Wake Up Call by Victoria Ashley

"Starting fresh and working on being happy was the only thing left to do."

The blurb

My heart stopped and suddenly it was hard to breathe. His voice always had that effect on me. It was like poison slowly running through my veins, killing me bit by bit. Like a drug that I couldn't get enough of, even though I was almost down to my last breath. Jace took a step forward and grabbed my hand. He slowly trailed his fingers over my face and backed me into the wall. My heart stopped again, if that was even possible. "You can't leave," he whispered. "I need you." His warm breath kissed my lips as he bit his bottom lip and placed both of his hands around my face. They were warm and soft to the touch. Too big for my fragile face; although, I wanted to bury myself in them. "Breathe. There is no one here but the two of us. Breathe," he whispered. 

Avery Hale had spent her whole childhood abused by her drunken, drugged up parents. Broken from a lifetime of hatred and pain, she grew up realising that trust and love just didn't exist. Not in her world at least. After turning the age of eighteen, she packed up and moved far away, determined to escape her painful past and start a new life for herself. Once on her own, she comes to the conclusion that the emptiness still exists. In order to survive, she found herself mixed up in exotic dancing and meaningless sexual relationships, numb to any emotion, for anyone. She was sure that her life was worthless and there was nothing left for her, this was the best it would get.

After meeting a beautiful stranger, her life suddenly is turned upside down. Everything she believed suddenly gets questioned. She is left to figure out if there is really more to her than she could ever have imagined. 

Jace, having some secrets of his own, puts the pain of his own past behind to do what he can to help Avery. Can the love of another broken person be enough to help Avery, or is she already too far gone? 

Avery's life is pulled in many directions as she tries to find herself, and not everyone and thing is what they seem to be in this story of love, trust and opening up. Finding herself and learning to love herself might just be the hardest thing she's ever had to do. 

Becca's thoughts

Wake Up Call is the perfect title for this story. I was completely lost to the characters as their lives twisted and turned and I couldn't put it down. I really enjoyed watching Avery grow from a wilting flower, to a beautiful blossoming rose. Wake Up Call truly is about finding yourself and letting your heart be open to love. It was brilliant. 

I read Wake Up Call on my Kindle and it was purchased from Amazon UK! Not going to lie, the cover was a major selling point for me. Come on ladies, just look at that body. The description of the story was my second major selling point. I was intrigued as it's a lot longer than the usual "blurb", but it hooked me right away and I couldn't wait to begin it. This is Victoria Ashley's first novel and I'm very happy to share that this was one story I'm glad that I didn't overlook. Her second novel This Regret is due out in March, 2014 and I'm very excited to see who she'll be introducing to us next. 

 What shocked me most about Wake Up Call was the gritty, authentic feel to the writing. We're introduced to Avery waking up in her grimy apartment and rushing off to Taste of Poison, the club where she works as an exotic dancer. She hates it. Really, really hates it, but she's barely making enough money to stay off the streets as it is therefore, she feels she has no choice. Victoria Ashley drops you into this filthy atmosphere by putting the dirty images into your mind whilst reading.

The neon sign flashed above me. 'Exotic Dancers' it read in flamboyant pink text. It made my stomach churn and my eyes water.

"Come here", he slurred. "Damn you look so good."
His straggly, blonde hair fell over his hairy face as he rubbed a hand over his keg of a stomach. I took off in a sprint, but to my surprise, he was faster than I expected. He grabbed my arm and yanked me to a halt. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, silently praying that I would be okay. 

I felt absolutely horrified for Avery. This happens not long after being introduced to her character for the first time, and at this point, I was genuinely panicking. I felt incredibly involved with the story and I honestly didn't want anything bad to happen to her. There's a constant theme of struggle and hurt, and I just couldn't cope with the dreariness and sadness that was constantly lurking within the atmosphere. 

There's a reason for all the gloominess though. Wake Up Call actually begins with a flashback of Avery's childhood. It's not pleasant. In fact, it's downright awful and I can only imagine how terrifying for someone it would be for someone so young to experience. At the beginning of certain chapters, a flashback is revealed to the reader and you're allowed a small peek into Avery's history. Once you're given a glimpse of her childhood , you begin to understand why she is the way she is. She doesn't trust, doesn't love. In fact, she believes that she is emotionless, that she's just hollow inside. Growing up with parents that showed her no love and no affection resulted in Avery having no idea of what it feels like, looks like or even how to feel it for another. It's so, so sad to read, because Avery is such a vulnerable young woman and I was desperately hoping for something good to enter her dismal life and set off the spark inside of her. Although she appeared to me as being quite vulnerable, she also gives off an 'independent woman' kinda' vibe. She really doesn't enjoy accepting help or sympathy from another, which just tugged at my emotions even more! I honestly wished I could slip into the pages, wrap an arm around her shoulder and make everything better.

Jace is probably one of the most caring, genuine males that I've met in terms of fictional characters. He's incredibly kind, completely unselfish and protects the people he loves with an unyielding force. He's also got a mint body, including the flexing muscles and the dark, smouldering look that usually turns a woman's insides to jelly. I adored him, completely and utterly. Jace first sets eyes on Avery whilst she's working in Taste of Poison, and there's an instant connection. From her position on stage, Avery sets eyes on him and he gazes right back at her. My stomach flipped at this.

I opened my eyes momentarily and caught the attention of a man standing by the bar, beer bottle in hand. A blot of electricity surged through my body as he stared at me with curious eyes. He was gorgeous. He lifted his tattooed arm, tilting back his head as he took a long sip of his beer. He had those bad boy good looks with his jet-black hair, leather boots and V-neck t-shirt.

 The intensity of their shared look sent shivers straight through me, and I knew, I just knew, that they'd be seeing each other again. Jace owns his own diner, The Indy Go, and eventually he gives Avery a job there to help her out. I'm not going to give any more of the story away because I really do not want to ruin it for any potential readers, but let me just say, Jace is the most kind-hearted fictional character I've come across, and if Avery didn't want him, I'd happily take him off of her hands. Not a problem.

The story itself is, like I said at the beginning of my review, gritty, real and I could even go as far as saying disturbing. It really, really puts things in perspective for you. I mean, I know it's fictional and everything's made up but damn, it hits hard. My emotions were a tangled mess and I found myself on the brink of tears during many chapters. It's incredibly raw and it doesn't just "hit" a nerve, it completely fucking destroys it. There's sad parts, there's happy parts, there's scary parts; basically, it's freaking fantastic. One minute you're smiling, the next you're biting your lip in anticipation and it drove me absolutely insane. But isn't that what a good story is intended to do? Yes, I thought so too. I'm genuinely so happy that I didn't one-click something else, because I feel this is worthy of a book-hangover. The characters are amazing. The story throws a bag over your head, kidnaps you and leaves you standing in the dirty street with Avery. Everything is absorbing and I couldn't take my eyes away from it for more than a few minutes. 

I'm definitely giving Victoria Ashley a shimmering rating of 9/10 for Wake Up Call. Truly exceptional story. You'll become so involved in the characters, you won't be able to define what's fictional and what's real any more. I absolutely LOVED it! Well done Victoria, what a rideeeee! 

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