Published on: August 26th 2014
Published by: Self Published
Series: Sweet Home #2, Carillo Boys #1
Genre: NA Romance
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We all have secrets.
Secrets well buried.
Until we find the one soul who makes the burden of such secrets just that little bit easier to bear.
Lexington “Lexi” Hart is a senior at the University of Alabama. Surrounded by her best friends, her loving family and having fulfilled her life-long dream of making the Crimson Tide cheer squad, everything is going exactly as she always dreamed it would. But beneath her happy exterior, demons lurk, threatening to jeopardize everything Lexi has worked to achieve. When events in her life become too much to cope with, Lexi finds herself spiraling down into the realm of her biggest fear. Lexi falls hard, victim once again to the only thing that can destroy her and, on the way, finds herself falling straight into the dangerous tattooed arms of a guy from the wrong side of the tracks.
Austin Carillo, starting Wide Receiver for the Alabama Crimson Tide, must get picked in this year’s NFL draft. He needs it. His brothers need it. Most importantly, his mother desperately needs it. Brought up in a world where the poor are forgotten, the sick are left to fend for themselves and no hero miraculously appears to pull you out of hell, Austin had no other choice but to make a living on the wrong side of the law—until football offered Austin the break to get his life back on track. But when a family tragedy drags him back into the clutches of the gang he believed he had left far behind, Austin finds himself falling. Falling back into criminal ways and falling deep into a suffocating darkness. Until a troubled yet kindred spirit stumbles across his path, where Austin quickly finds he is falling for a young woman, a young woman who might just have the power to save him from his worst enemy: himself.
Can two troubled souls find a lasting peace together? Or will they finally succumb to the demons threatening to destroy them?
New Adult/Contemporary Romance novel—contains adult content, sexual situations and mature topics. Suited for ages 18 and up.
Can be read as a stand-alone novel.
We often praise authors for writing REAL stories. Stories based on events in the authors life or people they know, it makes it real. But with Tillie Cole, it’s not just real. It’s raw and it’s honest and through Lexi she tells us of her own experiences and her fears and of some of the hardest times in her life. I write myself, and I always find it scary giving people my things to read, but the courage it must have taken for Tillie to tell this story to the world is just phenomenal and I don’t think I have ever or will ever appreciate an author as much as I do Tillie.
I want to start right at the beginning, and by that I mean the bit before the story, because for me they are the bits that make this book all the more powerful: the dedication and foreword. The description for this book doesn’t really give much away about Lexi. She has secrets, she has demons, she has struggles. That is all we are told. So then we open the book and get this beautiful dedication…
To the many around the world who feel lost, insecure or inferior.
Breathe deep. Be Strong. Be Brave.
And if you fall, look up to the stars and reach for their glittering lights.
You are meant to stand tall with the rest of the world.
You are not damaged…
You are Beautiful.
Which is then followed by the foreword, which starts like this…
“I want to take a moment before you begin this novel to explain something about the character of Lexington Hart, the female protagonist.
Lexi has a disorder that many are, or have been, affected by … including myself.”
She goes on to tell us how much of this book is based upon her own experiences, emotions and fears and the battles she herself fought every single day and that the character Lexi must now suffer through. I’m not going to lie, it left me feeling totally emotional. By the end of the foreword I had an idea of what this disorder was going to be, and I knew that reading it was going to be hard.
I don’t want you to think its a bad book, that’s not what I mean.
This is the 5th Tillie Cole book I have read, and although I have never met her, her stories are so honest and she puts so much into them that I feel like we’ve been best friends for years. So knowing that this book was partially based on Tillie’s reality, I knew it was going to be hard knowing that someone I really admired had gone through such tough times in their life.
Ok, so enough of the deep stuff (for now).
We’ve met Austin before and we’ve met Lexi before, but that was through the eyes of Molly and Rome. There is so much more to their story then we or Molly and Rome could have ever guessed. Not because they are bad friends, but because Lexi and Austin were just so good at hiding their pain and troubles behind perfect smiles.
“I used to look up at the stars ad feel so small and unimportant. But I’ve come to realise that the only thing that can ever make you feel alive and important is the one person who takes you for you.”
Both are trying to escape, to win their battles. Lexi wishes to be normal, to escape the voice in her head that tells her she’s not good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough. Meanwhile Austin is trying to escape, for good, the dangerous life that is slowly pulling him back in, the life that will ruin not just his chances but also his brothers, but the life that is necessary for them to protect their mother
I felt my heart breaking again and again in this book. For Lexi and the voice that threatened to over take her. For Austin whose love for his family was inspiring, but was also the thing that pulled him away from his way out, his second chance, his redemption. I found myself pleading with my book for Lexi to stay strong, for Austin to stay safe, for the two to save each other.
“Maybe we were together now; maybe we weren’t. I didn’t care what we labeled it. She could talk to me and I could talk to her. Boyfriend/Girlfriend titles had no place among the truly fucked up. Just that there was someone else like you. Someone to understand.”
I’m not going to say too much about the actual storyline, because I don’t want to ruin it for you. I want you to go in just as blind as me so you really get to experience it the way it is meant to be. I will tell you however that all our favourite characters from the previous books are there and they are just as lovable as ever. We also get some new characters in the form of Lexi & Austin’s families and they are written so perfectly that you immediately connect with every single one of them.
“She’s my broken Pixie, and I’m her piece of trailer trash scum.”
This story followed some serious topics, it got deep, it got tragic but my one overall thought was of the power of it. I have to admit, I cried during this book, quite a bit, but by the time I got to the end my eyes were dry, but my heart was pounding and my mind stunned. The honesty, the rawness, the emotion of the whole thing was just wow. There were simply no words to describe what I was feeling at that moment other then the undeniable honour of being one of the first group of people given this beautiful story to read.
I would recommend this book to fans of: Tillie Cole, the Sweet Home Series, college romances, books with college sports, healing romances, not-quite-so bad boys, characters with eating disorders, characters in gangs
Tillie Cole is a Northern girl through and through. She originates from a place called Teesside on that little but awesomely sunny (okay I exaggerate) Isle called Great Britain. She was brought up surrounded by her English rose mother — a farmer’s daughter, her crazy Scottish father, a savagely sarcastic sister and a multitude of rescue animals and horses.
1) Out of the various couples in the Sweet Home/Sweet Rome books, what made you chose to tell Austin & Lexi’s story first?
I felt that Austin and Lexi were hiding something from everyone. The tattoo’s, the heavy gothic makeup… to me there was just something there, lurking below the surface. Something darker than what Molly and Rome went through. To me they were the most interesting.
When I put pen to paper, I just let the story flow, and I broke my heart the entire way. I’ve never cried writing one of my characters before… EVER, but I did for this couple, many times. Lexi and Austin are probably the closest to my heart out of all the characters that I have created. They own a piece of me forever.
2) Favourite quote from Sweet Fall?
I have two (both from Lexi):
“I don’t need to look up to the stars to feel inferior, Austin. All I have to do is open my eyes and look at myself in the mirror.”
“All of this began with the rejection of a boy I liked, I want it to end with the acceptance of the boy I love.”
These quotes convey so much of Lexi, in only a sentence. I love them.
3) What was most challenging thing about this book?
Getting Lexi’s disorder correct. Her character is based on my journey with this horrible affliction, and I knew I wouldn’t be happy until I really showed what it was like living with something so insular, so secretive… so life-threatening. Many times, I almost pulled the release of Sweet Fall as I didn’t know if I should put it out for the world to see. Family and friends persuaded me otherwise, and now I am soo happy they did. I think it’s a book that brings awareness about a disorder that is rarely talked about by people who live with it.
4) Which literary character is most like you?
I think I have a little bit of myself in each of my female characters. Lexi is definitely the character I put most of my soul into, but she is also her own unique character. For me, when I write a book, it’s a fantasy. I like to be transported into another life, live in another person’s head for a time, so mostly, my characters are their own people. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
5) What are your hopes for the future of the Sweet Home Series?
I hope people take something profound away from reading Sweet Fall, and then next year, Sweet Hope, Ally’s story will end this series *wipes away tear*
Ally’s story will be set when she is in her mid-twenties, and you will see all the gang at that part of their lives too. Her story will be lighter than Sweet Fall and Sweet Home/Rome. It will be the perfect end to the series that changed my life. I can’t wait to begin!
Oh, and of course, my dream wish would be for the series to become a movie/series, but let’s leave that to the universe to decide!!!! 😉