Author: Kate Givans
Series: Tortured #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Drama
A contemporary romantic drama about loss, healing, and love's ability to reach beyond scars and secrets, no matter how deep or hidden.
WARNING: This book is intended for 18+ readers ONLY. Potentially triggering content and concepts in books to follow.
More than a year after the death of his best friend, Josh is still tormented by the past. Everything changes when free-spirited Willow barges into his life. She challenges him, helps him feel something other than the overwhelming pain, sadness, and anger.
There’s just one problem.
Underneath that carefree spirit, Willow is elusive and secretive. Josh believes she may be fighting a few demons of her own, but he harder he tries to uncover the truth, the more she pushes him away.
Can Josh get her to open up before it’s too late? Or will he discover that some secrets are better left untold?
Josh is dealing with the lost of his best friend, he believes that the accident is his fault. He tries passing through life, but he is not really living. He has chosen not to allow anyone inside because he feels this is for the best. Josh has nothing in this world that is until there is...
Willow loves to have fun in life. Once she sets her eyes on Josh she is determined to include him in her life. Josh at the time does not want any part of this, but Willow doesn't take no for an answer that well. When he tries to run she pulls him in more.
Eventually, Josh can' t get her off his mind.
Only problem is Willow has such deep rooted secrets of her own...Will Josh be able to mend his past and help Willow in the process?
Kate Givans debut novel titled Tortured. Kate gives an amazing story and leaves you obsessing about more. I enjoyed this novel, it satisfied my criteria of a good story. First, Kate gave you just enough information to keep you interested. If was fun and impulsive from the beginning. In my opinion, she totally knew how to suck the reader right in. Second, Kate has a talented skill of writing. Her story flowed and was easy to read. I enjoy a book that is not all over the place. I love her descriptions and her matter of fact statements. Lastly, I loved how much I connected to the characters. I feel that a novel must have a connection or it's just words on paper. I love how much you felt inside what Josh and Willow felt. I consider this an amazing skill that the author has mastered. I will definitely be waiting for book 2 in this series. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars and say its a must read. I will like to say to the author, thank you for allowing your readers into your mind. Keep it going!
Reviewed by Yolanda
Quirky, clumsy, and always a little off-key, Kate Givans has always loved books and the words contained within. Now that she’s writing the stories, she’s filling them with broken characters, angst, and even a few of those happily-ever-afters that seem to evade us in real life.
When not writing, this gypsy-hearted wife and mother of five can be found guzzling coffee, day-dreaming, dancing for no reason at all, playing with the voices in her head, watching her favorite shows (Originals, Grey’s, OUAT, The Following), listening to music, and reminding herself to “breathe.”
Connect with Kate Givans:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateGivans EXCERPT 1
ExcerptI first met Willow out on Old Mill Road. Standing on the ledge of the arched concrete bridge, her arms spread wide, she looked like a bird about to take flight. I probably would have taken more time to admire the absolute freedom she embodied in that moment, the auburn curls whipping around her upturned face, the way the moonlight made her porcelain skin shimmer…but it looked like she was about to jump.
I remember my hesitation, how desperately I wanted to turn back the way I’d come and pretend I’d never seen her. I know it makes me sound like an insensitive prick, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled at having the life or death of some crazy chick thrown in my lap. Not that I didn’t understand, at least on some level, what might be going through her head. Hell, I knew, better than most, what it meant to feel like life would never get better.
It’d only been six weeks since my release from Shady Oak’s mental facility. I wasn’t the person to talk her down; I didn’t know the first thing about helping someone find the light at the end of the tunnel. Hell, I still had days that I’d much rather jump right along with her than try and brave another day.
Thankfully, that particular day hadn’t been one of them.
I stood there a few moments longer, considering my options. I could turn around and go back the way I came, but I wasn’t exactly up for that. I could go past her and risk spooking her, but the last thing I needed was the aftermath of watching her plummet to her death – calling the police, filing a report, explaining what had happened. It wouldn’t hurt to at least try and talk her off the ledge, right?
Having made my decision, I edged cautiously along the gravel path, taking slow and calculated steps towards bird-girl. Stopping just feet away from her, I weighed the risk of grabbing ahold of the oversized sweater jacket she was wearing. My luck, the damn thing would come clean off and she’d end up in the water anyway, so I decided against it.
I was still trying to decide how to go about helping her when she spoke, voice confident as she kept her face upturned towards the night sky. “I’m not going to jump.”
I cleared my throat and hoped to God the irritation didn’t seep through. “No offense, miss, but that’s not what it looks like from here.”
Her head tilted slightly, as if she were trying to shrug, but the movement came up short. I waited for some other response, but the uncomfortable silence stretched on, giving me the impression that my presence was both unwanted and unnecessary.
“Well, you…uh, have a nice night,” I finally said, taking a couple backward steps towards town.
“You could join me.” Her words, prying and inquisitive, stopped me dead in my tracks.
“Yeeaaah….Thanks, but I prefer to keep my feet on the ground.”
She chuckled. The light, carefree sound intrigued and, for some unknown reason, annoyed me all at once. Maybe because I’d never laughed like that. Hell, I didn’t know anyone that had. It left me questioning what the hell she was doing up there in the first place.
Crazy. Definitely crazy.
Determined to get as far away from her as possible, I started backing away. I didn’t make it but a few steps when she glanced over her shoulder at me. The wide-eyed conviction in her sparkling, crystal blue eyes ensnared me, rooted me to the ground beneath my feet.
“How will you ever learn to fly if you don’t take time to spread your wings?” she asked.
And just like that, the pull I’d felt just seconds before shook free, floating away with the cold, bitter wind. I’d taken enough rides on the crazy train to last a lifetime. “Well, anyway. It was, uh, nice meeting you.” EXCERPT 2
I made my way out into the store, taking my time as I browed the narrow aisles. I flipped through the small music collection. I’d never been a fan of Country Classics, but it was about the only thing you could find in hole-in-the-wall fill stations out here. I moved to the maps of Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri. Thumbing through them, I wondered just how different one Midwest state really is from the next. After that, I made my way down the aisle of strange gas station knick knacks, hats, knives and t-shirts. I took my time to look at everything, but wasn’t really looking for anything in particular. I just needed to pass some time.
“Can I help ya’ find somethin’, sugar?” Loletta called from behind the counter.
That was my cue.
I headed over to the coffee station, grabbed a cup, and filled it with half dark roast and half hot chocolate. As I made my way to the register, I snagged a bag of peanuts and a couple cans of ravioli, taking care to not spill hot liquid down my front. As she rang up my purchase, I did my best to avoid staring at the mid-40’s cashier. I doubted anyone had ever told her that all that blue and red makeup made her look like a clown, but I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to break the news.
“That’ll be $6.85, sugar,” she said with a loud snap of her gum.
Not bothering with the small chat, I pulled out a ten dollar bill. I was just about to hand it over when I heard a familiar voice. I couldn’t tell what it had said, but the breezy, tinkling sound registered instantly. Only, it sounded like something was wrong.
Craning my neck towards the exit, I tried to see what all the commotion was about, but the backside of a police officer obstructed my view. I found myself being pulled in the direction of the doorway, but I wasn’t sure why.
“Hey!” Loletta called from behind me. “Ain’t ya gonna pay for your stuff?”
“I...uh...forgot something,” I answered over my shoulder, dismissing her with a distracted wave of my hand as I made my way closer to the last aisle of the store. When I rounded the large display of magazines, my suspicions were confirmed. It was her, the girl that had tormented my thoughts for days.
Grabbing a magazine from the display rack, I opened it and pretended to read while eavesdropping on the conversation happening just a few feet away from me. At first, I was worried that she’d notice me, but her watery blue eyes were fixed on the officer in front of her as she gnawed at her bottom lip, strands of hair clinging to her tear-stained cheeks.
She looked like a little girl standing next to the six-odd food Officer Warren. She even sounded a little like one when she spoke. “I wasn’t stealing, I swear.”
But Officer Warren didn’t seem convinced. “Look, Miss, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. The easy way, you come with me quietly. The hard way…” He uncrossed his arms, brushing the shiny metal handcuffs attached to his side.
I didn’t think. I just reacted. “Excuse me, Officer?”
He hesitated for just a moment, as if afraid Willow might flee if he took her eyes off of her – not that she could with his massive frame blocking the doorway. He was so tall that even I cowered a bit when he finally turned his head in my direction, a strained smile plastered on his face.
“Sorry to interrupt, but um…she’s with me.”
Turning the rest of his body towards me, he cocked a suspecting eyebrow and returned his chubby arms to their former location – his massive chest. “You know this girl?” He jutted a thumb in Willow’s direction.
“Yes, sir. I do,” I responded without hesitation, hoping he couldn’t see how hard I was working at swallowing the massive lump of fear in my throat.
He gave a low grunt. “Well, maybe you can tell me why she felt the need to lift a box of tampons.”
I shot Willow a quick glance over the officer’s shoulder, looking for the validity of his statement. Pleading blue eyes, guilt-ridden face, and a pink box of feminine products tucked under her arm said it all.What had I gotten myself into? EXCERPT 3
“Hold on, Mom!” I yelled at the door.
Completely abandoning the trash bag, I started stuffing pizza boxes, empty chip bags, snack cake wrappers, and soda cans into the cabinets and drawers, under the couch, into the entertainment center – basically anywhere they would fit. The pounding was getting louder, most likely because my mom both worried and annoyed about being left out in the cold to wait. “Coming!” I hollered, making my way to the door, glancing around the apartment quickly. I still had a sink full of dishes, but at least the mess was contained t just one area. “I’m okay, Mo---“
The rest of my sentence fell flat when I pulled the door open. If it had been summer, a fly probably would have flown in my mouth. Standing there on my doorstep was the last person I ever would have expected to see.
“Expecting someone else?” Annoyance plagued her furrowed features, but I could tell she was trying to suppress a smile. Satisfaction at surprising me, maybe?
“Uh, no. Not really. I just…”
“Didn’t expect to see me?”
Heat rising in my neck and spreading through my cheeks, I stumbled through my words, racking my brain for any excuse that sounded at least somewhat plausible. “No…I mean, uh—I did, just. I—“
“Forgot?” She lifted one perfectly shaped eyebrow at me.
“Yeah. Forgot.” A lie, but it was better than trying to explain the truth.
Her lips scrunched together and moved back and forth for a second as she chewed it over. Apparently, she’d decided it was sufficient enough; that grin that she’d been suppressing went on full display. I couldn’t help but notice how much her smile magnified the intense sparkling of her eyes.
“Well, no worries! I’m here now!” she exclaimed, stepping through the doorway, not even waiting for me to invite her in. She stopped in the middle of my living/dining area to face me. “You ready?” Still holding the door open, letting the cold air in, I stood there, staring at her like my brain had taken a vacation.
Besides being dumbfounded as to how she’d found me, I was extremely uncomfortable about having her in my apartment. I hadn’t had a girl there in…well, never, unless you counted my mom and Brad’s girlfriend, which I didn’t. And I didn’t even know this girl, which made the entire thing awkward and wrong on so many levels. But somewhere else, somewhere deep inside, it almost felt right, like she somehow belonged there.
Shaking the ridiculous thought from my head, I found my voice. “Uh-sure…just...give me a sec.” She nodded her silent response and then took to looking at the various posters hanging on my walls.
Even in an alternate universe, no good could come from having this mess of a girl in my apartment. But I was going to go with her, it seemed, despite my own best advice to steer clear of all things Willow. I guess it got her out of my place, at least. After that…I’d find a way to get her out of my head and out of my life.
That’s what I told myself, anyway.
“No rush,” she called over her shoulder as I made my way to the bedroom.
Sorting through the pile of clothes on my bed, I tossed half of them on the floor again. They would have ended up there eventually anyway. I eventually decided on a white and navy blue striped long-sleeve polo. After pulling my t-shirt over my head, I tossed it on the floor and then pulled on the polo. I was just fixing the hem when I had the distinct feeling of being watched.
I turned to look at the door, which I’d stupidly left open. Leaning against the frame, Willow stood there, looking at me, a stupid smirk on her face. “Don’t you ever knock?” I asked, heat warming my ears.
“The door was open. I was just going to ask you if you had any water.” She pointed in the direction of the kitchen before crossing her arms over her chest. “I wasn’t expecting a show.” Her eyes swept over me, head to toe, giving me the sense that she’d been trying to undress me with her eyes. I didn’t know if I should be flattered or embarrassed.
This wasn’t a new conflict. Even though I’d only just met her, I always felt this internal struggle when she was around. It was worse when she focused those eyes on me, giving me the sense that she could see right through me. Maybe that was what she wanted me to think. Or maybe I was going crazy. Or maybe two years of not getting laid was starting to really wear on me.
Willow didn’t really seem like my kind of girl – trailer park, too comfortable around guys, always into trouble. And I wasn’t the kind of guy to just use women for sex. In fact, I could count the women I’d been with on one hand – two in high school and one in college, all three former girlfriends that I’d dated for no less than six months. But I couldn’t deny that there was something there with her. I thought about her when she wasn’t around, and whenever she landed in my path, I found myself agreeing to spend time with her, even though I was sure I didn’t want to.
“Um, earth to Josh!”
Great, now I was getting lost in my own head. “Sorry, what?”
“Oh, yeah. In the fridge.”
She disappeared from the doorway. A few seconds later, I heard the fridge door open. In just a few more, she was leaning in the doorway of my bedroom again. At least my body wasn’t on display this time.
“So…just wondering…how did you know where I live?” I asked, shoving my feet into a pair of Doc Martins.
Willow took a big swig of water before answering. “A stalker never reveals her secrets.” EXCERPT 4
“Fourteen into the six, into the fifteen, corner pocket,” Willow said, lining up for the shot, her gathered fans silent as she moved the cue stick back and forth. No one made combination shots like that, but I had no doubt in my mind she’d make her mark.
I was toast.
A few gasps came from behind me when the loud smack of her stick hitting the cue ball came. Fourteen sped right into the six and then veered off to the left, just a little before hitting fifteen. Then came the thunk of fifteen hitting the pocket.
Like I said, toast.
Exhaling as I ran a hand through my hair, I looked over the remaining balls. If I could land the six and the two in one shot, I might be able to save my dignity. Unfortunately, because they were each at opposite ends of the table, my odds weren’t looking very good.
“Wanna call game?” she asked with a wink.
Oh, now she was getting cocky.
I gritted my teeth as the flush spread through my cheeks. “Nah, I got this.” If I could just line up right…
I squatted down, trying to find the right angle. Whispers erupted around me, giving what had started out as a friendly game more of a competitive edge. It might sound silly, being so embarrassed, but these were people I’d known my whole life. And in towns like this, stories never died – especially ones that included getting your ass kicked by your girlfriend at pool.
The shot seemed impossible, but I wasn’t backing out of game early. I stood, lined up, reared my cue stick back a couple of times and hoped for the best. I held my breath as the cue ball made its way to the six, landing it in the corner pocket. It looked like it just might clear the eight ball for a second, but I’d cut too far to the right. The game ended with one last thunk – eight ball in the side pocket.
I blew out the breath I’d been holding and put my cue back in the holder. When I turned around, Willow was standing right in front of me. “Good game, Pennington. Do I get a prize for winning?”
“No,” I responded, crossing my arms over my chest. I was feigning for annoyed – which I kind of was – but mostly, I was still a little surprised by her mad pool skills.
She gave me the most adorable pout. I couldn’t fight the grin spreading on my face, no matter how made I wanted to be. “Oh, alright. If you insist,” I said, taking her cue stick to place it against the wall. With every ounce of heat I could muster, I wrapped my arms around her waist, and in one swift move, I dipped her and gave her a kiss that pulled hoots and hollers from the crowd.
“Wow,” she panted, hand on her chest, when I placed her upright again. “I should kick your ass more often.”
I closed my eyes and leaned my forehead against hers, taking a moment to just enjoy her sugary sent. “Now, now. Don’t go wounding a man’s pride all the time,” I whispered, the heat of her hands against the back of my neck doing unimaginable things to me.
Even though I hadn’t known her but a few months, I’d never dated anyone that seemed to know the full depths of my heart and soul. Corny as it sounded, I couldn’t shake this sense that I’d found my other half – the piece that fit into the jagged edges that no one else had ever been able to fill. And I didn’t even know her last name. PLAYLIST
Playlist:Shinedown, Save Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8dyxGiBx3g
The Fray, You Found Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFg_8u87zT0
Get Scared, Built for Blame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k82La8Lkra8
3 Doors Down, So Far Down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDK5qGlLT8s
Bush, Greedy Fly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FExyoAh6Ng
Nickleback, Savin’ Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JQiEs32SqQ
Stone Sour, Bother: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-pXD0FXLQ8
Papa Roach, Scars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHbNU9WuVgw
The Fray, How to Save a Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjVQ36NhbMk
Coldplay, Fix You: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbJuEFs7-kU
Imagine Dragons, Demons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWRsgZuwf_8&feature=kp
Jasmine Thomspon, Everybody Hurts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWGL3SbhLDQ
Seether, Fade Away: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNgQr_FdZvE
Goo Goo Dolls, Before It’s Too Late: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtSAIhP1-5s
Sick Puppies, All the Same: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs72v-2zjsg
John Legend, All of Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=450p7goxZqg
Hoobastank, Lucky: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0M1lhBLbeU
Adelitas Way, Alive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRs-1QVo4_M&feature=kp
Evanescence, Bring Me to Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YxaaGgTQYM
Little Green Cars, The John Wayne: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJEVkuNsEi0
Breaking Benjamin, Diary of Jane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWaB4PXCwFU
Fireflight, Desperate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQctVDvIFWg
Lynard Skynard, Free Bird: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np0solnL1XY
Goo Goo Dolls, Here is Gone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNtN83-vQmw
3 Doors Down, Let Me Go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thc1MtNagC8
The Fray, Never Say Never: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aihu16RyYp8Art of Dying, Die Trying: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFlVi9MHpDc AUTHOR Q&A
Author Q &A:
What made you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Deep down, I think I’ve always known. I started reading at four. When I was seven, I wrote my first book. It was a short, adorable little thing that I wrote for my mom. Along the way, I lost sight of that – maybe it was the responsibility of being a mom, or the idea that I was supposed to grow up and do the responsibility thing. Whatever the case, it kind of got buried in day to day life. Then, after my mother passed away, I found my book in her things. It all came flooding back, but again, I tossed it aside, figuring it was just too late. It wasn’t until I met my best friend that all that changed. I learned about Indie publishing and fell in love instantly.
How would you describe your books, in a nutshell?
Dark, twisty, angsty, with a lot of heart and a peppering of romance. That may change as I go along, but it definitely fits most of my current writing.
What has been your biggest struggle when it comes to writing and publishing?
I have to say my biggest struggle has been believing in myself enough to actually do it. At first, I wasn’t really sure I could tell a story that anyone else would enjoy. Plus, I’ve always been oversensitive, so the fear of rejection kind of kept me frozen for a few years. Thankfully, I’ve had some pretty amazing people in my life that believed in me until I could do it for myself.
Where do you draw your writing inspiration from?
Honestly, there’s not any one place that I find inspiration. It’s more of a conglomeration of personal experience, music, cinema, pop culture, books, and random ideas that seem to come out of nowhere. Each piece of the puzzle seems to play its own little role in the writing process for me.
Do you share any traits, characteristics, or traits with any of your characters?
Admittedly, I do. While each and every one of them is different, I find that I share certain struggles, personality traits, or nuances with most of my characters. And in so many ways, they teach me lessons about myself. I learn from them - the things they endure and somehow manage to overcome, the truths that they come to see and believe about the world around them or themselves. It’s a very interesting process, to say the least.
Do you have any favorite authors?
I do! But I have entirely too many to mention! Not just because I don’t want to exclude anyone, but also because I don’t read just one particular genre of book. I have my dark and twisty, contemporary, my guilty erotica reads, romance, zombies…needless to say, I’m extremely eclectic in my reading tastes.