Series: Austen #3
on February 1st, 208
Genres: Contemporary Romance
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Bestselling author Staci Hart brings you another installment of the Austen Series, inspired by the works of Jane Austen, with a heartfelt contemporary retelling of Sense and Sensibility.
When Annie Daschle arrives in New York City, the only thing she can control is her list.
Not her father’s death or the loss of her home. Not the hole in her heart or the defective valve that’s dictated so much of her life. But she can put pen to paper to make a list of all the ways she can live out loud, just like her dad would have wanted.
See the city from the top of the Empire State Building: Check.
Eat hot dogs on the steps of The Met: Check.
Get a job at Wasted Words: Check.
What wasn’t on her list: Greg Brandon. And just when she thinks she’s figured out where to put him, everything changes. In the span of a few staggering heartbeats, she finds herself her caught in the middle of something she can’t find her way out of, with no clear answers and no rules.
List or no list, she realizes she can’t control anything at all, not even her heart.
Not the decisions it makes, and not the moment it stops..
Staci Harts follow up to A Thousand Letters, one of my very most favorite books ever, Living Out Loud is a wonderful twist on my favorite Jane Austen book. What a score for me! I do adore Staci Harts writing and I adore his book! It’s a unique homage to Austen, capturing just enough for the reader to recognize the similarities (characters traits mostly) while keeping the story line fresh. I was most impressed with her ability to recognize someone who she could trust.
The story focuses on middle sister, Annie Daschle, as the family transitions to a new living situation, moving from a small town in Texas to New York City. For Annie this move is a new beginning, a chance to experience things not available in her native small town. I have to say, Annie s one of my favorite eighteen year old characters. For the most part she’s pretty astute, but she’s young and hasn’t honed all the skills that take observation to instinct. If I knew her in person I would say she’s lovely. Her innocence, in many ways brought about by her heart condition, is refreshing, almost “old fashioned”. As she ventures out she finds herself a job, a great friend, and a few love interests.
One of them being someone we met in Staci’s book Last Call, Greg Brandon. Greg is older and wiser and considers the 10 year age gap between them with skepticism. I myself love older man, younger woman romance and we get it in spades. The slow burn blossoming of romantic love, going from friends to lovers is wondrous and beautiful. He’s is an absolute gem. With that you know there is gonna be some drama, but Hart keeps it in check.
As always , Staci’s words are profound and poetic. I’m repeating myself from another review when I say I.love.all.her.words! and that she’s is Incomparable Greg’s thoughts are absolutely poetic and I fell in love every time he reflects on his growing adoration of Annie.
“There were roots— I could feel them working their way through me. They weren’t superficial, spreading out under the surface; they were the kind of roots you could never excavate, the kind that became a part of all they touched in the most permanent way.”
And when Annie reflects on Greg:
“His beauty lay in the depths of his eyes where his heart and soul lived, in the joy of his laughter and the way he cared. Because he did care; he cared deeply.”
Living Out Loud is the perfect read. I felt heartbreak and hope, giddiness and fear. But most of all that rush of falling in love.
~Review by Cyndi
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We chatted as we walked down Fifth to the bike rental station and unlocked one of the blue bicycles. And a little while and one park bench later, we were walking through the park in search of a grassy stretch off the beaten path.
We found what we had been looking for—a space lined with trees, somewhat shielded from the rolling, open knoll by boulders jutting up out of the grass.
“This looks good,” I said, lowering the kickstand before taking off my backpack.
She pulled off her bag, looking nervously at the bike as she took a seat in the grass. A thin sheen of sweat glistened on her cheeks and forehead, her face a little pale.
“You sure you’re okay?” I asked, eyeing her.
She smiled—her favorite way to answer. “It looks worse than it is. Promise.”
I frowned. “Really, maybe the bike is too much. Maybe we can do this after your surgery.”
“Greg, I’m fine. Come sit by me for a minute.”
I kept my arguments to myself and sat next to her.
“The cool air feels so nice,” she said, gathering up her hair and pulling it over one shoulder, exposing her neck.
“When they fix your heart, will you still feel like this?”
“No. I should be able to do anything physical I want within a few weeks of the surgery.”
My brows drew together. “Really? After open-heart surgery?”
“Really. It’s not like a heart transplant or anything. The hardest part of my recovery will be the incision and the fusing of my sternum back together.”
A shudder tickled its way down my spine at the thought of a bone saw opening her rib cage. “What all will they do to your heart?”
“Close the hole, repair my valve. I’ve had open-heart surgery before, but I was too little to remember anything about it. The scar is the only proof that it happened. Well, that and my mother’s stories. But this shouldn’t be too hard on the muscle itself, just some sutures when it’s all said and done. My body will work a lot more efficiently once the surgery is complete—like, immediately. I just have to get through the whole split-ribs thing,” she said with a little smirk. “All right, I feel better. Are you ready?”
She looked better. Her cheeks and lips were tinged with color, and the waxy quality her skin had taken on was gone.
“Ready when you are.”
We got to our feet, and I stepped to the bike to lower the seat. Once it was down, I waved her over.
“Come here and see if this works.”
She climbed on cautiously, her feet on the ground and her hands gripping the handlebars. The seat was probably too low, but I figured it’d be better for her center of gravity—plus she could stop herself easier if she tipped.
“Okay,” I started, one hand on the back seat and my other on the handlebar next to her hand, “I’m gonna hang on and hold you steady while you pedal.”
She shot me a worried glance. “And if I fall?”
“You get up and try again.”
She laughed, not looking convinced.
“Don’t worry; you’re not going to hurt yourself on the grass, but I’m not going to let you fall. I’ve got you, okay?”
With a deep breath, she nodded once. “Okay.”
“All right. Put your feet on the pedals.” My grip tightened when the balance was all on me. “Ready?”
“Ready,” she echoed with determination.
She did, moving us both forward, the bike only wobbling a little bit under her.
“Good, let’s go to that tree. Just keep it slow like this.”
Her tongue poked out of her lips, her hands white-knuckled on the handlebars until she got to the tree. And when she smiled, it was with more confidence.
“I did it!”
I laughed. “You did. Come on, let’s go back. Ready?”
She nodded, and we took off again. This time, she wobbled a little less, speeding up until I had to trot next to her to keep up.
When we stopped at our backpacks, she cheered. “Again!”
“All right,” I said on a chuckle. “I’m just gonna hang on to the back this time. And…go.”
I did just that, my hands on the back of the seat, the handlebars swerving a little but nothing she couldn’t correct. And then I let go.
She didn’t notice, wholly focused on staying upright, and I kept jogging, pulling up beside her. When she glanced over, I held my hands up in the air and wiggled my fingers.
Her face opened up with joy, and a whoop passed her lips—just before she swerved into me.
A string of expletives hissed out of me as I tried to grab her, but it was too late. She tumbled into me, bike and all, taking us down to the cold grass.
Annie was lying on top of me, her hair tossed across her face. The ground was cold and damp under me, and the handlebar of the bike was jammed into my ribs, but I barely even noticed. Not with Annie sprawled out across my body, her green eyes sparkling and her laughter ringing in my ears.
My own laughter met hers like an old friend.
“Are you okay?” I asked, sweeping her hair out of her face to tuck it behind her ear.
She flushed but made no move to pull away from me. “I’m fine. Are you okay?”
We watched each other for a moment through the rise and fall of my chest, the movement carrying her like a rocking ship. And then she giggled again, climbing off me before reaching for the bike.
It was then that I began to fully comprehend the depth of the trouble I’d found myself in.
About the Author
Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life — a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey.
From roots in Houston to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.
Connect with Staci:
Join Her Reader Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/stacihart/</a