Friday, 26 February 2016

Wicked Heart (Starcrossed #3) by Leisa Rayven - ARC Review

Released: 3rd May 2016.


Liam Quinn is talented, gorgeous, and one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

He's also the only man Elissa Holt has ever truly loved.

After being out of her life for six years, he and his gorgeous fiancé are set to star in the new Broadway show Elissa is stage managing. The only trouble is, when late night rehearsals bring Elissa and Liam together, the line between what is and what could have been gets blurred, and one moment of weakness will lead to a scandal that echoes around the world.

Elissa knows that falling for Liam again would be a tragedy in the making, but as any good romantic will tell you, love doesn’t always follow the script.

Find Wicked Heart on Goodreads

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: February 2016.

There's something inherently thrilling when you truly connect with an author's words, when you lose track of time and space, when you blink and you're turning the last page, simultaneously sad that it's over but so very grateful for the journey. For me that's slipping into reader space, the feeling of diving into Rayven's exquisite prose, wrapping you in warmth and joy like an old trusted blanket, it's both comforting and exhilarating, the sense that you know with certainty that you're about to meet characters that will become old friends, that their stories will stay with you long after the last line is read. To say I adored Bad Romeo and Broken Juliet would be a massive understatement, Cassie and Ethan hold a special place in my heart, despite countless rereads I still have that feeling of exhilaration wash over me, still find new lines that sear into my soul, leave their footprints on my heart, I want to drown in her words, get lost in them, revel in their beauty. Elissa in the previous stories in the Starcossed series was somewhat of an enigma, feisty, hilarious, tough, she was part cheerleader and part coach, championing her brother's strengths while being forthright about his transgressions, everything about her screamed that she deserved her own story, that despite being more comfortable behind the scenes as it were, she was indisputably a shining star.

"God Elissa, I ...I'm a bit lost for words here. Seeing you again is..."

Before The Grove Elissa Holt was ready to tackle the world of stage production, her love of the stage was clear but where so many dream of being front and centre, acting out lines and taking their bows to a cheering audience, she had long since discovered her passion lead her behind the scenes, her rules are fairly simple, be professional, get the job done and don't date an actor, when she meets Liam Quinn her new world order is obliterated, he's strong, sexy, confident, he encourages her quirky sense of humour, finds her sarcasm endearing and sets her pulse racing, he makes her wants things she swore she never would again.

"You can't look at me like that and expect me to respect our friends pact. You really can't"    
 "How am I looking at you?"    
 "Like you want to straddle my face."

Despite their undoubtable connection, their raw, sizzling chemistry fate has other lives in store for them, years later seeing the man who once starred in everyone of her fantasies is, well it's like waking up from a dream, or a nightmare and she's not sure which. Liam Quinn is no longer hers, he's now one part of a Hollywood mega couple, the fairy-tale,  he's no longer up and coming, Liam has made it, with his gorgeous fiancĂ©e Angel by his side, they are an unstoppable force, despite their past Elissa and Liam make a pact to be friends and co-workers, it can't be that hard right?

"Tonight I saw myself in that dress, and it hit me. You're getting married. You. To someone else. I mean, I knew you were, but I didn't know, you know? And now I do, and it sucks."

The connection between Elissa and Liam leaps off the page, it's tangible, so very real that you can reach out and grab it, it's not just their undeniable sexual chemistry, which they exude in spades, it's the sly smiles when no one is looking, the side glances, the indiscriminate ways they react to each other, the lost looks, every inch of their bond, despite how long has passed since they stood in front of each other it was evident.

"Liss, I can't live without you anymore, and I'm tired of pretending that I can."
Elissa's ability to continue on despite everything had me steadfastly in her corner, her wit, her quirks, her determination always present, loving her was effortless, but there was more to her than just her connection to Liam, there was the way she and Josh knew each other inherently, their ability to finish each others sentences endearing, their witty banter, the soul deep connection of best friends that made me swoony with delight, the way she was able to find common ground with the woman who should of been her arch nemesis Angel, the way she was adored by everyone around her, made her the kind of heroine that I knew without a doubt would stand out in my mind long after I put Wicked Heart down.

"Ask me to give up a limb and I swear, I'll find a way to do it. But don't ask me to live without you anymore. I can't. I'm so goddamn in love with you, it hurts."

Some books come along at precisely the right time, they are utterly captivating, impossible to put down, Rayven's words have the ability the decimate my heart, her raw and unyielding talent leaves me breathless, the moments of sheer brilliance that make want to set the book down and just reflect, let her words resonate, revel in them, there wasn't a moment in Wicked Heart where I wasn't invested, where I wasn't cheering for Elissa, for Liam. There's a sense of coming home in Rayven's works, her characters so real, that it's like catching up with old friends, reminiscing over shared memories, laughing and smiling at the joyous moments and commiserating over the sad ones, I ventured between wanting to jump up and down with them celebrating their successes, and wanting to wrap my arms around them when their hearts were breaking. Rayven's love of the written word, her love of the stage is evident, her ability to craft stories that leave you sated and yet desperate for more clear, with her ability to seamlessly blend humour, heat and heart, her stories are simultaneously uproariously funny and heartbreakingly real. Long after you turn the last page Wicked Heart is the kind of story that you will want to revisit time and time again.

Exclusive Interview with Leisa Rayven:

Kristine: Firstly I want to thank you for taking time out to answer these questions for Glass Paper Ink Leisa, how are you feeling with Wicked Heart hitting e-readers and bookshelves worldwide?

Leisa: Well, every time I have a new book coming out, I feel like a new parent. Authors have a habit of referring to their novels as 'book babies' and that's exactly how it feels. It's like you gestate the story for ages, and then you write and rewrite and pour your heart and soul onto the pages, then finally, you give birth to the finished version of your world and your characters, and you hold up your new baby for the whole world to see. And you desperately want the rest of the world to love your words as much as you do and tell you its pretty. So yeah, I'm excited and nervous. I hope readers like it.

K: Ethan Holt is such a beloved hero, how do you think fans will react to Liam Quinn? 

L: You know, I was sooooo nervous about that when I started sending Wicked Heart to pre-readers. Readers were so passionate about Ethan, and he has such a huge evolution during Bad Romeo and Broken Juliet, that I wasn't sure how readers would respond to Liam, considering he's a much simpler man who isn't tortured by all of Ethan's issues and insecurities. To my great relief, the reaction to Liam has been staggeringly positive. He's a man who knows what he wants and is confident enough to go after it, one hundred percent. In fact readers have been loving him so much he has his own hashtag on social media - #LiamFuckingQuinn. Also, one well-known book blogger (who you may know) started the hashtag #EthanWho. It makes me laugh.

K: Contemporary romance heroes quite often tend to fall into the bad boy/man-whore category, coming off as the stereotype, Ethan, Connor, Liam and Josh all are such multilayered characters, they aren't just one part of their personalities nor are they the quintessential bad boy waiting for the good girl to save them, how did they come about for you? 

L: Well, first of all, thank you so much for saying that. It's a huge compliment to hear. Character creation is a very organic process for me. I really try to get into the heads of my characters well before I start writing them. I do a lot of character studies, diary entries, and inner monologues related to their lives; just trying to make them a fully rounded person with their good point as well as their flaws. I find I have to really understand a character's motivations in order to write them convincingly, and whether they're the hero or the villain, I need to like them on some level. Ethan, Connor, Liam, and Josh are they way they are because I like writing male characters I'd like to hang out with.

K: Cassie Taylor and now Elissa Holt are such strong female leads, showing that it's possible to be both sassy, strong, independent, whilst also being unsure, reflective and real. It's quite a feat to showcase a heroine who's not afraid to have those moments of doubt, to be upset, heartbroken even without coming off as whiny. Who or what if anything was your inspiration for your female leads?
L: I've been blessed in my life to be surrounded by a whole host of incredible women, not only in my private life, but also in my professional life. And even though none of them are perfect, (and really, who of us is?) they all have their remarkable qualities, and so many things about them, including their determination and passion, make me adore them unhealthy amounts. Just like my male characters, I write female leads who I'd like to be my friends. They're not based on any one person, but rather a conglomeration of many women I've known throughout my life.

K: The Starcrossed series now spans three books, what has been your favourite scene to write so far?

L: Oh, wow. Why don't you ask me which of my kids I like the best. Lol! Um … that's a very hard question. Some of my favourite scenes to write in any book are the ones in which characters share their first kiss. Everything leading up to the first time two people cross the line from friends into something else is fascinating to me, filled with so much tension, passion, and anticipation. It's a full-body experience like no other, and there's always that moment when lips touch for the first time that's heavy with both extreme relief, and sudden, unfathomable hunger. It's an enigmatic dichotomy that mesmerizes me.

K: What I've adored so much has been that this series hasn't just focused on your leads, I've loved getting to know your greater ensemble, Elissa had intrigued me so much in Bad Romeo and Broken Juliet, was Wicked Heart always part of the plan or did that come about afterwards? 

L: I'd never actually planned to give Elissa her own story even though I adored writing her, but when my editor Rose Hilliard suggested it, I was like, "Oh my God, YES! Let's do that!"
Elissa is really close to my heart, because when I was in drama school, my best friend was a stage manager, so I gave her a lot of my friend's qualities. Not only that, as an actor, I have an unending respect for stage managers and their backstage crews. Actors are the showponies of the theatre world and always get all the glory, while the stage manager and crew are the ones that hold the whole production together and work twice as hard. They're always in the theatre for HOURS before the actors swan in, slap on their make-up and costumes, and prance out onto stage. I'm glad Elissa gets her turn in the spotlight in this book.

K: Your love of the stage is evident in the Starcrossed series, was there a defining moment that made you decide to swap stage for writing? 
L: Yes. Being a woman over the age of twenty-five in the entertainment industry. Hah! It sounds like a joke, but it's really not. So much in acting is based on looks. I mean, look at Hollywood. Male actors are allowed to stay active and virile in movies well into their fifties and even sixties, but do you know what doesn't change? The age of their love interests. You'll rarely see a woman over thirty playing opposite a male lead, no matter how old he is. So, yeah. As a female actor, roles start drying up the moment you get your first wrinkle. As it happens, my love for writing has always been with me, simmering in the background. And even though I didn't expect to have such a definite career change at this point in my life, I'm sooooo very glad I did. Instead of primping and preening for hours before schlepping around to auditions and screentests these days, I stay in my pajamas and write all day. I mean, how cool is that? Plus, I've gotten to meet some of the most incredible, talented, intelligent, inspirational women in the whole world, and I'm talking about fellow authors, book bloggers, and readers. I'm so grateful that my writing has brought these incredible ladies into my life.

K: The #BadRomeoFilm is garnering a lot of interest, and I for one can't wait to see it in its entirety. What's the process been like so far, can you tell me a little of how it came about?

L: I've had so much fun making this film, and it's one of those situations that was both surreal and wonderful. I was contacted by someone from a small independent production company who asked if they could make a book trailer for Bad Romeo. One of the directors had read the book and fell in love with it, so when they offered to cast and shoot a custom-made trailer, I was all in. They brought me on-board to write the screenplay, and even convinced me to play hard-ass acting coach, Erika Eden, and then we all got so enthusiastic about the project, it ballooned from a three-minute trailer into a half-hour extravaganza.
The thing that blew me away the most, (apart from everyone in the cast and crew donating their time for free,) was seeing the actors bringing my words and scenes to life. I mean, as an actor I've interpreted someone else's words countless times, but suddenly, the shoe was on the other foot, and I'll admit, I had a quiet tear at our first table read when Cassie and Ethan were coming to life right in front of me. It was one of the most special and amazing moments ever.

K: Connor Baine is without a doubt the iconic good guy - sweet, loyal, sexy, and unfortunately relegated to the friend zone. Is this the last we'll see of him or will we get a chance to find out if nice guys really do finish last?

L: Funny you should ask, because heaps of readers have asked me about a Connor book and are dying to see the poor guy get the happy ending they believe he so richly deserves. I've actually started writing Connor's story even though I have no idea if I'll ever have an avenue of getting it published. Rest assured, if my publisher ever asks for Connor's book, I'd be all over that in record time.

K: What's next for Leisa Rayven, I know you recently attended RT in Vegas, and will be signing in the States again in August before making your way back to Sydney for SAE2016. With a packed touring schedule and filming commitments, what's next in terms of writing? 

L: I actually have two books I'm working on right now and about five more outlined, so I could happily lock myself away in a cabin in the woods for about twelve months and still have more books to write. I feel like my head is so full of stories and characters right now, it might explode. I need some quality time alone with my laptop so I can purge everything onto paper.
Hopefully I'll more news about what's coming up in late 2016/early 2017 soon. :)

K: Thanks for indulging me in my rambling and stopping by today Leisa

L: Thanks for the chat!

About Leisa Rayven:

Writing has always been a passion for Leisa, and even though she originally intended to be an actress, it wasn’t long into her time at drama school that she began writing plays.

Those plays were bad. Very bad. Well, her friends thought they were good, but that’s because they were always cast in them and any opportunity to be on stage was met with an obnoxious amount of enthusiasm.

Since then, she’s honed her craft, and several of her plays have been produced and toured throughout Australia.

These days, playwriting has given way to fiction writing, and Leisa’s debut novel, BAD ROMEO, was published through Macmillan New York in December 2014. The sequel, BROKEN JULIET was released in April 2015, and the final book in Leisa’s Starcrossed series, WICKED HEART, will hit bookstores and kindles on May 3rd, 2016.

The Starcrossed series has gained hordes of passionate fans all over the world, and the books have now been translated into eight foreign languages. Bad Romeo and Broken Juliet have also featured on international best seller lists in Brazil and Germany.

Leisa Rayven lives in Australia with her husband, two little boys, three cats, and a kangaroo named Howard.

(Howard may or may not be her imaginary marsupial friend. Everyone should have one.)
Connect with Leisa on Facebook
Visit Leisa's Website

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