RELEASE TOUR: REVIEW, EXCERPT, AND GIVEAWAY: Counting Daisies by Nicola Haken

Title: Counting Daisies

Author: Nicola Haken

Genre: M/M Romance

Release: August 1, 2016

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30121748-counting-daisies

CountingDaisies-promoblock

Dylan Roberts and Cameron O’Neil were good kids. Growing up together, they shared everything. By the age of fourteen they were more than best friends – they were in love. They dreamt of their future, of success, marriage…happiness. They were going to grow old by each other’s side.

But… “Kids are stupid.”

When tragic circumstances forced them apart, Dylan discovered that life wasn’t the fairytale he dreamed of; it was dark, difficult, saturated with pain and shame. Life wasn’t meant to be enjoyed, merely survived, but even that became a challenge.

Damaged, worthless, and disgusting, he saw no point to his pitiful existence…

Until he came face to face with the boy he used to love.

Successful, honourable, and happy, Cameron had achieved the future they planned. He was good, positive, popular…everything Dylan would never be. What would happen if Dylan let him back into his world? Would he destroy Cameron too? Would his poison push him away like everyone else?

“Everybody leaves.”

“They leave or they die.”

But what if…what if Cameron didn’t?  

This is a deep and powerful book with the main theme which is refreshing less about the path of a relationship and way more about the real life gritty obstacles that come on the way of their HEA.” – Reader Review

“This book was phenomenal. I cried so many tears. Story was heart breaking and heartwarming all at the same time.” – SiKReviews

“ This was a beautifully crafted story of friendship, love, bonds, addictive behaviour and heartache. It was hugely emotional in parts, and Nicola doesn’t hold back.” – 2 Girls & Their Kindles

review

For Dylan Roberts, counting daisies was/is a way for him to tune out bad situations, finding it easier to cope with his mind turning to thoughts of beauty and love instead of the places he found himself in due to his addiction and destructive personality and without his best friend, the love of his life, Cameron. 

For Cameron O’Neil, Dylan was/is his first love – the boy who owned his heart since he was a young boy, and even after sixteen years, Dylan is still the one who Cameron wishes was by his side.

“The point is life!”

I don’t think there’s any better lesson for a person to learn because without the ability to breathe…to exist, nothing can be done to make amends…to fight addiction…to learn to survive.

But Dylan has to choose life…he has to choose recovery…he has to choose a future that is not filled with destructive choices and the poison he continues to pump into his veins. He has to choose Cameron but not because Cameron can save him or protect him from relapsing, but because Dylan’s ability to make his own choices proves that he has a future…he has the ability to begin again even after many years of failure, pain, and fear.

One of the daisy’s significant meanings is that of transformation, and throughout the course of Dylan and Cameron’s story, readers witness Dylan’s metamorphosis – both the downward spiral he must go through in order to pull himself free of his drug of choice as well as the uplifting moments where he realizes that even though he can’t be fixed, he sure as hell can fight to live a worthwhile life…a life with Cameron…a life that places him on a pathway to redemption as well as love.

One of Nicola Haken’s attributes as a writer that I adore is her ability to delve into difficult societal issues with sensitivity while explicitly illustrating every dark and twisted angle in a way that casts a light on how devastating each problem can be and the backward and forward steps that take place as a person tackles his/her demons and tries to break free from the devil himself.

Dylan’s been in the trenches of addiction, but Cameron has never witnessed what it can do to someone you love or the helplessness that you feel as you watch the person you once knew become someone quite different. What works so well in Counting Daisies is the fact that not only does Cameron learn what he can and cannot do as he tries to help Dylan, but readers do as well, and that enlightenment just might be someone else’s saving grace. 

What I love about Nicola Haken’s M/M romances is that everything comes back to what someone is willing to do for the love of his life. Regardless of the struggle…of the pain…of the fear, remembering that in the end, all that matters is being able to be with that one person who gets you better than anyone else is worth going through hell and back to get to that point!

A complimentary copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 Poison Apples

He clung to my shirt, his knuckles turning white. “Make it s-stop.” 
“I…I don’t know how.”
Fuck this. Fuck heroin. Why the hell would someone do this to themselves? I’d never seen this level of pain before that hadn’t resulted in death, and even that was only on TV. 
Dylan sobbed into my chest and I held him while he did. My arms were all I had to offer. He remained so cold despite my palms rubbing up and down his back, and he was dirty, too – dried up vomit sticking to his skin and hair. I’d never felt so helpless in all my life.
Needing to do something, anything, I climbed to my feet, lifting his body with me. “Come on,” I encouraged, struggling to take his weight on my own. “Try and walk for me.”
He whimpered and mumbled but made little effort to move. So, sliding one arm behind his thighs, I scooped him up like a baby, carrying him towards the bath. He clung to my neck, his grip weak, while I turned on the water. I turned the temperature down to barely warm, worried the heat might burn his shivering skin, before lowering him into the bathtub, under the fine spray of the shower. 
His muscles twitched and his eyes closed as he hugged his knees to his scrawny chest. Taking a sponge and some shower-gel, I scrubbed softly up and down his trembling body, gently manoeuvring his arms and legs when needed so I could clean every inch of him.
“I’m tired, Cam,” he barely whispered, dropping his head to the side.
My heart ached, like it was trapped inside a vice that was trying to crush its ability to beat, as I lathered some shampoo into his fair hair. “You can sleep soon. Nearly done.” 
I tried not to cry as I massaged his scalp. I wanted to be strong, but I’d never felt more vulnerable. Removing the showerhead from the hook on the wall, I hovered it over his head, rinsing away the tea-tree scented suds, before doing the same to the rest of his skin. After shutting the water off, I grabbed a large towel from the heated rail next to the toilet and rubbed it over his skin in the bathtub before lifting him out and doing the same to his back.
“I-I can’t d-do it anymore,” Dylan cried as I wound my arm around his waist, urging him to take a step.
“You are doing it. It’s almost over.” I had no idea if my words were the truth, but I had to hope they were for both of our sakes. Honestly, I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore either.
Nicola lives in Rochdale, England with her husband and four children (six if you include the dog and cat!) She is the author the author of the m/m romance Souls of the Knight series, and is currently working on a standalone with new boys, James and Theo, due for release early 2016. When she is not busy playing with her imaginary book friends (or talking about them with real life friends!) she can usually be found carrying out her ordinary mum/housewife/all round slave duties. Oh, and if the kids ever ask, she moonlights as the Pink Power Ranger while they’re sleeping…

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