walked out on her, leaving Rian alone to mourn when she lost her mother three
years later. Then he came back into her life senior year, igniting new
desires—and breaking her trust permanently when he enlisted in the army. Now
Rian has finally found an outlet for her rage against the world: mixed martial
arts. But just as she’s learning the ropes, Garrett Rhodes turns her life
inside-out one more time.
call that she’s in jail, he bails her out, no questions asked. The years have
toughened her. Made her harder. Sexier. All she needs to make it as an MMA
fighter is the right coach, and Garrett’s man enough to train her. He just has
to go toe-to-toe with “Raven,” the fearless woman who takes control in the ring
. . . without falling for Rian, the vulnerable girl who still drives him crazy.
“Rian? Rian, wait up,” a gruff voice calls.
Being new to the school and not having had the chance to make any friends yet, I keep moving, knowing he’s yelling for someone else that coincidentally has the same name.
I turn around to examine my surroundings, when a tall, lean boy runs directly into me, scattering my books and schedule across the hallway. Reaching down to pick up my belongings, the entire world stops when I make eye contact with the person who’s been screaming my name up and down the corridor. He was in fact calling out for me.
“Garrett,” I hoarsely whisper.
“I knew that was you back there. Not too many chicks named Rian,” he jokes, handing me a book I failed to retrieve.
“How did you know I was here?” Of all the schools in the world, I’m at the one with the only friend I ever really had.
“I was sitting in the back of Ms. Sullivan’s class. I didn’t recognize you at first, but when she said your name, I knew it had to be you.” Garrett pulls me into his arms and hugs me tightly. If I wasn’t carrying all of this stuff, I would have hugged him back. There’s so much to tell him. So much to talk about.
“Well, I have to get to class. Can we talk later?” I ask, not wanting to be late to another class.
“Yeah, meet me in the front. I’ll give you a ride home.” One more squeeze and he starts walking in the opposite direction.
The rest of the day passes by in a blur. All I can think about is seeing Garrett again. It’s amazing how he’s always there when I need him most. Kind of like my own personal guardian angel disguised in loose jeans, a tight T-shirt, and sneakers.
Waiting just outside the main entrance, I see his eyes before anything else. He’s the only person I know with such intense, yet comforting, blue eyes. It’s probably the only thing that hasn’t changed about him over the last three years. Standing a good foot taller than the other boys, he effortlessly moves through the crowd until he’s standing right in front of me.
“You ready?” he asks.
“Yep.” The butterflies I used to get when I knew him before come fluttering back, stealing all coherent thoughts from my brain. Please, God, don’t let me be one of those girls.
Garrett grabs my hand and I try to ignore the electric current racing up my arm, down my spine, and straight to my belly. I’ve never been electrocuted, but it probably feels just like this. Weaving through the rest of the students making their way through the parking lot, Garrett stops at a lifted black pickup truck. For the life of me, I’m not sure how I’m going to get inside this beast.
“Need some help?”
“If you want me to get in this thing, then yeah, I’m gonna need some help.” Before my brain has time to catch up, Garrett grabs hold of my hips and hoists me up and into the cab.
As I bunch my skirt between my knees, Garrett shuts the door, leaving me alone. I wait for him to enter and my thoughts are racing wildly through my head. How did he afford such a nice truck? Does he have a girlfriend? Does he know about my mom? Does he think I’m pretty? Can he tell I’m attracted to him? These aren’t a thirteen-year-old’s feelings I used to have for Garrett. No, we’ve skipped right over the puppy-love stage and entered the “how long until he’s rounding the bases?” phase, and the overwhelming need to know what his mouth tastes like and how his hands feel on my body have me ready to combust.
Garrett climbs into the truck, fires it to life, and takes off out of the parking lot like he owns the damn thing. Speeding down the road, we’re a good five minutes from the school before Garrett opens his mouth to speak.
“You’re lookin’ real good, Rian.”
“Thanks. You too,” I respond, trying to hide my crimson cheeks from his view.
“Where ya staying? You and your mom just move to town?” He has no idea what’s happened. One of a billion questions has been answered.
“Yeah and no. My mom died. I’m living down here with my aunt Elaine.”
Garrett’s face drops and he fumbles for a minute until he can find the words. “I’m real sorry, Ri. What happened?”
“Can we not talk about that right now? I wanna know what you’ve been up to.”
“Been living here since Dad got transferred a couple years back. I start on the basketball team and work part-time at the deli across town. Nothing real exciting.”
I shift nervously in my seat, wanting to ask about any romance in his life, but I can’t find a way to do it without prying. If he wants to tell me, he will.
“I’m really digging the new look. When I left, you were all about what the other girls were wearing. It’s cool to see you come into your own.” Turning my head toward the window, I let a small smile crack—the only one that’s shown since before everything happened with Tom. It feels real nice.
“Thanks. I like it, too. Feels more like me, you know?”
“Yeah. You always did like the way your mom dressed. You look just like her.” Quickly realizing that he’s talking about my mom again, he shuts his mouth and shakes his head. “I’m sorry. It’s just weird that she’s not here. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
I don’t even realize that tears have started to pool in my eyes, glazing them over. “It’s fine. These are her clothes. When I left home, I didn’t want to be the same girl I had been before. Worrying about what the latest trends are just to fit in was never me. I had to make do when you left. It was hard without you,” I whisper, wishing I could take it back.
“If I didn’t have to leave, I never would have. You know that, right? You were my best friend.”
“I know if you didn’t have to, you wouldn’t have. It wasn’t pleasant. For so long, I had you to protect me from the wolves, and then one day you were gone. I’m happy to see you again.”
“What do you say we make up for some lost time?” Garrett asks with a devilish grin. I know that look and exactly what he’s planning to do.
“There’s a lake nearby?” I’m not familiar with the area, only having come here a few times when I was younger, but he has to know it like the back of his hand by now.
“Yep. You up for it?”
“I ain’t no chicken. Let’s go.”
* A review copy was provided by the author via NetGalley for the Blog Tour *
~ 5 Raven Stars ~
WOW!!! What an amazing book!! This was so much more than I expected.
Raven is only the second book of Ashley Suzanne’s that I have read, but the first one where she is the only author. I believe after reading Raven I have found another go to author for me. I will definitely be reading more books by this author in the future.
Raven was such a unique story about a girls journey to happiness and forgiveness. I was drawn to the book from the blurb. I couldn’t wait to read about a female MMA fighter. Even though that was the main reason for reading this book and it really wasn’t as big of part of the book as I thought it would be, I wasn’t disappointed in this book what so ever!!!.. I thought the flow and pace of the story was perfect. We got just enough history and information to make the characters feel real and the storyline to be believable. I loved the characters in this story. I found I was able to connect with Rian and Garrett pretty early on and I felt every emotion they felt while reading this book.
In this story we meet Rian and Garrett. When we first meet them they are teenagers and best friends. Garrett really looked out for Rian when she was bullied by many at school. Rian was a young girl from a broken home who had a hippy for a mom and no dad, but she was happy. That was until her mom married Tom and Garrett if forced to move away with his military family. What happens from here is a string of bad luck and heartbreak for Rian. After all this turmoil, Rian is left broken hearted and also not willing to trust or form bonds with anyone. What I loved about this book was that it also turned out to be like a second chance romance story. Because Rian does eventually reunite with Garrett and to say it’s explosive is putting it mildly. Now I don’t want to go into to much more detail because that would spoil things. Just know this I truly believe that Rian and Garrett are characters everyone should meet.
So I am just going to leave this here by saying this book definitely deserves 5 stars and nothing less. Even though there are some tough subjects discussed and some heartache throughout the story, this really was a very sweet and wonderful love story between two people who are just destined to be together. You can’t help but root for Rian and Garrett all the way through.
Even though this is listed as a first in Ashley’s new series, Raven is a stand-alone novel. You get a complete story with this book and are left with happiness in your heart.
author she is today. When Ashley isn’t coming up with her next story, you’ll
most likely find her on the couch, telling her husband all about her new book
boyfriend, or spending quality time with her two gremlins . . . er, adorable