Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

ARC Review: Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins

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Stir Me Up
   by: Sabrina Elkins

Publication Date: Oct. 1, 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 245 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 5/5 stars


Cami Broussard has her future all figured out. She'll finish her senior year of high school, then go to work full-time as an apprentice chef in her father's French restaurant, alongside her boyfriend, Luke. But then twenty-year-old ex-Marine Julian Wyatt comes to live with Cami's family while recovering from serious injuries. And suddenly Cami finds herself questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Julian's all attitude, challenges and intense green-brown eyes. But beneath that abrasive exterior is a man who just might be as lost as Cami's starting to feel. And Cami can't stop thinking about him. Talking to him. Wanting to kiss him. He's got her seriously stirred up. Her senior year has just gotten a lot more complicated....

Contains mature content and some sexual situations. Suited for readers 16 and up.

 

My Review:

I first became aware of this book after seeing Sara from Forever 17 Books post it as one of her Waiting on Wednesdays. I have been on such a contemporary kick lately so when I got the email from Harlequin asking if I wanted to review it- I jumped at the chance. And I am SO very glad I did! I really enjoyed this book! I enjoyed both Cami and Julian's characters and watching them evolve as individuals and as a couple was definitely a huge bonus for me.

Cami is a 17 year old senior in high school who lives for working at her father's restaurant. Cooking is in her blood and she wouldn't have it any other way, despite her father's insistence she start looking at colleges. Cami's life is turned upside down when her father recruits her to go with his new wife Estella to help her nephew Julian, a Marine who has been critically injured while serving overseas. She is definitely not happy taking time away from the restaurant and her boyfriend, Luke. Luke and Cami's relationship is in the discovery phase and is really starting to heat up. Cami, however, is not quite ready for sex and while she wants to explore these feelings she is also afraid of going too far and not being able to stop. I enjoyed Luke and Cami together at first, but after awhile, I just felt Luke kept pushing her and only wanted to spend their time together exploring each other. Cami wasn't exactly against the exploring, but she did have her limits and while Luke respected them, you could tell the two were pulling in different directions. As if Cami's life isn't complicated enough, Julian is coming to live with them while he recovers.

Oh, Julian. The boy stole my heart almost instantly despite his surly, negative attitude. When we first meet him, he is such a dark, angry character. He is unfriendly and bitter, wanting to be left alone. My heart shattered into a million pieces for him. Not only is he struggling with his physical disability and the fact he isn't the man he used to be, but mentally he is having to cope with the horrors of being overseas and watching comrades fall in front of him, knowing there was nothing he could do. He is haunted by what he has seen and blames himself for not being able to do more. Cami tries to treat him with respect and be understanding of him, but there comes a point where she's had enough. She's tired of tiptoeing around this guy, who has not only taken over her room, but has invaded her house with his negativity and brash exterior. I think Julian really ends up respecting her for not placating him and giving him special treatment.

Julian and Cami's relationship is very slow moving. I think the pacing was perfect. Julian is suffering from a very traumatic experience and has an injury that makes him feel as if he isn't whole. He has a lot of demons to overcome and has a long road ahead of learning how to live with his disability and then eventually accept it and move forward. As stated above in the blurb, this is considered Mature Young Adult due to sexual situations. I found that aspect of Cami and Julian's relationship to be absolutely beautiful. Cami doesn't see the broken man in front of her- she sees the young, good-looking, sexy Marine and she isn't bothered by his disability in the least bit. He makes her feel things that Luke never did and together, they both make one another feel desired, wanted, and loved.

"There are five smaller scars on his torso that I can see. He's so beautiful, like a young David Beckham only with scars instead of tattoos. I kiss each of them and then he pulls me up and looks at me like he's searching inside my mind for something." (e-ARC pg. 142)

There is so much more to this book than just a romance. Cami doesn't know what she wants to do with her future: she just knows she wants to cook. It's her passion, yet her father doesn't feel that she should have that kind of life. He wants more for his daughter- he wants her to get an education, to explore all her options before she makes the decision to be a chef. He has seen first hand how it can be an isolated, lonely life due to the sheer number of hours that are required to do such a profession. He doesn't want her to be overworked and not able to enjoy a family, which is why he is pushing so hard for her to go to school first. I love how prominent Cami's family was in this book. Most YA contemporaries don't place much focus on the main character's family, so I was pleasantly surprised at just how great a role Cami's father and step-mother played in this book.

Even though Cami is finishing up her senior year and is looking for guidance, Julian refuses to influence her in any way. He wants her to live out her dreams and explore life for herself. Cami needs to learn to be independent and focus on what she wants so she can discover her life's course.

"What I need to do is go out there and find out who I am. Explore the world a little. Taste it, take a bite of it. And then when I come back, not step into a footprint my father or boyfriend or anyone else made for me, but find my own way to make a footprint myself." (e-ARC 228)

This was such a beautiful book that highlights two characters' journey to self-discovery, forgiveness and acceptance, and most importantly finding the kind of love that's worth saving yourself for.


Early Praise:

“Cami’s slow burn for a wounded hero will rivet readers. I seriously loved this book.” Jennifer Echols, author of DIRTY LITTLE SECRET
 
“Fun, steamy, and leaves you hungry for more. Sabrina Elkins nails the vulnerability of becoming an adult and the choices that come with growing up.”
—Katie McGarry, author of DARE YOU TO

About Sabrina Elkins:

SABRINA ELKINS, author of STIR ME UP, has also worked as a journalist, movie copywriter and prep cook. She grew up in Vermont, graduated from USC, and now lives in Southern California with her husband and three kids.
Sabrina loves hearing from fans and encourages you to visit her website, sabrinaelkins.com, and find her on Twitter @sabrina_elkins, Facebook, and at Goodreads.
 

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20 comments

  1. I saw this one NetGalley and went back and forth over requesting it for a while, I ended up not requesting it just because I have so so so many review books right now. Now though, I'm kinda regretting it. This sounds like a great read and one that I would love. Fantastic review Jessica!

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    1. Oh yes! Teresa, I'm officially obsessed with this book. OBSESSED with a sexy former Marine named Julian. SIGH.

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  2. Great review!

    I've been hearing some goooood things about this one, and I really want to read it, too!! I like the pacing was perfect and that the book is much more than just romance :) You make me really wanna read this one!

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    1. Yes! I want you to read this Magen! I need more people to squeal with me over it!

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  3. I'm not sure why, but I adore books with cooking in them! I'm really glad you enjoyed Stir Me Up. I've been seeing it everywhere this week.

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    1. I do too Andrea! I think it's because I love to cook (when I have time to do it) and so reading other recipes is so cool.

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  4. I clicked this open and then, Ohai my name! <333

    I'm so glad the romance took a longer approach given the storyline and I'm so happy you liked this! I'm reading it next!

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    1. HAH! Yes! Thank you for introducing me the wonderfulness of this book Sara!!!

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  5. This is my first time hearing about this book but I just love the sound of it! I love the idea that the book is not just a romance but there is more to it than that. That is what I like to see. Great review Jess, can't wait to read this one now :)

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    1. Thanks Trish! I definitely hope you like it when you get to it!

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  6. Great review Jess! I really like the sound of this one. I am getting a bit burnt out on NA and need to migrate back towards some mature YA contemporaries a bit. This one is now at the top of my list.

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    1. That sounds like an excellent plan Chelsea! I feel you- I am getting SO burnt out on NA's. I've definitely been happy switching it up a bit!

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  7. This one sounds interesting! I like that cooking is her passion! Julian sounds like a great character, for some reason I tend to like surly, injured males! Her family sounds great, too! I hadn't heard of this one before but it sounds like something I might enjoy. Great review!

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    1. Yes! Julian was amazing! My heart broke for him so many times over, but I fell hopelessly in love.

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  8. This actually looks quite interesting. I like that the book isn't fully focused on romance, and theirs other aspects to the novel. I might just give this a go, just to see what I think. Fantastic review! :)

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    1. Thanks Jack! Let me know if you do give this one a shot- I'd be curious to hear what you think!

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  9. I like the sound of this one -- a bit different! And Julian sounds amazing, I definitely want to read this one! Also. This comment would not be complete if I didn't mention the fact that yes, I am still obsessed with Pepe. (but seriously, how many book covers does he do??)

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    1. :D I can't wait for you to read this! And I'll be honest- Pepe on the cover definitely drew me in first! LOL.

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  10. I can't wait to start this one! It sounds soo good! Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. YAY! I want everyone to read this book!!!

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