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Blog Tour: On Solid Ground by Michelle Kemper Brownlow {Review+Giveaway}

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Welcome to my stop on the On Solid Ground blog tour hosted by Xpresso Tours!
To see the full tour schedule please click HERE.

On Solid Ground (In Too Deep #2)
   by: Michelle Kemper Brownlow

Publication Date: Dec. 3, 2013
Publisher: Createspace
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by Xpresso Tours and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 434 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Gracie survived an emotionally abusive relationship that wrecked her. Her ex, Noah, systematically chipped away at her self-esteem through intimidation, humiliation and infidelity which left Gracie unable to trust her own perception of his intentions. But after falling head over heels for Jake, her best friend and the man who stood by her through it all, she is ready to experience life in the way it was meant to be lived.  However, Gracie may find it impossible to simultaneously heal from the trauma of abuse while navigating a relationship with Jake. Can she put her heart on hold in order to heal her soul? The sequel to the five-star debut novel, In Too Deep, chronicles Gracie’s steps toward healing as she falls deeper in love, reaches out for help, stands on her own, steps out of her comfort zone, faces her biggest fears, and reconnects with a sensual, talented soul from her past all in hopes of finding herself on solid ground.

My Review:
I read and reviewed MK's In Too Deep earlier in the year and it was such an emotionally, heartbreaking story. Our main character Gracie has been through so much, so when I saw MK was writing a sequel my heart skipped a few beats. She has been beaten down emotionally and physically by her ex-boyfriend Noah and I hated how he manipulated her. Her self-confidence and self-esteem have been shredded to pieces by this guy. While Gracie has finally broken the vicious cycle known as Noah Foster, she is still dealing with the aftermath he has left. I was so proud of her at the end of the first book and I love that she is learning to stand on her own two feet. The best part? She doesn't have to do it alone. As I said before, she has a great support system- and her biggest cheerleader of all happens to be Jake Rockwell, Noah's former friend.
All I can say is this: JAKE. <3 Damn, I have so much love for that boy. SO. MUCH. LOVE. In the first book Jake understood that Gracie needed to be the one to take charge and cut ties with Noah. As much as it killed him to give her tough love, she really needed it in the end. Their relationship with each other is absolutely beautiful and it shows Gracie that love can be pure and healthy. This is something she never had with Noah.
Jake and Gracie's relationship is really tested in On Solid Ground. Gracie is still haunted by nightmares of Noah and she hates that she haves these nightmares while she's safe in Jake's arms. She should be able to give her whole heart to him- not one that has been fractured by Noah. This really eats away at her and she begins to question whether or not she jumped into a relationship with Jake too fast after she finally let go of Noah. She wonders if she's getting better because she has the strength to or if it's because she has Jake to constantly lean on. As much as Gracie loves Jake, she knows that she has to focus on her healing and growing stronger. In order to do that, Gracie must make some decisions regarding their relationship that will test them both in ways they never thought possible.
Watching Gracie transform from a broken, shattered girl to a strong, vibrant, self-assured woman is absolutely my favorite part of this book. She has so many good people in her corner that are there to encourage and help her along the way, but ultimately she is the one who has to make peace with her past and we see her take steps to do that in a variety of ways. Music is such a huge outlet for her. She begins playing the guitar and writing again, two things that made her happy in the past. Gracie ends up connecting with Calon Ridge, lead singer of a local band called Alternate Tragedy. Calon and Gracie actually met at a party during her sophomore year and shared a moment during one of her break ups with Noah. They shared a connection then and it is evident they still do. Calon is an intense character and he intimidates her. I was ready to despise Calon because it's clear he has feelings for Gracie, but he actually ended up being another pillar of strength and encouragement for her. Both of them can relate to one another on a creative musical level and he is the one who can help her achieve her goals of playing and learning to perform in front of others. Calon harbors some pain of his own, having lost someone very special to him. I am really proud of the fact that although he has feelings for Gracie, he sees how much she loves Jake and respects that.
Naturally, seeing Gracie spend time with Calon is not easy for Jake. He is jealous of Calon- he doesn't feel he can compete with someone like him. Gracie is still fragile and vulnerable and he is afraid Calon could sweep her off her feet and take her away from him. Both Gracie and Jake have their jealous moments, but both of them must learn to trust and believe in the other's love.  
Becki is another bright spot in this story. She is a friend of Gracie's and watching them reinforce their friendship is beautiful. Becki is hyper, wild, but a good friend to her. She is the source of fun Gracie needs to help her come out of her shell and I liked watching them spend time together.
This is Gracie's story of healing and I think MK did a great job of telling it. Gracie really learns a lot about herself and her self-worth and self-confidence levels soar in this one. Jake's love for her is absolutely breathtaking and beautiful and some of the things they say to one another made me tear up. (I want my own Jake!) Gracie develops new friendships that ground her and keep her chin pointed up. But most importantly, she finally is able to confront her past and the people that made it the way it was and be able to look back on it with a sense of closure and move forward into the life she always deserved.

About the Author:

Michelle Kemper Brownlow has been a storyteller her entire life. Her debut was on the high school cheerleading bus granting requests to re-tell her most embarrassing moments for a gaggle of hysterical squadmates.

Earning her Bachelor’s degree from Penn State University in Art Education and then marrying her very own “Jake,” she moved to Binghamton, NY where she taught high school. After having two children she quit work and finished her Master’s degree in Elementary Education at Binghamton University.

The Brownlow family of four moved to Michelle’s hometown of Morgantown, PA while the children were still quite young. A few years after moving, her family grew by one when they welcomed a baby into their home through the gift of adoption. The family still resides in PA, just miles from where that high school cheer bus was parked.

Michelle has been an artist for as long as she can remember, always choosing pencils and crayons over toys and puzzles. As a freelance illustrator, her simple characters play the starring roles in numerous emergent reader books published by Reading Reading Books.

“Writing is my way of making sense of the world. When I give my characters life on the pages I write, it frees up space in my mind to welcome in new stories that are begging to be told,” says Brownlow.
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  1. I so want to read this series it sounds fantastic! And I like Jake already! Sounds like there's good character and relationship growth too which I think is so important in stories like this! So happy you liked it!

    1. Oh, it's a great on Giselle!! I am so in love with Jake! He is the most perfect boyfriend!

  2. Sounds like a good story! And I love how strong Gracie and Jake seem to be. I love good couples. Nice review!

    1. Thanks Andrea! It's a great story! I am so glad I discovered MK's writing!

  3. You know the love interest is great when you come away from the story saying you want your own... because as much as we love the bad boys (well I do haha) I never want my own, because really thats just too much work lol but the good guys are always the best. I think I need to meet this Jake. This sounds like a fantastic series. Lovely review!

    1. Exactly! I do love bad boys, but I wouldn't want one of my own either! You definitely need to meet Jake, chica! He will make you swoon hardcore!

  4. Great review Jess. This book damaged my heart but then made it soar too. It was so emotional and so empowering to see Gracie heal herself. And I love Jake too and the freedom he gave her to recover and rebuild.

    1. Thanks Trish! This book actually didn't scar me as much as the first, thankfully. There were some pretty heartbreaking revelations, but I am just so glad Gracie had her friends there to support her.

  5. Jake sounds amazing and I can't wait to start on the first book!


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