Review & Giveaway: Out of Focus (Chosen Paths #3) by L.B. Simmons

"I've been watching you long enough to know something broke you. Something you keep hidden, something that weighs on your soul. You pretend, but your eyes betray you. There's pain hidden within them, but when you smile, really smile, the pain is gone and you're you. Not the person you pretend to be. And like I said earlier, I find that very interesting. I want to know what makes you smile, how to make you smile, and how to keep that smile a permanent fixture on that gorgeous face of yours. And more importantly, I want to know why you feel unworthy of that smile, and how to fix that too."

For years, Cassie Cooper has played the very convincing role of a confident young woman who couldn't care less about what others think regarding her actions. But in reality, underneath her bold façade, lies a very frightened, broken little girl who's suffocating under the weight of her secrets. Out of control, she continues whirling down her very treacherous path in search for anything that will numb her pain. But no one will ever know. With her mask securely in place, she keeps that little girl hidden, safe from the scrutiny of prying eyes. 

That is, until she meets Grady Bennett. 

The martial arts instructor doesn't just look at Cassie, he sees her.

And with painstaking patience as their relationship grows, Grady works to help Cassie see herself. Her ferocity. Her strength. Her ability to love and to smile. He pushes her to acknowledge and embrace what she really is . . . a survivor.

But when her walls are down and her vulnerabilities exposed, Cassie is forced to face her torturous past, causing her to lose sight and plummet once again into her void of emptiness.

Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to find the necessary strength to land safely.

And sometimes, life has to become completely Out of Focus in order to finally see. 

*** Upper New Adult Spinoff Standalone to the USA Today Bestselling Novel, Under the Influence*** 

***WARNING - The subject matter of this novel centers around the psychological effects due to sexual abuse experienced during childhood. For this reason, as well as sexual situations, language, and adult themes, suggested reading age is 17+.***

ONE CLICK this book NOW! 

Hello EPIC read!! Thanks for leaving me with one hell of a book hangover!! Seriously, two months later and I still can’t get you out of my head. I’m pretty sure you’ve wrecked me for all book couples to come. 

I’ve been sitting on this review for quite a while now, re-reading and re-writing it because I can’t seem to find just the right words to describe how perfect Out of Focus was. And I really want everyone who picks this book up to love it as much as I have. I want them to walk away with the same kind of FEELS that I did. I want them to be so damn moved by this writer and her perfectly flawed and beautiful characters that they can’t stop thinking about them. I want readers to be as consumed as I was. And most importantly, I want those who read this book to see that life isn’t always black and white. That there are many forms of gray. I want them to see that even when you are giving a shitty hand, life is what you make if it.

So without further ado...

Meet Cassie, our newest heroine. Some of you may already know her as Spencer's best friend from Under the Influence. I highly suggest stopping here if you haven't already read book two in the series. While Out of Focus could technically be read as a standalone, I wouldn't suggest reading it that way. In my opinion, the two books go hand in hand. OOF gives us just a small portion of Cassie, which is seen through her eyes. UIF gives us so much more, shown through the eyes of Spencer. And I think in order to feel the whole impact of this character's identity, you need to experience her through both sets of eyes. 

You'll quickly learn Cass is a tad bit broken. Okay, maybe a tad bit is an understatement. Cassie's crippled by her past. Her vision of the world is quite jaded, and in all honesty, who can blame her for the huge walls she has erected around her. Trust isn't a word in her vocabulary, unless it's referring to Spencer. Due to that, she's so guarded, keeping everyone at a huge distance. And no one outside of Spencer has breached these walls. EVER. Until she meets a certain hunky and steadfast defense training instructor. 

"I was broken a long time ago, and when I was put together again, I was forever changed. My broken self didn’t really piece back together in a way that allowed me to be the same as I was before. Feeling is something I stay far away from, because if I were to shatter again, I know with absolute certainty there would be no coming back from that."

Enter our knight in shining armor. As with L.B.'s other heroes, Grady was the perfect balance for Cassie. He was the peanut butter to her fluffernutter. The flip to her flop. The missing piece to her puzzle. I could go on but you get my drift. Our hero was quite swoon worthy; a true gentleman with a heart of gold. Grady melted my heart, as well as Cassie's, with his patience, love, and sincerity. He treated her like the absolute gem she was, showing our girl that she had so much worth, and he did this by being genuine in his words and actions. Never demanding or pushing for her to trust him, allowing for her to move at her own pace. Grady was the definition of ultimate book boyfriend. 

“I love you too, Cass. All of you. I need you to know that. Understand that. Hear me when I say, I love every single piece of you, broken or not. Can you trust me in that, sweetheart?...

And it kills me to have to say this, but you’re right. You’re forcing me to break that promise, because now I have to let you keep falling, sweetheart. It’s the only way for you to learn how to right yourself.”

And despite their major differences, they've demonstrated no matter how f&%$#@ up life is, there is someone out there for everyone. They’ve proven the old adage opposites really do attract. #Grassie are total #relationshipgoals! Out of Focus is a narrative near and dear to my heart, touching me on so much more than an emotional level. Cassie and Grady totally had me falling head over heels in love with them! I can say without a shadow of a doubt that you’ll be as captivated by them as I was. This couple and their all-consuming dynamics will leave you feeling thoroughly focused and satiated.

Just a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“I read an ungodly amount of trashy romance novels. I’m the overtly sexual and foul-mouthed friend who will say anything to get a laugh. And I have exactly zero fucks to give to what anyone else thinks about my actions... 

I read obsessively to escape my own world. To live the dreams of others when, for so long, the reoccurrence of my nightmares has been my reality. I read to fall in love and find a happily-ever-after, even if it is purely imagined. With each story I read, I’m able to live and love vicariously through the characters in my books. It’s the only plausible way for me to survive.”

“I’ve been watching you long enough to know something broke you. Something you keep hidden, something that weighs on your soul. You pretend, but your eyes betray you. There’s pain hidden within them, but when you smile, really smile, the pain is gone and you’re you. Not the person you pretend to be. And like I said earlier, I find that very interesting. I want to know what makes you smile, how to make you smile, and how to keep that smile a permanent fixture on that gorgeous face of yours. And more importantly, I want to know why you feel unworthy of that smile, and how to fix that too.” He gives me a crooked grin and shakes his head. “I guess what I’m saying, is I would very much like the chance to get to know you, if you’ll let me.”

“And regarding fucking you, as you so eloquently phrased it, that will happen only when you can give me all of you. Not the tiny bits of yourself that you offer here and there, but every single piece. Because when I take you, I need you to be there with me. Not in your head, thinking yourself unworthy and sabotaging us before we even get started. I need you to be there. With. Me.

I can see we aren’t there yet, but I can tell you, once we are, it’s going to be fucking phenomenal . . . and definitely worth the fight.”

“You always have a choice. It’s up to you. You can take this jump with me, a jump that has the potential to change your life, or you can say the word and I’ll take you back to the apartment...

But sometimes, Cass, you have to find the courage to take that leap. The fall may be scary as hell, but the landing is what really matters. Once your feet hit the ground, you know that no matter how afraid you were, you landed. You survived. You faced that fear, and you fucking conquered it. And in that moment, you’re awarded a sense of peace in knowing there’s absolutely nothing that can be thrown at you that you can’t handle.”
(covers linked for individual reviews)

Series review:

"Love. People toss the word around so freely, almost as though it’s merely an afterthought, but the power within that one word can change a life. It can be used to manipulate and control, or it can provide healing and soothe the wounds of the broken. - Out of Focus"

I'm calling it now, THIS series is my TOP READ of 2017

But...but...but, there's still over half a year left, you say. Yeah, I know. And that means nothing to me. Whether I found these books now or at the end of the year, I seriously can't imagine any other books hitting me in the feels the way this trio has. Each book, each couple absolutely consuming me. So much so, they aren't just "characters" to me. Aubrey, Dalton, and Cassie are mine and millions of other survivor’s stories. Their struggles, their weaknesses and strength, their abuse giving so many a voice that otherwise wouldn't be heard.

The Chosen Path is a series that will stay with me forever. The themes within holding a very real place in my soul, in my own personal experiences. I breathed and lived these enigmas. Aubrey, Dalton, and Cassie concrete in their actions, beliefs, and vitality. Each intricate character, well written and developed, abundant in tenacity, strength, bravery and spirit. Each action and reaction authentic. 

I celebrated their ups, as well as mourned their downs. I screamed at them to keep going when the world around them started to become too bleak to even dare try and hang on. I cheered them on when they found pieces of themselves they thought were lost to them forever. I grieved those harrowing moments as if I was the one going through all of the injustice and violations. My empathy and sympathy kicking in when all seemed so lost and crippling. I smiled huge when my heart would skip a beat during each moment of happiness and display of trust and love. 

With this series, L.B. delves below the surface showing us that we should never judge a book by its cover. That until you have walked a mile in a person’s shoes, you never know what kind of courage and belief it took for them to become who they are today.

The journeys within the Chosen Path won’t shelter you from the boogie man, instead each book brings you face to face with him, in some of the vilest ways imaginable. And in my humble opinion, this series is nothing short of striking. Beautiful in its execution. These characters are an emotional roller coaster filled to the brim with raw, gritty reality and a bone-deep pain you will feel straight down to your toes. They’re about finding light at the end of a very dark and crippling tunnel. They’re about breaking down the true meaning of love, family, and entity. They’re about the choices one makes in life; choosing whether to wallow or break the cycle. They’re about the long road ahead and discovering just how taxing recovery is. 

You’ll find amongst all the weighted heaviness, the messages L.B. Simmons delivers throughout this series are poignant and inspiring. They are uplifting. That underneath all of the pain and destructiveness these individuals experience are hearts that beat as warriors. Souls that plow through the darkness, enabling them to find their identity and true value beyond what nature told them they were worth, because lord knows nurture sure as he-double-LL dealt them one sh*&^ hand.
L.B. Simmons

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.

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Up for grabs are TWO SETS of The Chosen Paths Series by L.B. Simmons 
(Ebook | AMAZON ONLY | INT) 

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Age 18 and over please. Ecopy giveaways are international. Signed or paperback giveaways are US only unless otherwise specified. Giveaway will run 04/27/17 to 05/04/17 closing at 12:00 a.m. Winner will be notified via email. Winner has 48 hours to claim their prize; otherwise, a new winner will be chosen. Please allow time (up to two weeks, unless stated otherwise) for the delivery of your book. If you have not received your book within the started time please notify us. In addition, In addition, if the book has yet to release please keep in mind that the book will be distributed within two weeks of it's release date.


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