BLOG TOUR ~ SWEET HOPE BY TILLIE COLE

BLOG TOUR ~ SWEET HOPE BY TILLIE COLE

My name is Ally Prince and I’ve always been unlucky in love. I don’t know why, I just always…have.
When all of my best friends were falling for their soul mates in College, I was left behind. I was Ally, the pretty cousin of superstar quarterback, Romeo Prince. I was Ally, the best friend to the most amazing group of girls I’ve ever known—a title I loved, but one I became tired of ‘just’ being. And I was Ally, the one on which they could all rely.
But to me, I was Ally, the girl with the heart no one had claimed… And I was, Ally, the girl, who underneath it all, was heart-breakingly lonely.
I LOVE love; the thought of it, the nervous excitement of falling for Mr. Right, the desire of someone becoming my entire world… of me becoming theirs. I’ve always wanted passion, heart-stopping, epic, life-changing romance… I’ve always wanted the fairytale… I’ve always wanted it all.
It just never seemed like I would get it.
For the past few years I’ve thrown myself into my career as a museum curator. I’m the best of the best, the person every museum wants to hire, so when an opportunity came up to move to Seattle, I jumped at the chance. My cousin and my best friend lived in Seattle and I needed a change.
I needed a new beginning.
I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone in the Emerald City. I wasn’t expecting to work closely with the reclusive new sculptor my all-important gallery design was centered around. And I certainly wasn’t expecting to fall for him… heart-stopping, epic, life-changing love…
My real life fairytale come true.
But, like in every fairytale, there’s a villain, a dark and tortured soul… I just didn’t know that the villain and the hero in my story would end up being one and the same.

As the curtains closed behind me, I jumped in surprise when I caught movement ahead. My eyes slowly traveled upward to a pair of legs clad in black jeans, to a sculpted waist and torso covered in a short-sleeved black shirt splashed in what looked like marble dust.
My heart was in my throat as I drank in large arm muscles, sculpted and pronounced under heavily tattooed olive skin. My gaze drifted to a muscular tattooed neck, partially covered by a dark short scruffy beard and shoulder-length dark brown hair.
Elpidio…
I had to blink to believe the man I’d wanted to meet for years was really standing right in front of me. I forgot how to breathe. I forgot how to speak, move, or anything else that should come naturally to a human being. Elpidio’s head was down, avoiding my gaze, but I knew he knew I was there. Every inch of his body was taut, as if ready to spring.
My voice failed to work as I watched his broad chest rise and fall. Then, with deliberate slowness, he exhaled harshly through his nostrils and lifted his head.
I nearly staggered back.
He was…dark. There was no other adjective I could think of to do him justice. Dark, aggressively tattooed, and absolutely yet unconventionally…beautiful.
Elpidio was as inspiring to look at as his sculptures, and when his almost-black eyes pierced mine, I released a pent up shuddering breath. I thought my legs would give way as I watched those curious onyx irises rove all over my body. I trembled under his scrutiny, knees weak, heart fluttering.
Italian, I thought. Austin had been right. Elpidio definitely looked Italian.
It felt as though minutes passed in silence as we stood motionless, not knowing what to say.
Trying to salvage a modicum of professionalism, I snapped out of my stupor and stepped forward, timidly holding out my hand.
“Hello…” I said in a cracking voice.
Elpidio’s stern gaze never once drifted from mine, his dark eyes stabbing. “I’m Aliyana. You…you must be Elpidio?”
In a second, I witnessed paleness spread on his cheeks and his eyes dropped to the ground, his shoulder-length brown hair falling to cover his face. He was protecting his anonymity. Vin had told me how uncomfortable he was with any acclaim or recognition. His mentor clearly wasn’t lying.
“It’s okay,” I rushed out. “I’m the curator of your exhibition. Your being here stays with me. I’m ethically bound to protect your anonymity if you so wish.”
Elpidio’s shoulders seemed to relax some at that, and sighing reluctantly, he raked back his long hair from his face and raised his head.
This time I could see him more clearly. He was ruggedly edgy, and on his left cheek, he wore a tattoo of a black crucifix just below his eye. He simply screamed danger. His eyes were unnervingly assessing as though he had no trust in me, or toward anyone else for that matter.
Suddenly, Elpidio reached forward and encased his hand in mine. When our hands touched, I lightly gasped, the heat of his palm searing. I’d forgotten I’d been holding my hand out to greet him, too entranced by his
unrefined looks and silent temperament.
“Aliyana,” he said gruffly. My heart skipped a beat on hearing his husky drawl.
One of my favorite books from last year was book 3 in this series Sweet Fall and though I was completely happy with that book, a few plot events that happened there made me see that a certain side character was practically screaming for a book, so I’m ecstatic that the author decided to write this one. But before I say anything else I have to stress that this book is not meant to be read as a standalone. You must read at least Sweet Fall beforehand. Now back to Sweet Hope…
I liked this book. It’s a passionate romance story that made my heart pound and had a sweet and loving heroine and a tormented, mysterious hero. Add that with this author’s great writing and the wonderful cast of side characters from previous books it really made this story shine. Along the way, I did take note of little things that were bothersome but at that point, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book much. In hindsight, I should’ve realized that all of these little things would accumulate and once I actually hit something I really didn’t like (which happened in the 2nd half of the book), they would become major problems for me because that’s what ended up happening.
The book started off strong – I love character-driven stories and this was definitely one of them. The heroine Ally Prince is a woman with ambitious career goals and she’s determined to curate an art display for the artist she’s long admired – the hero Elpidio. Even though she’s in love with his work, she’s even more intrigued with the man behind it. Quick observation here: it’s probably just me, but it was a little disturbing to read just how obsessed she was when she never met the guy prior to the exhibit. But in the end, I let that one slide because I can see why she was so fascinated – whenever Elpidio entered the scene, everything just got intense and I couldn’t help but be drawn to this man who was so tormented and could only communicate his emotions through his magnificent sculptures.
I think what made this book for me was Elpidio. Ally was a perfectly likable heroine and complemented his dark personality with her light, bubbly one, but I’m a sucker for ‘fallen angel’ characters and that’s exactly who Elpidio was. He’s made really, really bad choices in his past that he now regrets and has gone through so much it’s a wonder the man is still alive and kicking. But deep down, he’s just a guy who wanted nothing more than to protect his family and loved ones, and if playing dirty would keep them safe, he’d do it in a heartbeat.
The romance here definitely felt instantaneous to me, but I loved it anyways because the author wrote it in a way there were no doubts that Ally and Elpidio were each other’s soul mates. However, some events and plot devices happened soon that I wasn’t a fan of, and dragged down my rating:
The timeline was all over the place. While I didn’t have trouble keeping track where the story was at a certain point, I didn’t like the multiple time jumps. Combine that with the occasional flashback scene and I got annoyed by the time I was near the end of the book. This issue isn’t something I’m complaining about just for this book – just like some readers can’t stand cheating, I can’t stand time gaps, especially not ones where chapters in the story started off with ‘a few weeks later,’ ‘a year later,’ ‘fifteen years later,’ etc…Bottom line is, I like continuity in my stories.
Major character stupidity. Okay…this is the main problem I had with Elpidio and other side characters in the second half of the book. To avoid plot spoilers, I won’t list out the exact details but the root of the problem is miscommunication that drove a wedge between these characters and of course, running away is the first solution which leads to even more drama. This was in the final quarter of the book and at this point I kept thinking to myself haven’t these people gone through enough already?! Just get on with the romance!
From book 3 I already had a soft spot for the Carillo brothers (especially Austin), and seeing them in here at one crucial scene near the end made me cry. The epilogue was also one of the most beautiful book endings I’ve read and really wrapped up this story along with the entire series.
As for my rating, I wavered between 3.5 and 4 because I seriously adored this hero but wasn’t a fan of how the author executed the story from the halfway mark and on. In the end, I’m going with 3.5 stars as I did like it and would still recommend it but it didn’t leave an as memorable impression on me like Sweet Fall did.
Sweet Hope is the final book in the Sweet Home series. You must read Sweet Fall first as the plot and characters are closely connected.
An advanced copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon & USA Today Best Selling Author, Tillie Cole is a Northern girl through and through. She originates from a place called Teesside on that little but awesomely sunny (okay I exaggerate) Isle called Great Britain. She was brought up surrounded by her English rose mother — a farmer’s daughter, her crazy Scottish father, a savagely sarcastic sister and a multitude of rescue animals and horses.
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