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LIFE ON THE LEVEL
LIFE ON THE LEVEL
On the Verge #3
Releasing Feb 23rd, 2016
River Thomas was born a wild card. Her mother left before River hit puberty, and her alcoholic father raised her to have the best poker face in the city, but when he dies unexpectedly, River's already dangerous lifestyle spirals out of control. Six months sober, she relapses, and the resulting bender ends with her on the run from a guy looking to settle a score.
She wants to be better--needs to be better--before she ends up like her dad. The road leads her to Sun Valley, Montana, where she checks herself into a rehab center. But before her first night, she decides to go for a last hurrah, and the beautiful stranger at the bar is just what the doctor ordered.
She leaves before sunrise, and starts her ninety-day program, still thinking of his face. But her last hurrah with the guy of her dreams is also a counselor and extremely off-limits.
Their attraction is too strong to ignore, and soon she finds herself gambling with the one thing she never thought she would—her heart.
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*ARC copy received in exchange for an honest review*
This Book Nerd Says:
Let's kick this off with some blunt honesty. I've waited for this book ever since I finished the last page of the previous book (Love On The Ledge). My anticipation and expectation were probably at epic levels by the time I actually picked up my kindle and settled into the read. Walking into the read with such a high expectation could have backfired...
but it didn't.
Life on the Level is yet another stunning example of why I love this series so much. Cordova continues to seamlessly weave diversity into the tapestry of this series in a very much appreciated nod to real life. Her characters are beautifully flawed and her leading men are the best kind of book boyfriends out there.
The story picks up were LEDGE left us. River has said goodbye to her two best friends, the city she loves, and the lifestyle that has led to more than enough trouble for her. Now in the middle of nowhere Montana, she spends her last night of freedom in the arms and bed of the gorgeous stranger she set her sights on at the bar. No names, no relationship just a night...
But when she walks into her first meeting with her counselor and sees her beautiful stranger she realizes that her plans might be changing.
The desire and attraction is palpable and plays an amazing costar to the rehabilitation of River. For the first time in this series I found myself very emotional at times, a testimony to the well crafted story telling about a young woman who is reclaiming her strength and starting to rewrite her own life story. Even in the midst of the emotional rehabilitation, River never loses her sass, spunk, and holds ever fast to her truest sense of self.
A twist on a forbidden love story, Life on the Level kept me engaged and eager to turn the page as we get to know more about the fun band of misfits that surround River at rehab. They were a superb supporting cast of characters and each provided levity and/or gravity along the way.
Another five star addition to this series.
... then come back and geek out with me!
From Chapter 1
Zero days sober
“I hope the sky’s not the only big thing in Montana,” I whisper in his ear.
His full lips smile against mine.
“You’re a handful, aren’t you?” His voice is like the whiskey, burning right through me.
I pull away from him to get a good look at his face again. The dim blue light of Grizzly Country Bar frames his sharp cheekbones and strong jawline. He has dark eyes and darker hair that coils around the tips of my fingers. I’ve finally met a guy that makes my heart skip a beat.
I’ve been in town for a little less than two days, on the road to salvation. Actually, on the road to Sun Valley, Montana. Tomorrow, my life changes forever. Tonight, I’ll allow myself one last hurrah, and his name is—well, actually, I don’t know his name. But from the moment I set foot in the bar and saw him hunched over his beer, looking like he was just as lost as I was, I knew it had to be him—and only him.
I went right up to him, grabbed his beer, and took a swig from it. It was still frothy and cold. His midnight-black eyes went wide and a little angry. Then he looked me up and down, and his eyes softened. Unlike other guys, he didn’t linger at my long, suntanned legs. He looked straight into my eyes, and I didn’t look away for a minute.
“Hey, Trouble,” he said, an irresistible grin spreading across his beautiful face.
The rest of his body is solid, and even sitting down, he looks tall. I bet he’s one of those guys who rides around on horses, rounding up cows and stuff. Men aren’t built like this in New York. Salt of the earth and all that.
“Hey, kind stranger,” I said. “Can I buy you a drink, since I stole yours?”
He looked taken aback by the offer. Some guys don’t like aggressive girls, and even more girls don’t like aggressive girls. But what did I care? If he was into me, great. If he wasn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be. He looked a little nervous. He asked me my name, and I pretended the music was too loud. I loved watching him turn toward me. I asked if he wanted to sit in the corner booth for more privacy.
My heart skipped when he hesitated—just because a guy is smoking hot doesn’t mean he’s a manwhore. I put on my best mischievous smile, thrilled when he decided to follow.
And now we’re here.
I was surprised at how easily he talked about himself. I didn’t want to care. But I found myself smiling while he spoke. He was born and raised in Montana, and went to the U of M right here in town. He’s going to tell me what he does for a living, but the waitress comes over and drops off our next round. He wants to know too much. Asks too many questions. In turn, I’m super vague.
I’m from out east, I say, and he guesses New York because of the way I asked for water. I’m an only child, and an orphan. What do you know? So is he. Then we’re kind of quiet, and I feel something tight in my heart. He smiles so easily and reaches for my hand. I tell him, I’m just passing through. No, I don’t go to school. No, I don’t have friends in town.
He watches me like he’s trying to unravel a mystery, and I watch him because I want him to kiss me first. When he doesn’t, I kiss him. I press my lips to the corner of his mouth, and he watches me for a long while. It feels too intimate, but what do I know of intimacy? My skin flushes when he reaches for my long blonde curls. He brushes them over my shoulder. I see him trying to make up his mind. I see him convincing himself that this anonymous hookup is right.
“You look nervous.” I rest my back against the leather of our cozy little booth.
He chuckles. “I’m not used to putting on a show.”
A few locals nudge each other in the ribs. Waitresses eye us in their perfunctory ponytails and maroon tank tops two sizes too small, to get that perky and pushed up look. Or I should say, they eye me. It’s like I’ve taken something precious from them and kept it for myself.
My best friend Sky always reminds me that I don’t like to share. That goes for my fries and my men.
“Only when you’re sharking some dudes at pool?” I ask.
He cocks his head to the side and takes a sip of his beer. It’s local, and there’s a picture of a moose on it. It matches the moose head on the wall, among other mounted wild animals. This is the closest to nature I’ve been in a long time. Unless you count the squirrels that try to hijack my food in Central Park.
“I know what you’re doing,” he tells me, pulling my legs across his lap. “You’re trying to make me guess your name.”
It’s a funny thing—I don’t remember his name. I don’t know his birthday. I can’t figure out if his sign matches mine in any sort of astrological way. I don’t know where he got those cheekbones, that creamy skin, those callouses on his hands, or the scar right under his bottom lip shaped like a crescent moon. I don’t know any of these things, but I sure do love looking at him.
Sure, it’s not the first time I’ve been with a guy whose name I’m not too sure on. At least, I’m planning on being with this guy. At least, I know I want to. At least, until morning.
Morning. Tomorrow. Focus.
Think of the now. But isn’t the now what gets me into trouble in the first place?
Zoraida Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens. She is the author of The Vicious Deep Trilogy. She studied English Lit at Hunter College, and The University of Montana before finding a home for herself in the (kinda) glittering world of New York City’s nightlife. She prefers her cocktails shaken, her bacon crispy, and her men with a side of chivalry.
**Zoraida is also hosting a Special Pre-Release Giveaway**
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