Monday, January 26, 2015

Past Heaven by Laura Ward Release Day Launch + Review

Happy Monday everyone! I have a very special post for you guys today! Last week, I sat down and read an ARC from one of my new favorite authors. An author who absolutely blew me away with her debut novel last summer, Mrs. Laura Ward. Today Laura is releasing her newest novel, an adult contemporary romance that I enjoyed WAY more than I expected to. Everyone get your party hats on, today we are celebrating the Release Day Launch of Past Heaven by Laura Ward! Here's a bit about the novel and our author, as well as the purchase links to get you ready:

Past Heaven
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: January 26, 2015
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Not every love story has a happy ending. Some just change your life.

Liz Atwater’s happily ever after was torn from her the instant her husband, Jack, was murdered. She is forced to pick up the shattered pieces of her life and raise her three young sons alone.

Reynolds Carter’s picture perfect Hollywood life ended the moment the paparazzi got hold of his girlfriend’s cheating scandal. As he watches his life unfold in the tabloids, he comes to a crossroads in his career and his purpose.

When Reynolds takes on the challenge of a new project, his world collides with that of Liz. Neither of them expected their professional relationship to evolve into friendship, or love.

But life is never simple.

Faced with complications from family, friends, and colleagues, Liz and Reynolds are left to decide whether two people from such different worlds can find happiness together.

Can they get past the pain, fear, and guilt and risk their hearts to love again?

Not every love story is just a happy ending. Some completely change your life.

Laura Ward

Laura Ward lives in Maryland with her loud and very loving three children and husband. She married her college sweetheart and is endlessly grateful for the support he has given her through all their years together, and especially toward her goal of writing books. When not changing diapers, driving to lacrosse practice, or checking spelling homework, Laura is writing or reading romance novels.  

Find Laura Ward

My Thoughts:

I feel like this is becoming a more and more common way to start out my posts, but I'm actually not complaining: I am not a fan of the romance genre, but this read made me a believer. I feel like I should start my posts with a new statement, how about: As a male, the romance genre is not my first pick, however, after reading some incredible reads as of late, my thoughts on the genre are slowly, but surely changing? How does that sound? Haha.

I don't hate romance, I just don't want to read it. I'm a guy. That should make sense to most people. I have said numerous that I make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. When I make an exception for romance novels, it has to be something that sounds amazing to me. Something that I truly think will change my views on the genre. I'll be doggoned if Laura Ward hasn't done just that, twice. TWICE.

You guys may remember a few months ago where I read and reviewed Not Yet and it ended up being one of my favorite NA reads ever. It was equal parts mind blowing and emotional. Seriously, Laura hit me hard with that read. It should come as no surprise that when she messaged me to ask if I;d be interested in reviewing her second novel, Past Heaven, that I said yes without hesitation.

Before I get too far into specifics, I will say that this was the first 'adult' romance novel I have ever read. I have to say that I actually liked it a whole lot more than more NAs I have read. The story line was so much more mature and relatable than others I have read. It was a refreshing experience for me all the way around! Let's jump into it:

Plot. I have to say that the synopsis for this story really does not do it justice. From the very first chapter, I was hooked. Out story is told in a dual-POV format in one of the most unique ways I have seen. I'm not really sure what made it so different, but it really was unlike others I have read. The prologue and epilogue are told from the POV of a very important secondary character, which really gave the story an 'outsiders' POV at the two most important times. A very interesting twist.

Now when I was finally able to decipher what the book was about, I had this moment of this is def not realistic. Well, I was wrong. Maybe I've never seen the glamour of the Hollywood life that Reynolds Carter experiences, but I can tell you that this is exactly how I pictured it. Honestly, it's so hard to describe any of this without giving away the themes/tone of the novel.

One thing that really worked well for me in the story was the way the lot eventually shifted to revolve around the changed in the Atwater's lives, particularly the lives of the Liz's three young sons. As the oldest of three children raised by a single parent, that really hit home for me. Ward does an incredible job of placing all of her characters in interesting places within the plot to bring forth maximum feels. And let me tell ya, I caught the feels. SEVERAL times.

Characters. I'm not married. I'm not a parent. I'm not a Hollywood superstar, and I never will be. That being said, was still able to relate to the characters in this novel? Hell yes I was. It's been a long time since a cast of characters touched me the way those in Past Heaven have. Through heartbreaks and triumphs, I was able to feel every emotion Ward wrote.

While I, again, can't say much, I will say without hesitation that Liz's three sons were the best part of the novel for me. Wow. I can't even begin to describe how pivotal they are to this novel, I really do not believe it could have worked without them. Cindy was a phenomenal addition to the cast and really played the best friend/comedic relief role to perfection. Liz has literally been through hell and back in her life and it was so refreshing to see a novel where she wasn't facing all of her hardships completely alone. Liz is a very strong character emotionally and extremely mature, I had so much respect for her in this film. Reynolds was a character that really surprised me. Normally characters such as his are the ones I detest, but in this instance he ended up being one of my favorite parts of the entire novel. He grows so much as a character and by the end of the novel, I was completely blown away at his character development.

Another thing Ward has done that has really opened my eyes and given her a special place in my bookish-heart is her inclusion of individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. She did it first with Not Yet and has now done it again in a HUGE way with Past Heaven. The way Laura weaves these unique and amazing individuals into her seamless storytelling is just one of the many amazing kudos I can give to this incredible woman. Laura isn't just an author, she an advocate for a better world and for that, I give her the highest of praises both on the page and off.

Setting. This books jumps between several places. Liz's small town life on the east coast and Reynolds busy life in bustling Hollywood are the two main settings, but we see so much more than one would expect. Instead of seeing the negatives of all the settings as you do in most novels, Ward really does her best to show the positive sides of all walks of life. I think one of the most special parts of this read for me was seeing that celebrities, no matter how big, are still just people. They feel the same emotions and go through many of the same hardships as the average Joe. They just have more money! Seriously though, that was such an interesting take on superstardom and I really appreciated that insight. From the cities the story weaves between other fun settings including western ranches and Atlantic beaches. Ward's setting are so intricate that it takes little to no effort to place yourself right within the story. Particularly that of the Atwater home. Wow, I feel like I lived there by the end of the story, I could see it all so perfectly!

Theme/Tone. I have a whole lot of thoughts to add in this category, but after rewriting what I have already written, I think I've touched on most of them. I would like to add a few of the overarching themes. Family- Liz and Reynolds both have vastly different family. It was so interesting to see how their dynamics and definitions of the term changed over the course of the novel. It was really great. Survivors Guilt- Liz has massive survivors guilt and depression after the loss of her husband. It was definitely to be expected, but I have a feeling this story will really hit home to those who have been in similar situations. The innocence of youth- Liz's children go through a lot in this novel, especially with the sudden inclusion of Reynolds in their lives. Seeing their development in this story really touched me. It was incredible to witness. This is not a happy novel. I mean, think about it. What do you expect? It's an awful thing that has happened to this family, but I can tell you that they pull through their hardships in the greatest way possible: together. Seriously.

The one last thing I'd like to touch on in this novel was the overall maturity of the story. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is the first adult romance I have ever read. I am so used the NA genre, that I forget there is an entire genre dedicated to life post-college. You know, real life. I have always strayed away form these reads for a number of reasons, but after Past Heaven, I have decided to open my eyes a bit more to the genre. I do love a good YA or NA story, but to be completely honest, they are some of the most unrealistic and immature novels that I read. It was so incredibly refreshing to read about real people with real life problems. People with issues and who's number one source of rectifying them isn't sex. How great is that? Mature adults who are seeking adult solutions to life's problems? I can get on board that train any day of the week.

All-in-all, it should come as no surprise to anyone who is reading this that I am giving Past Heaven by Laura Ward a near-perfect 5-star review. Note that I didn't have a single negative critique of this read. I really just didn't. By the time I closed the final pages, I felt complete. Laura Ward has truly delivered a literary masterpiece. Kudos to you Laura Ward and thank you for another absolutely incredible novel. I cannot wait to see where you go from here! You are slowly, but surely, changing my mind about the romance genre and for that I thank you. Thanks for adding class, not trash, to a genre that have severely gone downhill in the past few years. Authors like you are forever changing the landscape for the better and I couldn't be more excited! Keep up the amazing work!

Alright everyone, that's all I have for you on the topic of Past Heaven by Laura Ward, one of my top reads so far this year! If you guys are looking for something refreshing to pull you out of your reading slump, definitely check this one out! I know that I cannot wait for this read to hit the masses! Everyone join me in wishing Laura Ward the greatest release day yet! Have you already gotten your copy of Past Heaven? Let me know in the comments below!

Special thanks to our author, Laura Ward, for supplying me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. You are awesome lady!

Until next time, Happy Reading!



  1. Ethan! Wow! This is such an amazing review! Ack! Thank you!

  2. What a long and detailed review! I am glad to see that your genres are changing the more you read - that's exactly as it should be! When you discover new and enjoyable things in series you don't usually read you discover something. I don't usually read romance either, but now that I have been blogging I like it more too. As for NA, I do prefer adult romances more as well. NA isn't my thing.

    The synopsis doesn't do it justice? That's a shame because a lot of readers will judge it from that!

    1. Oh man, this book was incredible. Flat out incredible. You know how you just read some sometimes and you HAVE to type a 4 page review? Lol. THIS was that book for me. Seriously. The synopsis is great, but I definitely don't think it does near enough to reflect the incredible depth of this read! If you check it out, let me know! :)