Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: October 28, 2015
Number of pages: 254
Word Count: 87,540
Cover Artist: Debbie Taylor
Griffin Stone knows the stats. Sons of abusers become abusers. This is his single fear.
After witnessing firsthand his parents’ tumultuous marriage, Griffin worries that he, too, harbors an explosive dark side. Can he escape from his father’s rage-fueled ways or is he destined to become part of the cycle?
Unable to persuade his mother to leave and wrestling with his resentment towards her for staying, Griffin volunteers at Holly’s House, a safe haven for abused women. Through sculpture, Griffin gives these women pieces of themselves they’ve long forgotten. Holly’s House is the only place where Griffin finds peace and purpose.
Until he meets Frankie Moore.
Frankie is an aspiring photographer, finding beauty in things most people miss, including Griffin. Griffin is attracted to her free-spirited, sassy attitude but fears Frankie will trigger the most intense part of him, the one he must keep buried.
Frankie’s got to get her act together. Her anything-goes behavior is leading nowhere fast. She’s hopeful that her latest hobby will be a building block for the future. But when a stranger appears on the other end of her camera, looking as complex as he is handsome, Frankie thinks this might be just the change she needs.
“Do you remember all the things people say?” Frankie asks with a lazy grin.
“Only certain people.” I smile back. I stroke her long hair. It’s wild against my skin, with unpredictable waves. Just like Frankie. My hands never tire of feeling every single surface and texture of her.
She rests her head back on my bare chest and begins tracing each of my tattoos. “I can’t believe you do this for all those women.” Her fingers follow the lines of a cherry blossom on my ribcage. “Do you have any idea how incredible you are?”
I don’t answer. She sighs.
“You don’t, do you?” She stops midtrace. “Can I see mine?”
I laugh at how blatant she is about it, when I specifically told her she was only part of the inspiration for the moon. I give her my back. A single fingernail follows the lines of the moon and the sky around it. I suppress a shudder. How does just one of her nails have such a blistering effect on my body? Then the same nail traces the tattoo parallel to hers. A faded sketch of a small, mustached man rescuing a child from drowning.
“I never noticed this one before. Is it for someone or is it just something you liked?” she asks.
“It’s for someone. It’s for Roth.”
She finds the symbolism right away. “It’s very powerful.” Her voice flutters in my ear. “It’s in the same exact spot as mine, on the other shoulder blade. You never struck me as the kind of guy who needs symmetry,” she jokes.
“They’re there for a reason.”
“What significance are shoulder blades?”
I chuckle. “They’re not on my shoulder blades, Frankie. They’re on my lungs. Mr. Rothman taught me how to breathe years ago. You’re the reason I keep doing it.”
Books can be so surprising, even to the people who are writing them. When I started writing my first book, At This Stage, I had a basic idea of where I wanted the book to go. I knew what the premise was going to be – Kaitlyn, a 17-year-old-girl, suddenly loses her mother and has no family to take her in. She’s got less than a year until she’s 18 and can be legally independent, but what does she do in the meantime? When Jackson, a 23-year-old business colleague/casual friend of her mother’s, imagines her ending up in the foster care system, he takes her in without thinking. He has no idea what he’s supposed to do with her, in terms of guidance. He can barely guide himself. The book catalogs their relationship over a few years, from awkward roommates, to close friends, to Kaitlyn wanting more and Jackson feeling guilty that he might, too.
That was what I knew. What I didn’t know was all the other stuff that would happen while this was going on. Stuff that ended up giving the book its meat. One of those things was the development of Griffin Stone. Griffin enters At This Stage when Kaitlyn goes to a college that specializes in the Arts. Right from the start, we know that Griffin is a private, darker soul and that Kaitlyn finds him intriguing. He’s a physical mess, and she can’t figure out if it’s just because he’s an artist and couldn’t care less about appearance, or if there’s more.
While I was writing and the relationship between Kaitlyn and Griffin progressed, I became very connected to Griffin. He started to take on a life of his own – one I never intended because he wasn’t even supposed to be there in the first place. I started to wonder if I should rethink where I wanted the book to go. This wasn’t a typical love triangle, where the best guy gets the girl. Griffin was amazing all unto himself. I decided to stay the course. But I knew Griffin’s story couldn’t be over. I had to see it through and learn more about him. So I decided to write his story. But I didn’t want his story to be in the shadows of Kaitlyn and Jackson. It had to be different, because he was so completely different from either of them.
Griffin is serious and brooding. I had to know why. There had to be a good reason, and it couldn’t only be about something that happened to him. I felt his character would be much more affected by something that happened to someone he loved, than to himself. And who would a boy, growing into a young man, love more than his mother?
So, I started Shatterproof. It’s complementary to At This Stage, but completely its own read. Shatterproof picks up a couple of years after Griffin has graduated from college. He’s still in touch with Kaitlyn and Jackson, and they are mentioned sporadically, but this one is entirely about Griffin.
Griffin hasn’t had it easy. He grew up in a home watching his father hit his mother, yet in his next breath worship and adore her. Griffin is plagued by the fact that he can’t get his mother to leave her abusive situation. In lieu of saving her, he takes care of her, but struggles with his resentment towards her for staying. He volunteers at a women’s safe house, sculpting the women to remind them that they are beautiful and no one can take that away. He shows them what they can be again – that they do have futures ahead of them. He also helps them get established in new homes once they are ready to leave the shelter.
The only one he does not help is himself. He’s so terrified that he will be like his father, because he carries around the same darkness and passion, that he refuses to have anything more than a casual relationship. Here we revisit At This Stage, where Kaitlyn never felt like Griffin would get close to her.
But then he meets Frankie Moore, who draws him in like no one else. He’s reluctant to be with her, because he knows it will be more than a fling. But the way she looks at the world through her camera as she tries to pursue a career in photography is unforgettable. He decides early on, thanks to some good advice from close friends, to pursue her and prays that neither he, nor Frankie, will have a reason to regret that decision as times passes. We watch as Frankie tries to help Griffin see himself for who he truly is and not for the man he thinks he’s destined to become. As the story evolves, they explore whether their pasts will really dictate their futures, or if their lives are theirs to mold into whatever they choose.
K.K. Weil grew up in Queens, but eventually moved to New York City, the inspiration for many of her stories. Weil, who attended SUNY Albany as an undergrad and NYU as a graduate student, is a former teacher. She now enjoys writing her own dramas and lives near the beach in New Jersey, where she is at work on her next novel.
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