Eeep! Inside Out, the final installment in the Off The Map series is here! If you've followed the adventures of Talia and Bran, you'll know things were left a bit hairy last we read. Now we get to find out if they can overcome their problems.
Read on for the review, excerpt and of course, there's another giveaway. Enjoy!
Lia Riley made New Adult readers fall in love with her breakout debut, Upside Down. Sideswiped, the second of her series, made readers clamor for more. Now, with INSIDE OUT, Lia Riley brings her evocative Off the Map series to a stunning conclusion.
When Talia first moved from California to Australia to study abroad, she never dreamed she'd find the love of her life. Bran understands her like no one ever has before. And despite the numerous challenges they've faced, they've always managed to figure out how to stay together. But this time they'll face their toughest hurdle yet. Is their love strong enough to keep them together?
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Oh my goodness. These two really put me through the wringer with their ups and downs and in betweens but I still love them. Last we read, Talia was off fulfilling her dream of working for the Peace Corps in Africa which in turn pushed Bran to pursue his dream of working with the North Atlantic Sea Alliance. They didn’t leave things on a very good note as both wanted the same thing but in different ways. Bran was very unwilling to let Talia go and allow themselves the space to experience other things. With time and distance, he comes around and realized that it was indeed a good thing. Talia’s experience turns out to be far less that she imagined. She’s having a rotten time where she’s at and it comes crashing down around her when she contracts a form of malaria, gets very ill and has to be taken to a hospital in South Africa. When she wakes up, Bran is there. He somehow managed to find a way to her.
The reunion is intense and bittersweet. When they arrive back in America, all Talia can focus on is how she failed at being in the Peace Corps. Couple this with her anxiety issues, she descends into depression when she and Bran make it home to stay with her dad and stepmother. She completely shuts down and Bran has no idea how to fix things or reach here. He’s patient in this environment where he’s subject to some hostility from her dad and facing mounting pressure from his own father about his future. But this is Bran and he is stubborn so he’s not about to budge until he can break through to Talia.
What I’ve come to enjoy most about the Off The Map series is how well Riley has written Talia and Bran’s perspectives. They each have a very distinct voice – I can clearly hear Bran’s gruff voice and abrasive personality in my head, as well as Talia’s vulnerability and disappointment. She hasn’t tried to redeem Bran in the eyes of the reader or make Talia instantly stronger. They are who they are and they’re both a work in progress. They just need to realize the potential within themselves. Once they come out of this temporarily paralyzing haze they’re in a better place to map out their futures. Their physical chemistry is as strong as ever (trust me, chapter 5 is a stunner!!) as is their stubbornness. If they can overcome the obstacles thrown their way so far, they have a bright future ahead for themselves!
But don't just take my word for it, we have a special excerpt below just for you!
Who was I when I first fell in love with Bran?
A person who had courage to stare down an unfeasible situation and say, Sure, I’m up for the challenge.
Who was I when Bran threw himself at me like a wounded animal, all claws, abandonment fear, spit, and fang?
A person who accepted that the moon has two sides, light and dark.
Who am I now?
I feel like a lost soul rocking in the corner, fresh out of ideas.
Bran pushes me through the long line until it’s our turn at the passport desk.
“How long do you plan to stay in the United States?” The customs official glances from Bran’s face to his passport photo and back again.
My stomach squirms like a writhing snake. We’ve avoided any discussion about future plans, focused instead on the short term. I had to accept the reality that I couldn’t return to the Peace Corps, even with the medical separation. I was too sick, too shattered. Our discussions about the logistics of leaving Africa were easier to concentrate on than the looming issue of what we were going to do with each other. I treated the topic like an abandoned lot, filled with weeds and rusting cars, a subject to walk past and pretend to ignore.
Now a stranger is forcing the issue.
“Until this one gets better.” Bran cocks his head in my direction.
The woman scoots forward, peers at me with a faint frown. “May I see proof of a return ticket, sir?”
Bran digs out the photocopy of his itinerary. When we bought the tickets, he had to borrow money from his dad. He hasn’t said much, but I know the fact must eat at him. Add another bitter drop to my guilt bucket—soon it’s going to overflow.
“You’re on a temporary tourist visa.” The customs agent flips the passport to a blank page and stamps with obvious relish. “You have three months, starting now.”
Here we go again.
People imagine international romance is excitement, hot accents, and adventure. They don’t want to hear about the bureaucratic drudgery that threatens to harden the arteries of even the most passionate hearts.
I thought I was going somewhere.
I am an idiot Icarus who flew too close to the sun.
Bran leans forward, his lips hover an inch from my ear, his breath a hot caress on my cool skin. “You okay, Captain?”
“What are you thinking, thinker?”
“I’m just sitting here, a sitter.”
We roll past an American flag overhanging a framed photo of the president. His smile seems smug, as if to say, You really thought you’d get away?
Yes, sir. I kind of did.
About the author
After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. When not torturing heroes (because c'mon, who doesn't love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.