Grave Bound, (Secrets, #1)
Emily Riddle has lived her entire nineteen years inside a patriarchal commune led by her father and her stepbrothers. There are more rules than she cares to admit, but the most important one, 'keep it in the commune', is the one most difficult for her to abide by... especially since the only people willing to champion her cause live on the outside.
When Emily learns her father and brothers have promised her to Lorenzo, a man she despises down to her core, she rebels. No matter the consequences, she refuses to marry someone who'd rather beat her than caress her.
A day of hooky that starts out as a tiny act of defiance - sneaking out of the commune for a swim - soon turns into the best day of her life. After spending time with Levi, a man camping near the lake, she finds out what true romance looks like and catches a glimpse into a future that's filled with love and admiration rather than hate and submission.
That tiny peek is enough to change the course of Emily's existence and makes it nearly impossible for her to go back to the commune and pretend she will ever be able to tolerate a life chosen for her rather than the life she longs for. One that includes Levi.
Fighting to escape the commune, its leaders, and her fiancé proves to be more dangerous than Emily ever expected. The secrets she knows, as the commune leader's daughter, will either follow her to the grave or send her - and Levi - there.
Links where Grave Bound can be purchased:
Barnes & Noble
Grave Bound, (Secrets, #1) Soundtrack:
Underground (Secrets, #2)
In it, Emily learns that revenge can send you places you never thought you'd go.
Betrayal and loss have changed Emily Riddle in ways she never thought would have been possible. With a death wish guiding her every move, she's willing to compromise her morals, ethics, and instincts to bring the men who've broken her heart to justice... even if that means living a life underground, being someone she's not, and pretending to respect the very men she's positioning herself to take down.
As soon as she teams up with the district attorney, Tope Bryson, and agrees to be a member of his covert operation, she returns to the commune and convinces the patriarchal leaders she is the most qualified person to take on roles traditionally assigned to men. Desperate and without options, Owen, the commune's leader and Emily's father, agrees to a temporary change.
Emily takes full advantage of the opportunity and quickly proves to him - much to her brothers' dismay - that he can't live without having her in those critical roles and that she may be the best candidate for his 'next in command'.
She and Tope quickly realize that the men of the commune consider a woman who threatens the good ole boy system that's been in place for decades public enemy number one. Determined to protect Emily from her brothers, Tope plants an undercover officer and charismatic law student, Noah Babineaux, in the commune. Neither Tope nor Emily is prepared for the attention Noah pays Emily.
With a nothing else matters attitude, Emily focuses on her underground mission and pushes her hate, anger, grief, and... blossoming feelings down until they threaten to explode from the inside and tear her apart. It's a race against the clock to get the evidence necessary (and ultimately the retaliation Emily craves) before a life of submissive brutality - or sibling jealousy - kills her.
* * *
Honestly, Emily's story is a hard one to write, but it is one that must be told. Her life is one worth reading about and learning from in spite of the atrocities carried out against her and the people she loves and no matter how gut-wrenching they are for us. Emily's fictional tale is a gentle reminder that there are women - in this country and others - who are not given the same freedoms that most of us take for granted... that there are men who think of women as property rather than equals.
I also believe that Emily's trials and tribulations are ones that she must endure (and we must bear witness to) in order for us to appreciate the risks she takes, the sacrifices she makes, and the lengths she will go to make sure all women - not just her and Tess - of the commune have basic rights.
The fact that there are people outside of the commune joining her in her fight gives me a strong sense of justice and reinforces the fact that there are people in the world who do not look away when they see people who are in trouble. They are the characters who give me hope that Emily's life will one day be different.
* * *For your entertainment, I've included pictures of the main characters as I envision them and a brief summary of the traits and characteristics that make them amazing! Quotes and excerpts to follow.
Elijah Tope Bryson
Like all my great male characters, my husband was my muse for Tope. The dark, brooding, and brunette Tope embodies my husband's most prominent physical traits. Here's the thing... my husband is so much more than the sum of his physical characteristics and so is Tope. The characteristics most important and most difficult to convey are the ones that make Tope a character that will have people coming back time and time again. Rather than tell the reader that Tope is kind to anyone and everyone, that he has the patience of a saint, and that he has a protective instinct when it comes to Emily, I've created actions and reactions that prove what a wonderful person he is. With them, the readers see that he is absolutely worthy of becoming a book boyfriend favorite.
Noah R. Babineaux
Noah is the tattooed biker boy who wants what he wants, and he wants Emily. Unlike the other men, he doesn't buy into the notion that the commune needs to be patriarchal. He's convinced it would run better if the women were allowed to make their own decisions and be treated with the respect they deserve. Like Tope, his morals and his ethics make him endearing (no matter how cocky he is). His determination to protect Emily from the men of the commune... to sacrifice himself in order to do that... will have readers falling for him and wondering which man Emily should chose.
Emily is described as tall and naturally beautiful. Her puppy dog eyes are so sad that everyone who meets her feels the sorrow that's such a part of her that it might well be a second skin. Unfortunately, the things Emily's seen prevent her from being the happy-go-lucky girl she would be if she weren't a slave to the men of the commune and she hadn't been made to witness atrocities that have changed her life forever. Like any good hero, Emily uses the injustices she's witnessed and the ones she suspects are occurring to strengthen her resolve. She insists on a better life... not just for herself but also for the other women of the commune, and she takes matters into her own hands to get what she wants.
Emily's life is so miserable, her world is so horrific, and her losses are so great that readers will not be able to keep themselves from pulling for her and hoping and praying that the men of the commune get their due. Even more than revenge, the readers will want to see Emily get her well-deserved happily ever after.