Just Ella by Annette K. Larsen
A Proper Romance
Ariella was only looking for a distraction, something to break up the monotony of palace life. What she found was a young man willing to overlook her title and show her a new and vibrant way of life. But when her growing feelings for Gavin spiral out of control and clash with the expectations of her station, she will discover that the consequences of her curiosity are far more severe than she’d imagined.
I watched in helpless horror as two guards hauled Gavin to his feet and dragged him from the room. My voice was frozen, unable to protest as another guard took hold of my arm, leading me upstairs. From the confines of my room, I stared into the darkness beyond my window, hoping to catch one more glimpse of Gavin. He was gone, and I wondered if he would have been better off if he had never met me.
I write clean romance. Why? Because that’s what I love to read, but over the years I’ve discovered it’s quite a challenge to find good clean romance. I believe it’s a genre that many people are looking for and too few authors are writing. My first novel, Just Ella, took me many years to write because I wanted it to be more than just a cutesy love story. I wanted it to have depth, to feel genuine. Hopefully I succeeded, but you’ll have to be the judge.
The book happens over a period of 2-3 years which is definitely different from books I normally read. It gave the story depth and believability, that things weren’t just happening overnight. It was so well written and the descriptions of the world were perfect, especially the maze garden. I felt like I watched a movie instead of reading a book.
I loved Ella right from the start and she grows through the book you only grow to love her more. She is fierce and adventurous. She also has her eye on her people more than she realizes. The fact that she wants to know them as more than nameless faces shows how much of a great leader she could be but doesn’t even realize it. Although her relationship with Gavin makes her stronger and more aware she doesn’t need him to survive. She is strong in her own right and love how the story progresses to show us and her that. She comes into her own many times over as she learns through her experiences. Sometimes Ella screws up and sometimes she rises above all. That’s what makes her such a real character.
I did like Gavin but I didn’t need Gavin. I didn’t need her to be with Gavin because Ella shined so much on her own. Their relationship is so sweet and perfectly romantic and I love how it defeats the odds. There were times that I was mad at Gavin because he was capable of breaking Ella’s heart not only with his own actions but because of who he is. The part that makes this such a true love story is that he does make her cry, he does hurt her but it also makes them stronger. They fall in love with each other over and over again, which is the mark of a strong relationship. I also liked how their romance was central to the book but not all consuming. There was so much more to the story then just their relationship and it was not the only relationship that was important to Ella.
I love when a novel has a strong family in the wings. Ella’s relationship with her parents constantly changes throughout the book. Going from her father and her being close then drifting apart and finding a mutual understanding again. To her seeing her mother as being one way and then learning that really there is more to her actions, that there is more to her as a person. He relationship with her sister is always in flux much like a normal family.
There is a villain but in a tame way and some really great side characters. It amazed when a new character was introduced when I was about 85% through the book and I loved them!
I only have praise for this novel, it exceeded my expectations and don’t worry “clean romance” doesn’t mean there is no kissing. There is still plenty of that so I highly recommend this read.
I changed behind a couple of close-growing trees at the base of the hill, then squeezed the water from my hair and tried to restore it to some semblance of order. I wrung out my clothes before wrapping them in a shawl and putting them in my bag. I decided against putting on my shoes, instead walking barefoot back to the maze, enjoying the feel of the earth under my feet. A lightness filled me; whether from knowing the secret of the waterfall or from abandoning propriety and tromping around barefoot, it didn’t really matter. New life had been breathed into me. The looks thrown my way while entering the palace with bare feet and disheveled hair made me smile. I couldn’t find it in myself to be ashamed.
I bounded up the stairs to my room with no poise at all, and had to suppress a grin when I hurried past Lorraina, who stopped suddenly upon seeing me and didn’t recover before I passed her by. I slipped into my room and shut the door firmly, unable to keep a broad smile from my face as I considered my excursion. It was liberating.
Praise for Just Ella
"I fell in love with this book. Treat yourself to something wonderful. You can't go wrong with Just Ella!" ~Inspired Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
"By far one of the best romance novels I've ever read. Pulls you in with great, likable characters and keeps you going with a sweet and exciting love story--plus a good plot to give it even more substance. Full of those tender moments you want to go back and read again, plus exciting moments, clever humor, and some suspense as well." ~Jana Miller
"Annette Larsen writes a love story that takes time, is complicated, and yet still sweeps you up in the romance (without the cheese, thank you). It's compelling and emotional and sweet and you will love every page." ~Kimi
Author Annette K. Larsen
I was born in Utah, but grew up in Flagstaff Arizona and St. Louis Missouri, the fifth of seven children. I attended college at Southern Virginia University and Brigham Young University where I studied English and Theater. I now live in Idaho with my husband and four children.
I have Charlotte Bronte to thank for the courage to write novels. After being bombarded with assigned reading about women who justified abandoning either their families or their principles in the name of love, I had the great fortune of reading Jane Eyre. And that was it: finally a heroine who understood that being moral and making the right choice was hard, and sometimes it hurt, but it was still worth it. After rereading it several years later, I realized that if I wanted more books to exist with the kinds of heroines I admired, then I might as well write a few myself. My books are about women who face hard choices, who face pain and rejection and often have to sacrifice what they want for what is right. The consequences are often difficult or unpleasant, but it the end, doing what’s right will always be worth it.
I believe there is no substitute for good writing or good chocolate. Fortunately, one often leads to the other.
Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
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