Author: Nina Lane
Publisher: Snow Queen Publishing
Publication date: January 24th 2014
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
"One day I'm going to touch you in a thousand different ways and show you how to touch me," he said. And he did.
Struggling with a tormented past, undergraduate Olivia Winter once led a practical but isolated life. Then she met Professor Dean West, a brilliant scholar of medieval history who melted Liv's inhibitions and taught her the meaning of both love and erotic pleasure. But after three years of a blissful, lusty marriage, Liv and Dean now face a crisis that threatens everything they believe about each other. And when dark secrets and temptations rise to the surface, the fallout might break them apart forever.
(Image and summary from Goodreads.)
Ugh! This book, and pretty much the whole Spiral of Bliss series is so friggin' good. And I don't mean that it's just good, I mean it in an extreme good kind of way. Arouse and co. are so good that I am disgusted at how well-written and amazing they are. Really. As soon as I finished reading Arouse, I immediately moved onto Allure and I just couldn't stop. I just. Couldn't. Stop. Olivia and Dean's story will pull you in and trust me, you won't want it to let you go. The experience is literally a spiral of bliss.
I have never been a fan of angst. In books and in real life, but since it's unavoidable in real life, I do my best to streer clear of angsty books instead; but I have to say, I enjoyed Nina Lane's particular brand of angst. The wasn't too much drama or self-pity coming from the characters, just enough to keep the reader nervous but anxious to see what will happen next. Arouse may not have been a action or thriller novel but it definitely kept me at the edge of my seat. I did not know what would happen next, and I certainly did not know what I wanted to happen, the little twists and big revelations that Nina Lane threw into the mix made Arouse all the more impactful and enjoyable. However, throughout the whole book, there was one thing I did know, it was that I was totally Team Dean and Liv. I just loved them together; their love story is easily one of the very best stories I have ever read. Honest.
When you meet Olivia, or "Liv" as everyone refers to her as, she is very frazzled and not your typical confident heroine. She's meek and quite timid and that's one of the things I really liked about her, she was honest as to who she was. Liv never tried to be someone who she wasn't, she never tried to act confident when she really wasn't but when the time called for it, she still managed to step up onto the plate. And honestly? She may not have been the most perfect or your ideal heroine but her tenacity and her perseverance was very admirable. Even though she was continuously getting fired from her jobs, she never stayed down but continued to search for any available jobs not only because she wanted to be independent from her husband, but also because she wanted to find what her true calling was. What's even better is that as the book goes on, you see her start to grow. The circumstances that she was dealt with pressed her to grow a backbone and see thing sin a different light that allowed her to really grow. She still retains her old qualities but also develops new ones that only strengthen her personality and character. By the end of the book, I was more than in love with the woman Liv turned out to be. (I was totally girl-crushing on her.)
I am going to say it loud and clear, I am absolutely in love with Dean West and I'm not sorry that I am totally coveting a married man. I loved Dean in Arouse and I still loved him by the end of Awaken, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. It's not because he's perfect that I love him, he's far from it actually, but it's the way that he complements Liv that amazes me. He is so supportive of Liv and he genuinely knows that she will do great things, it's his belief in her that truly makes me smile. And it doesn't hurt that he's absolutely gorgeous. Heehee. I really enjoyed reading some parts of the book in his point of view because at the first parts of the book, all you see are Liv's insights but once you read Dean's, you'll be able to fully understand what is happening; and you'll also get both sides of the story. One of the things that I really love about him is even though he's an affluent man who's achieved so many things, he still has some quirks and a youthfulness to him (Dean and his strings, so cute). I wish I had my own Dean West... And like I said, he is far from perfect. Dean still has his share of mistakes, both big and small, and there were times that he didn't deal with them particularly well but you can also see his need to understand Liv and the situation and his genuine desire to make things better. Dean West is a great man and throughout the whole book, he never let me down.
Liv and Dean have a beautiful and sensual relationship... but it's not as easy as it seems. They've been married for three years (and have been together for five) but it's like they've only just started getting to truly know one another. Once the tightly knit secrets unraveled, things started to get real serious. Feelings were hurt, tears were shed and curses were uttered. Though it may seem that things are going to be doomed, that's when the trust came in and Nina Lane did her magic. She salvaged the situation and used it to strengthen her characters, both individually and their relationship. It's Arouse's unpredictableness that will really keep you guessing and praying that things will turn out for the best.
Nina Lane was able to really capture the essence of what it truly is to be married. It's not all rainbows and butterflies, there will be times when a storm will come to erase your rainbows and fires that will burn the wings off your butterflies but the question is, what will you do? A lot of people thought that Liv and Dean's marriage was perfect so when things went downhill, they weren't really sure as to what to do. Them really fighting was something they were not used to and they both weren't sure how to fix the problem so their issue continued to fester and grow. Liv and Dean's dynamic was thrown off balance but the great thing was, they didn't stay down. They got back up and walked that narrow path, their balance was shaky, but at least they were trying. Nina Lane shows us the value of trust and honesty not just in marriage but in all relationships, they are the building blocks of a relationship and without them, all friendships, marriages and others will topple down and shatter. Nina Lane has written a novel that encompasses every aspect of a marriage and always us an insight as to what happens and may happen to a relationship, even in reality.
Arouse is a beautifully written novel that shows us even though love does conquer all, there will always be obstacles (both big and small) that will stand in our way, and it's our job to decide what we will do to face them. I learned a lot reading this book and I feel enlightened, believe it or not. Dean and Liv's story captured my heart and they now definitely hold a place in there. (I just want to smoosh those two!) They are the most perfectly imperfect couple I have ever had the chance of meeting and they just suit each other so perfectly. *dreamy sigh* I cannot even express how much I love Arouse, because I do. A lot. This book is so intense but in a good way, and it left me all achy after I read it. I cannot recommend this book enough; but if you're going to get a copy of Arouse, you'll need Allure and Awaken to accompany it. You'll need them.