A to Z Challenge - E
E is for Ember's Center
Drea says: This is a new-to-me genre (romantic suspense) and author. I was pleasantly surprised. Read on!
Check out our previous A-to-Z posts: A, B, C, D
Author: Jillian Jacobs
Series: O-Line #1
Release Date: December 24th 2014
Length: Novel (323 pages)
Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
She spent her life fighting for middle ground, and now that she’s found it, she’ll fight for her life.
Ember Brooks yearns for an end to the dark chapters of her life—abusive mother, negligent father, teenage trauma, and sibling suicide. Determined to escape her traumatic past, Ember is finally headed for solid ground, gathering strength and balance with the help of her trusted counselor and friend, Xander Kane.
Still reeling from the death of her brother, Ember finds solace when Manchester Marauders center, Owen Killion goes on the offensive and barrels into her life. Both on the football field and off, Owen is sure-footed and confident. With his domineering presence and reliable nature, he alters her game-plan. But for a girl continually left on the sidelines, can she leave her heart on the line?
When Ember is the victim of increasingly dangerous incidents, and Xander changes the course of their relationship, once more her life spirals out of control.
Ember trusts Owen to guard their love, but when someone else is calling the shots, can they reach the end zone or will they fumble?
Contemporary romance with a jagged edge.
Drea's Review:Ember’s Center begins a few days after Ember’s brother commits suicide. She’s back at work, desperately trying to get her life back on track before she gets in trouble with her boss and her best friend (more on him later). An important photo shoot at work means Ember meets Owen—the center of the local NFL team’s offensive line. Immortalized as part of the super-popular-with-the-ladies “O-line”, Owen is larger than life. But he’s a sweetie and takes an instant liking to Ember. Of course, a crying woman brings out his protective instincts. But with Ember, Owen thinks it might be more than that. Ember’s horrible family and body image issues (because of being a little overweight when she was younger) mean she’s got absolutely zero self-confidence. That makes Owen like her all the more, but makes it difficult for her to believe he’s into her. He’s got his work cut out for him.
Ember’s best friend and frequent shrink Xander credits himself with single-handedly fixing her life. Now Xander believes she’s the perfect woman. But he’s just a doctor-in-training and he’s never made his intentions known. Owen’s presence means Xander’s plans have to come to fruition faster than he’d intended or he risks losing everything he’s worked for. Now all he has to do is get Ember to cooperate and they’ll be golden.
But Ember is finally coming into her own, and she’s got a little something to say about the intentions of both men.
I’m not used to reading books where we get to see the villain’s POV. So I’m not sure if I’m revealing spoilers or not, but fairly quickly in the book we discover the bad guy’s identity (Xander), his intentions, and that he’s probably not quite right in the head. He’s actually super creepy despite how seemingly wholesome he comes off with Ember. Knowing what the villain was up to while the heroine was in the dark made me a bit antsy and stressy (I know that’s not a word, but tough. I like it here). That said, there’s at least one twist that isn’t obvious from the start even though we’re heavily in Xander’s POV. So if you’re like me, and like to guess endings, you’ll still have that to look forward to.
As far as the hero and heroine, poor Ember took so many hits prior to the start of the book, and they just kept coming despite having her own offensive lineman to protect her. I really felt for her. That goes to show you how much of a fully fleshed out character she was. Owen isn’t the quarterback, so that’s a refreshing change from most football romances. Owen’s back-story wasn’t nearly as messed up as Ember’s, though he still feels like a real person, too. However, I did find his behavior toward the end to be out of character based on how he’d behaved in the rest of the story. I understood that it needed to happen for the resolution to come. So there’s forgiveness for him there.
The one thing that made me go o_O was the villain’s ending. Xander was so very clever and seemed to have everything mapped out in advance, that I found myself scratching my head and a little disappointed with how his storyline was resolved. That said, it doesn’t detract from the overall story, and I got my all-important happily ever after.
If a hot football guy, a self-conscience gal, her creepy best friend, and whacked family aren’t enough for you, there are plenty of secondary characters to pique your interest for other O-line stories, and I, for one, will be looking for those.
Challenges Update: This is the third book toward the New To Me 2015 challenge. w00 h00! *dances*