Book Review: Safe With You by Sophie Lira

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Release Date: April 26, 2016
O​livia Simon is starting over in the Big Easy. Her new job as a yoga instructor means she gets to pursue her passion, while giving her the motivation she needs to get back on track. But she’s scared. Really scared. Scared her abusive ex-boyfriend will find her. Scared of all things that go bump in the night… and day. She knows her ex will have a claim on her future happiness unless she can find her own peace. Which starts with Kyle.

Kyle Avery, a former college baseball player on the brink of going pro, is also starting over. His dream since Little League was shattered when a jealous rival went too far in a pre-season game. After a few surgeries, all Kyle is left with are a few rods in his leg, a rebuilt knee, and no idea who he is without baseball. But when he trades center field for a yoga mat, he finds solace in a way he never imagined. Kyle knows there’s something about Olivia. Something he needs to move forward.

But Olivia loves to run, and it’s too soon for her to be playing house. Olivia and Kyle want to invest in each other, but the secrets they’ve kept take a dangerous turn when Olivia’s past returns with a vengeance. Devastated and helpless, Olivia wonders who she can really trust, and Kyle questions if he was ever able to keep her safe
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*** ARC provided in exchange for an honest review ***
 
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4 STARS

Baseball is one of my absolute great loves (right up there with food and books), so when I was given the chance to read an early copy of Safe With You, author Sophie Lira's debut novel about a rehabbing baseball player and a yoga instructor, I was definitely intrigued! I dove in, expecting to read something fun and sporty, but I was happily surprised to find that there's so much more to Kyle and Olivia's story. It had many of the things that I love about the new adult genre..the personality and the humor, and a heartfelt journey full of emotional twists!

After finally leaving her abusive ex-boyfriend, Olivia Simon is trying to move on with her life in a new city, with a new job, around new people. My heart ached for the shell of a girl she'd been reduced to. Afraid to go out. Reluctant to socialize. Always second-guessing people's motives. She's barely getting by, taking life day by day. Still, she pushes on. Through Olivia, the author sheds some light on the lingering effects of being in a toxic relationship for so long, but the part that I admired most was that she also showed Olivia's determination to move forward and showed how this once battered girl was willing to finally make her life hers again.

In a lot of ways, Olivia's journey toward healing is jumpstarted when she meets Kyle Avery. (And what a cute first meeting it was!) I'll admit that I was initially curious about Kyle because I had read the book's blurb and...well...baseball. But the deeper I got into the story, I loved getting to know the version of Kyle away from the sport. He's Captain America-level handsome and extremely talented *dreamy sigh*, but he's also this incredibly well-mannered, tattooed Southern gentleman! ;) He's everything Olivia's never had but has always needed. He shows her what it feels like to be truly cherished and protected. The genuine care and affection act like a salve to so many of Olivia's open wounds, felt even in the little things...like buying her flowers, giving her forehead kisses, and just holding her. I loved all of the precious, tender moments in this book! *heart eyes* There are also other elements in Kyle's life that really emphasize everything Olivia's been deprived of and what he can now give her. Even though it felt a little too perfect and fluffy at times, Kyle shows Olivia that she deserves and is capable of having a happy and comfortable life.

For Kyle and Olivia, 'starting over' is a common theme. They both have a past that they're trying to get away from--the physical and emotional pain--and I really liked how their relationship was able to develop. (There is a GREAT softball scene that had me smiling and laughing!) Then, not only was Kyle sweet and flirty and charming, he actually says some very important things to Olivia throughout the book that I think young girls in her situation absolutely need to hear. One critical moment, for example: "Stop apologizing, Olivia. You haven't done anything wrong." It was those kinds of moments that really made me believe in this couple.

It was a slow burn, as they gradually opened up to each other and began to trust. Again, my heart absolutely ached for Olivia. I hated what she went through and her disgusting ex. But also, my heart ached for Kyle. As a San Francisco Giants fan, I sympathized with the life-altering injury he was dealing with. I actually flashed back to Buster Posey's injury in 2011. The Giants' superstar player was out for the season after a nasty collision at home plate, and fans everywhere were DEVASTATED. In Kyle's situation, though, the effects of his injury were even worse. So as he coaxed Olivia out of her shell, I was happy to see him find peace again after all of the damage done. Just like watching Olivia's walls come down, I really liked watching Kyle build his life back up.

The supporting cast was also a wonderful standout in this book. I loved the friendships! Kyle and his best friend Cam?? I was SO DOWN for that bromance. Aubrey, Olivia's friend and co-worker? She made me laugh constantly. Helena, their boss, was also a wise, mature figure. Even Kyle's parents factored into the story. They were all shining beacons of love and unwaivering support. They were kind, patient, and understanding. After everything that Kyle and Olivia went through individually, then what they endure together, this kind of supporting cast is exactly what they needed. THIS is the kind of tribe you need in your life! One that will rally around you and help you get back up when you're down!

Also, I feel like Cameron Callisthenes Tavares deserves his own honorable mention. *praise hands*  Cam has been Kyle's best friend since they were kids, and he's basically Kyle's Brazilian, fiercely loyal, personal bodyguard. :P I ADORED CAM. I left ridiculous fangirly Kindle notes for every Cam scene ever. He nearly stole the whole damn show! (Dear Sophie, I will now be constantly begging for Cam's book from this day forward...)

However, without getting too spoilery, I do want to mention a couple of my "cons". Towards the end, there were particular actions/decisions that I didn't necessarily agree with. There were times when I thought, personally, I'd handle a situation differently. Also, there were conflicts in the book that I think wrapped up in a rather convenient fashion, and I wished they had been fleshed out a bit better. Those details may have kept the book from being absolutely perfect for me, but ultimately, the pros still outweighed the cons. I still enjoyed the writing and the overall story!

In the end, what mattered most was that I truly saw how much Kyle and Olivia had changed from the beginning to the end, how far they'd come. Olivia brought meaning to Kyle's life again, after his dreams of professional baseball were shattered, and he realizes there's still a lot for him to live for and to be happy about. Kyle finally makes Olivia feel safe and cherished. I got to see a scared, battered girl learn to stand up for herself and become independent. Even when it would be all too easy to depend on Kyle, she always wanted to stand on her own two feet.

Kyle and Olivia's story was about overcoming past hurts and moving forward. About finding strength and happiness again. I enjoyed getting to know these characters. The fears, the insecurities. The hope, the determination. Sophie created an entire cast that I adored, and she gave each character a great voice. At their core, they felt so very real. Although there's pain and struggle in this book, there is also so much love and joy to be found in these pages. A great read about starting over and starting something new!

PS. I'm definitely going to need Cam's book now. Did I mention that yet...;)


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sophie hails from the east coast with the accent to prove it. When she's not writing, she works in a small brewery or going to Crossfit. Her favorite things include Football, the Olympics, Siberian Huskies, and traveling.