Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Blog Tour: Untamed by SC Stephens

UNTAMED by S.C. Stephens (November 3, 2015; Forever Trade Paperback; Thoughtful #5)
The spotlight doesn’t only shine. Sometimes, it burns.
Being the bad-boy bassist for the world’s hottest band has earned Griffin Hancock some perks: a big house, a fast car, and most importantly his incredible wife Anna. The one thing it hasn’t brought him is the spotlight. Anna tells him to be patient, that his talent will win out. But Griffin is through waiting for permission to shine.

Without warning, Griffin makes a shocking decision and takes the gamble of a lifetime. Suddenly he’s caught up in a new level of lights, cameras, and chaos—one that pushes his relationship with Anna to its limits. Anna has always found his unpredictable behavior sexy, but lately he’s seen an ache in her eyes, and it has his soul in knots. Just as the recognition Griffin seeks is finally within reach, the thing he loves most in life could be slipping through his fingers

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4 Star Review by Trinette Dungee
“When my mom found out she was pregnant with me, we lived in Wichita. Yep. I was almost born in fucking Kansas. Kansas! But my dad lost his job and we had to move in with his brother, so I ended up being squeezed out in the Land of Spotlights—Los Angeles. Straight out of the womb, I’d been destined for greatness.”
From the moment I was introduced to Griffin in the Thoughtless Series I absolutely loved him! I mean really, with a statement like that how can you not? 
Okay, let’s see if I can do this without spoilers. It’s going to be extremely hard because Griffin Hancock is a real character. To say he’s a force to be reckoned with is a gross understatement. The only person who can manage to rein him in is his wife Anna and even she had a heck of a time doing that. Griffin is extremely straight forward, the filter most people have… yeah that seems to have skipped him. As you know from the other books in the “Thoughtless” Series…he kind of comes off as a jerk and Griffin makes it a little too easy for people to feel this way. . But honestly, Griff is just a little misunderstood. Last time we heard from Griffin, he was a new dad and he was confessing his love for Anna …fast forward about two years and the self-proclaimed man-whore is a happily married to Anna and the happy couple is expecting their second child.
While his home life might be in good standing, Griffin is just a little unhappy with the way his career is going; because to him it’s not going anywhere. Yes, the band is more popular than ever but Griffin is feeling a little unappreciated by his bandmates. Itching to breakout of his cookie cutter role in the band as the bassist all he wants is a little more exposure and a little more confidence in him from his bandmates. The guys he thinks of as family, his brothers.  All he wants is the chance to showcase his talents as lead guitarist but the guys are not so eager to give him the opportunity.  Pushed to the very end of his patience Griffin makes a decision that brings him the exact opposite of everything he ever wanted.  It could also cost him every meaningful relationship he’s ever had including the relationship he cherishes the most, his marriage to Anna. 
I love to love the bad-boys; those boys that everyone looks at with wide eyes or a side eye, but boy oh boy did Griffin Handcock test my patience in this book. On more than one occasion did I have the urge to put my hands around his neck and just shake him! Honestly, there was one point where I truly thought I was going to end this book not liking Griffin at all. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and boy does Griffin toe in constantly. 
All the old players are back in this book…Kellan, Matt, Evan, Jenny, Rachel, Denny, Abby oh yeah, and Kiera (insert eye-roll).  Let me just say this and get it out of the way. While the initial books in the Thoughtless series were Kellan and Kiera’s story, I was not a fan of Kiera…AT ALL. By the end of this book I only slightly liked her more.  But this is not about Kiera; it’s about Griffin and the many sides of Griffin Hancock. 
While we are used to the loud, raunchy, rude, and crude Griffin, there is a whole other side to Griffin that make is oh so easy to love him. Along with the usual suspects in the books we also meet Griffin’s family. I think that’s what shocked me most about Griffin, his family. One would think he came from a broken home or less than desirable home but he comes from a very “typical”, cliché type family. Griffin is the youngest of three children, his parents are still happily married and he loves them fiercely. He’s extremely close with his sister. Griffin believes in family and, although his actions don’t seem to show it, he also believes in loyalty.  Enter his rollercoaster relationship with his cousin/bandmate Matt.  He and Matt grew up more as brothers than cousins and they fight just like brothers. 
“I supposed Matt was the real reason for my career choice. We’d lived together for the first eight years of our lives, then we’d lived on the same street, then we’d moved out together. Even though we drove each other crazy more often than not, we were almost always around each other. There was no one I liked making fun of more than Matt.”
Matt has always been a constant in his life and I don’t think either of them realizes how much they actually rely on each other. 
“Looking at Matt was like peering into a hazed, cracked mirror. Sure, we looked alike, but my hotness was crisp and clear while his was muted and sepia-toned replica that didn’t hold a candle to my brilliance.”  That there sums up their relationship…opposites, Yen-Yang.
Matt really annoyed me with his attitude towards Griffin; but I have to admit, I could sort of understand it.  Like I said before, Griff made it really easy to see why the other guys didn’t take him too seriously. But I think Matt was just a tad bit too passive aggressive for me.   As much as I love Kellan even he annoyed me. Rather than just calling it like it was with Griffin, he was always sugar coating things. Then again, I don’t know that that would have really helped because even when for the first time Griffin sees that he’s not as prepared to take on the role of lead guitarist he still doesn’t buckle down.  
Griffin as a dad was simply adorable. Oh, he still had a potty mouth when talking to his daughters and he might not have been the most warm and fuzzy when it came to being affectionate but his girls were his heart. When forced to deal with sibling rivalry, he handled it only as Griffin could.
“Why are you picking on Onnika?” She only gave me a blank look, so I tried a different approach. “Do you like your sister?” That got me a pout. “She’s mean.” “Mean? How is she mean? All she does is sleep and shit. Errr, poop.” I looked around, but Alfred had left and Anna was still getting ready. Good. Gibson only frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. I wasn’t sure if she was getting me or not, and I really didn’t know how to get a toddler to tell me what they were feeling, and I kind of didn’t want to. That whole emotional crap…it just made me uncomfortable. Anna should really be handling this. “I’m sure she’s not trying to be mean, honey,” I reassured her. There. Parenting done for the night. “She not share,” she stated, unmoved by my encouragement. Gibson was usually the one stealing crap from Onnika, so I had no idea what she was talking about. “Share what? A toy? Bring it here and show me.” I thought for sure she’d bring me her favorite doll or something, but she didn’t. She stuck her finger in my chest, and just like that…I got it. She was jealous. “Oh…well…” Damn it, I really wish Anna was the one doing this. “That’s not really Onnika’s fault, she’s just little and she needs more one-on-one care, but that doesn’t mean we care about you less. We don’t. You’re our firstborn, and Mommy and Daddy love you to Pluto and back, ’cause that’s the farthest planet…or moon, rock, whatever the hell they’re calling it now.” Gibson tilted her head, and I knew I’d lost her. Touching my finger to her cheek, I made myself say, “We love you as much as we love Onnika, and you never need to worry about that. There is always enough to go around when it comes to family. Okay?” 
There’s that love of family again and I think that’s why Griffin and Matt struggle and butt heads so much. Throughout much of the book Griffin has more issues with Matt than anyone else. Everyone seems to feel like Kellan is the one with the most influence over the band, but Griffin knows when it comes to him, it’s Matt with the most influence. I think Griffin’s definition of family makes him feel like Matt should have his back more.  
Griffin’s other constant is always Anna. When I first met Anna in the other books, I have to say that I didn’t really like her too much. Of course a lot of that had to do with the fact that those books were based on Kiera’s point of view and she didn’t paint Anna in the best light.  They might not have started off in the most traditional manner but Griffin loves his wife. 
“Anna and I’d had a whenever-works-for-you-works-for-me relationship, and I had continued reveling in eager-to-please groupies for a long time. But then, somehow—and I’m still not sure how—everything had started to change. After being with Anna, every other girl had left me wanting. The two of us together were explosive. No, mind-blowing. No…life-altering. I supposed that was why no one else could compare. Anna just got me, and fully satisfied me like nobody else. Other girls…well, it was like drinking from the ocean with them. Sure, the momentary ache was gone, but I felt worse afterward. Thirstier. I’d just wanted Anna, all the fucking time, and nobody else would do. Admitting I was whipped was the hardest fucking thing I’d ever done, but denying it was getting me nowhere. Anna was enough for me. No, she was it for me. So I fucking married her before anybody else could.”

Griffin even tolerates Kiera. Actually I don’t know if it’s Griffin that tolerates Kiera or Kiera who tolerates Griffin. All I know is that because they both love Anna so much they do their best to get along for her sake and that says a lot. Griffin spends more than his fair share of time being dishonest to Anna and it really does tear him up. It’s with Anna that Griffin’s softer side really comes out. Where that conscience that we don’t initially think he has shows itself.
“I’d just told a major ass lie to my wife, one I couldn’t hide forever, and when she did find out the truth, she was going to fucking kill me….I had to swallow the lump of shame in my throat; it was the first time the emotion had ever truly touched me, and I didn’t like it . At all…I probably shouldn’t have done that…”
I really liked Anna because Mrs. Anna Hancock was my “shero”! She tries her best to be Griffin’s “ride or die” and for the most part she is. She’s well aware how Griffin tends to make thing harder than they need to be but she’s always there to have his back and guide him when needed. She may have started out as something of a groupie trying to bag a rock-star but she really loves Griffin. She has so much faith in him. Even when she wasn’t sure things weren’t quite right, she believed in him. Which made Griffin take her loyalty for granted. 
“Anna…” Please understand, I did this for you, for the girls, for our future. Fuck. No, I didn’t. I did it for me. She put a hand up to stop my pathetic attempt to placate her. “All this time, the facts were right in front of me, but I didn’t want to believe them, because I didn’t want to believe that you would lie to my face, day in, day out.” She started trembling in her rage. “Is that what happened? Have you been lying to me? For months!” I felt like all the oxygen was being sucked out of the room. I didn’t know how to explain myself, didn’t know how to tell her how freaked out I’d been, how goddamn miserable it had made me to keep her in the dark, how alone I’ve felt trying to fix something that wasn’t fixable. But breaking her heart…losing her faith and support…Lying had been a way to avoid doing that, and like the lazy, self-absorbed asshole I was, I’d taken the easy option. “I’m so sorry. I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know how. The show got cancelled and I panicked…I didn’t want to let you down.” Please understand, I silently begged. You’re always so understanding. That’s why we work.”
Anna was the definition of a woman; a woman who was more than willing to stand on the front line with her husband to protect and provide for their family. When she learns things are as smooth as Griffin wanted her to believe, she was ready to jump in, roll up her sleeves and do what needed to be done to support her family. 
“I’m not going to let you drag down this family any further. I’m taking the reins before you plunge us right off the cliff…if you haven’t already.” She pointed at the space between our feet, marking a line in the sand, so to speak. “I’m captain of this team now. And as captain, I say we’re making the right decision for once, and we’re moving back to Seattle. I’ll get my old job back, and I’ll provide for the girls…alone, if I need to. Now…are you coming with us or staying here to drown?”
In the end it’s Kiera who actually give Griffin his opportunity to make things right with Anna and the D-Bags. So that’s the only reason my Kiera meter went up a little. To tell you the truth I think Griffin and Kiera like each other. I think each of them secretly admires the other for being something that they are not. 
I’m full of clichés when talking about Griffin’s story, he’s the epitome of “standing in your own way” it seems like every decision he makes is worse than the last. And when it’s his time to “eat crow” well let’s just say it was a five-course meal but he ate it with style. Griffin’s road back to the D-bags really did bring him full circle. I won’t talk about that road because that just honest and truly would mean spoilers. Griffin will definitely take you on a journey of love, hate, loathe, pity then love again. 

About the author:
S.C. Stephens is a #1 bestselling author who spends her every free moment creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading, listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with her friends and family. She and her two children reside in the Pacific Northwest. 

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