Upside Down by Lia Riley
Series: Off the Map #1
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central
Format: eARC, 384 pages
How I got it: NetGalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she'll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.
Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He's never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.
Books like Upside Down are why I love reading new adult romance so much and Lia Riley’s voice is so fresh, her story so unique and well-written that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it, too.
The characters are really what make this book. They weren’t perfect. They were real. Talia was a woman living with OCD, the loss of her sister and all that has happened in her life as a result of both. She escapes to Australia for six months in the hopes of finding herself and leaving the bad behind for just a little while. Little does she know that a person she meets there will change her life forever. Surfer boy Bran is running away, too. He’s fresh out of a bad relationship (among other things I won’t mention because spoilers), the last thing he’s looking for is something serious. Both Talia and Bran are looking to leave real life and painful memories behind for a little while and just get lost in each other. But, of course, things never go as planned and their fun begins to turn into something more along the way. Something real and beautiful, even if it’s not what either of them was looking for.
There’s not one little thing that I didn’t love about this book. Lia did a fantastic job writing these characters – Talia specifically. I don’t suffer from OCD, but I have known people who have. Lia’s portrayal of a woman living with OCD was so spot-on, so perfect. She captured the helplessness that comes with it and the fear of what they believe will happen if they don’t live just how the disorder pushes them to. Talia was an incredibly complex character. Lia made her unforgettable. Bran was spectacular in his own right. The reformed playboy trope isn’t unique in new adult literature, but Lia makes him stand out. He had a painful past and it’s not tough to see why he reacted as he did.
Together, Bran and Talia were magical. Their chemistry was intense. The sexual tension between them was strong. They played well off each other and challenged each other when it was needed. They were passionate and obviously cared for each other. Some of their scenes warmed my heart and others broke it. This book was made of feels and I was hooked from the start. While this book doesn’t have what I would consider to be a cliffhanger, I would be lying if I didn’t admit I’m a little nervous about what will happen in the next book in this series. I love these characters and they deserve good things. I don’t want to watch either of them go through pain again. So, I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.
Upside Down is a gorgeous debut novel by Lia Riley. This lady is definitely on my radar, and soon will likely be on my auto-buy author list as well. This truly is new adult at its best. Don’t pass it by.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.