Meet Natalie and Liam in Consolation!
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Liam wasn’t supposed to be my happily ever after.
He wasn’t even on my radar.
He was my husband’s best friend—forbidden.
But my husband is dead and I’m alone. I ache for him and I reach for Liam.
One night with Liam changed everything. Now I have to decide if I truly love him or if he’s just the consolation prize.
Copyright © 2015 Corinne Michaels
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or publisher.
“Oh, Chloe, if you’d like to come out, please wait until your Daddy gets back,” I insist, holding my belly as another Braxton Hicks contraction hits. I grip the dresser and try to breathe through it. It seems like they’re coming more frequently.
Once it passes, I try to finish what I came in here for. Aaron is away, but I want the nursery done so we can enjoy the next few weeks once he returns. I walk around what will be her room, putting a few more of the pretty pink dresses in the drawers. Aaron and I have fought about the vast array of pink things that are now strewn around the house—he hates it, I love it.
He insisted we paint her room in camouflage. Brown, green, and black camouflage for a girl? No. I almost sent myself into labor with that argument. I got home and he and Mark were drawing it out on the walls. I launched various household items at Mark while throwing him out of the house. My husband found out shortly after how much he could suffer by my hands. I may not be a SEAL, but you don’t mess with me either. In the end, I won with purple walls and the sheer netting around her white crib.
“Daddy’s going to love this room, Chloe. I can’t wait to see his face when he sees the pretty butterflies.” Needing to take another break, I sit in the rocking chair and rub my stomach. It soothes me knowing she’s in there. I can protect her—it’s my job. I love being pregnant and it’s a miracle we were able to conceive her. I’ve already told Aaron I want to try for another one as soon as she’s born. I close my eyes and sink, allowing the world to fade away.
I imagine holding her in my arms, sitting here in this chair, soothing and kissing her. I picture Aaron with her asleep on his chest as she gets to hear his heartbeat. She’ll own his world and have him wrapped around her finger.
Knock, knock, knock.
I hear the door, but it takes me a few seconds to get out of the chair.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK.
They bang louder this time.
“Coming!” I yell at the door. Jeez, give me a second.
Waddling to the door takes me a minute since I’m the size of a whale.
I open the door and see Mark Dixon, Aaron’s boss and close friend. He works at Cole Security Forces with Aaron and served with him for years. His head is hanging low and when he looks up, his eyes are full of sorrow.
“Lee,” he chokes on the one syllable of my name. The one Aaron uses. Something is definitely not right.
“What happened?” I ask again as I begin to shake.
Tears fill his eyes and I know. I know my life is never going to be the same. I know everything I’ve ever feared is about to come true because Mark doesn’t cry. Mark wouldn’t be at my door if something weren’t really, really wrong. “It’s Aaron.”
My heart stops beating and the world I live in ceases to exist. “Don’t,” I beg with tears blurring my vision and my breath accelerating.
This can’t be happening.
“Please, don’t, Mark. Please,” I beg him again, because once he says it…but I know it’s futile. It doesn’t matter because he can’t stop it. It’s already happened.
“Natalie, I’m so sorry.”
The dreaded words that every military wife fears. Only I wasn’t supposed to have to worry about this anymore. We were done. We got out. I wasn’t supposed to ever fear this again.
Please, God, don’t take him from me. Please!
“But, I’m p-pregnant. I’m having a baby,” I stammer as if that will somehow make none of this real. “He said he’d be back. He said he…” I trail off as it becomes difficult to breathe. My hand flies to my mouth to stifle the scream about to escape. Everything goes colorless.
“It was an IED. I’m sorry,” Mark says as his eyes glimmer with unshed tears.
But he’s there, cradling me in his arms. “I’m so fucking sorry.”
“No. No. No.” Mark holds me as I sob clutching my stomach. “You’re lying,” I hiss, tearing myself out of his embrace.
“I wish I were,” he says as I struggle to get up.
“It was a mistake. He’s having a baby. He said it was a simple in and out!” I scream and throw my hands against his chest. “You’re lying!” I scream, even knowing it’s not a lie.
“Stop saying you’re sorry!” My sorrow turns to hatred. I hate him. I hate everyone in this moment. I hate Aaron and everyone who was there. I hate this house and everything in it. I hate the air that he no longer breathes. Hate consumes me. Hate smothers me. “Get out!” I yell and push against his chest. “Get the fuck out of my house! Aaron will be back in a few days and then we’re going to get ready for our daughter to be born.”
“Please,” Mark beseeches and I refuse to look at him.
This isn’t happening because Aaron’s alive.
He’s not dead. How dare Mark lie to me.
“He’ll be back. He wouldn’t leave me. He promised.” Aaron wouldn’t lie to me. He never does. When he left for missions, he would always say goodbye like it could be our last. But this time he kissed the tip of my nose and said, “Now don’t have that baby until I get back.”
“Can I call someone? Your mom?”
“No, you can’t call anyone because he’s not dead! Go get him, Mark! Go get my husband and bring him home.” I step back pointing my finger at him. “You all promised. He promised.” I clutch my stomach as a sharp pain radiates, but it’s nothing compared to the agony sitting on my chest. Tears flow relentlessly as I struggle against his hold. “He promised.”
“I know he did,” Mark says as he holds my head against his chest.
My life is gone.
My heart is dead.
I’m a widow at twenty-seven.
*****5 HEARTFELT STARS*****
As I sit here writing this review, I must admit that I am still fully under the charming, effervescent, and simply fantastic spell of Consolation. It’s only March, but I already know that this book will be one of my favorites of this year.
It was that good. It was that enthralling. It was that amount of everything that makes a book something truly wonderful.
Consolation is the first book in The Consolation Duet, and it is the third book I’ve read by Corinne Michaels. I absolutely loved her other two books to pieces, and Jackson Cole practically melted me, so clearly it wasn’t a stretch that I was going to love this one, although I have to say that I think I loved me some Natalie and Liam just a smidge bit more. (But don’t tell Jackson Cole that, because then things could get awkward, and that’s just unnecessary.)
Consolation tells the story of Natalie and Liam, two people who never thought they’d end up where they are. She’s a young widow with a baby, and he’s her deceased husband’s best friend. They’ve got one serious connection going on, and Consolation follows their remarkable characters as they try to make sense of all that’s happening. Consolation was definitely an emotional read with so many ups and downs, but that’s just part of what made me love it so much.
What I absolutely loved about Consolation:
- The immense level of emotion. The first thing that struck me when reading this book was the level of emotion that I felt almost instantly. Corinne Michaels throws you right into the thick of all of that emotion and feeling, and that is exactly what needed to happen for Natalie and Liam’s story. Experiencing that level of emotion just helps you get it all. It also allows you the extraordinary chance to really experience what Natalie and Liam are, making all that they go through that more real, that more intense, and that more emotionally powerful. This book will blow you away with how much feeling it has on every page, and it’ll give you every varied and thoughtfully crafted emotion under the sun, which you will love getting to experience.
- Natalie’s magnificent journey. Natalie is put through the wringer with what she experiences in Consolation, and the instant you meet her your heart will go to her. You will love her, feel for her, and simultaneously want to hug her. Natalie’s story is filled with heartbreak and some serious pain, and your heart will break for her, but one thing about Natalie is that she has more strength than even she realizes. You will feel that strength as you get to know her, and it will bring out the most outstanding things in her. Even in those moments when she is vulnerable as all get out and has her doubts and questions about how she’s going to get through it all that strength emanates from her in the most breathtaking way. You will just be in awe of where Natalie starts to where she ends up through her amazing journey in Consolation.
- Liam’s heart melting self. I think Liam just about melted my heart over the course of Consolation. He was honest and raw and he had a heart of gold that just made me fall more and more head over heels in love with his character. I was pleasantly surprised that I got a chance to read his perspective in Consolation, and that honestly made this book for me because it allowed me the chance to understand exactly where he was coming from. Liam is in such a tough position because he’s falling for his best friend’s widow, but I promise you will never doubt the heartfelt feelings coming from him. Liam just stole my heart with what he thinks and feels for Natalie. You will not doubt an ounce of what he has for her, and the level of vulnerability that man exuberates repeatedly will just melt you.
- Banter galore! While this book has a lot of heavy, it also has a heavy dose of some utterly fantastic banter. Liam and Natalie can really go at it, and I was cracking up at the charming and hysterical banter those two had. That banter will make you smile and laugh, and it brings such a level of fun and humor to this emotionally charged story. It really is just the best, and it helps showcase the wonderfully dynamic and strong willed personalities of Liam and Natalie.
- The way Natalie & Liam come to be. Natalie and Liam definitely have a unique story. They’ve known each other for ages, but have only recently come to feel the way they do because of circumstances beyond both of their control. Reading and experiencing how Natalie and Liam’s relationship develops over the course of this book is simply amazing. It’s superbly developed and written, and it just makes sense. All the hesitancies, the questions, the back and forth, the doubts, and everything in between that Natalie and Liam share seem exactly as they should. The connection and just pull that Natalie and Liam have towards one another is a force unto itself, and it just heightens everything that’s happening between them.
- The huge OMG moments. This book has some serious OMG moments. I freaking yelled at my Kindle when I was reading this book. A few times. I also think I gasped more than once, because there were MANY moments that I did not see coming. Moments that shocked me. Moments that had me reeling and thinking and wondering what in the world would happen next. And holy all get out, THAT ENDING, but that just makes me all the more ready for the conclusion to this beautiful duet filled with all those huge moments.
- The best friends you could ask for. What I’ve loved about all of the books by Corinne Michaels is the supporting and authentic friendships she creates with her characters. The love and connections they all share will just make you happy to read. In Consolation, I loved getting the chance to spend time with the characters I’ve come to love from her other books, while getting to know new characters more. Reanell in particular was a gem, and I loved her little spunky self something fierce! This author develops and brings these distinctive characters to life in such a fabulous way that makes you want to spend as much time as humanly possible with them all because they are all just that fun, and that endearing, and that important.
- A man with a baby. I repeat: A MAN WITH A BABY. One of my favorite aspects of this book was getting to see one Liam Dempsey navigate the new waters of possibly starting a relationship with someone who had a child. Reading that man as he interacted and got to know Aarabelle, Natalie’s daughter, just about stole my heart. Literally. Nothing sells me more than a man who loves a child, especially when that child isn’t actually his. The love and care and just heart that Liam has for that little girl had me practically swooning all the time, and coupled with many moments of man with a baby humor, I was just more and more in love with Liam and Consolation.
- The level of realness. I can’t say enough how real this book felt as I read it. I didn’t feel like I was reading it, I felt like I was living it. I’m not married to someone in the military, but this book showed me a glimpse of what that’s like. I’m not a mother yet, but this book made me feel like a part of me was already. I’ve never lost my husband, but this book allowed me the chance to see and experience what a life changing event like that is, and all of the repercussions an event like that holds. That is a true testament to Corinne Michaels and her writing because she created all of that. All of the emotion. All of the vulnerability and feeling. All of the ups and downs and realness and flaws that goes along with this story. She created it all, and she did it in such a beautifully breathtaking way that allowed me the exceptional chance to get all of that and more.
Consolation by Corinne Michaels was an enthralling read that gave me Liam and Natalie’s passionate, emotionally laced, and heart pulling story. I immediately connected with them both, and reading these two try to make sense of what they were feeling and thinking was just terrific. When you read their story in Consolation you will fall in love with their characters and all that they go through together, and you’ll be more than ready to see where the road is going to take them.
Corinne Michaels has written and created another story that I could get lost in, and I am just thrilled with what I got to experience in this book with Liam and Natalie. I got to see and understand those characters to their core, and my heart just went to both of them. This book and its events pushed them and in turn pushed me as the reader in the best ways, and that push exemplifies all that is outstanding about Consolation.
Consolation is a book that will give you so much. It’ll give you a story that will pull you in from the first word to the very last. It’ll give you two dynamic characters who’ll enamor you with their many authentic and remarkable qualities. It’ll give you events that will leave you feeling everything under the sun, and it’ll give you a reading experience you will just want to relish in again and again because it’s just that good.
Corinne Michaels is an emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun loving mom of two beautiful children. She’s happily married to the man of her dreams and is a former Navy wife. After spending months away from her husband while he was deployed, reading and writing was her escape from the loneliness.
Both her maternal and paternal grandmothers were librarians, which only intensified her love of reading. After years of writing short stories, she couldn’t ignore the call to finish her debut novel, Beloved. Her alpha Navy SEALs are broken, beautiful, and will steal your heart.
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