Sweet Fall by Tillie Cole

Two weeks ago I opened my email and I swear I thought Christmas had come early. Because there in my inbox was my ARC of Sweet Fall by one of my all time favourite authors, Tillie Cole!! As you can probably imagine I didn’t go to bed until the early hours that night, but it was totally worth it! Before I start gushing like a teenage girl at a One Direction concert, here’s the blurb…

♥♥♥♥♥

Sweet Fall by Tillie Cole

From the USA Today Best Selling Sweet Home Series, comes Sweet Fall; a tale of heartache, beating the odds and finding strength in the most unlikeliest of places.

We all have secrets.

Secrets well buried.

Until we find the one soul who makes the burden of such secrets just that little bit easier to bear.

Lexington “Lexi” Hart is a senior at the University of Alabama. Surrounded by her best friends, her loving family and having fulfilled her life-long dream of making the Crimson Tide cheer squad, everything is going exactly as she always dreamed it would. But beneath her happy exterior, demons lurk, threatening to jeopardize everything Lexi has worked to achieve.

When events in her life become too much to cope with, Lexi finds herself spiraling down into the realm of her biggest fear. Lexi falls hard, victim once again to the only thing that can destroy her and, on the way, finds herself falling straight into the dangerous tattooed arms of a guy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Austin Carillo, starting Wide Receiver for the Alabama Crimson Tide, must get picked in this year’s NFL draft. He needs it. His brothers need it. Most importantly, his mother desperately needs it. Brought up in a world where the poor are forgotten, the sick are left to fend for themselves and no hero miraculously appears to pull you out of hell, Austin had no other choice but to make a living on the wrong side of the law—until football offered Austin the break to get his life back on track.

But when a family tragedy drags him back into the clutches of the gang he believed he had left far behind, Austin finds himself falling. Falling back into criminal ways and falling deep into a suffocating darkness. Until a troubled yet kindred spirit stumbles across his path, where Austin quickly finds he is falling for a young woman—a young woman who might just have the power to save him from his worst enemy: himself.

Can two troubled souls find a lasting peace together? Or will they finally succumb to the demons threatening to destroy them?

New Adult/Contemporary Romance novel—contains adult content, sexual situations and mature topics. Suited for ages 17 and up.

*CAN BE READ AS A STAND-ALONE NOVEL*

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Firstly I just have to say a massive thank you to Sweet Fall’s amazing author Tillie Cole for giving me the ARC and also for writing this story in the first place. This book is very personal to Tillie and I know from her Facebook that it was very difficult to write but I’m glad that she struggled through and got it published because this book is truly incredible. I’d only got through the Foreword from Tillie and was close to tears, because even if you’re not the emotional type I can guarantee this book will get to you.

From the previous two books in the series we know that Lexi is both a goth and a cheerleader…not the most obvious combination. She’s also Cass’s best friend and becomes a part of Molly’s new circle of friends when she arrives. As for Austin he’s Rome’s teammate from the Crimson Tide and best friend. Heavily tattooed and with a background with Italian gangs he’s the Tide’s bad boy. Both of them have dark secrets and pasts – pasts that, if they cross, could be devastating.

We learn at the very beginning of the book that Lexi struggles daily with inner demons – demons which threaten to destroy her and her new life. I battled over the decision on whether to reveal what Lexi’s demons are in this review but I decided that as it’s revealed at the very beginning of the book, it’s not really a spoiler. Lexi suffers from anorexia, one of the most devastating and horrific disorders around. What I found so brilliant in this book was how Tillie has written Lexi’s internal struggles down with this male voice telling her not to eat, that she’s so close to perfection if she loses a few pounds etc etc. By writing every detail of her emotions and internal monologues you come to understand both Lexi and her disorder so much better – it becomes more relatable, more real and because of that your heart breaks right along with her because you feel everything she feels. Her make-up is her mask, to hide what she really feels inside from everyone around her and herself.

Austin wears his scars in a different way. Growing up him and his two brothers only ever had each other and their Mum. When their Dad left, leaving them behind penniless, their mother did everything to make their lives happy and full of laughter but everything changed when she became ill. With no money for pain medication let alone for health insurance, the boys do the only thing they can and turn to the worst gang of them all – The Heighters. After escaping their hold of him Austin joined the Tide with dreams of the NFL draft and changing his family’s life for the better. But when the Heighter’s business finds him on campus once again, he has no chance of turning away this time.

Austin and Lexi know each other from both the field and as the friends of Molly & Rome. But one night Lexi sees something she shouldn’t and Austin has to warn her off, but by doing so he reveals a side of himself she hasn’t seen before….one that scares her half to death. Along the way though, an unlikely friendship forms and as they discover that they’re just as broken as the other, their feelings start to grow. But as they share the darkest side of themselves, can they fix one another or will it do more harm than good.

Their story is one packed full of emotion and one that really struck a chord for me. It’s just so beautifully written and the story is so packed full of emotion – so heart-wrenching and devastating – that you can’t help but feel everything along with them. Every tear, every break-through and every dark thought seem to resonate and when the last page is read your mind is reeling, your heart racing and I can assure you you’ll have the mother of all book hangovers for the next month – I read it two weeks ago and just thinking about it gives me shivers! I can’t speak highly enough of this book and if you didn’t pre-order or 1-click it already you have to go and do so RIGHT NOW!

Your mind will race, your heart will ache and every inch of you will feel the emotion jumping off the page. You will fall in love with the pair of them – every broken piece of them.  This book will ruin you, consume you and yet at the very end it’s all too bittersweet as you close the book smiling but with tears in your eyes. This has to be the best Tillie Cole book so far and if you haven’t bought it yet you’re an idiot. Thank you Tillie for giving the world a truly beautiful, heart-felt read.

Excerpt

Walking into the empty locker room, the smell of hairspray, perfume, and fruit-scented body wash seemed to hang like a veil in the air. I moved to my locker, taking out my wash bag and pulling out my cosmetic remover wipes, made my way to a mirror.

For a moment, I just stared. My green eyes were rimmed with black, my face pale with my light powder, and my lips were bright red, as red as the freshest of drawn blood. This was me now. This dark makeup defined me. My mask. And removing it at night was the worst part of every day.

With each swipe of the cotton cloth, my inner strength waned. My white-and-black makeup gave way to the pink skin of my natural face. All of my insecurities came flooding back. They always did.

As I dropped the caked wipe into the small trashcan at my feet, I inhaled. My armor was gone.

My eyes were firmly focused on the bright-white porcelain of the basin, but I forced myself to look up. Dr. Lund had taught me this process was an important part of my recovery.

The instant I lifted my head and faced my reflection, I had the same reaction I’d had for too many years—my heart proceeded to plummet to my stomach and all I felt was disgust.

There she was. Lexington. Lexington Hart. The girl with too many imperfections to ever be pretty. Everything unattractive, from her less-than-flawless complexion to the ugly spray of freckles on her nose.

She was disgusting.

She was fat.

We can improve this, Lexington. Just let me in. We can reach perfection.

My hands balled to fists on the lip of the sink as I fought the demon lurking within.

Reaching behind me, my eyes dipped as I unzipped my skirt, slowly working it over my hips and my feet. Next came my top and my underwear, until I stood naked.

Until I was again weak.

Tears fell from my eyes as I stood rock still, gazing at the tiled floor. It was the hardest thing to do. Facing the real me.

My cured body.

One… two… three… four… I counted internally, bracing myself for what I’d see today. Would I look better? Fatter? Thinner? Worse than ever?

Snapping open my pale-green eyes, I met my bare refection and just stared. My eyes swelled with water and my hand instinctively lifted to my collarbone. It was plumper than it should’ve been. It was once the most favorite part of my body, protruding, defined… visible. But not anymore.

Not anymore…

My fingers walked to the top of my arm, and my thumb and index finger pinched at the flesh of my bicep. I had to stifle a sob at how much fat I could pull.

Once all I could pull was skin. But not anymore.

Not anymore…

From out of nowhere, I heard faint laughing and my head whipped around to scour the room. There was nobody there, and chills ran down my spine as I realized who it was.

That is right. It is me, Lexington. No one else is here. Just me, looking at how much weight you have put on. And you, you are seeing the ugly effect of your gluttony too… I can see it in your eyes.

I physically froze.

Let me get you back to where you should be. To where you know you want to be. Just let me back in. Give me the reins. Hand yourself to me. Give yourself over to perfection.

As if being controlled like a puppet, my hands ran over my ribs. One, two, three, four, five, six… My fingers began tapping frantically at the skin. There was too much fat. I should be able to feel up to ten ribs, but I could only feel six. No! I could only feel six.

My hand dropped lower, my fingers prodding the excess flesh of my stomach. Lower still. No, no, no! My hips! My hips were not protruding, not angled or defined. There was too much fat. I’m too fat. Not again! Please! I… I—

Stop!

Lexi… fight it! I said to myself with urgency.

Panting hard, I came back to myself with a jolt. My pale, naked skin was peppered with red marks where I’d been hitting at my bones. Hives had broken out on my neck and chest, and my eyes were red with aggravation and stress.

Seven minutes.

Seven minutes and thirty-two seconds.

Seven minutes and thirty-two seconds until I could move again.

Until I could breathe right again.

Until I could fight the voice in my mind, trying to make me fall.

To find out more visit Goodreads or go and buy a copy for yourself from…

Amazon.co.uk (UK) or Amazon.com (USA)

Tillie Cole Author Pic

Tillie Cole is a Northern girl through and through. She originates from a place called Teesside on that little but awesomely sunny (okay I exaggerate) Isle called Great Britain. She was brought up surrounded by her English rose mother — a farmer’s daughter, her crazy Scottish father, a savagely sarcastic sister and a multitude of rescue animals and horses.

To find out more about Tillie visit her…

She’s even giving away a Kindle Fire HDX through a Rafflecopter giveaway – follow the link to enter!

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