I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
Series: Off the Map,
Published by Grand Central Publishing on 2014-12-02
Length: 288 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Book #3 in the OFF THE MAP series
New Adult Contemporary Romance
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 keep them together?
Inside Out is the final book of the Off the Map trilogy by Lia Riley about Bran and Talia. After following this couple through an intense few months, I was more than happy to pick up this book and see their relationship through to the end (for better or for worse!). Please note that if you have not read the previous books in this series there may be minor unavoidable spoilers! Talia is living her dream, working for the Peace Corps in Africa….or at least she thought it was her dream. Bran followed his own heart and is working on a ship in the Arctic, defending whales and Mother Nature against poachers. Their relationship is on hold in a sense at the beginning of this book as they are trying to figure out who they are without each other. It’s all very confusing to me honestly!
Talia is a strong character. I liked her from the get go. She’s innocent, but not to the point of being unbelievable, and she harbors a dark secret – her obsessive compulsive disorder. In this book – and I’ve been waiting since the beginning – Talia breaks down. We see her disorder in all it’s ugly glory. It not only takes her from being a person you relate to but one you empathize with.
Bran <3 I’m not going to lie…I love Bran, BUT he was always a bit on the whiny, clingy, possessive side for me. Yet he also brings out the best in Talia. He compliments her in a way that most couples only dream of. He’s the yin to her yang and all that goes with it! When Talia breaks, Bran is there. When she pushes, he pushes back. I LOVE it!!! Bran goes from being a boy to a man in this series and I loved being there to read his growth!
This book like the previous two is ultimately a book about a relationship…a real, honest-to-God relationship between two people. It focuses on not just the beautiful, warm, ooey-gooey parts but also the ugly, sob into your pillow parts. The author I think does an amazing job of showing the good and bad of relationships and that it takes commitment (not just lust) to stay with someone.
Also…I really wanted the Australian landscape back in this book!!! I missed it, but it was nice to see Bran completely out of his element in America. And for Talia, she needed to be here. She was utterly broken during parts of this book and she needed the comforts of home, but also she needed to mend the broken relationships in her life if she was ever going to move on with Bran.
Overall I loved the conclusion to this series and I have to wonder if there will be more from some of the side characters that are introduced later in the book 😀 I love Talia and Bran, their relationship, their fights, their love…it’s all perfect in the sense that no one is perfect! My only complaint (and this is the prude coming out in me) were the sex scenes. I’m one that I can do without them, so be forewarned that this book is a new adult and it does contain some erotic scenes and strong language. So no kiddos!!! I would recommend this for anyone that enjoys new adult contemporary, especially that post-college time 😉
Who was I when I first fell in love with Bran?
A person who had courage to stare down an unfeasible situation and say, Sure, I’m up for the challenge.
Who was I when Bran threw himself at me like a wounded animal, all claws, abandonment fear, spit, and fang?
A person who accepted that the moon has two sides, light and dark.
Who am I now?
I feel like a lost soul rocking in the corner, fresh out of ideas.
Bran pushes me through the long line until it’s our turn at the passport desk.
“How long do you plan to stay in the United States?” The customs official glances from Bran’s face to his passport photo and back again.
My stomach squirms like a writhing snake. We’ve avoided any discussion about future plans, focused instead on the short term. I had to accept the reality that I couldn’t return to the Peace Corps, even with the medical separation. I was too sick, too shattered. Our discussions about the logistics of leaving Africa were easier to concentrate on than the looming issue of what we were going to do with each other. I treated the topic like an abandoned lot, filled with weeds and rusting cars, a subject to walk past and pretend to ignore.
Now a stranger is forcing the issue.
“Until this one gets better.” Bran cocks his head in my direction.
The woman scoots forward, peers at me with a faint frown. “May I see proof of a return ticket, sir?”
Bran digs out the photocopy of his itinerary. When we bought the tickets, he had to borrow money from his dad. He hasn’t said much, but I know the fact must eat at him. Add another bitter drop to my guilt bucket—soon it’s going to overflow.
“You’re on a temporary tourist visa.” The customs agent flips the passport to a blank page and stamps with obvious relish. “You have three months, starting now.”
Here we go again.
People imagine international romance is excitement, hot accents, and adventure. They don’t want to hear about the bureaucratic drudgery that threatens to harden the arteries of even the most passionate hearts.
I thought I was going somewhere.
I am an idiot Icarus who flew too close to the sun.
Bran leans forward, his lips hover an inch from my ear, his breath a hot caress on my cool skin. “You okay, Captain?”
“What are you thinking, thinker?”
“I’m just sitting here, a sitter.”
We roll past an American flag overhanging a framed photo of the president. His smile seems smug, as if to say, You really thought you’d get away?
Yes, sir. I kind of did.
“We’re up next.” Bran hands a final customs form to yet another officer who waves us toward big silver doors that open and shut like gnashing teeth. On the other side is California. I can’t shake the disorienting sense we’re heading in the wrong direction.
Bran crossed an ocean for me. I have to find the way out of this black swamp, but I’m manacled to an island of self-doubt, and the tide is rising.