on August 26th, 2014
Genres: New Adult
From the USA Today Best Selling Sweet Home Series, comes Sweet Fall; a tale of heartache, beating the odds and finding strength in the most unlikeliest of places.
We all have secrets.
Secrets well buried.
Until we find the one soul who makes the burden of such secrets just that little bit easier to bear.
Lexington "Lexi" Hart is a senior at the University of Alabama. Surrounded by her best friends, her loving family and having fulfilled her life-long dream of making the Crimson Tide cheer squad, everything is going exactly as she always dreamed it would. But beneath her happy exterior, demons lurk, threatening to jeopardize everything Lexi has worked to achieve. When events in her life become too much to cope with, Lexi finds herself spiraling down into the realm of her biggest fear. Lexi falls hard, victim once again to the only thing that can destroy her and, on the way, finds herself falling straight into the dangerous tattooed arms of a guy from the wrong side of the tracks.
Austin Carillo, starting Wide Receiver for the Alabama Crimson Tide, must get picked in this year's NFL draft. He needs it. His brothers need it. Most importantly, his mother desperately needs it. Brought up in a world where the poor are forgotten, the sick are left to fend for themselves and no hero miraculously appears to pull you out of hell, Austin had no other choice but to make a living on the wrong side of the law—until football offered Austin the break to get his life back on track. But when a family tragedy drags him back into the clutches of the gang he believed he had left far behind, Austin finds himself falling. Falling back into criminal ways and falling deep into a suffocating darkness. Until a troubled yet kindred spirit stumbles across his path, where Austin quickly finds he is falling for a young woman, a young woman who might just have the power to save him from his worst enemy: himself.
Can two troubled souls find a lasting peace together? Or will they finally succumb to the demons threatening to destroy them?
New Adult/Contemporary Romance novel—contains adult content, sexual situations and mature topics. Suited for ages 18 and up.
Tillie Cole has a talent for writing with such emotion that I could literally feel the angst and torment her characters were going through. Also, this story hit home for me on a personal level. So, I could understand, sympathize, and feel for everything that Lexi was going through.
“I don’t have to look up at the stars to feel inferior…All I have to do is open my eyes and look at myself in the mirror.”
Lexi Hart has been fighting her demons for years, struggling with a disease that more people have then you’d realize. To her it means she will never be good enough like other girls and she will never be that perfect person. She hides her secret from everyone with her Goth makeup, only letting everyone see her as the happy, smiling, bubbly personality. Meanwhile, she is struggling to avoid the triggers that are always there. Having also struggled, as so many young girls and women do, with the same demons as Lexi, I really felt for her. She tried so hard to move on and get better, but her insecurities just wouldn’t let her.
“Why the war paint, Pix?”
“Because I can’t stand the girl underneath,” she whispered
“Why the tattoos?” Lexi asked
“Because I can’t bear seeing the scars of my past.”
Austin Carillo fought hard to get out of the poor, crime-ridden, gang life he grew up in. After receiving a full ride scholarship to UA, he tried to focus all of his attention on being the best and getting drafted to the NFL. When his older brother mixes his old life into his new, bringing his little brother into it as well, he is determined to do whatever it takes to fix things.
“She’s my broken Pixie, and I’m her piece of trailer trash scum.”
Tattooed, pierced, troubled, Italian Austin—SWOON! Yes he at times appeared angry and dangerous, but he was also understanding and loving. He puts up this shell to protect himself and those he loves. He has a softer side and when he really allowed others to see that side of him I just fell in love with him.
“We all have secrets. Secrets well buried. Until we find that one soul who makes the burden of such secrets just that little bit easier to bear.”
This book was just so emotional and heartbreaking. I don’t even know how to describe the feelings and memories this book brought up for me. Tillie’s writing was so raw and truthful. It really allowed the reader a chance to feel the pain and anguish these characters were feeling. I am a fan of all of her books, but to me this one was just perfection and Lexi and Austin’s story will stay with me for a while.
Walking into the empty locker room, the smell of hairspray, perfume, and fruit-scented body wash seemed to hang like a veil in the air. I moved to my locker, taking out my wash bag and pulling out my cosmetic remover wipes, made my way to a mirror.
For a moment, I just stared. My green eyes were rimmed with black, my face pale with my light powder, and my lips were bright red, as red as the freshest of drawn blood. This was me now. This dark makeup defined me. My mask. And removing it at night was the worst part of every day.
With each swipe of the cotton cloth, my inner strength waned. My white-and-black makeup gave way to the pink skin of my natural face. All of my insecurities came flooding back. They always did.
As I dropped the caked wipe into the small trashcan at my feet, I inhaled. My armor was gone.
My eyes were firmly focused on the bright-white porcelain of the basin, but I forced myself to look up. Dr. Lund had taught me this process was an important part of my recovery.
The instant I lifted my head and faced my reflection, I had the same reaction I’d had for too many years—my heart proceeded to plummet to my stomach and all I felt was disgust.
There she was. Lexington. Lexington Hart. The girl with too many imperfections to ever be pretty. Everything unattractive, from her less-than-flawless complexion to the ugly spray of freckles on her nose.
She was disgusting.
She was fat.
We can improve this, Lexington. Just let me in. We can reach perfection.
My hands balled to fists on the lip of the sink as I fought the demon lurking within.
Reaching behind me, my eyes dipped as I unzipped my skirt, slowly working it over my hips and my feet. Next came my top and my underwear, until I stood naked.
Until I was again weak.
Tears fell from my eyes as I stood rock still, gazing at the tiled floor. It was the hardest thing to do. Facing the real me.
My cured body.
One… two… three… four… I counted internally, bracing myself for what I’d see today. Would I look better? Fatter? Thinner? Worse than ever?
Snapping open my pale-green eyes, I met my bare refection and just stared. My eyes swelled with water and my hand instinctively lifted to my collarbone. It was plumper than it should’ve been. It was once the most favorite part of my body, protruding, defined… visible. But not anymore.
My fingers walked to the top of my arm, and my thumb and index finger pinched at the flesh of my bicep. I had to stifle a sob at how much fat I could pull.
Once all I could pull was skin. But not anymore.
From out of nowhere, I heard faint laughing and my head whipped around to scour the room. There was nobody there, and chills ran down my spine as I realized who it was.
That is right. It is me, Lexington. No one else is here. Just me, looking at how much weight you have put on. And you, you are seeing the ugly effect of your gluttony too… I can see it in your eyes.
I physically froze.
Let me get you back to where you should be. To where you know you want to be. Just let me back in. Give me the reins. Hand yourself to me. Give yourself over to perfection.
As if being controlled like a puppet, my hands ran over my ribs. One, two, three, four, five, six… My fingers began tapping frantically at the skin. There was too much fat. I should be able to feel up to ten ribs, but I could only feel six. No! I could only feel six.
My hand dropped lower, my fingers prodding the excess flesh of my stomach. Lower still. No, no, no! My hips! My hips were not protruding, not angled or defined. There was too much fat. I’m too fat. Not again! Please! I… I—
Lexi… fight it! I said to myself with urgency.
Panting hard, I came back to myself with a jolt. My pale, naked skin was peppered with red marks where I’d been hitting at my bones. Hives had broken out on my neck and chest, and my eyes were red with aggravation and stress.
Seven minutes and thirty-two seconds.
Seven minutes and thirty-two seconds until I could move again.
Until I could breathe right again.
Until I could fight the voice in my mind, trying to make me fall.