Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Release Tour | Counting Daisies (Counting #1) by Nicola Haken | #NEW #MMRomance #Review #DrugAbuse

Title: Counting Daisies
Series: Counting #1
Author: Nicola Haken
Genre: MM Romance
Release Date: August 1, 2016

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?

Another intense story from Nicola Haken and this one is the first in her new series, Counting. In Counting Daisies the subject matter is dark and sensitive but there is plenty of romance and humour to deliver the equilibrium of the storyline.

Dylan and Cameron were best friends that evolved into teenage love but then something happened to split them apart, smashing all their plans for the future to pieces. Cameron has gone on in life to live his dream of becoming a chef and owning his own restaurant. Unfortunately things did not pan out well for Dylan and the path his life took has been a dark and dismal one. Sixteen years since they were last together they meet again but Dylan is loath to let Cameron in on his deepest secret. How could he reveal the lengths he has gone to in the past and the despair he has fallen into? He will never be good enough for Cameron and he knows he needs to stay away but then that invisible pull that was lost so long ago is back with a vengeance for both of them and they find themselves fighting their own private insecurities and weakness in order to be there for each other.

I know whenever I pick up a book by Nicola Haken it is going to take me on an extreme and eventful process to get me to that happy place. She definitely makes her readers go through the pain with her dark back stories which was the case here and this time about drug abuse and the control it holds over a person. Having never having any knowledge or personal experience of knowing anyone with a drug dependency problem, my eyes were certainly opened. Yes there were times I didn’t particularly like Dylan but the more I read the more I became to understand the hold his past and subsequent drug dependency had over him. Cameron on the other hand had his own issues around control but it was a whole lot of light and shade that these two enigmatic characters brought to the book.

As always there was plenty of passion that is brought into the story by Nicola Haken and it was a believable love story that was woven for Dylan and Cameron, even with the issues that Dylan goes through.

Overall this was a dark, intense, passionate and believable m/m romance that I would absolutely recommend to others. Four gripping stars.

*ARC kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review 

“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

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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