Monday, June 3, 2013

Blog Tour Stop: Darkness Before Dawn by Claire Contreras

Book Title: Darkness Before Dawn
Author: Claire Contreras
Genre: Romance Mystery/Suspense/Romance
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Cover Designer: Okay Creations

Is love ever enough?

Faced with obstacles she could have never imagined, Blake is brought to darkness and back by forces in her past she never knew existed.
Desperate to stay connected to the only thing he loves, Cole is forced to revisit his past and align himself with the people who knew about Blake’s disappearance.
Separation has forced both Blake and Cole to learn how to live under the worst circumstances, each of them alone in their own hell.

When they reunite, can they be the same two people they were before darkness swept upon them?
Told in separate points of view, Darkness Before Dawn is the continuation of Blake and Cole’s fight to make it to the light.

Loud pounding on the bathroom door breaks me from my daydream and I get up quickly to turn off the water and get out of the shower. The pounding on the door continues until I yell out that I’m almost done. Once I’m dressed, I take a deep breath and decide that I will not let them break me; I won’t let my family down. I open the door and find Dean on the other side of it, wearing a plaid blue button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, jeans, and black boots. His voluminous dark hair is perfectly styled, and even though I hate facial hair, I notice that the shadow of a beard displayed on his face looks pretty good on him. My eyes trail down his slim body and stay glued to the tattoo I see on his left forearm, until his chuckle brings me to meet his twinkling hazel eyes.

“Well, this is a change,” he says, the side of his mouth forming in a slight smile.

“What is?” I ask crinkling my eyebrows. 

“You. Checking me out instead of glaring at me,” he says as a slow smile spreads on his face.

My mouth pops open for a moment before I recover my thoughts. “I was not checking you out! I was trying to figure out what your tattoo is. There’s a difference. Besides, you’re not in your uniform today. It’s weird to see you wearing grown up clothes.” I mock.

He doesn’t really wear a uniform, but most of the time he’s dressed in jeans, a white T-shirt and a leather jacket. 

He shakes his head. “If you say so.” I can hear the disbelief in his voice and it makes me want to throw something at him.

“Do you have another magazine for me?”

He’s been bringing me magazines to help my boredom. I have to hide them whenever Alex comes to check up on me just in case, but that’s a small price to pay for entertainment. I may not know what’s going on in the world, but I know what celebrity couples are together and what the latest trend fashion is. So far, Drew Barrymore got married and Jessica Simpson had a baby. Maybe if I would have kept up with gossip before, this would be exciting for me to know, but frankly, I don’t give a damn. I sigh dreamily at my own thoughts and daze off thinking of Gerald O’Hara. God, I need to get the fuck out of here! You know it’s bad when you’re day dreaming of an old dead guy. 

“You’re such a pain in the ass,” Dean says with a laugh, and then suddenly stops. “Shit. I was kidding, chick, you didn’t have to go and cry about it.” 

I wipe my tears, but can’t stop the sobs from escaping my throat before I bury my face in my hands. How pathetic am I that I can’t be called a pain in the ass without crying? How pathetic is it that everything reminds me of Cole? Once I calm down, I wipe my face again and bring the tray onto my lap, avoiding his gaze. 

“So, you don’t like being called a pain in the ass?” he asks quietly. I know he’s trying to keep the conversation light, but I’m not in the mood for any of it. 

“No,” I grumble before taking a bite of toast. “I don’t like being called anything.”

He sits in front of me and watches me eat in silence. When I finish, I get up and head to the bathroom, leaving him sitting on the floor by my bed. 

I wash my hands before sitting up on the counter and lean my back on the mirror hoping that he gets tired of waiting for me and leaves. I idly begin to draw circles over the green bruises on my calf and it hits me that that’s all I am these days: cuts and bruises, inside and out. At the sound of thunder outside, I snap back to reality and hop off the counter, picking up my hair in a messy pony tail as I open the door, hoping to walk into an empty room, but Dean still there flipping through my magazine.

“You gonna sit here and read old gossip all day?” I ask.

He raises an amused eyebrow. “This is new gossip.” 

As he walks over to me, I notice our difference in height, for some reason I had never noticed the way he towers over me. Probably because I’m always looking at the ground unless I’m sitting on it. He’s definitely not as tall as Cole, nothing about his physical appearance is like Cole’s. Cole is tall and muscular, Dean is tall and lean. Cole has more of a playboy face, whereas Dean is more of a rugged pretty boy. The only thing they have in common is that swag, or spark that some guys have. The one that draws you to them, even though you know in the back of your mind that you will get burned once you get too close. When he leans close to hand over the magazine, making me flinch a little, I take in his scent of nicotine and cinnamon. 

He holds my stare as we both grip either side of the magazine. “I wouldn’t hurt you, Chick, okay?”

“You are hurting me,” I whisper as I take it from his hand and sit down on the bed. I downcast my eyes and look at it, but it looks blurry through my eyes and I can’t make out who’s on the cover. He cups his hand under my chin and lifts my face to look at him, but I turn my face out of his hold. “Don’t touch me, please.”

Darkness Before Dawn starts with Blake still in captivity, and Cole going absolutely insane with grief trying to find answers that may lead him to her. Several new characters are added and new elements come into play as we learn the who, what, and whys of Blake's current kidnapping, as well as the ones of her and Cole when they were kids. 

It's not too long before Blake and Cole are reunited, but, unfortunately, it's not all rainbows and butterflies. They are forced to deal with huge issues that stem from the kidnapping. It's obvious that they're still madly in love with each other, and that there is no more perfect pairing than Blake and Cole, but with all they have been through, you have to ask, Is Love Enough?
It's no secret that I am a huge fan girl of Claire Contreras, Blake, and Cole. TINLID was one of my favorites of the year, so I had high expectations for Darkness Before Dawn. I'd been dying to get my hands on this book for months, and once I finally did, I could not put it down. And I don't know what it is about Claire Contreras, but she writes such amazing stories that are so frickin' hard to review because any words I write cannot give them justice. 

I couldn't have asked for a better conclusion for Blake and Cole's story. Ms. Contreras does an amazing job creating a emotional roller coaster ride that keeps you guessing until the very end. I kept thinking I knew what was about to happen, and each time I found myself twisting and turning as we got more answers to the situations that led them here. When reading this book, if you think you know what's about to happen, you'll probably be wrong. And I love that. Darkness Before Dawn keeps you so on your toes that you'll feel like a ballerina by the end of it.

And Cole Murphy. It's hard to describe the fucking gorgeous, heart fluttering, panty-dropping man who's stolen hearts all around the literary world. If you can believe it, Cole is even more swoon-worthy in DBD than he was in TINLID. I know what you're thinking, how is that even possible?. I didn't think that it was possible to fall even more in love with him, but fall harder I did. His patience, understanding, and the pure love for Blake radiates off of the pages and settles in your heart in such a way that you'll never forget him. 

"My soul belongs to you, Blake. I go where you go. I can't live without you, I don't want to live without you. If you die tomorrow, I die with you. I don't know how many times or how many ways I'm going to have to say that to you for it to stick, but if I have to say it every single day for the rest of my life, I will."

Blake. Can this girl catch a break already? She's pulled in so many directions and put through so many trials, much more than any one person could handle. As shown in TINLID, Blake is very strong woman, but in Darkness Before Dawn, she's been broken, and you can't help but feel her pain right along with her. This is where I have to give Ms. Contreras the ultimate of props. Some of Blake's actions in DBD could be frustrating for readers, but it's written in such a way that the reader, while wanting to shake her, can still empathize and understand the reasons behind her issues. 

"Can someone get a pen and paper and start drawing out the family tree’s and everyone’s connection to everyone else?"

Overall, I LOVED this book. From the plot, to the secondary characters, and with the amazing conclusion, this was a story that kept me engaged from the very first page. When you read this, lock yourself away in a room where there are no distractions. The complex plot as the mysteries unravel are deserving of your full attention, and you won't be disappointed in the end. But feel free to read slowly. It's bittersweet to close the book not only on Blake Brennan and Cole Murphy, but it's also hard to say goodbye to whole gang, Aubry, Becky, Greg, and Aimee. 

Oh, a word of advice. Keep the tissues nearby. You're going to need them. 

Where To Buy

About The Author
Claire Contreras graduated with her BA in Psychology from Florida International University. She lives in Miami, Florida with her husband, two little boys, and three dogs. 
Her favorite past times are: daydreaming, writing, and reading. 

She has been described as a random, sarcastic, crazy girl with no filter. 

Life is short, and it’s more bitter than sweet, so she tries to smile as often as her face allows. She enjoys stories with happy endings, because life is full of way too many unhappy ones. 

Author Links 
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