INSIDE OUT by Lia Riley (December 2, 2014; Forever E-Book; $3.99)
Lia Riley made New Adult readers fall in love with her breakout debut, Upside Down. Sideswiped, the second of her series, made readers clamor for more. Now, with INSIDE OUT, Lia Riley brings her evocative Off the Map series to a stunning conclusion.
When Talia first moved from California to Australia to study abroad, she never dreamed she’d find the love of her life. Bran understands her like no one ever has before. And despite the numerous challenges they’ve faced, they’ve always managed to figure out how to stay together. But this time they’ll face their toughest hurdle yet. Is their love strong enough to keep them together?
About the author:
After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.
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Upside Down by Lia Riley book #1 in series
Side Swiped book #2 in the series.
Inside out Excerpt # 1
Who was I when I first fell in love with Bran?
A person who had courage to stare down an unfeasible situation and say, Sure, I’m up for the challenge.
Who was I when Bran threw himself at me like a wounded animal, all claws, abandonment fear, spit, and fang?
A person who accepted that the moon has two sides, light and dark.
Who am I now?
I feel like a lost soul rocking in the corner, fresh out of ideas.
Bran pushes me through the long line until it’s our turn at the passport desk.
“How long do you plan to stay in the United States?” The customs official glances from Bran’s face to his passport photo and back again.
My stomach squirms like a writhing snake. We’ve avoided any discussion about future plans, focused instead on the short term. I had to accept the reality that I couldn’t return to the Peace Corps, even with the medical separation. I was too sick, too shattered. Our discussions about the logistics of leaving Africa were easier to concentrate on than the looming issue of what we were going to do with each other. I treated the topic like an abandoned lot, filled with weeds and rusting cars, a subject to walk past and pretend to ignore.
Now a stranger is forcing the issue.
“Until this one gets better.” Bran cocks his head in my direction.
The woman scoots forward, peers at me with a faint frown. “May I see proof of a return ticket, sir?”
Bran digs out the photocopy of his itinerary. When we bought the tickets, he had to borrow money from his dad. He hasn’t said much, but I know the fact must eat at him. Add another bitter drop to my guilt bucket—soon it’s going to overflow.
“You’re on a temporary tourist visa.” The customs agent flips the passport to a blank page and stamps with obvious relish. “You have three months, starting now.”
Here we go again.
People imagine international romance is excitement, hot accents, and adventure. They don’t want to hear about the bureaucratic drudgery that threatens to harden the arteries of even the most passionate hearts.
I thought I was going somewhere.
I am an idiot Icarus who flew too close to the sun.
Bran leans forward, his lips hover an inch from my ear, his breath a hot caress on my cool skin. “You okay, Captain?”
“What are you thinking, thinker?”
“I’m just sitting here, a sitter.”
We roll past an American flag overhanging a framed photo of the president. His smile seems smug, as if to say, You really thought you’d get away?
Yes, sir. I kind of did.
“We’re up next.” Bran hands a final customs form to yet another officer who waves us toward big silver doors that open and shut like gnashing teeth. On the other side is California. I can’t shake the disorienting sense we’re heading in the wrong direction.
Bran crossed an ocean for me. I have to find the way out of this black swamp, but I’m manacled to an island of self-doubt, and the tide is rising.
Inside out Excerpt Number 2
“See how I want you.” His agonized whisper is barely audible over the water lashing the tiles. His hips lose their slow, lazy tempo. He pounds himself deeper, harder.
An intense ache spreads from my belly through my breasts. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be turned on. Muscles tighten within my sex. I’m fast remembering.
“Want. You. So. Bloody. Much.” He always sounds like this right before he comes, as if it hurts, like I’m pressing on a wound that’s too much to bear. “Damn it, Talia.”
I can’t look away as he loses himself in a blaze. I’m a prism, refracting his light. His features spin through a kaleidoscope of emotions starting at brutal need and ending with an unexpected vulnerability. My fear about the future disperses so quickly it’s hard to believe only minutes ago it felt inescapable. Bran isn’t some scary what-if. He’s a fact, a truth to hold on to against all life’s uncertainty. Why have I been so afraid he’ll see me as a walking disaster? He knows what it’s like to mess up, to feel like a failure. I need to reframe my question. Rather than asking what if Bran gets sick of me, maybe I should ask, what if we’ve worked our asses off, and finally have a shot at a real forever?
He falls to his knees and grabs me before I can take a breath or do anything but throw my arms around his lean shoulders. Water soaks through the white cotton of my pajama pants until I might as well be naked too.
“Show me the way back to you.” He buries his face in my neck, drags his lips to the place behind my ear, the headwaters for all delicious shivers.
“I want that so much.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes, go off the map.”
“We’re already there.”
He’s right. We’ve been explorers for some time. During the last little while it’s as if a blizzard descended, we were stuck in a whiteout, so close, but the snow made everything indistinguishable. At last, the storm’s abating and he’s right there, and I’m over here. Suddenly, we can see each other.
Within us is the way forward. We each possess half of the compass and must join together to find the right direction.
“You’ve got to know how much I need you.” A lock of his wet hair twists in a boyish curl.
I go to smooth it down, but my fingers tangle in the thick waves, and instead draw him closer.
He bows his head, still panting a little. “You can’t check out on me like that again. I can’t live this bloody life devoid of you—”
I brush my mouth over his lower lip, that reddening mark where his teeth left imprints. “I won’t. I’m so sorry. I-I’m ready to try. Thank you for believing in me.”
“I’ll never stop.”
We rest our foreheads together, holding one another upright. Droplets fall from his hairline onto my cheeks, joining fresh tears. He’s water, I’m water, and our flotsam and jetsam fit in a way that’s strange, yet familiar. I have no idea where we’re going, only that the way out is lined with broken feathers, bloodstains, marrow ash, and the serrated teeth of sharks.
This journey will take all I’ve got, a small price to have everything.
And that’s exactly what this guy in my arms is.
My rating: 4 stars
At the end of Sideswiped Bran and Talia separated in order to follow their dreams. Talia joined the peace corps and went to Africa to teach Bran joined a group in Antarctica to prevent illegal whaling . Bran and Talia’s dreams did not turn out how they wanted them and after a mishap in Africa Bran is by Talia’s side to make sure she is okay. Talia went into a downward spiral after she left the peacecorps. Bran and Talia have worked hard together to battle the demons of the past so they could have a happy future together. Not only that but Bran was not getting along with Talia’s father but despite everthing they stuck it out to have a future together. There was some steamy parts in the part and I particularly loved the bicep biting. I’m head over heels happy that Talia and Bran had a happy resolution to their problems and it was a great ending to the series.