Title: Grave Bound
Series: #1 Secrets
Author: T.R. Graves
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Emily Riddle has lived her entire life inside a patriarchal commune led by her father. There are many rules, but the most important one, 'keep it in the commune', is the most difficult for her to follow... especially since the only people willing to champion her cause live on the outside.
When Emily learns her father has promised her to Lorenzo, a perverted man who has plans for her that extend well beyond marriage and kids, she rebels. Regardless of the consequences, she refuses to marry someone who'd rather beat her than caress her.
A day of hooky that starts out as a tiny act of defiance - sneaking out of the commune for a swim - turns into a day filled with hope. After spending time with Levi, a man camping near the lake, she finds what true romance looks like and catches a glimpse into a future that's filled with love and admiration rather than hate and submission.
That tiny peek is enough to change the course of Emily's existence and makes it nearly impossible for her to go back to the commune and pretend she'll ever be able to tolerate the life chosen for her instead of the life she longs for. One that includes Levi.
Fighting to escape the commune, its leaders, and her fiancé proves to be more dangerous than Emily expected. The secrets she knows, as the leader's daughter, will either follow her to the grave or send her - and Levi - there.
First of all, I'm going to give y'all a tissue warning...as in you're going to need a few reading this book. Ms. Graves, you didn't warn me. But I'll let it slide because you've written such an engrossing novel! ;)
Grave Bound tells a compelling story. It revolves around a young woman, Emily, who has lived her entire life within the walls of a commune, and two young men, outsiders, whom Emily meets while engaging in an act of defiance against the rules she's always lived by.
Emily is enjoying a first taste of freedom after having snuck out of the commune. Her father, the leader of The Community, and all the men have left for the summer. This exodus by the men is an annual occurrence but Emily has never before thought to shirk her responsibilities and do something as selfish as enjoy a day of fun at the lake. But after receiving some rather disturbing news, she decides to take advantage of her father's and brothers' absence.
Tope Bryson is the District Attorney for the parish. He was elected primarily for his promise to rid the parish of The Community for their illegal drug/alcohol trade. He has an inside contact who has provided him with information not only on the illegal activities in the commune but also on the leader's daughter, Emily. Tope's made it his mission to save Emily and has developed an attachment to her despite never having met her.
Levi Bryson and his cousin, Tope, are as close as brothers. Both men were raised by their grandparents due to parents who were self-absorbed, to say the least. As a college student, Levi doesn't get to spend as much time with Tope as he once did. So a hiking/camping adventure together for some bonding time is what brings them both to the same lake Emily is enjoying.
When these three meet, there is an instant chemistry between Emily and Levi, yet a bond between all. The subsequent events and consequences of their meeting are nothing they could ever have expected.
Grave Bound is action-packed. I didn't realize it was going to be so suspenseful. I enjoyed how the action aided in the growth of the characters. I felt like each learned something about themselves while coping with adversity. The portrayal of life in the commune was so gritty and realistic feeling. The love triangle was also fascinating. And the suspense of wondering what secrets the commune is keeping from Emily and whether or not she and her cohorts will be caught kept me turning pages until the wee hours.
This was such an intense read. I had a hard time putting it down. I really liked the characters - I was so impressed with the strength of character Emily showed in the face of such hardship...well, I was impressed with Tope and Levi for the same reason. But Emily, in particular, was interesting to follow as she charts a course for living a life on her own terms. This novel packs a punch with action, suspense, romance and gut-wrenching heartbreak. *remember the tissue alert?* Ms. Graves doesn't shy away from describing the violence that is a part of the culture within the commune.
The only reason I'm not giving Grave Bound 5 worms is because of a few editing issues that bothered me. They in NO WAY detract from the story - it's just my persnickety-ness. ;) Grave Bound is a fantastic read!