Blog Tour and Giveaway: Thoughtful: S.C. Stephens

THOUGHTFUL (Thoughtless #1.5) 
S.C. Stephens 
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(February 24, 2015; Forever Trade Paperback)
In Thoughtless, Kiera told her story. Now it's time to hear from the sexy rock star who captivated us all . . .

The only place Kellan Kyle has ever felt at home is onstage. Gripping his guitar in a darkened bar, he can forget his painful past. These days his life revolves around three things: music, his bandmates, and hot hookups. Until one woman changes everything . . . 

Kiera is the kind of girl Kellan has no business wanting-smart, sweet, and dating his best friend. Certain he could never be worthy of her love, he hides his growing attraction . . . until Kiera's own tormented heart hints that his feelings might not be one-sided. Now, no matter the consequences, Kellan is sure of one thing-he won't let Kiera go without a fight.
Determined to stop thinking, to just go with whatever happened, I dipped my finger into my drink and wet the backs of our hands. Kiera watched every move I made as I shook some salt over our hands. When she made no move to drink her shot, I broke the ice and took mine so she’d feel more comfortable about doing this with me. My throat was numb from doing Jäger shots all night, so it didn’t even burn. It burned for Kiera though.

Her tongue came out to lick the salt off her hand, her mouth opened to receive her drink, and her lips curled around the lime, squeezing its juices. It was an erotic thing to watch. Then her face twisted into a grimace. I chuckled at her reaction, then poured us another round.

The second shot went down easier for her. The third was even easier. We didn’t talk, just drank. And the more alcohol she consumed, the hungrier her eyes became. She was staring at me as tenaciously as the women in the bar did. I did my best to ignore it, but it was difficult to do…I wanted her to look at me like that. I wanted to look at her like that. But I wasn’t about to make any assumptions on what was going to happen tonight. We were just two friends sharing a drink. Two single friends who had almost shared a lot more recently…

By the fourth shot, the alcohol was getting to me. I spilled the tequila trying to pour it in those tiny little glasses. I laughed as I almost dropped the lime from my mouth. I was way beyond buzzing now.

On the fifth shot, everything changed. Just as I was bending down to lick the salt from my skin, Kiera took my hand and ran her tongue over the back of it. She was soft, wet, warm, and felt amazing on my sensitive body. I wanted her to keep doing it, but she pulled back to drink her tequila shot. When she placed her wedge of lime between my lips, my heart sped up. Was she…?

She was. Her mouth reached up to connect with mine. Our lips pressed together as she sucked on the lime. All I could taste was lime and her. It was an intoxicating combination. But it wasn’t nearly satisfying enough. I needed more.

My breath felt strained when Kiera pulled away. Ragged. She teasingly removed the lime from her mouth and set it on the counter. When she seductively licked her fingers, my resolve evaporated. I suddenly didn’t give a shit what we’d been before, or who we’d been with. I didn’t care if she’d dated Denny—that seemed like a long-past memory at the moment. I didn’t care about Evan’s warnings, my regrettable experience with bedding roommates, my promise to Denny to stay away, or my own decision to not cross that uncrossable line. Kiera kissed me. She wanted me. And fuck, I wanted her too.

I took my shot of tequila straight, slammed the glass on the counter, then pulled her back to my mouth, where she belonged.

Our lips moving together felt better than I had imagined. There was so much eager, pent-up passion, I felt like we were both going to burst into flames. I couldn’t get enough of her. My hand on the back of her neck tightened, drawing her in even closer. My other hand found the small of her back. Perfection.

I purposefully went into Thoughtful without doing a reread of the previous books. It has been a long time since I read Thoughtless so I was trying to see if I felt Thoughtful could stand well enough on its own in Kellan's point of view. I will preface it to stay I have always been a Kellan fan and have had a hate/like relationship with Kiera. 

Kellan Kyle is a lonely man who is searching for a connection that he is not sure he will ever find. He lives for his guitar and his band. He fills the void with music and meaningless hook-ups. His past has taught him that he is unworthy and unlovable. But when his old friend Denny moves in with Kellan and brings his girlfriend, Kiera, he is happy to not be as lonely anymore. 

But then everything changes. When seeing Kiera through Kellan's eyes initially she is sweet, funny, smart, shy and playful. From friendship to innocent touches to intense need, we feel Kellan's attraction and feelings grow for the forbidden Kiera. And we also are privy to his guilt and fear. My heart broke for Kellan. He almost always felt left out,  just not close enough, and second best. And I eventually came to hate Kiera all aver again for what she did to him--keeping him pulled in just enough to keep him ensnared, but still having a relationship with safer Denny too.

I loved getting into Kellan's head. His feelings ran so deep and he had trouble communicating them. It was interesting to see how Kellan's view of Denny and Kiera's relationship changed over the course of the book. In the beginning he was happy for his friend, but as soon as his feelings for Kiera grew it all became convoluted and more negative. From the innocence of their initial friendship with a connection, to jealousy over her attachment to Denny, to his complete fall into love with her. But also seeing his darker feelings of loneliness and rejection, lack of self worth, abandonment issues, feeling unloved, jealousy, hurt, fear, and anger. He felt is all so deeply and in this version we can clearly see that. In Kiera's version we just know some of his coping mechanisms--avoidance, lashing out, running away, distractions and trying to hurt her in return. But it was harder to see all these feelings boiling up in him making him act the way he did. He had trouble expressing himself leading to anger issues and poor coping with the situations. It was interesting to see his connection and love for Kiera from his side, and just how sure he was of his own feelings. And also see his little lies and manipulations trying to make the situation more tolerable. I loved that in many of the situations where we previously only knew what he actually said, this version also has his underlying thoughts in italics so we get all of the unspoken words and feelings too. Many of those were more intense than what actually came out of his mouth and showed his depth of feelings and desperation at times. I loved seeing his broken parts, his vulnerablity, his ability to cry and be emotional, and I enjoyed every shred of happiness he found along the way.

With that being said, I have to admit that sometimes I missed Kiera's point of view. Mainly because she was the bridge between Denny and Kellan. So it was easier to see how some situations occurred in her point of view as she volleyed in between them and was relating to both of them. Where in Kellan's point of view, he did not always know what was going on her relationship with Denny and he was unable to consistently read Kiera's changing moods and behavior. I did actually go back and read one pivotal scene from Thoughtless because I really needed to remember more specifically what was going on with Kiera and Denny at the time to make her act the way she did. 

I loved getting more with the D-Bags Griffin, Matt, and Evan and seeing the beginnings of their relationships with their future girlfriends. I love the camaraderie of the band, their funny banter, and the fact that they loved and supported Kellan in a way that no one in his life really did. I think his version really showcased his closeness with the guys, especially Evan. And we also got to see just how important Denny had been in Kellan's life and how that impacted his feelings of guilt and betrayal.

This was emotional, heartfelt, passionate, and equally as angsty and frustrating as the original. It just gave us a new spin and different view. And it made me love Kellan even more. And Kiera still remains on my heroines that annoy me list (I don't think I really started liking her until Reckless). I had no problem following the plot with just his point of view and technically it can stand alone, but honestly I think it works best as a companion novel so that you get the full story from both sides. Sometimes I have a problem with male point of view books written later and worry that they will be a rehash. But I think this one did have purpose, brought us closer to Kellan, and gave us more depth to their story. It was a bit long and so sometimes I felt like maybe it dragged a bit. It has been so long since I read Thoughtless so it was hard for me to determine how much new information was provided. But Kellan fans will be thrilled to get to get deeper into his head and his heart. Kellan Kyle is one book boyfriend that will always be high on my favorites list and I enjoyed spending more time with him. I am looking forward to Griffin's upcoming book. 

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

Kellan Kyle always wanted to feel needed, belonging, and a sense of family. His own family and childhood were not pleasant, and as an adult he searches for that belonging that he missed as a child. When Denny, as near to a brother as Kellan had as a child, moves to town and into Kellan’s spare bedroom, Kellan meets Kiera, Denny’s girlfriend.

Kellan and Kiera develop a fragile friendship, and eventually an intimate relationship. Both Kellan and Kiera struggle with the guilt and insecurity that come from going behind Denny’s back and not knowing where they stand together.

This took me a long time to read. While it is longer than many other novels, it wasn’t the length that made reading Thoughtful feel long. Knowing exactly where they story was going, and waiting for the pivotal scenes, I felt like I wasn’t getting a whole lot of new material. Though it was from a different perspective, because it rehashes their beginning, a story that was very thoroughly told in Thoughtless, I couldn’t get passed the feeling that I had read this before. The angst was still there, only instead of being torn between two men, it is the pain of watching someone while not being able to have them.

Particular scenes were priceless to read in Kellan’s voice. But for the most part, I could have done without the repetition. I will say that the last 15-20% was my favorite part of the book, and I’m glad I continued to get to that point.

I was reminded that as much as I loved Kellan Kyle, as much as I loved the D-Bags, I wasn’t in love with Kellan and Kiera’s story, nor was I in love with Kiera. In fact, my dislike of Kiera was only reinforced by this alternate point of view.

The angst was just as tumultuous here as it was in the original story, but this time readers don’t see the connection between Denny and Kiera, because Kellan doesn’t want to see it. There were moments I almost didn’t like Kellan. He is so focused on Kiera, on not having Kiera, that at times he feels whiny and emo, and that is not the Kellan that I remember. Desperate. Insecure. Feel like Denny became a non-issue in this. Kellan deals with his feelings about hurting Denny different than Kiera did.

In the end? I still want more of the D-Bags and their girls, but I can safely say I think Kellan and Kiera’s story has fully been told. Fans of the series will love this story as a companion to the original trilogy and it does stand alone nicely.

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

I was a little apprehensive about reading Thoughtful; I don’t normally have good luck when it comes to versions of the originals told from the male’s point of view. The first time I read Thoughtless I wanted to chuck my table at someone, preferably Kiera. I wasn’t sure I could take another round of agony and frustration all over again. However, its Kellan Kyle; therefore, no way was I going to miss getting more of my ultimate favorite bad boy. I figured it was a sacrifice I was willing to suffer through if need be.

Glad to say there was no sacrificing or suffering. 

As far as male points of views go, I felt, Ms. Stephens gave us a pretty damn good book.While there were some love/hate moments, I didn't come out at the end with any regrets. As with the original book, there were still the same obstacles to be faced, indecisiveness, betrayals to overcome, resentment, and intrigue. We were just engaged and captivated by them through a different set of eyes. I was wicked excited to find Stephen’s provided us with plenty of new material mixed in with the old (one of my worries). Most times these types of stories make you feel as though you are on repeat. That was not the case with Thoughtful.

There were many details I LOVED experiencing from Kell’s point of view. It was definitely an insightful and intriguing ride peering inside the mentality of one of the book world’s most popular heroes. I have to admit, S.C. Stephens gave us pure perfection when she let her readers into his intricate mind! It’s no wonder Kellan is still my all-time favorite book boyfriend. This is one man who never fails to pull at every single one of my heartstrings, making me ache not just for his pain but for his devotion and love as well. Kellan’s character is just so poignant and all-consuming that it is wicked hard not to fall for this cocky, damaged, and unforgettable rock star. Once again, Kellan left my mind reeling and my panties melting. 

Then there were the moments I actually missed having their story told from Kiera’s side of things. Even though, she truly pushed the boundaries of my tolerance, her version provided me with so much more angst and emotional upheaval. Those hot and cold bumps in the road held a totally different meaning and vision. Thoughtless made me experience that wild going out of your mind sensation, provoking a myriad of vivid feels; it absolutely wrecked me, and left me feeling I was mind f***ed. Unfortunately, Thoughtful did not have that same exact effect. Their fight and flight did not feel as though it held as much power or ferocity this time around. It was almost as though I was reading a comfortable companion, one that filled in the missing blanks, but didn't leave me with that carried away reaction. I truly missed the intensity, the angst, and the rich depth and definition Denny, Kiera, and Kellan provided to us in their original form. That’s not saying that we didn’t still get this, because we most certainly did, it’s just that it felt watered down in the carousel of feelings department compared to Thoughtless. 

Kiera still annoyed the living daylights out of me. Kellan was still an enigma to be reckoned with. With that said, I enjoyed this book for what it was. It was nice being back with the gang again. I almost forgot how entertaining our favorite D-Bags can be. Griff definitely leaves a taste in your mouth, not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Can't wait for his book. He's up next ladies! It will be interesting to see where she takes the Hulk and his girls from here.

If you are a new reader to this series, I would not suggest reading this before Thoughtless. In my opinion, to grasp the full appreciation of all things Kellan and Kiera, you need to read the books in the order they were written. I don’t doubt this will be on my rereads list. I would definitely recommend this book to diehard fans. I can see myself rereading it alongside Thoughtless time and time again.

Thank you, Forever (Grand Publishing), for a complimentary copy of Thoughtful.
Series info on Author's website 

Thoughtless (book 1): Goodreads/Amazon/B&N
Effortless (book 2): Goodreads/Amazon/B&N
Reckless (book3): Goodreads/ Amazon/B&N

S.C. Stephens   

S. C. Stephens is a #1 bestselling author who spends her every free moment creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance.  In addition to writing, she enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading, listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with her friends and family.  She and her two children reside in the Pacific Northwest.
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