Best of 2015: Best Romance by a Debut Author

I read so many great books in 2015, and had the pleasure of starting this job and the sister Facebook page and group.  As the year came to the end, and everyone began discussing the best ofs and awards, I decided this blog should take some time to spotlight my favorites.   And thus, I present you with the first of LaDonna’s Book Nook’s Best of 2015 Awards.   I will present one about every day until we get to my choice for book of the year, however long it takes (but I am planning on it being around the end of January.)   I don’t want to just present a list – I want to tell  you about the book, why the award is presented to it, and why it should be on your TBR if it is not already.   The order will be random until we get to the big 3 – Book of the Year, and the two runners up.   So without further review, I present you with the Best Romance by a Debut Author.   And the award goes to……

Miles from Home - Ava Bell

Ava Bell’s Miles from Home –

 ~~ Synopsis ~~

Six months after the death of her mother, twenty-one-year-old Maggie Taylor is just trying to get through each day when she’s offered a coveted spot at a prestigious dance school in New York City. Knowing her father will not approve, she packs her car and sets out on a road trip that will leave her forever changed.
Twenty-one-year-old Sam Austin is tired of being stuck in a small town. Forced to deal with his father’s alcoholism since his mother left eleven years ago. Sam has only ever found solace in music and frequent one-night-stands. When Sam is presented with the opportunity to move to Chicago, he leaps at the chance, and leaves town with only his backpack and guitar.
After Sam and Maggie arrive in the small Midwestern town of Hermann Missouri they are forced to share the only room available. What starts as a simple inconvenience soon turns in to a weekend of passion. A passion that will burn until they are reunited years later by a terrible tragedy.

My Review (as originally posted on Amazon)

5 Stars

Amazing Debut. Poignantly Beautiful, Heartwrenchingly Devastating. February 2, 2015

Fantastic book, but someone had better hurry up and recommend me something that is a truly light fluffy read, maybe even two. These heartwrenching, soul stealing reads are killing me – especially ones like this where it came as a complete surprise. And I don’t cry at books! What is happening to me?! Guess it is time to buy that Kleenex stock we are always joking about.

So last night, I was dealing with a physical illness that came with a nasty headache and an overwhelming foreshadowing that insomnia would be the theme of the night no matter how tired I was. I started flipping through my Kindle library for a light, sweet read, and remembered that I had “met” Ava Bell at a Facebook author event recently, and the cover photo looked like the perfect pick. I was convinced when the innocent but determined Maggie ignored her car’s check engine light, like everyone except my father does, after having her car thoroughly checked before leaving her small town in Texas for a renown ballet school in the Big Apple. Completely adorable Sam had missed getting back on his bus after a stop while traveling from Oklahoma to Chicago to follow his dream of being a singer/songwriter/guitarist in Chicago. Ummm, rockstar? Yes, this was the book I was looking for! He diagnosis her car problem and they are able to get it to a mechanic in the next town, which is where he is heading to catch the next bus. That town happens to be Hermann, Missouri – bonus! A friend of mine got married there last fall. Yup, this story is shaping up perfectly for me. They finally give in to their attraction to each other, and this debut author nails the hot and steamy erotic scenes. Hallelujah, I found exactly what I was looking for. We still have the angst of this adorable couple heading to two different places to follow their dreams, so we are set for the perfect, sweet little romance with an HEA that I was hoping for. The foreshadowing of their overwhelming passion leading them to an unprotected first encounter made the pregnancy announcement no big surprise, other than the fact that I surprisingly didn’t find it annoying, but this was where the predictability ended.

I hate to include spoilers in a review, and will try my best to avoid them, but it will be really hard to completely bypass them and still give this review everything it deserves. At first Maggie is set on putting the baby up for adoption, since she has never heard from Sam even though she cannot stop thinking about him. Okay, so he’s finally going to call with some reasonable excuse as to why he hasn’t, in time to talk her out of it and we’ll have our HEA, right? Um, no.

Years go by. Maggie still thinks of Sam everyday, and cannot move on. Years. We are not getting Sam’s side of the story at all. WTF?!?!

Okay, eventually we do get that, and a tragic accident does allow Maggie to lay eyes on Sam again, after she has finally attempted to move on. Years. Don’t forget the years that have gone by. So now, although a bit stickier situation, we are going to get our HEA, right? Right??? Oh hell no. Lots of actually understandable drama ensues, but we are still hanging, but at least they have contact again, even if there are contentious feelings, we can still have our HEA, right?!?!

Oh no, then s*** truly gets real. I honestly feel like I need someone to talk to about what happens after that. Yes, it hit home because of a dear friend of mine who went through a lot of what Maggie then goes through, but even without that connection, be prepared and have plenty of tissue ready. This one got to me like few have. With a debut like this, I can’t begin to imagine the future she has ahead of her, but I’m sure it will be big, and I plan to be right there to catch each new release.

For mature audiences only for explicit sexual content. Highly recommended as long as you don’t mind shedding a few tears.

Debut - Romance

I will admit this was a really hard category to choose – I had the pleasure of reading and/or getting to know a number of authors in 2015 who released their first books.   And there were many great choices, quite a few I reviewed as 5 stars, and I truly think I debated longer about this than most any other category, but as I looked back over my notes and reviews for the year, this book still sticks out.   As I look over the review and remember how it was so not what I was looking to read when I picked it up, I also think of how deeply it moved me and how glad I was that I had “accidentally” ended up reading it.

So, congratulations Ava!   You are hearby awarded The Best Debut Novel – Romance for 2015 by LaDonna’s Book Nook!

Ava has continued to put out two more books this year, and I hate to admit that I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but they are definitely on my TBR.  I wish Ava much success in her literary career.




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