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In His Hands: Blank Canvas #3 by Adriana Anders

In His Hands: Blank Canvas #3 by Adriana Anders

Adriana Anders returns to the blog today with the third in her Blank Canvas Series. Please read on for my review and excerpt, and don’t forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway where you could win an Adriana Anders Print Bundle.  But first 

In His Hands

Adriana Anders is on my must watch list: an author who carefully brings serious and topical elements into her stories, while making readers long for more: more for her characters, more story, more moments. In the third book from her blank canvas series, she brings us yet another set of characters who have tried to move past their insecurities and make new paths for themselves. Easily read in any order: the series name of Blank Canvas truly defines the connections and romance for the characters – they have to choose what to cover those canvases with, and they do so in ways that are gripping, compelling and engaging.

Abby has been raised in a cult: with a leader who alternates between compelling and cruel, she’s finding that the world beyond the relative security and support within the life she has always known may be little more than an illusion. Innocent in all the ways of the world, she harnesses her fear of the unknown in an effort to escape and find a way to pay for treatment, denied by the cult, for a young boy in desperate need. The uniqueness of Abby: her innocence despite the horrific abuse she suffered during her time in the cult, the religious overtones where the word becomes a hammer, twisted and forged for control, and her actual unfamiliarity with many everyday situations. In the company of anyone other than Luc, an honorable man who won’t allow himself to ‘need’ another, even though he’s adopted a dog (Le Dog), and claims to avoid people. There’s just something about Abby – not just her willingness and need to work, her curiosity and the hints of sadness he sees, that allows him to gently guide her through the many pitfalls that her new existence brings.

This did start slowly: there is plenty of set-up as we get a feel for each character: Abby so open and guileless in her sharing, and Luc, a bit more reserved with his quiet moments spent with old recordings that were his grandfather’s favorites. His every waking moment is spent gently tending his vines as a seller of wine grapes with a sense that the grape lives in his soul as a native of Bourdeaux. But soon, with Abby’s sharing and the pressure from the cult to bring her back, the revelations as she understands the repercussions of her own treatment and deciding how to feel, as well as her growing affections for Luc, bring us a slow-growing story where both Luc and Abby find themselves meandering down the path of love. At the same time, the pressures from the outside increase, and the story starts to build tension and keeping readers wondering just what is next. With Abby and Luc, their relationship is decidedly as friends that grows into more: less from Abby’s reticence and more, it seems, for Luc giving her the opportunity to grow, learn and make a choice. As choice seems to be a new-ish concept for Abby, you have to love Luc’s willingness and understanding: even as he guards and guides her forward in this new world. Incredibly emotional and sensual, Anders allows those moments of discovery, growth and sharing come organically and doesn’t rush; you can actually see that these two are well-suited, and the slower development of the relationship gives them a solidity that wouldn’t have appeared had they jumped into the ‘couplehood’ any sooner. Perfectly suited as an installment in this series, keeping it on my favorite series list for characters, writing and unique elements that aren’t common to romance.

In His Hands: Blank Canvas #3 by Adriana Anders

Title: In His Hands
Author: Adriana Anders
Series: Blank Canvas #3
Also in this series: By Her Touch
Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance
Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1492633909
Published on: 1 August, 2017
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 416
Rated: four-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

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About the Book:

He is Her Salvation

Abby Merkley has been a member of the Church of the Apocalyptic Faith since she was a child, and there's no way out―except death. She will fight the odds to survive, but there's no one in the world she can trust, nowhere she can run that the cult can't find her...until her handsome, brooding neighbor takes her into the safety of his arms.

Luc Stanek craves a quiet life. But he doesn't hesitate when a desperate woman lands, bloodied and branded on his doorstep. Soon he finds himself drawn into her chaotic world, caught in the center of an apocalyptic war...and determined to save the fierce beauty no matter the cost.

See the Blank Canvas series at Goodreads

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

 

 “You don’t smile,” she said.

He stopped pruning so abruptly that Abby almost ran right into him.

“No?”

Shaking her head, she looked at his face and mirrored his frown before saying a purse-lipped, “Non,” in imitation of his accent.

And there, miracle of miracles, the man did it. His lips curved up. Or almost. One side of his mouth lifted—the side with the scar—and, oh goodness, it was a dimple. What kind of trick was it that this big, burly man had to suffer through the indignity of a dimple?

And much, much worse was her having to suffer through that smile.

She wanted to touch it, the divot in his cheek. Or those lips, or that thick, rough-looking neck, which was more cleanly shaven than the first time she’d come here.

Did he do that for me? she wondered as she turned away, reaching for…anything to stop herself. Branches.

Those would do. Pull, throw, wait—red face averted—and move on.

They’d finished the row without speaking and moved on to the next by the time Abby could breathe normally again. Surprise, surprise, he was the one to finally break the silence.

“Besides no cap, what else do you wish for?”

She didn’t hesitate before saying, “A place of my own.”

“Yes?”

“Nothing big, just a…a room. Where I could listen to music, maybe?”

“You can’t do that there?”

“Oh, we sing all right. Best part of the Church is the singing.”

“What do you sing?”

“Hymns.”

“I don’t know any.”

Without thinking it through, she sang a verse from one of her favorites. “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful: the Lord God made them all.”

When she met his eye, Luc was…not quite smiling, but close. His eyes were warm, his expression…admiring, maybe? Abby blushed with the realization of what she’d just done.

He said one word: “Pretty.” But something about the way he said it, his eyes eating up her face, made her cheeks burn hotter and breath come faster. To hide it, she turned quickly back to work.

Changing the topic, she cleared her throat and asked, “So, how much is a place to rent?”

“What?”

“A room to live in. How much money do I need for that?”

He shrugged. “Depends. Big cities, it’s a lot, I think. Around here? I don’t know. Maybe a few hundred a month?”

“Good Lord, that is a lot.”

“Life is expensive.” He shrugged and cut, the movement lifting shoulders massive enough to carry the weight of the world.

“Right. So…you have to pay for food, right? And what else you gotta pay for?”

“Electricity. Um, water and gas, things like that.”

“Gas for the car?”

“For your car and for your stove or heat.”

“Oh. So…I’d need a lot. To start a life.”

“A good amount, yes. You need to pay a guarantee as well, I think, if it’s like France. And references for the landlord.” He glanced at her. “This makes you unhappy?”

“Guess I thought… I thought I could work for you for a couple weeks and have enough to start a life.”

“It’s hard, Abby.” His eyes on her were steady and full of a new softness that she wasn’t entirely comfortable with, like he’d taken off a layer of her skin to speak to her insides.

“Blue jeans, too,” she said, forcing a touch of flippancy to her tone.

“What?”

“Jeans. I’d like to wear jeans with snaps and a zipper, like a normal person.”

“Like a slim?” The word came out with two Es in the middle: sleem. She shook her head, not understanding.

“Um, skinny jeans?” he clarified.

“Goodness, no!” She laughed. “I’d need time to adjust to just trousers first, but…” Letting her gaze rest on the valley before them, she thought of the hundreds—no, thousands—of women who walked around every day wearing practical clothing instead of these stiff cotton skirts and modest drawers she had to fight her way out of. “I’d like to look normal when I go into town, to feel free. Just a T-shirt and jeans. Those sneaker shoes to

walk in. Maybe some—”

She stopped, hating how her current thought embarrassed her. It wasn’t the wish so much as the fantasy surrounding it.

“Some?”

“Boots. Cowboy boots, you know? The kind you stomp around in.” Except stomping wasn’t what she envisioned when she said it. In her mind’s eye, she pictured herself in jeans by all rights tighter than she should want to wear them; a cute shirt—maybe something sparkly, but not too fancy, since part of her just wanted a plain T-shirt; and those boots with their small heel and slightly pointed toe. And all of this dancing on the arm of a man. This man, truth be told. It was this man in her fantasy, which sent a new wash of heat prickling against

the cold air, from her chest to her forehead and well into her hairline.

“I can’t imagine you stomping.”

“No? I’d be good at it.”

Their eyes met as he said, “I don’t doubt it.” The words, silly and inconsequential as they were, sent blood rushing right down her body to where it didn’t belong. Somehow that blood weighed her down, made her lids heavy, and sent her mouth to drooping in a way she was sure he could see.

And then she knew he could, because his eyes strayed there, lingering before one thick, rough-hewn hand followed.

A single knuckle swiped her bottom lip in a gesture not so much affectionate as…curious? Compulsive?

Like a baby who couldn’t help but touch a ball or stuff it in his mouth. To taste. To feel. To know.

It was over too soon, that swipe. And yet, somehow, it lasted forever. Suspended here on the mountain, in their thick cloud of burning vine and sparks, the cold melted away by more than just the fire.

After that long hitch in time, Abby inhaled and let the air out in hiccups—the shaky kind you couldn’t help making after a good, hard sob. But rather than the release of a big cry, his knuckle to her lip screwed everything up tight, made her insides overflow with whatever this was.

She was sure she’d pop. She had to.

Because Lord only knew what she’d do if this pressure didn’t release sometime soon.

 

About Adriana Anders

Adriana Anders has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small nonprofits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children and fat French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, gritty, emotional love stories of her heart.

 

 

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