We are stoked to participate in another Stephanie Lawton book tour. We are today's stop on the Need Blog Tour hosted by Fiction Addiction Book Tours. For our stop, we are running our review and there is a giveaway. Need is the follow-up to Want (our review), one of our favorite books of 2012.
Need (Want, book #2) by Stephanie Lawton
Contemporary romance*Paperback/eBook, 328 pages
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing (May 17, 2013)
Isaac Laroche is cursed. All he wants to do is hide out and feel sorry for himself. Never mind that he got caught sleeping with his seventeen-year-old piano student, or that he abandoned her when the truth was exposed.
Isaac’s feisty high school sweetheart has different plans. Heather Swann has returned to their hometown of Mobile, Alabama, to regroup after breaking up with her troll of a fiancé. She’s restless and looking for a diversion, but she bites off more than she can chew when she sets her sights on rehabilitating Isaac with her unorthodox sexual, mental, and physical plans.
The two quickly reconnect, but their happiness is threatened by family secrets, old vendettas and the death of a beloved father-figure.
Can Heather handle Isaac’s baggage, or will her own come back to haunt them both?
About the Author:
After collecting a couple English degrees in the Midwest, Stephanie Lawton suddenly awoke in the deepest reaches of the Deep South. Culture shock inspired her to write about Mobile, Alabama, her adopted city, and all the ways Southern culture, history and attitudes seduce the unsuspecting.
A lover of all things gothic, she can often be spotted photographing old cemeteries, historic buildings and, ironically, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. She also has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles.
"I've been cast out from my job as organist at my life-long church. Within twenty-four hours, all my students' parents called to cancel their lessons. The Mobile Symphony asked that I remove myself from the committee for the Mobile Sonata Contest."
Issac Laroche is now broken. After the scandal about his affair with his seventeen year old student Julia was made public, he escaped into himself. His friends, his family, his neighbors avoid him. The black sheep has become a social pariah. All he had was his Uncle Robert, his one saving grace. His Uncle suggests getting a job which requires some sort of manual labor so Issac can "forget" any "urges" he may have. After Juli, he's a mess. And he should be. After reading what he put Juli through and his subsequent abandonment of her in the first book, Want, Issac should be ashamed. Need is his story.
"People could forgive what happened between you and Juli. What they have a hard time digesting is your reaction. You ran. They understood why you ran when you were a teenager, but you're nearly thirty. Time to grow up, Issac. Time to be the man your father would've expected you to be. The kind I expect you to be."
Uncle Robert has always been in Issac's corner, his true supporter, and his words hit home. Issac begins to see what he has to do if he wants to remain a resident of Mobile. An old girlfriend, Heather, approaches him after Easter Sunday mass and they agree to meet to talk. We learn what happened after the homecoming dance between Issac and Heather's mother, Marcie Swann, when she catches the couple in a compromising position (when they're both 17). From here, they rekindle their friendship, but after Issac takes her advice on asking Juli for forgiveness and the plan backfires, he suspects Heather's mom in pulling her strings. Is she?
This was when the story took a strange turn and it took some time for me to see where it would go. Heather stands up to Issac and becomes a type of dominatrix, ordering him, using sex as a reward, and yet her efforts to change him begin to work. At this point, Issac has lost so much, he'll try anything. I found Heather's switch from sweet Southern woman to domineering seductress weird but she knew Issac best. She spoke the language Issac listened to--sex--and in her own way, demonstrated how he needed to begin changing his life. Their scenes, especially when she wanted him to treat her like Juli, were not only steamy but moving. Her vulnerability and need to have Issac forgive her for her mother's abuse of him at seventeen, came through. I wanted to learn more about her and her backstory (besides what she reveals later about her family).
"Perhaps it's a sign of my immaturity, but it occurs to me that she cares. My actions affect her. When I'm not around, she thinks about me. Part of me still doesn't believe that I'm significant enough to matter. I am nobody, forgettable, yet her tears say otherwise. So do Mama's, and so do Juli's. This is a revelation."
The heart of Need is Issac's transformation from immature jerk to an upstanding man. His uncle helps him tremendously and even gets Issac to go home for Sunday dinner to mend his family ties. From this part on in the novel, I couldn't stop reading. Could. Not. Stephanie Lawton is excellent in penning heartbreak, highly emotional scenes and wringing feelings from the ordinary and conveying them to readers in her lovely, lyrical prose. The funeral scene and reception was poignant and beautifully written, combining Issac's pain and wit together with the uniqueness of Southern personalities and genteel behavior. Issac's relationship with his niece Jayne was also touching, showing another side of him. Family is important to him, but so is Heather.
"When the song ends, I stand to rejoin my family, but on the way I stop next to the casket and place my hand on its smooth surface. I say a silent prayer. I will make you proud. I will be the man you knew I could be."
Ultimately, Need is about direction and what one messed up, immature young man must do with his life. Right his wrongs, reconnect with his family, be forgiven and forgive himself, get back to creating music, and fall in love-again-with his first love. I may not have liked Issac in Want but I liked and connected with him in Need. Powerfully uplifting, sexy, and gripping, I fell for a Southern guy named Issac. Thank you, Ms. Lawton, for bringing us Mr. Laroche's story.
I adored the cover for Want and I'm glad they kept the piano in the series. Having Issac across the top of piano is significant since this is his story but the woman's hand gripping his tie perfectly exemplifies the book (and reminds me of a certain scene between Issac and Heather, some rope, and a piano).
I received a promotional copy in return for my honest review during a book tour.