Blog Tour: Miles From Kara by Melissa West

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Charleston Haven, #2
Kara Marcus is desperate to forget the past and move on. But she can’t escape her choices—especially when she finds herself falling in love...

Since the first day she stepped into her childhood Southern Baptist church, two truths have been engrained in Kara Marcus’s head: sex before marriage is bad and murder is a sin. And that’s why Kara can never forgive herself for what she did at the age of sixteen.

Now, as second semester of freshman year comes to a close, Kara has stood by her high school boyfriend, Ethan. But as they seem to grow further and further apart every day, Kara realizes that she has feelings for someone else: Ethan’s roommate Colt.

Suddenly, Kara’s clear-cut world shifts out of focus, and she’s torn between what her head tells her is right and what her heart is desperately pushing her to do—even if it means committing another undeniable sin...
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PURCHASE


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5 STARS


Sometimes, you're reading a book, and a single detail will suddenly hit close to home. Maybe it's something you've experienced firsthand. Maybe it's something you've witnessed a loved one go through. Either way, the story suddenly becomes much more personal. The words carry more weight. You start to see your life and your circumstances between the lines of the pages, pulling you in deeper. So before I start this review, I'll admit that there are parts of Kara's story that affected me immensely. I'd like to keep the exact details private, but I will say that Miles from Kara was an extremely emotional read for me. I ugly-cried. Tears often blurred my vision, and I would occasionally have to pause and sob. That kind of emotional. It's hard to say, if I didn't have personal experiences constantly floating around in the back of my mind, if I would have had such intense reactions at all.

But as I closed this book, I was sure of a few things. Melissa West wrote a truly raw, soul-wrenching story. I applaud this author for shedding a light on topics that all too often attract harsh judgment, like teen pregnancy and abortion. I never felt like I was being preached to, that my moral compass was getting an inspection, or that "values" were being shoved down my throat. This was simply about the gravity of the situation that so many young women find themselves in--what they go through on the inside that nobody else really sees--and how far and deep the impact of their choices can reach.

The Charleston Haven series began with Olivia Warren, the lone survivor of a fire that tragically took the lives of her best friends. She had to find a way to finally face her past, to heal, and to move forward. Continuing with her roommate Kara Marcus, readers are once again given the story of a girl still haunted by a loss from her past and attempting to deal with the aftermath alone. I immediately felt attached to Kara. While she was a fun character in book one, we see a much different version of her hiding beneath the surface in book two. Her point of view was written perfectly to make me understand her, to empathize.

I saw a girl who feared judgment, who feared screwing things up and making a mistake. I saw a girl who only sought approval and respect from the people she cared about most. Who experienced something that's haunted her for years, something that makes her doubt her own worth. Something huge and life-altering: pregnant at just sixteen years old. But before she could process what was happening to her or decide for herself what to do next, the choice was made for her. And just like that, it was over. She was left to deal with the repercussions, alone. My heart really broke for Kara, again and again. It was the single most difficult thing in her life, and she felt so alone. I understood her pain of wondering if you made the right decision, how one choice can haunt and hurt you long after it's been said and done.
"No one knew how I truly felt. They didn't know the fears that stayed with me or the constant voice telling me that I would never be a good person. That I would forever be tainted. I wanted to get it all off my chest. I wanted to yell about it, cry, and finally feel like I was free from this thing that hovered over me."
Years later, as a psychology major volunteering at a counseling center, Kara meets Maggie, a pregnant teenage girl she can relate to, but who has the chance to take a different route than Kara did. Who has a choice. Sometimes, looking in the mirror can be the hardest thing to do when we don't like what we see, all of our flaws so blatantly under display. And Kara gets a mirror in the form of Maggie. Much like a significant scene in book one, when Kara makes Olivia turn and look in a mirror, to see the torment clearly showing in her reflection, Kara is made to confront her own demons. As she attempts to help and be there for Maggie, she realizes and deals with some important things about herself and her past.

Kara's story has a lot of complex layers, and I loved getting to see each one unfold. The whole spectrum of emotions was gripping and consuming. Because on top of everything else, falling in love also found its way into Kara's life. We already know from the book's synopsis that Kara has a long-term boyfriend, Ethan, and that she can't seem to get his roommate, Colt, out of her head. So, I'll go ahead and say for any weary readers...There is no cheating. This is not a love triangle. However, Ethan plays an important role in Kara's growth and development, just as Colt does. It's another choice that Kara has to make. As difficult as it is, as uncertain as she is, and as tough as it is to let go of a past you've held onto for so long, it's something that she has to learn to do. To stand strong. To move forward. This is a case where the love story is woven incredibly well into the life story.
"I was letting myself be flawed, all open and exposed. This was the real me, the take-it-or-leave-it kind of love. It was pure and real in a way that only Colt and I could be."
Colt is definitely a bright light for Kara--and us readers!!!--to hold onto. Australian accent, tattooed, has a smoldering gaze...Yes yes yes! He was an interesting character, with layers of his own, and yes, completely worthy of lusting over. ;) More importantly, though, I thought their relationship developed at just the right pace. The restraint--holding back and waiting until just the right time--fed the attraction perfectly. Colt is sincere, caring, and genuinely works for Kara's trust. The heroines of this series have been through a lot, and I love that, in turn, their heroes have been gentle, patient, and supporting. To me, that's the biggest thing that makes them swoon-worthy!

Towards the end of the book, the time for resolution and all emotional purging, there were certain scenes that I wished would've been more fleshed out. There were a couple of characters that I really wanted to see more of. Ultimately, though, Kara's journey felt complete and truly fulfilling. At times it was poignant, but in others, it was bright and promising. I felt sad because of where she'd been, what she'd been through, but eventually I felt proud of how far she'd come.
"My heart and muscles ached, like I'd been running forever from something and could finally stop. Could finally breathe. I cried harder, both out of relief and sadness."
Each book in the Charleston Haven series has been an emotional wrecking ball! I've had my heart crushed, but then rebuilt again, and felt it come back to life and swell with hope and joy! If you're looking for New Adult books that can hurt and heal you, where you really get to see its characters learn and change for the better, check out this series! Miles from Kara was an exceptionally touching and powerful read. It showed the story of a girl so tangled up in the what-if's and if-only's of the past and the bravery and strength it took for her to find a way out.

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MORE FROM THE CHARLESTON HAVEN SERIES

| Pieces of Olivia - My Review - Excerpt |

| Miles From Kara - Excerpt |

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Melissa West writes young adult and new adult novels for Entangled Teen and Embrace and Penguin/Intermix. She lives outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.

She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and a M.S. in Graphic Communication, both from Clemson University. Yeah, her blood runs orange.