feel. There was something strangely comforting about it.

His body stiffened and he mumbled a curse against my lips. For a moment, he barely moved. I could feel the war playing out behind his eyes. But then the fight drained out of him, and his arms enveloped me as he began kissing me back with an urgency strong enough to be almost frightening. Part of me expected it to feel wrong, a betrayal of everything I’d had with Tom, but instead my body simply melted against his like it had always been there, and all other thoughts disappeared.

All my other first kisses had been timid affairs, but this was something else entirely, fierce and hungry; an explosion of everything that was simmering inside us. Though I’d initiated it, Logan quickly seized control. This wasn’t a man who simply stood by and had things happen to him. Leather-rough palms ran amok across my back and shoulders, pulling me against him as though he was afraid I’d be snatched away at any moment. I moaned involuntarily into his mouth as his tongue darted and teased. In some distant part of me I felt ashamed, but it was dwarfed by the fire that was coursing through my veins. I’d never been kissed like that before. Not by Tom. Not by anybody. It felt like a matter of need rather than want. Life or death.

I’d seen him shirtless plenty of times of course, but the sight was different now. Erotic, sensual, and above all, mine. I could barely breathe for how magnificent he looked. Sculpted and tanned and lit with moonlight; a living breathing Greek statue. I wanted to touch all of him, to feel each inch between my fingers, in my mouth, in every part of me. I’d never been so intoxicated by another human being.

My hands took on a mind of their own, dancing hungrily across his bare chest. His muscles were so hard, like his entire body was just skin stretched over stone sculpture. Everything inside me seemed to clench as my fingers took it all in, the perfectly defined grooves between his pecs and his abs, the mountainous curl of his biceps. He was still slick with sweat and hot from the night’s exertion, but that only excited me more. Images played through my head of him in the arena, his body a perfect primal machine leveling all of that power at his opposition.

My lack of control seemed to trigger something in Logan. He reached for my shirt, tugging it over my head, and then his hands turned ravenous, squeezing my breasts, my ass, the curve of my hips. It felt like his fingers were everywhere at once, and my body tingled and burned in response. It was so good to be touched again. I hadn’t realized how long it had been or how much I missed it, but there was something exquisite about it — a tactile euphoria that kept me centered in that perfect moment and scattered all my problems to the wind.

He broke away, breathing heavily, his face twisted into some bizarre combination of pain and desire. Pressing his forehead against mine he locked eyes with me. “Are you sure?” His voice was low, the primordial growl of a man who was just below the cusp where words were no longer relevant.

“I’m sure.”

Putting two people with our issues together was a fucking powder keg. I wanted to help her, not damage her more. 

Grace is struggling. She is trying to start a new life after going through a dark few months after her world was shattered. The fall out is overwhelming and she is having issues coping in unhealthy ways. She begins a new job different than her previous one, but at least it is a positive step.

Something about the new bartender, Grace, captivates Logan, the bouncer. He sees her continued battle and coping mechanisms. He has his own demons and usually stays detached, but feels compelled to help her.

Maybe I just don't like sitting by and watching somebody else drowning.

Logan "Blackjack" Anderson is also a trained fighter. He works, he trains, but lives a solitary existence. Grace has suffered loss and is alone as well. Their interactions are tentative, stilted, and awkward. But Logan always seems to be there in the background and they find themselves drawn together. 

Logan is a gentle giant. He is big, powerful, tough, but understanding, intuitive and supportive. He can read the pain and hurt mirrored in Grace and he pushes into her life to help "save her". He has his own demons and daily struggles stemming from his past military, relationships, and addiction. But he still puts himself out there for Grace. He is one of those characters that you just cannot help but fall for due to all the good characteristics he shows, but then it breaks your heart to see his underlying hurt and insecurities. 

Grace is sinking and drowning, but still hesitates at first to take Logan's hand. But once she does, he becomes her anchor. Her protects her, supports her, and pushes her. There is underlying sexual tension, but also denial and resistance. They are both cautious and confused, but have an underlying need. When they are good, it is heart warming and beautiful. But when they are faced with difficult situations, it is frustrating and heart breaking. Their connection is healthy in some ways and causes more stress in others. 

We were two broken halves making something that vaguely resembled a whole. Well adjusted Grace and decorated soldier Logan didn't belong together. She'd never get me without the shit she'd been through, and I'd never get her without mine. Pain has a way of stripping you down, burning away your masks until it's just the core that's left. We found each other because of that...

They both have demons. They both need patience, time and understanding. They have to let go of guilt, deal with personal issues, and handle the other's problems to even attempt to find balance. It deals with anger, guilt, loss, and acceptance. They both makes mistakes, have failures, and disappointments. They both are affected strongly by their past and in need of a savior at times. And it is a matter of if they are strong enough to be there during both the bad and the good times, and be able to handle them together and fight for what they want. But it is also a story of wading through the pain to find a path towards new beginnings, hope, and redemption. 

"...People always use the phrase 'move on' in situations like this, but that's bullshit. You never move on from anything. That's what people are, just layers of all the shit that's happened to them before. You don't need to move on, you need to keep building more layers...."
This book could have been really dark and depressing, but I did not find it to be. I could see the good and hope in them even if it was buried under armor and issues. And the way it was written, it did not drag you down or depress you, but made you want to keep finding that lightness and healing.  It was told in both points of view allowing you to understand their deep hurts and fears. I really connected with the characters, their complicated back stories, and emotional turmoil. There were some mysteries that were revealed throughout the story and some twists that added more interest. And I felt like it was a poignant, deep, heartfelt read.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

When I read the synopsis for Grace for Drowning, I imagined a dark, emotional tale. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the darkness wasn't nearly as complete as I had expected. Instead, I found two characters with flaws and weaknesses who found healing in each other. It was still plenty emotional, but not nearly as dark as I had anticipated.

Grace is barely hanging on. She has already lost one job and is just hoping she can keep her head above water at this new job bartending. But despite trying to hide her demons, she is nearly swallowed by them once again, until Logan steps in and tried to save her from herself. 

Logan has his own demons he has battled and in Grace he sees the chance to share what he has learned. Because he seemed so strong, it was easy to forget that he was hiding his own demons from Grace and doing his best not to show weakness to her. 

Together Grace and Logan work together. Logan knows what Grace is dealing with, and Grace makes Logan forget the pain he's felt. I loved the support each provided in those weak moments along the way. But just when things seemed to be going smooth, things happen that neither character could foresee. 

When things get tough, I quickly got mad at Logan. His reaction to the conflict shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did, as he himself called it, but man I had hoped together he and Grace would have been strong enough to keep each other level. 

Because I spent so much of the book feeling like things were sailing along nicely I was blindsided by the way the last 20% happened. It was severe. It was emotional. It was unexpected. But it was also needed. Without that final quarter of the book, it would have been too easy. Too soft. Too convenient. As it was, the end added a great conflict between the characters that had so far been missing. There was plenty of conflict with outside forces, but between Grace and Logan, things had been too smooth. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Maya Cross

Maya Cross is a writer who enjoys making people blush. Growing up with a mother who worked in a book store, she read a lot from a very young age, and soon enough picked up a pen of her own. She’s tried her hands at a whole variety of genres including horror, science fiction, and fantasy, but funnily enough, it was the sexy stuff that stuck. She has now started this pen name as an outlet for her spicier thoughts (they were starting to overflow). She likes her heroes strong but mysterious, her encounters sizzling, and her characters true to life. 

She believes in writing familiar narratives told with a twist, so most of her stories will feel comfortable, but hopefully a little unique. Whatever genre she's writing, finding a fascinating concept is the first, and most important step. 

The Alpha Group is her first attempt at erotic romance. 

When she's not writing, she's playing tennis, trawling her home town of Sydney for new inspiration, and drinking too much coffee.

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