Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Review of LOVE ME FOR ME by Kate Laurens!

Author: Kate Laurens
Publication Date: March 26th 2013
Source: e-copy provided by RABT for the purpose of review

"A fresh start...

It’s been three years since Serena King learned to say no—no to the boys that were a desperate cry for help, no to the extra weight she put on in self defense, and most of all no to the abuse that has haunted her since she was fifteen. Now a sophomore in college, all she wants is to be normal. The last thing she expects is a guy who can make her want... make her want everything.

A new guy...

Alex Blackthorn is a bundle of contradictions, a sexy dark haired badness who goes slow... deliciously slow. And despite the iron will that has gotten her through the last few years, Serena finds herself unable to ignore the heat that sizzles between them whenever they’re together.

A dark past...

Serena never thought she could be involved in a relationship, but Alex makes her long for things she thought were out of her reach forever. When he finds out her secret... when he finds out what she did to keep herself sane... will he still want her, or he will treat her just like everyone else?

And Alex has a secret of his own.

Recommended for mature readers aged 17+ due to language and sexual content."

*I Hereby Award This Book 5 Wings!*

I'm not entirely sure how to proceed with this review. When I was first sent the email by RABT about participating in the tour, I read the synopsis and agreed as it seemed like the sort of thing I would enjoy. In a way I was right. Yet I later learned that it opened up old wounds. It didn't make me dislike the book, it actually made me empathise with Serena on a level I didn't think possible before I started reading. 

Serena is at college. It's been a fresh start for her since getting the scholarship. She shares a dorm with her best friend, Kaylee. Serena is past the days of being a party girl though. She no longer sleeps with random boys, even if they are cute. It's been hard for her, getting where she is today. She has a past that she isn't proud of - there's a sordid secret she's never told anyone, bar one person. That person didn't believe her. So now she keeps herself to herself and doesn't let anyone get close.
When she first told her mother her secret, she hoped and prayed she would believe her. But her mother Felicity was blind to the facts. She point blank refused to believe her daughter. So Serena went off sleeping with any boy that paid her any attention. She put on weight as a defence mechanism. These were the only ways she thought she'd be able to cope. 

One day, she's late to class and can't bring herself to enter because the tutor doesn't think well of being tardy. She looks up and sees a gorgeous boy who's also late for class. They decide to ditch together and go and grab a coffee whilst studying for the clqass they have skipped. 

There's an air between them that crackles with electricity. But Serena has promised herself she is done with her days of meaningless sex. She can't give someone the "more" that most people can give, she feels that she comes with too much emotional baggage and therefore she cannot commit to anyone. 

But Alex is gorgeous, kind, funny, and in no danger of going anywhere any time soon. 

Serena wars with herself about wanting to open up to Alex, but she can't. She's never breathed a word of it since Felicity didn't believe her. There are times when her room-mate Kaylee looks at her as though she too has past experiences that she suffers silently. But Serena can't even share with her best friend what's tucked away in the darkest recess of her mind.

It might be okay for Serena to say that she can't tell anyone because no-one will understand. But in reality, she's just keeping those that care about her at arms length. If she told them the truth, they might just stand a chance of believing her.

Serena and Alex date but she keeps those walls built up around her. One night, as they are kissing, Serena finds that Alex has scars. He may well even have a secret of his own. She wants him to share with her his innermost secrets, but that makes her hypocritical if she won't open up to him.

What ensues is a beautiful, if tragic tale of a love that won't survive if some of their baggage isn't tossed overboard. Will Serena trust Alex enough to tell him the truth? Will Alex tell her his own secret? Everybody has inner demons, but it's only when we finally open up and share with those that love us that we find a weight has been lifted from our shoulders. 
How do I know? Well I suffered from the same past as Serena. I dealt with it in exactly the same way as she did and admitting that might make you think I'm nothing but a dirty [bleep] - that's on you, feel free to take that opinion - but for me, it was a coping mechanism, the same as it was for Serena. 
Two people who go through the same fate may not end up dealing with it in the same way. But for me, [my Mom] Alison didn't believe me about my step-dad either and in that way, Kate Laurens could have been describing me when she wrote Serena's character. 

I have to say, this book touched me so much and at 76% through, warm salty tears raced their way down my cheeks. I was really feeling the emotional pain of these characters tortured souls. 

Kate Laurens debut novel is a tale of a hurt little girl who shuts herself off to the world and when she grows up, finds it hard to know who she can place her trust in. Enter Alex, the handsome, loving man who wants her to open up but at the same time doesn't pressure her. He's kind, loyal, loving, caring, all the traits you could want in a man. He loves Serena entirely, wholeheartedly and would give anything to be able to help her fight the demons that haunt her. 
Reading this book, I was reminded of a song from years ago by Christina Aguilera. It's called Loving Me For Me. If you listen to the lyrics, you will understand what I mean... if you know the song, you'll know why this was the song that went through my head as I read this book today.
Here are some of the lyrics... 

What a feeling of vulnerability coming over me 
And I'm feeling weak and I can't speak 
Never thought I'd give in so willingly to a human being 
With abilities to set me free 
Free, make me be me 
Makes me want to say 

Your lips, your love, your smile, your kiss 
I must admit it's a part of me 
You please me, complete me, believe me 
Like a melody 
Your soul, your flow, your youth, your truth is simply proof 
We were meant to be 
But the best quality that's hookin' me 
Is that you're loving me for me 
Is that you're loving me for me 

People ask why I'm in love with you 
Well, let me start by saying 
You got my heart by just being who you are 


Unconditionally you're there for me 
Undeniably you inspire me, spiritually, so sweet 
This is meaningful, is incredible, pleasurable, unforgettable 
The way I feel, so sweet 
Makes me want to say 

Your lips, your love, your smile, your kiss 
I must admit it's a part of me 
You please me, complete me, believe me 
Like a melody 
Your soul, your flow, your youth, your truth is simply proof 
We were meant to be 
But the best quality that's hookin' me 
Is that you're loving me for me 
Is that you're loving me for me 

It's so amazing how something so sweet 
Has come and rearranged my life 
I've been kissed by destiny 
Oh, heaven came and saved me 
An angel was placed at my feet 
This isn't ordinary, he's loving me for me 

Stripped of all make up, no need for fancy clothes 
No cover ups, push ups 
With him, I don't have to put on a show 
He loves every freckle, every curve, every inch of my skin 
Fulfilling me entirely, taking all of me in 
He's real,he's honest, he's loving me for me 

It almost makes me wonder if Kate Laurens listened to this song before, during or after writing this beautiful book.
When I first started reading, I wasn't sure I could continue as there were under-tones of sexual abuse and it lay too close to home for me. But I persevered and can honestly say that Kate Laurens portrays Serena's character superbly. Like I say, I felt exactly the same way myself - so I can say that this woman did her homework when choosing such a sensitive issue to write about. 
Some people will see this as a taboo subject maybe, but for me personally, I wish more people would take a stand and write stories like this. If we break the taboo, more girls might come forward and tell someone about their own abuse.

Thank you to RABT for providing this copy for me to review. Thank you Kate for choosing to write about such a sensitive subject and writing it so beautifully. 

Thank you for coming by and reading my review. Hope to see you again soon!

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