Series: Full Tilt #2
Published by Trillian on October 11, 2016
Genres: Adult, Artist, Forbidden, Friends to Lovers, New Adult
Buy on Amazon
Reeling from her loss, Kacey Dawson is grieving and heartbroken, her addictive demons hauling her back into the alcohol-soaked abyss she worked so hard to crawl out of. Kacey teeters on the edge of oblivion, and must fight her way through the pain, to build a new life for herself with her music, and somehow fulfill the promise she made to Jonah…one she feels is impossible to keep.
Theo Fletcher has a secret burning in his heart, one that he holds close, while he struggles to keep strong for his family that is falling apart. His mother’s health is fragile and his father’s disapproval is breaking him down. Theo is afraid if he follows his heart, he’ll fail, and not just himself, but his brother who believed in him when no one else did.
Drawn together by their pain, Theo and Kacey slowly build a friendship, re-forge old ties, help each other to heal, and give one another the courage to reach for their dreams. Together, from the depths of grief and guilt, they learn to laugh again, to trust again, and quite possibly find something beautiful and lasting amid the shattered pieces of their broken hearts.
Part II of the two-part Full Tilt duet PLEASE NOTE, this novel is NOT a standalone. It is highly recommended one read Full Tilt first to get the entire arc of the story and to avoid spoilers.
Just just as a forewarning, All In is second to Full Tilt in Emma Scott’s newest duet. All In CANNOT be read as a standalone. With this being said, I’ve included an excerpt (spoiler free) at the top of this post and will include my review after. My review will contain some spoilers to Full Tilt so unless you’ve read the book, you may want to skip my review of All In and check out my spoiler free review of Full Tilt instead! http://tbbsisterhood.com/2016/07/01/review-full-tilt-by-emma-scott/
After you’ve read FT, feel free to pop on back over to check out this review or send us a message and I’d be thrilled to chat about this duet!!
I concentrated on the music, pretending to listen and resolutely not looking at Theo. But the damn music was bluesy, sexy… A slow burn of want and longing. It dialed into my already aching body, filling me with a need to be touched.
A shadow fell over me, and I looked up to see Theo standing, his hand outstretched.
“Dance with me.”
It wasn’t a request, and my traitorous body was already rising to its feet before I could think.
Theo took my hand in his and led me to the small dance floor, where a dozen other couples were swaying to the music. Some, driven by the sultry tones of the song and the singer’s smoky voice, were grinding their hips together, thighs intertwined.
Theo slung my arms around his neck, then put his hands on my hips, and began to move.
I’d never stood this close to Theo before. Our bodies pressed tight. Our faces so close, I could smell the sweet heat of his food, the bitterness of beer, the salt of his sweat. His heart beat thick against mine. The ragged exhale of his breath.
“You told me at the wedding you didn’t dance,” I said, every part of my body conscious of touching every part of his.
His mouth shaped the words, “I lied,” but no sound reached me over the music.
I could barely breathe. I was losing myself in him. Our eyes locked. I couldn’t look anywhere but at him. The light brown of his eyes fiery, like a shot of whiskey backlit by a white-hot flame. His hips ground a slow circle against mine, his thigh inching between my legs. One arm slid around my waist, the other came up the middle of my back, holding me close. My arms wound around his neck, my fingers burrowed into his damp hair.
“I like this,” he murmured. His whole body was flush against mine. I could feel its power, the strength of his muscles holding and moving me with the music. The hollow of his neck glistened. I felt my own sweat slide over my collarbone and between my breasts. My blood was on fire in a way that was entirely separate from the Louisiana summer. A heat Theo was building in me with every roll of his pelvis against mine. I felt the stiffness of his jeans against my skin as his hand slipped down to my ass, pressing me tighter against him. Grinding in a dance that felt more like…
BEWARE: Spoilers possible (and kind of likely) after this point!
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
Did you just start to sing Seasons of Love from RENT? Yeah, I did too. Don’t worry, that’s kind of my point.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, and if you know the next line, you’ll know that each of these minutes in our lives can be broken down into moments. Moments we love, moments we cherish, moments that we wish could be deleted or reversed, but unfortunately that’s not how this world works.
If you’ve gotten this far, I’m assuming that you’ve read Full Tilt. If not, turn around and go read that, then come back. Okay, where were we? Right, moments. Moments were so important to Kacey and Jonah and having to grasp them and use up every second of every last one. What I then didn’t really expect was that this theme of seizing moments would carry on into All In. But this was honestly one of my favourite things about the story. Emma gives you every moment you could hope for. Moments for Kacey, moments for Theo. Moments of heartbreak, lust, restlessness, confusion, love, growth and hope. But, we were gifted with, not given, moments of Jonah. My sweet, sweet Jonah.
Skipping ahead just slightly, I was messaging with Emma right around when Full Tilt was released, and one of the things we chatted about was of Jonah’s importance and how moving on, he still needed to be a large part of the journey. Staying true to the characters, story and her own ideas, Emma did exactly that. This made my heart so happy. Jonah was along every step of the way from thoughts and actions, memories, his art, everything. I could feel Jonah in every page.
I’ve spoken about Kacey in my Full Tilt review, so now I want to talk about Theo. I uncovered such a depth of understanding for him and his character after the tarot card reading. I knew before that that he was a protector, but I never really knew the extent of his character and truly how much he would give up. Theo is the type of man who you want to marry. The type of man who you want to raise your sons to be. He’s above and beyond loyal, protective, giving and gracious. And I sure as hell wouldn’t mind dancing with him in a restaurant to some jazz music too. In case, you know, that’s an option.
“I’ll love her enough. I’ll love her enough she’ll never want for it. I’ll spend my entire life loving her and making her happy. And she will be happy.”
Yvonne is such a gem, after her first interaction with Theo I knew she would become important, but it wasn’t until after her first interaction with Kacey that I decided I needed to meet this lady. She was AWESOME! Who else has a neighbour that bakes tuna casserole, yells at you through the window, comes running with refreshments when needed and can wield a Louisville Slugger? My last interaction with a new neighbour involved them yelling at me for where I parked my car. Awkward times that was. Too bad all neighbours aren’t like Yvonne, she seems like my kind of friend.
Five minutes later, Yvonne busted in the front door, a half-liter of seltzer water tucked under one arm, a bottle of cranberry juice under the other.
“This occasion calls for wine, but seeing as you’re on the wagon, this is the best I can do, short notice.”
Ultimately, all of the secondary characters played large rolls in the grieving and growth process which was fantastic. I understood the reasoning for some of the decisions that were made by certain secondary characters, but I’m so glad everything was confronted and answers were laid on the table when needed. After Yvonne though, Big Easy was definitely a top notch guy too.
“And thanks for—”
He held up his hands. “Nope. No thanks required. Just doing my job.”
“What is it with guys and gratitude? Teddy’s the same way. Wouldn’t hear a thank you if I paid him.”
Big E shrugged. “Real men take care of the women in their lives as a matter of course. Not because they want something in return.”
His words warmed me better than a shot of whiskey. “Not even a thank you?”
“Not even that.”
Someone asked me earlier who my favourite was: Jonah vs Theo. My truth, and I’m sure this will match up with a lot of people, is that there is no comparison. I can’t answer that question because there isn’t a winner or a loser, just two different men trying to get through difficult circumstances while finding love in an unexpected place. I love them both, maybe not quite equally yet (that’s answered below) but I love them differently. You can’t compare things that are different. Like vs like makes sense, Fletcher vs Fletcher does not. So there. I love them both lots.
I feel like this aspect might not get as much attention but Emma has an incredible eye for detail. Not only visually and creating imagery to set a scene – who wants to visit NOLA with me? – but in the plot as well. Any loose end, whether it was as small as a pulled thread or as large as a frayed bow, Emma becomes the worlds best seamstress. She fills every hole, fixes every string, designs the most beautiful gown out of the ripped tatters of your heart (I know, I can be a little dramatic) and creates a jaw dropping, break taking, sometimes haunting masterpiece.
When the conclusion for Full Tilt got to that inevitable point (don’t mind me, I knew it was coming but held out hope to the last second for a Hail Mary and miracle cure), I knew that Theo and Kacey would end up together. Not only could Jonah see it and believed how good they’d be together, but they were always drawn to the other from the beginning. Teddy may have started off as a man of few words but I loved watching him come out of his shell and grasp those all encompassing moments with Kacey. He loved her and I believed it, always. With seeing his devotion to her and how deep his love actually was, I did agree with Jonah and want these two together. It probably would’ve killed me if they ended up with other people entirely. I may not be the biggest fan of this trope (it’s one of my least favourites, if we’re playing the honesty game), but Emma made me a fan in this circumstance. Her words and characters opened my eyes to what was happening and how it could still be not only a good thing for Kacey and Teddy, but for Jonah too. His legacy not only lives in his art but in their love as well. It’s boundless. Infinite. As large as the universe.
I’m a big believer in timing. That it plays a key part in our lives, who’s in them at which time, our circumstances, outlooks, everything. In Full Tilt, it was Jonah and Kacey’s time. I’m not saying this because he was dying, but because of what the both brought to the other. Jonah saved Kacey and showed her the incredible person she is, and Kacey brought Jonah back to life, even if only to hold those dwindling moments that much tighter. But then it was no longer Jonah and Kacey’s time. I do think Theo and Kacey would’ve found themselves together eventually, despite Jonah’s wishes, but it was his last push that sped up the beginning to their journey. Ecclesiastes 3 verses 1-9 state basically that there is a time for everything in this world. A time to live and a time to die, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to weep and a time to laugh. In All In, it was without a doubt time for Kacey and Theo.
“I know my heart. It’s been forever altered, but it’s not broken anymore.”
The only thing I would’ve enjoyed seeing slightly differently is in relation to how Kacey’s feelings developed. From the beginning, we know about Theo’s feelings, but Kacey’s still in such a dark place and understandably, not ready. Maybe I was looking for a little more confusion or angst on her part, just that extra little pause of not knowing what was happening or an ‘is this right?’ moment, just something small to show that she really cared for him. Not because of the proximity or past, not because he took care of her, not because he was a consolation, but because of who he was, completely unrelated to Jonah. But maybe I’m also making all of this up and twisting something simple in my head into something complex, we can’t really be sure some days what goes on up there.
I stared at the lights until they blurred into fuzzy white orbs.
“Now what the fuck do I do, Jonah? She’s there. I’m here…”
Of course, I knew what he’d answer.
I closed my aching eyes, and rubbed my aching chest. “I do, Jonah,” I whispered, my words swallowed by the night. “I already do.”
Okay, so this next bit might be a little bit odd and quite a bit personal, but I need to explain why I’m rating this as 4.5 stars instead of 5. When I finished All In, I was happy. Sure I had a smile, I’m glad these characters had the ending (or beginning) to the story that they did, because I truly believe that love will always win. But what I realized was that I wasn’t ecstatic for them. There was something holding me back but I couldn’t figure out what. I messaged Wil (a fellow TBB Sisterhood founder) that she needs to read this immediately because I need to have someone help me figure out what the heck was wrong with me. Because of this, I didn’t even rate the book right away. I wanted to be jumping over the moon and proclaiming my love once more for this series, but it was just a little more subdued. I messaged Wil shortly after 11pm, and at about 12:30am, it hit me, what was missing.
I’m not over Jonah.
Like Kacey in the beginning, I didn’t grieve for him. I cried and cried after finishing FT and then pushed it away and tried to move on. One day this past summer, I was sitting in an airport all alone in a strange part of the country, waiting for a connecting flight. I heard some familiar guitar chords, but took a moment to realize that an artist was performing his cover of Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. I sat for a few moments, but the minute my thoughts wandered to Jonah and Kacey I had to leave, I couldn’t handle them yet. Then last night, I truly believe that this is what my problem had been. I never fully accepted Theo and Kacey because I didn’t want to let Jonah go. I’ve laughed, cried, been inspired by and grown along side these characters for months now, but the one thing I didn’t let myself do was grieve. And as silly as that sounds, grieving over a fictional character, I don’t care. Jonah is a real person to me, I don’t see him as words on a page. So last night, at 12:30am, I turned off all the lights, opened up YouTube, queued up Free Falling by Tom Petty, and I cried. I cried for Jonah. I cried for Kacey and the life that they wouldn’t have together. I cried for Theo and the rock that he lost. I cried for Beverly and Henry and Tania, Dena and Oscar. I cried for them all and finally got it out. Waking up this morning, I already felt a little lighter. Throughout the day, I was having flashbacks of Full Tilt, but I was also thinking about all of my favourite moments in All In. The phone calls, the surprise visits, the dancing and movie watching. Already I was feeling better about the entire thing. So I may be a few months late, but I’m finally getting there. I fully intend to reread All In again in a month or two and see how my perception has changed from where it is currently to where it is then. At this point, I apologize Emma, for not being able to give my heart to them the way I immediately did with Jonah, but I’m getting there. If nothing else, I promise you that.
“Live in the stars, baby. Okay?” My voice cracked but didn’t break, and I smiled through my tears. “You’re free. You made me free.”
There were three times that I cried while reading All In. I cried in the prologue, with my sweetest Jonah, I cried when Kacey cried about letting him go ^^ (I wasn’t ready yet either, it seems), and I cried when Theo learned … Something. #vaguebooking
What I’m getting at here is that based in how Full Tilt went and how hard All In was, it could’ve been so much more difficult. But Emma gave these two their break, they weren’t stuck in sorrow forever, they could find solace in each other. There was a resounding amount of hope written through the chapters which gives the reader that breath of fresh air, imagining everything can actually be okay for them one day. There’s good days and bad days, like there always will be, but that one day, you can trust that Theo and Kacey will be okay.
Despite our losses, we would keep going. Never give in or give up. Because love always wins. Always.
There’s very few authors these days where when I think of them, I stamp the word ‘original’ beside their name, but Emma gets that title so easily. In my Full Tilt review, I compared her work to that of Colleen Hoover and I stand by that proclamation 100%. You know what else? When people ask me who my favourite authors are, Emma Scott is easily one of the first names mentioned. Before reading All In, Full Tilt had been my first/only ES novel (I feel like Ashley, Robin, Jeannine and Wil are all probably giving me squinty eyes right now because they know I’ll love the others and haven’t gotten there yet), but just think that through for a second. Emma was a new to me author, I read ONE of her books, and she was instantly a favourite. I’ve told countless people about her over the past few months. ‘What’s so great about her? What makes her stand out?’ *insert gif of me throwing Full Tilt at said person* my answer always ended in: read it, then try and argue with me.
No one argued.
Going back to just the way she writes, Emma’s a phenomenal author. Her timing is impeccable, she not only flows but floats from scene to scene, and then her depth and emotional pull are second to none. I’ve pretty much said it all before but really, out of every author, book, and series I’ve read this year, if I could only pick one to read and give in to others, I’ll give you Emma Scott and her Full Tilt Duet.
*An ARC was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
*All teasers were taken from either Emma herself, or from amazing bloggers and readers in her group. I can share links to their pages and reviews for anyone interested. <3
*I have a billion and one quotes highlighted, so instead of giving away all of the magic, I stuck mostly with pictures and a few quotes this time.