Thursday, November 3, 2016

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: RECLAIMING HOPE by Shell Taylor



Reclaiming Hope 

SERIES: Home for Hope #3 

AUTHOR: Shell Taylor 

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press 


LENGTH: 210 Pages 

RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2016 

BLURB: Sequel to Resurrecting Hope 

Home for Hope: Book Three 

Four years ago, Kollin Haverty’s best friend, Riley Meadows, dropped off the face of the earth. When he shows up out of the blue, armed with a flimsy excuse for disappearing and having nearly completed his transition from female to male, Kollin wants to pick up where they left off. But Riley’s unwillingness to be honest with Kollin prevents him from fully trusting Riley again. Despite Riley’s insecurities and Kollin’s abandonment issues, they quickly discover there’s something more than friendship between them.

When a ghost from Riley’s past unexpectedly appears with haunting memories in tow, Kollin’s anger about being lied to outweighs his desire to be the understanding boyfriend Riley needs. As Riley’s web of strategically withheld secrets begins to unravel, he must find the courage to pursue his own peace before he can move forward with Kollin, and Kollin must decide what’s more important—supporting his best friend or protecting himself. 


Adam rolled his eyes to mimic her and then turned his attention toward Kollin. “Look who the cat dragged in.”
For some reason, Kollin’s heart fluttered. Waves of nervousness raced through his body as he tried to figure out why Adam thought he should know the stranger. He’d never told either of his parents about meeting the guy at the bookstore, and even if he had, Adam couldn’t have known he was the same person.
The man studied the ground, seemingly reluctant to look at Kollin, but Kollin knew he couldn’t identify him even if they were staring directly at one another.
Fortunately Adam saved him from further embarrassment. “I didn’t recognize Riley until he threatened to own me in Ping-Pong.”
Kollin sucked in a huge gulp of air. The nervous flutters, which had been nothing more than a curious enigma, ceased, and he suddenly felt as if a boulder had settled in the pit of his stomach.
He hadn’t spoken to Riley Meadows in over four years. When Kollin’s parents kicked him out, Riley had been the one who kept Kollin sane. He tethered him to reality when all he’d wanted was to escape inside himself. They’d kept in touch when Riley first went to college and somehow became even closer—until Riley seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. Phone calls, e-mails, texts… all unanswered. Kollin eventually took the hint and gave up.

Now Riley was back?


Barnes and Noble

This is the second story I've read where one of the main characters is trans, and these types of stories pack one heck of an emotional punch.  I found myself loving the main characters, but at the same time getting irritated by each of them.  There's plenty of angst, something I expected in a story like this of self discovery, and this story also stirred up feelings of protectiveness for both Riley and Kollin.

While those protective feelings were particularly strong for Riley, given he is the one in transition, I was also not happy with him for staying gone for so many years without contact.  But then again, it's not as easy for me to understand what he's going through like it would be for a non-trans character.  Riley was definitely my favorite in this story, mainly because he is so strong to have been able to go through all of this mostly on his was gratifying to see all the support he had from his boss, and later from Kollin, Adam and Eli as well as some other important characters later on.

Kollin has every right to be upset with Riley for leaving like he did, so it's good to see him come to terms with it.  He is wonderfully supportive of Riley, and Kollin has his own journey to go through as he works through being with someone who is trans.  To me, the relationship between them at first feels a little awkward and like Kollin is trying too hard to make it work, but the further into the story I got, the more comfortable their matchup felt.  Kollin's character goes through a lot of growth, and it's good to see his emotional maturity grow along with his and Riley's relationship.

The author does a very good job at helping the reader understand what Riley has to go through in his quest to transition without making it seem like a tutorial.  I was able to feel what both Riley and Kollin were going through, making this story a bit of an emotional rollercoaster but one I was happy to be riding in the end.  I loved Adam and Eli's roles in the story, they are the kind of parents every child should have with their tolerance and understanding.

Reclaiming Hope was a 4-star read for me, and while it is part of a series it can definitely be read as a standalone-I have not read the other two books in the series, but now I do want to go back and read them to get Adam and Eli's story as well.  I recommend this book to pretty much everyone 18+ (for adult language and sexual content), just be aware that the sexual content does involve a trans character who has not fully completed the transition to male, so those scenes may not be what you expect.  Kudos to the author for handling sensitive topics so well, it really contributed to my enjoyment of this story.


Shell Taylor is a full-time mother of three exuberant and loving kiddos and one fur baby, a tiny but fierce Yorkie-poo named Rocco. As a Christian who practices love, grace, and humility, she tries her best to instill these same virtues in her rowdy kids. She is a huge fan of Marvel comics and will never stop loving Harry Potter (Hufflepuff pride, baby!) When Shell isn’t writing, she can be found binge watching Netflix or volunteering at her church and childrens’ school. Shell considers herself blessed to have married a strong, supportive man who works hard to allow her to continue to follow her dreams.

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1st Winner’s Prize: $20 Amazon GC

2nd Winner’s Prize: E-copy of Redeeming Hope/Resurrecting Hope


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