Arouse is the first novel in the bestselling author Nina Lane's highly popular and much lauded Spiral of Bliss series. I've had this series starter since it was available for free on Amazon a couple or so years ago, but it wasn't until the latest book in the series was going to have a blog tour that I finally came to my senses and decided now was the best time to see what all the fuss was about. And yes, I get it, even if it is rather belatedly, but I absolutely understand why this series was as popular as it was when the original trilogy was out. We've read countless romance novels that tell the tale of how the main characters meet and fall in love, and while we still get that here via flashbacks, this series is about what happens after happily-ever-after, because if we're totally being honest with ourselves, fairy tales don't exist and happiness and contentment are never guaranteed even for the blissfully in love and lust couple of Olivia and Dean West.
Liv and Dean are introduced to readers three years into their marriage and five years after they first met at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a twenty-four-year-old college junior transferee majoring in library sciences and he was a visiting professor of medieval history, nine years older than her. Falling in love with one another seemed inevitable for these two, but she was dealing with quite a number of things from her past while he kept his more hidden from view. Liv and Dean are very much in love with and fully committed to one another, but a pregnancy scare brings certain things to light, including one particular secret that leads to their marriage experiencing one stumbling block after another. Dean has always been able to fix things and keeps everything under control, but with one lie, he's at a complete loss.
This book was so frustrating at times, and it had to do with the obvious lack of communication that was happening between this couple. Let's face it, if more people actually talked openly and honestly, there would be much fewer misunderstandings. But as frustrating as these two were when it came to their reticence to discuss and be upfront with whatever was going on, their story felt real, the pain and ugliness in full display for readers to see. A relationship--a marriage--is much harder to maintain than love stories in the media will have you believe. Love is the main factor in making it work but it isn't the only one, and sex doesn't fix everything either; if anything, it's a distraction. But Liv and Dean are passionate about each other, so you cheer them on as they struggle. Arouse ends in a cliffhanger but is one worthy 4.5-star read. ♥
Date Read: 11 February 2016
Learn more about Nina Lane.