Effortless by S.C. Stephens

A lot can happen in a year.

You grow, you change, you learn from your mistakes. And Kiera had made a lot of mistakes to learn from. But she had learned, and she was determined to never cause a man pain again, especially the amazing man who currently held her heart.

But life offers new challenges for every relationship, and when Kiera’s love is put to the ultimate test, will it come out the other side unscathed?

Love is easy…

… trust is hard.






Kellankellankellankellankellankellankellankellankellankellankellan… OK, I might be able to write this review now without becoming a blubbering mess.

This book for me was everything I expected it to be after reading Thoughtless, and then so much more.  Kiera and Kellan’s relationship is in full bloom in this book and they are taking it one day at a time, being able to embrace their feelings for each other and enjoying not having to hide them from anyone. The next obstacle in their life as a couple comes when the D-Bags are asked to go on a six-month tour around the country. Kiera and Kellan are not only faced with long periods of separation, but they are also forced to confront the one thing that their young relationship does not have enough of – trust. They are both equally scared of the other straying and afraid that the past will repeat itself somehow.

“We’d started out with a betrayal. We both watched each other lie to a loved one. We both watched each other sleep with other people, all the while being in love with one another. Desperately in love. Watching that sort of betrayal, being a part of it … soured you.”

They are both still carrying the burden and guilt of betraying Denny and it cannot but spill into their relationship. I felt that Kiera had the most issues to overcome in this book. We see her taking all her past mistakes on-board and truly trying to learn from them. She does not want to be that person who cheated on her boyfriend anymore, she wants to redeem herself by trusting Kellan to remain faithful to her and proving to him, as well as to herself, that she has grown as a person. Unfortunately, her self-esteem issues don’t help the equation and she struggles with the idea of trusting Kellan not to be tempted by all the women throwing themselves at him. Loving someone is easy but trusting them is the hard part, especially when the relationship is born out of unfaithfulness.

“That’s what you get when your relationship starts by betraying someone – a never-ending well of doubt. If we could do it to someone, it could be done to us.”

But Kiera is determined now to never hurt another man that way again so she pushes her doubts aside and really tries to trust the love they share. She is also determined to become more independent as a woman and not allow her happiness to revolve around and depend solely on another person. Especially on another person’s presence in her life. This willingness to fully live her life and learn from her past sins made me like Kiera this time around. While I felt like poking her eyes out in Thoughtless, I understood and sympathised with her a lot more in this book.

Kellan is fighting his insecurities as well but he is a lot more confident than Kiera that they will survive the separation unscathed. He knows how much she does not like being left alone because he witnessed her pain when Denny had left her behind to pursue a job opportunity, so he leaves her small reminders of him everywhere she goes in the form of love notes. I literally gushed at every single one of them … “Remember you’re beautiful and I’m thinking of you.” … especially his last one hidden in the couch.

Kellan’s biggest struggle in this book is accepting that Kiera really loves him as much as he loves her. “It still feels … unreal … I guess. I’m not used to being … loved by someone. I keep waiting to wake up.” He never felt that before, he is not even sure that Kiera will truly miss him while he is gone because he doesn’t feel love-worthy. What he learns is that Kiera not only loves him but she loves him the way she has never loved anyone before, not even Denny. They both have so much to prove to each other and I felt like I was on a chocolate-high from beginning to end.

Denny also comes back in this book and we get closure on his relationship with Kiera once it blossoms into a genuine friendship, something that it perhaps should have been from the beginning. We get to know Denny even more this time around. We see what an honourable, loyal and loving human being he really is and it made me giddy that he got his happy ending too.

A beautiful and well-written story about love and learning how to trust one another. It shows that less-than-happy beginnings can be overcome by being open and honest with each other, it shows that the past does not necessarily taint the future and that the most important building block in a relationship is trust. God, I am starting to sound like Dr Phil …

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Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens

For almost two years now, Kiera’s boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she’s ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source – a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he’s purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes…and none of them will ever be the same.





Dear S.C. Stephens, Kellan Kyle? Really?? How are we expected to have any semblance of a love life after meeting a fictional character like Goddamn Kellan Kyle? … Would anyone judge me if I tattooed his name on my chest?

This is one of those books that I loved immediately but I got really REALLY frustrated while reading it. It’s the story of a young woman, Kiera, who moves across the country, away from her family and friends, to be with the love of her life and boyfriend extraordinaire, Denny. They move in with Denny’s childhood friend, Kellan, a local rock star. Two gorgeous hunks, one woman, same apartment, it doesn’t take a genius to guess what might happen. But this story is everything but predictable. I felt like I was emotionally whiplashed every 5 minutes.

Now, I have to start by saying that I do not condone cheating, I do not forgive cheating and I judge people who cheat, so having guessed pretty early on what was going to happen made me frown a bit. However, I quickly got over my reservations once I became a Kellan Kyle groupie. I just adored his character, as broken and as troubled as he was. His past had made him an attention junkie – he had no idea what love really was so he equated it to the attention that he received from the hordes of faceless women who pursued him. Until he saw Kiera and Denny together. His attraction to Kiera is immediate but mainly because he likes the way she loves Denny, in my opinion. They start developing a friendship separate from the one that Kellan and Denny share and sparks fly. Things happen, tequila is involved, and they sleep together.

Kiera is then faced with more guilt than she can process, coupled with an attraction to Kellan that grows each day and which she does not know how to fight. If there ever was an occasion to use the expression ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too!’, this would be it. Kiera really made me want to pull my hair out, she is the only reason I am not giving this book 5 stars. I understand that she did not want to hurt Denny but once the deed is done, girl, AND you’re still playing touchy-feely with Kellan, it’s a little too late to play a saint. I actually thought she was incredibly selfish and self-centred. She did whatever she felt like regardless of whom she was hurting, and she was hurting everyone. The whole I-won’t-let-you-kiss-me-because-that-would-be-cheating but then she hugs Kellan, touches him whenever she is near him, kisses him on the cheek, holds hands with him, sleeps on his lap, plays with his hair, … argh! I really did not like her. I could not sympathise with her endless crying whenever guilt overtook her because she always always always did exactly what she wanted. I don’t judge her for sleeping with Kellan the first time because of the surrounding circumstances but I do judge her for how she behaved afterwards, towards both Denny and Kellan, especially when she hopped from one bed to another in a matter of hours. Her indecisiveness could have gotten its own postcode. I kept screaming at her, “MAKE A CHOICE ALREADY!!!!”, but she couldn’t have found her guts if her life depended on it.

Denny really was the perfect boyfriend in so many ways and that made Kiera’s infidelity even uglier to watch. Every time he said to Kiera, “You are my heart”, my heart broke just a little bit more for him. His only sin was that he trusted Kiera too much. He trusted her even when every cell in his body was telling him that something was off. I did not blame him for how he reacted and I admire him immensely for the decisions he made in the end.

Kellan. I just need to say his name one more time – Kellan. While I think that Kiera played with his heart recklessly and cruelly at times, I admit that some of the blame has to fall on him as well. She tried pushing his away whenever her guilt overpowered her attraction to him, but he pulled her right back.

“No, please, I’ll do better, I’ll be stronger. Please don’t end this. Please don’t leave me …”

He was not only a willing participant, he consciously chose to continue their secret relationship even when she seemed to want to stop. He truly fell in love with Kiera from the first moment he saw her but he had no experience with such feelings. All he recognised was the uncontrollable draw that he felt when he was around her – she was his siren. I believe that he is the character that suffered the most in this book, his pain was not sudden like Denny’s, it was long-drawn and the highs and lows in their relationship made it even more acute. And still, he never stopped loving her. I’m saying it again – Kellan.

Putting aside all my Kiera-related criticism, this is really a deliciously complicated and well-written love story. As indecisive and as selfish as Kiera was during most of this book, I choose to believe that she is only guilty of being very young. She had never experienced before the overwhelming and uncontrollable attraction that she felt towards Kellan, she felt like her mind and her body had different agendas and she did not handle it well. However, she genuinely did love him – she was just unable to see what the right thing to do was under those circumstances. Part of me wanted her to experience true heartbreak in order to learn a lesson from it but it still pained me to see it happen. I believe she ended up a better person in the end.

This book has a happy ending but sometimes it is not so easy to wrap things up nicely with a bow on top when there is a history of hurt.

“… knowing that the person you’re with has cheated on a loved one before lends itself to additional insecurities, even if you were the person that they’d cheated with.”

I am guessing that trust is going to be the biggest obstacle they will have to overcome in their relationship, not to mention finding a “balance between friendship, love and fire”. I am already licking my fingers in anticipation of reading Effortless.

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