* * * 1/2
Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.
Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.
But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.
Ten Tiny Breaths explores the emotional upheaval of loss, betrayal, forgiveness and the ultimate steps toward healing. Kacey seems like a young woman who is perfectly in control of herself and her circumstances. She takes on the responsibility of raising her younger sister and won’t allow herself to be distracted from that. She channels all of her aggression and anger into kickboxing and keeps everyone else at arms-length.
When they arrive at their new home in Miami, little do Kacey and Livie know that this apartment complex will become a family to them complete with off-the-wall characters. Kacey is forced to learn to get along with them and slowly let people in. That includes her neighbor, Trent who throws her off her game. She’s all cool and tough until he’s around and then she loses control of her senses a bit.
I wasn’t really all that crazy about Kacey initially. She’s hard and purposefully unlikeable though she does try to be nicer for the sake of her sister. It’s understandable why she’s that way but it's still amazing anyone would even try to cozy up to her with that personality, which is why I was baffled by Trent's interest in her. (I eventually picked up on Trent's motives before Kacey worked it out.) Trent and her other neighbor Storm, try to no avail to get her to talk about her past recognizing that she's a ticking time bomb. When things do finally crash around her, it’s almost a blessing in disguise as she’s forced to confront her horrifying loss along with the pain and anger she has bottled up for years.
Kacey and Livie left their past to arrive in Miami with nothing and gain everything through the family they create and the breakthroughs that open the doors to their futures. It ends on a very hopeful note but not before the painstaking exercise of healing and the hardest of all – forgiveness.
K.A.Tucker has built upon Ten Tiny Breaths with a series featuring the characters she has introduced here. It'll be interesting to visit with them in each of their stories to see how they progress and what they make of themselves. The second one, One Tiny Lie, is Livie's story and her time to shine.