Monday, January 5, 2015

Inside Out by Lia Riley

The Basics:
Inside Out by Lia Riley
Book Three in the Off the Map series
New Adult
Published December 2, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo

Why I picked up this book:

I loved the first book in the series (review here) and the second book in the series (review here) and needed to know how it all ended.

True love turns your soul...


The Off the Map series comes to a stunning conclusion. 

Lia Riley made New Adult readers fall in love with her breakout debut, Upside Down. Sideswiped, the second of her series, made readers clamor for more. Now, with INSIDE OUT, the evocative Off the Map series comes to a stunning conclusion.

When Talia first moved from California to Australia to study abroad, she never dreamed she'd find the love of her life. Bran understands her like no one ever has before. And despite the numerous challenges they've faced, they've always managed to figure out how to stay together. But this time they'll face their toughest hurdle yet. Is their love strong enough to go the distance?

My thoughts:

Inside Out brings Talia and Bran's journey to a fitting close. This is the third book in the Off the Map series, which explores the relationship between Talia, a young American with OCD who is still dealing with the grief of losing her older sister in a tragic car accident, and Bran, an Australian who has closed himself off from people for a number of reasons.

The third book really addresses how this very emotional couple can live together. I absolutely adored that it underlines in triplicate the importance of communication and the need to be honest about emotions. This is a really hard lesson that I think every couple needs to learn in order to survive the long haul. Talia and Bran need to learn it more than most given how much emotional baggage and how many issues they both have (between tension with their respective families, figuring out their careers, shoring up their self-images, etc.).

I did find that the book goes back and forth between emotional scenes and sex. This is a young, adventurous couple and I think it was a difficult to find the right balance between emotional and physical. There were a lot of extremes here - extreme ups and downs emotionally, and I think I needed a few mid-points just to let me have a breather. That said, I was very entertained by Bran's chapters during the, ah, dry spell. His voice amused me and made me smile several times, and I absolutely heart him.

Inside Out is a pretty satisfying conclusion to Talia and Bran's story. There aren't a lot of questions leftover, and I have a good idea of what the future holds for these two. The conflict in this book is two-fold - we get more of Talia and Bran freaking out independently, and then there's some external pressures applied to the couple, usually relating to their pasts. 

I found some awkward pointing towards potential continuations or parallel series for Talia's friends Beth and Sunny. I'm not sure how I'd feel about exploring their romantic situations and lives in more depth. Beth's eccentric boss was so... strange... that he felt a little out of place in this series that was so focused on very real issues. I suspect I'd come back for at least a first book because I've really enjoyed the Off the Map series!

Bottom line:

An absolute must read for fans of the series, Inside Out takes a realistic look at hurdles every young couple faces while offering some seriously sexy moments as well. I love Talia and Bran - easily one of my top five favourite couples of 2014, and I strongly recommend getting on board with the series, starting with Upside Down!

4 stars
For fans of contemporary romance, earlier books in the Off the Map series

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