There aren't enough words to describe how amazing this book is. I could write an entire book (no pun intended) about all the things I love. However, I'm going to share a small taste of this book with you in the hopes you'll see and experience the same beauty I did as I was reading.
Title: Sweet Soul
Series: Sweet Home #4
Author: Tillie Cole
Age group: New adult
Age group: New adult
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release date: 15th December 2015
One shy lost soul.
One silent lonely heart.
One love to save them both.
Life has never been easy for twenty-year-old Levi Carillo. The youngest of the Carillo boys, Levi is nothing like his older brothers. He isn’t dark in looks or intimidating to everyone he meets. In fact, he’s quite the opposite. Haunted by a crippling shyness and the tragic events of his past, Levi spends his days with his head buried in his books, or training hard for his college football team. Too timid to talk to girls, Levi stays as far away as possible and completely on his own… until he saves the life of a troubled pretty blonde, a troubled pretty blonde that might just be the exception to his rule.
Elsie Hall is homeless. Or at least that’s all anyone ever sees. Everyday is a fight for survival on the cold streets of Seattle, everyday a struggle to find food and keep warm. Alone in life—a life that’s dangerous and cruel—her will to keep going is an ever-losing battle. In her world of silence, Elsie has given up hope that her life will contain anything but constant struggle and pain… until the beautiful boy she has severely wronged comes to her rescue at precisely the right time.
New Adult novel—contains sexual situations and mature topics. Suited for ages 18 and up.
Moving my hand, I ran my fingers over the brown beads. “Why do you hold these, Mamma? You always have them with you. Right now, you’re clutching them real tight.”
Mamma sighed and brought the rosary to her chest. “I use them to pray to Mother Mary. She gives me strength, mia luna. I pray to her for strength.” Mamma’s voice cracked again and I tried to think hard. I tried to think why she needed strength.
Blinking, a thought came to me and I asked, “Is it Austin and Axel? Do you pray for them? Because of the Heighters?”
Mamma sighed and ran her finger down my cheek. “Always, mia luna. I always pray for them. For what they do each night for that gang.”
I shook my head, knowing there was something else. “But what—”
“Shh,” Mamma whispered. She then held up the rosary and placed it in my hand. She curled her hand around mine and pressed the beads into my palm. “Levi, you take these now. I want you to have these. I want you to keep them for strength. For the strength you will need someday soon.”
I frowned and shook my head. “No, Mamma. They’re yours. I’m strong with you around. I don’t need these.”
Mamma’s head dropped, and she took a deep breath.
“Mamma?” I questioned. She was acting real strange.
Mamma wiped her cheeks and a sad smile spread on her lips. “Va bene, mia luna. I’ll keep them for now. Grazie. Always thinking of your mamma. But one day, when… when I’m not here, you keep these with you. I want you to remember that these are yours. You are not your brothers, Levi. You are kind and shy, not hard and boisterous, ready to fight the world. You are my quiet baby boy. My sweet, sweet soul.”
“I’m not weak,” I pushed, hating that I wasn’t like my brothers. Axel and Austin were strong and tough. I wanted to be just like them.
Mamma pressed a kiss to my forehead. “Never, Levi. You are a Carillo boy after all. But you are different from Austin and Axel. They are alike in so many ways—hot headed and tough, hard on the outside until they let you in. You are the timid one, the gentle brother—inside and out. You are the one to carry his heart on his sleeve. You are the one who watches silently from afar and loves with all his soul. ” Mamma huffed, and said, “Whoever you end up with, my son, whoever claims your heart, will be a very special girl indeed.” Her finger stroked my cheek. “So much love, mia luna. You will love with your whole being, and it will be forever. You could not love in any other way.”
I was crying before I even finished reading the prologue. I've come to realize that my crying while I read is not a bad thing. It means that I've connected on a deeper level with the story being told. I've also come to realize it's one of Tillie Cole's hallmarks; She's going to make my heart hurt and make me cry, but I'm going to love it all the same. It's just one of her talents, just like there's no way you can finish one of her books and easily move on to the next one. Her words and stories stay with you, long after you've finished them.
I've been hoping Levi Carillo would find love and peace from the moment I met him in Sweet Fall. I knew he was a special soul and it literally hurt to see what he was experiencing at the time. My conviction he was different was only affirmed in Sweet Hope, when I realized how hurt Levi was with everything that had happened to him in the past, and how different he was from his brothers. His experiences had left an indelible mark on him that greatly influenced his personality.
The Levi Carillo we meet in Sweet Soul is a quiet guy, talented at football, and loves his family. He's not one for parties or being in the spotlight, even if his talent on the football field can't help but put him there. In essence, he's almost the opposite in personality when it comes to his famous brothers particularly because he's shy. Levi is more soft spoken and even though he loves his family and they love him, he still feels lost and alone. His siblings have found love to help them heal their wounds, but Levi just feels lost. He was very young when he lost his mother and he still feels her loss deeply. I just wanted to gather him in my arms and comfort him. I wanted him to be happy. I adored him too. He's the antithesis of his brothers who I love and lust after, but with Levi, I just felt love. Watching Levi fall in love with Elsie, made me fall deeper in love him and it made me fall in love with Elsie too.
Elsie is also quiet and doesn't speak much like Levi, but she too had experienced things that still haunt her and have helped shape her into the person she's become when she enters Levi's life. In the beginning I wasn't sure about Elsie but as more and more of her life was revealed, the more I realized how strong she really was. Elsie too was a beautiful soul. I admired her for her compassion and understanding. It was like not only were she and Levi perfect for each other, but it was like they were old souls who had found safe harbor with each other. I loved seeing the way Levi took care of Elsie, and the way she slowly opened up herself to him. I loved seeing her work with her fears, whether it was for her self, to help someone else, or for Levi's sake.
I loved seeing all of the other characters from the Sweet Home series. I thought I'd already said goodbye to them, but I can't tell you how happy my heart was to see them all again, doing well and being content. I loved how Austin and Axel were there for Levi, and Lexi too. Those Carillo brothers went through hell, alone and together. It gave me great satisfaction to see them support Levi when they weren't able to before. I also loved how Ally and Lexi were there for Elsie. I can't begin to imagine how I'd handle things if I was in her shoes, and I loved how both women provided her with a no judgement and safe zone.
If you ever doubt the talent of Tillie Cole, all you need to read is the poetry in this book. The poems are basically pieces of Elsie's soul that she bares to all, but they're so emotional and beautiful. The imagery is so vivid and detailed, I could almost see what I was reading, whether it was the poetry or the story itself. On second thought, it's not just the poetry that makes this book so memorable and wonderful, it's the emotions, themes, characters, setting, plot...basically everything comes together to makes an unforgettable book. When it comes to explaining how amazing this book is, I feel like I haven't even come close to accurately verbalizing it. You will need to pick it up yourself to experience and understand the alchemy between Levi and Elsie in Sweet Soul.
*Thank you to the publicist for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for them in any manner.*
About the Author
Amazon & USA Today Best Selling Author, Tillie Cole is a Northern girl through and through. She originates from a place called Teesside on that little but awesomely sunny (okay I exaggerate) Isle called Great Britain. She was brought up surrounded by her English rose mother — a farmer’s daughter, her crazy Scottish father, a savagely sarcastic sister and a multitude of rescue animals and horses.
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