Title: Awaken (Spiral of Bliss, #3)
Author: Nina Lane
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Release date: January 7th 2014
“I love that you love me, professor.”
“I love loving you, beauty.”
Since their intense, passionate beginning, Professor Dean West and his wife Olivia have fought dark secrets and betrayal in order to save their marriage. Now reeling in the aftermath of a personal tragedy, Liv and Dean are driven further apart by a vindictive threat to Dean’s career.
Struggling to stand on her own for the first time in years, Liv is determined to defend her husband and prove herself. Then an unexpected letter dredges up old insecurities and endangers Liv’s newfound independence. As Dean fights for his professional life, he is forced to confront his worst fear when he discovers that he can’t protect his beloved wife from her own painful past.
5 stars - Exquisitely beautiful, intensely erotic. Books like this remind me just why I love reading so much.
“I’m at your feet forever, Olivia Rose,” I whispered the instant before our lips met. “I’ll move heaven and earth to give you whatever you want, whatever you need.”
“Oh, Dean.” She pressed her hand to the side of my face.
“All I need is you.”
The first two books in the Spiral of Bliss trilogy, Arouse and Allure, were amongst my favourites in 2013 and I’d been looking forward to reading the conclusion to Liv & Dean’s story for a long time and I will admit to a small fear that Awaken wouldn’t live up to my expectations as we bring their story full circle to a close but my fear proved to be ungrounded and it was just so good to be back in their world, their insular little bubble. As soon as I started Awaken, the beautiful almost lyrical writing style instantly evoked the spirit of the first two books and I immediately fell straight back in step with the central characters and the feelings and emotions came flooding back as I was instantly transported back into the intensity that is their story. I was lost once more and I didn’t want to be found.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” I say. “That we found each other and flew in love. How strong we are together, how much more we’ve become because we know how to love each other. How so much has changed…”
This was just an exquisite reading experience. Books like Arouse, Allure and Awaken, the whole Spiral of Bliss trilogy, remind me just why I love reading so much. So often, when reading romance, I fall head over heels in love with the hero and that’s definitely the case with Dean, our Professor Hottie, but I also found myself feeling that way about Liv, our heroine. Her character rings out loud and true from the words on the page and there’s just something about Liv that has made her pretty much my favourite literary heroine ever. There’s an incredible innocence and purity about her, despite the trials of her past, her dark experiences – she’s got an almost ethereal presence. I can see what Dean sees in her, why she fires those protective instincts in him but Liv is a girl who knows her own mind and is now trying to step out from Dean’s protective cocoon and make a name for herself in the world. With her husband’s backing, of course.
This man would give me the stars, the moon, the sun. He has slayed monsters for me and alongside me. He’s battled through dark, tangled woods with me because he has never once wavered in his belief that we are meant to be forever. He would do anything for me. For us.
He’s a rare gift, my husband, perfect and flawed and completely, unreservedly mine.
As the story progresses, Liv & Dean have to deal with the fallout from events that took place in Allure. I don’t want to give away the plot but Dean has to take a leave of absence and leave Liv behind for a while as he deals with the accusations laid at his feet while Liv tries to get over her loss and get herself back on her feet after losing yet another job.
Their absence from one another is beautifully told. There’s an almost physical pain in the longing these two share for one another, how difficult it is for them to be apart and their desperate need for one another is a tangible thing. They may share some sexy phone calls and online video chats but it’s not the same and their separation is incredibly hard for them and for me as a reader. I just wanted nothing more than for the two of them to be back together – for the world outside to stop snapping at their heels, trying to tarnish the beautiful love that they share.
Still scares me sometimes. How much I love her. All this stuff about her needing me, relying on me, depending on me… when I’m the one who can’t take his next breath without her.
Liv’s feckless, selfish mother makes a reappearance much to mine and Dean’s disgust. She tries to reconnect with Liv but senses tension in her daughter's relationship with her husband and tries to make her see it differently from her prospective. When she puts her spin on it, I could see what she was saying but she knows nothing about love and Dean and Liv know everything about love. She made me so ANGRY I wanted to bare my teeth and growl at her – she attempted to tarnish their relationship, make it into something dirty and sordid when, to me at least, it’s one of the purest love stories I think I’ve ever had the honour to read.
Dean – well, just how much do I love that gorgeous, sexy Professor?? Immeasurably, I suspect. I felt his pain and angst so keenly in Awaken. He’s had his hand forced and is now being separated from everything that he loves – his wife, his job, academia by the actions of a selfish, foolish girl. All he wants is to be left alone to love his wife and teach his students but the outside world has a nasty way of interfering and attempting to burst his bubble. He’s so strong, so protective and so incredibly in love with Liv but he realises he needs to let go a little and give her some space and freedom and I admired the way he did this when every single one of his instincts was crying out to grab her and hide away with her and just protect her from the wolves at the door. He has a lot to deal with in Awaken and there were times when my heart just melted for the pain he was suffering.
“When we first met, I felt like I’d woken up,” he says, his gaze on the floor. “Like everything before you had just been the prologue to my real life. I’d spent all those years waiting for you, not even knowing I was waiting, and then you were there. The second I saw you, I knew I’d do whatever it took to make you mine. But even when I did…it scared the hell out of me, being with you.”
You’re the only woman who’s ever made me afraid.
I think what struck me as I was reading Awaken was just how deeply I’ve fallen into these books. The whole trilogy is exquisitely beautiful, intensely erotic and so full of deep emotions that I’ve just been lost in their story. The character development here is second to none as Nina Lane delivers both a hero and a heroine that I don’t think I can or will ever forget. They’re completely believable and will live forever in my imagination. This is a story about the purity of love and it’s so beautifully paced that all the reader needs to do is just give themself over to Nina and let her take you on a beautiful sensual ride of elegant romance and just go with the flow. It’ll make you happy, sad and angry all in one fell swoop as it’s angsty and sorrowful despite being incredibly uplifting and full of hope. It’s a stellar reading experience, not to be missed and a Sinfully Sexy recommendation.
I tighten my arms around my wife, knowing that in years to come I’ll have to let go in ways I’ve never imagined. And somehow, that will be okay.
I understand now, for the first time ever. Love is both so complicated and so simple because it’s all the emotions in the universe distilled into one.
5 exquisite stars
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