Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The 5 Stages Of Falling In Love by Rachel Higginson (Book Release Day Blast Event)


In association with Mark My Words Book Publicity, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the book release day blast event for The 5 Stages Of Falling In Love by Author Rachel Higginson!

About The Book

The 5 Stages Of Falling In Love by Rachel Higginson
Publisher: Reckless Siren Publishing
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Format: Paperback - 305 pages
             Kindle - 2789 KB
             Nook - 382 KB
ISBN: 978-1310186691
BNID: 2940046187700
Genre: Contemporary Romance

BUY THE BOOK: The 5 Stages Of Falling In Love

Book Description:

Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief.

Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady’s prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her?

Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days.

When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn’t just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she’s capable of ever giving again.

As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there’s more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there’s more to life than death.    

Book Excerpt:


“Hey, there she is,” Grady looked up at me from his bed, his eyes smiling even while his mouth barely mimicked the emotion.

“Hey, you,” I called back. The lights had been dimmed after the last nurse checked his vitals and the TV was on, but muted. “Where are the kiddos? I was only in the cafeteria for ten minutes.”

Grady winked at me playfully, “My mother took them.” I melted a little at his roguish expression. It was the same look that made me agree to a date with him our junior year of college, it was the same look that made me fall in love with him- the same one that made me agree to have our second baby boy when I would have been just fine to stop after Blake, Abby and Lucy.

“Oh, yeah?” I walked over to the hospital bed and sat down next to him. He immediately reached for me, pulling me against him with weak arms. I snuggled back into him, so that my head rested on his thin shoulder and our bodies fit side by side on the narrow bed. One of my legs didn’t make it and hung off awkwardly. But I didn’t mind. It was just perfect to lie next to the love of my life, my husband.

“Oh, yeah,” he growled suggestively. “You know what that means?” He walked his free hand up my arm and gave my breast a wicked squeeze. “When the kids are away, the grownups get to play…”

“You are so bad,” I swatted him- or at least made the motion of swatting at him, since I was too afraid to hurt him.

“God, I don’t remember the last time I got laid,” he groaned next to me and I felt the rumble of his words against my side.

“Tell me about it, sport,” I sighed. “I could use a nice, hard-“

“Elizabeth Carlson,” he cut in on a surprised laugh. “When did you get such a dirty mouth?”

“I think you’ve known about my dirty mouth for quite some time, Grady,” I flirted back. We’d been serious for so long it was nice to flirt with him, to remember that we didn’t just love each other, but we liked each other too.

He grunted in satisfaction. “That I have. I think your dirty mouth had something to do with Lucy’s conception.”

I blushed. Even after all these years, he knew exactly what to say to me. “Maybe,” I conceded.

“Probably,” he chuckled, his breath hot on my ear.

We laid there in silence for a while, enjoying the feel of each other, watching the silent TV screen flicker in front of our eyes. It was perfect- or as close to perfect as we had felt in a long time.

“Dance with me, Lizzy,” Grady whispered after a while. I’d thought maybe he fell asleep; the drugs were so hard on his system that he was usually in and out of consciousness. This was actually the most coherent he’d been in a month.

“Okay,” I agreed. “It’s the first thing we’ll do when you get out. We’ll have your mom come over and babysit, you can take me to dinner at Pazio’s and we’ll go dancing after.”

“Mmm, that sounds nice,” he agreed. “You love Pazio’s. That’s a guaranteed get-lucky night for me.”

“Baby,” I crooned. “As soon as I get you back home, you’re going to have guaranteed get-lucky nights for at least a month, maybe two.”

“I don’t want to wait. I’m tired of waiting. Dance with me now, Lizzy,” Grady pressed, this time sounding serious.

“Babe, after your treatment this morning, you can barely stand up right now. Honestly, how are you going to put all those sweet moves on me?” I teased, wondering where this sudden urge to dance- of all things- was coming from.

“Lizzy, I am a sick man. I haven’t slept in my own bed in four months, I haven’t seen my wife naked in just as long, and I am tired of lying in this bed. I want to dance with you. Will you please, pretty please, dance with me?”

I nodded at first because I was incapable of speech. He was right. I hated that he was right, but I hated that he was sick even more.

“Alright, Grady, I’ll dance with you,” I finally whispered.

“I knew I’d get my way,” he croaked smugly.

I slipped off the bed and turned around to face my husband and help him to his feet. His once full head of auburn hair was now bald, reflecting the pallid color of his skin. His face was haggard, dark black circles under his eyes, chapped lips and pale cheeks. He was still as tall as he’d ever been, but instead of the toned muscles and thick frame he once boasted, he was depressingly skinny and weak, his shoulders perpetually slumped.

The only thing that remained the same was his eyes; they were the same dark green eyes I’d fallen in love with ten years ago. They were still full of life, even when his body wasn’t, still full of mischief while the rest of him was tired and exhausted from fighting this stupid sickness.

“You always get your way,” I grumbled while I helped him up from the bed.

“Only with you,” he shot back on a pant after successfully standing. “And only because you love me.”

“That I do,” I agreed. Grady’s hands slipped around my waist and he clutched my sides in an effort to stay standing.

I slipped my arms around his neck, but didn’t allow any weight to press down on him. We maneuvered our bodies around his IV and monitors. It was awkward, but we managed.

“What should we listen to?” I asked, while I pulled out my cell phone and turned it to my iTunes app.

“You know what song. There is no other song when we’re dancing,” he reminded me on a faint smile.

“You must be horny,” I laughed. “You’re getting awfully romantic.”

“Just trying to keep this fire alive, Babe,” he pulled me closer and I held back the flood of tears that threatened to spill over.

I turned on The Way You Look Tonight- the Frank Sinatra version- and we swayed slowly back and forth. Frank sang the soft, beautiful lyrics with the help of a full band, the music drifting around us over the constant beeping and whirring of medical machines. This was the song we thought of as ours, the first song we’d danced to at our wedding, the song he still made the band at Pazio’s play on our anniversary each year.

“This fire is very much alive,” I informed him sternly. I lay my forehead against his shoulder and inhaled him. He didn’t smell like himself anymore, he was full of chemo drugs and smelled like hospital soap and detergent, but he was still Grady. And even though he barely resembled himself anymore, he still felt like Grady.

He was still my Grady.

“It is, isn’t it?” He whispered. I could feel how weak he was growing, how tired this was making him, but still he clung to me, held me close. When my favorite verse came on, he leaned his head down and whispered in a broken voice along with Frank, “There is nothing for me, but to love you. And the way you look tonight.”

Silent tears streamed down my face with truths I wasn’t ready to admit to myself and fears that were too horrifying to even think. This was the man I loved with every fiber of my being- the only man I’d ever loved. The only man I’d ever love.

He’d made me fall in love with him before I was old enough to drink legally, then he’d convinced me to marry him before I even graduated college. He knocked me up a year later, and didn’t stop until we had four wild rug rats that all had his red hair and his emerald green eyes. He’d encouraged me to finish my undergrad degree, and then to continue on to grad school while I was pregnant, nursing and then pregnant again. He went to bed every night with socks on and then took them off sometime in the middle of the night, leaving them obnoxiously tucked in between our sheets. He could never find his wallet, or his keys, and when there was hair to grow he always forgot to shave.

And he drove me crazy most of the time.

But he was mine.

He was my husband.

And now he was sick.

“I do love you, Lizzy,” he murmured against my hair. “I’ll always love you, even when I’m dead and gone.”

“Which won’t be for a very long time,” I reminded him on a sob.

He ignored me, “You love me back, don’t you?”

“Yes, I love you back,” I whispered with so much emotion the words felt stuck in my throat. “But you already knew that.”

“Maybe,” he conceded gently. “But I will never, ever get tired of hearing it.”

I sniffled against him, staining his hospital gown with my mascara and eye liner. “That’s a good thing, because you’re going to be hearing it for a very long time.”

He didn’t respond, just kept swaying with me back and forth until the song ended. He asked me to play it again and I did, three more times. By the end of the fourth time, he was too tired to stand. I laid him back in bed and helped him adjust the IV and monitor again so that it didn’t bother him, then pulled the sheet over his cold toes.

His eyes were closed and I thought he’d fallen asleep, so I bent down to kiss his forehead. He stirred at my touch and reached out to cup my face with his un-needled arm. I looked down into his depthless green eyes and fell in love with him all over again.

It was as simple as that.

It had always been that simple for him to get me to fall in love with him.

“You are the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me, Lizzy.” His voice was broken and scratchy and a tear slid out from the corner of each of his eyes.

My chin trembled at his words because I knew what he was doing and I hated it, I hated every part of it. I shook my head, trying to get him to stop but he held my gaze and just kept going.

“You are. And you have made my life good, and worth living. You have made me love more than any man has ever known how to love. I didn’t know this kind of happiness existed in real life, Liz, and you’re the one that gave it to me. I couldn’t be more thankful for the life we’ve shared together. I couldn’t be more thankful for you.”

“Oh, Grady, please-”

“Lizzy,” he said in his most stern voice that he only ever used when I’d maxed out a credit card. “Whatever happens, whatever happens to me, I want you to keep giving this gift to other people.” I opened my mouth to vehemently object to everything he was saying but he silenced me with a cold finger on my lips. “I didn’t say go marry the first man you find. Hell, I’m not even talking about another man. But I don’t want this light to die with me. I don’t want you to forget how happy you make other people just because you might not feel happy. Even if I don’t, Lizzy, I want you to go on living. Promise me that.”

But I shook my head, “no.” I wasn’t going to promise him that. I couldn’t make myself. And it was unfair of him to ask me that.

“Please, Sweetheart, for me?” His deep, green eyes glossed over with emotion and I could physically feel how painful this was for him to ask me. He didn’t want this anymore than I did.

I found myself nodding, while I sniffled back a stream of tears. “Okay,” I whispered. “I promise.”

He broke out into a genuine smile then, his thumb rubbing back and forth along my jaw. “Now tell me you love me, one more time.”

“I love you, Grady,” I murmured, leaning into his touch and savoring this moment with him.

“And I will always, always love you, Lizzy,” he promised.

His eyes finally fluttered shut and his hand dropped from my face. His vitals remained the same, so I knew he was just sleeping. I crawled into bed with him, gently shifting him so that I could lie on my side, in the nook of his arm and lay my hand on his chest. I did this often; I liked to feel the beat of his heart underneath my hand. It had stopped too many times before, for me to trust its reliability. My husband was a very sick man, and had been for a while now.

Tonight was different though. Tonight, Grady was lucid and coherent, he’d found enough energy to stand up and dance with me, to tell me he loved me. Tonight could have been a turn for the better.

But it wasn’t- because only a few hours later, Grady’s heart stopped for the fourth time during his adult life, and this time it never restarted.

Stage One: Denial

Not every story has a happy ending. Some only hold a happy beginning.

This is my story. I’d already met my soul mate, fallen in love with him and lived our happily ever after.

This story is not about me falling in love.

This story is about me learning to live again after love left my life.

Research shows there are five stages of grief. I don’t know what this means for me, as I was stuck, nice and hard, in step one.


I knew, acutely, that I was still in stage one.

I knew this because every time I walked in the house, I wandered around aimlessly looking for Grady. Because I still picked up my phone to check if he texted or called throughout the day. Because I looked for him in a crowded room, got the urge to call him from the grocery store just to make sure I had everything he needed, and reached for him in the middle of the night.

Acceptance- the last stage of grief- was firmly and forever out of my reach, and I often looked forward to it with longing. Why? Because Denial was a son of a bitch and it hurt more than anything when I realized he wasn’t in the house, wouldn’t be calling me, wasn’t where I wanted him to be, didn’t need anything from the store and would never lie next to me in bed again. The grief would cascade over me, fresh and suffocating and I was forced to suffer through the unbearable pain of losing my husband all over again.

Denial sucked.

But it was where I was right now. I was living in Denial.

About The Author

Rachel Higginson is the creator of The Star-Crossed Series, Love & Decay Novella Series, The Starbright Series, The Siren SeriesBet on Us and the soon to be released, The Five Stages of Falling in Love! She is also the co-creator of the podcast "Zach & Rachel Take Over the World."

She was born and raised in Nebraska, and spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart. Now she spends her days raising four amazing kids. In the few spare moments she has to herself, she is either reading for hours on end or writing her own stories.


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