4.5 Stars M.L Steinbrunn s foray into the young adult genre is a shining success A Beholden Heart was sweet, hopeful, full of life, and incredibly poignant The emotional weight of this story took me by surprise as M.L Steinbrunn explored love, loss, and what it means to truly live While Gwen and Matt were the main focus of the story, this book unquestionably also belonged to Sam and Spencer These vibrant characters brought A Beholden Heart to life and made this story something truly special I found myself effortlessly consumed by the world M.L Steinbrunn has written mesmerized by the familiar dynamics of life during the high school years and the teenage angst we ve all experienced M.L Steinbrunn took this story in unexpected directions that pulled so many emotions from me, leaving me anxious for the next book in the series Gwen is the kind of character you can t help but instantly love Her fresh outlook on the world and enthusiasm for life is infectious Her sheltered upbringing has left her feeling isolated and overlooked so when the opportunity to live like a regular teenager comes along, she jumps at the chance for a taste of normalcy M.L Steinbrunn allows readers to see the world anew through the eyes of the na ve and inexperienced Gwen, capturing the forgotten magic of football games, driving around with friends, and falling in love for the first time As part of the popular crowd and a member of the football team, Matt s high school experience was very different from Gwen s but beneath the surface was that familiar feeling of no control They connect in a way that is tangible to the reader, finding qualities in one another that allow them both to grow Seeing Matt stand up for himself with Gwen s support and encouragement was empowering and I found myself in awe of their incredible friendship and the courage to live they find in each other.What I enjoyed most about this storyline was the way in which all of the characters were so carefully interconnected The slow unraveling of the clearly complicated relationships between the characters and the subtle hints at hidden feelings made me all the curious about the direction of the story and the series as a whole M.L Steinbrunn kept me intrigued by the secrets and lies that so clearly tainted the innocence and youthful naivet of Gwen, Matt, Sam, and Spencer Delving into the toxicity of anger and holding grudges, there were definitely some moments that made my heart ache, but M.L Steinbrunn provides the perfect balance with her easy humor Along with Sam and Spencer, Gwen s grandmother provides the perfect comedic relief to this otherwise emotional story As the book came to a close, M.L Steinbrunn had me on an emotional rollercoaster There was love, laughter, and some totally ugly crying, but most importantly there was an overwhelming sense of hope A Beholden Heart is a fantastic journey and I look forward to seeing where these incredible characters eventually end up. 4.5 StarsReview to come soon Why do we only get 5 stars This book should get 10 Every now and then a book comes along that completely blows your mind After receiving the ARC on my Kindle, I sat down with an idea of what this story would be After the first few chapters, meeting Gwen, and then Matt, our two lead characters, I was intrigued by their friendship.Gwen is the new girl in town, the new girl at school She s never been able to live life like a typical teenager When she gets a chance at life, she grabs it with both hands Her surprising friendship with Matt Rhodes, the most popular boy in school, takes her on a journey like no other.Between Gwen and Matt, they take being normal or typical to a place that no other story has Gwen s belief that everyone is good, and everyone deserves a chance at life and happiness changes not only Matt s life, but Sam s her BFF and Spencer s Matt s friend Sometimes, all we ever want, all we ever need, is right in front of us, we just have to open our eyes to see Even though I consider this a young adult novel Everyone, and I mean everyone, it doesn t matter your age, when work you do, if you re still studying or if you just work from home, this is a life lesson that will tug at your heart, have you laughing and crying, but ultimately, wanting to life everyday as if it was a gift ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review Reviewed by Dani from Alpha Book Club My rating 4.5 Together we will redefine normal Nothing about this book was normal It was completely extraordinary From the first chapter, I knew I could connect to Gwen and the positivity she surrounded herself with, despite living life with a heart condition She was brave, open, honest, truthful, and caring When her father s job takes the family across the pond, she convinces her family to let her stay in a tiny town with her estranged Grandmother, just to finish out her senior year in the states It was at her new school that she met Matthew, the popular kid, the jock, the jackass Or so she thought Turns out , he s just another broken human with a sad story just trying to survive his senior year of high school She also meets Sam and Spencer and while drama ensues, they all form these tangled friendships based on honest feelings and standing up for each other These friends are what I hope for my kids to find in their lifetime Beautifully written and deeply developed, this novel spoke to my soul This was my first of this author, and I will be picking up from this series in the future Although short, the pages are full of raw emotion and heartache, even for young people It s about friendship, and life, and living it to the fullest even when your body isn t really willing to let you do so You won t be sorry you read it, even though it will break your heart. Have You Ever Looked Around At Your Life And Thought To Yourself, This Can T Be What The Universe Had Planned For Me This Thought Enters My Brain Every Single DayI Have No Clue What I M Supposed To Be Doing, But This Isn T ItI Don T Want Extraordinary I Ve Never Wanted Extraordinary I Just Want Normal Whatever That IsWhen I Enrolled In Middleton High School, I Was Just Looking To Find Some Resemblance To The Typical High School ExperienceThen I Met Matt Rhodes He Lives The Life Of Envy Popular, Athletic, Top Of His Class Yet He Wants None Of It He Would Gladly Give It All Up To Gain Back Everything That He S LostTogether We Will Redefine Normal Disclosure I received a copy from the author publisher, in exchange for an honest review This does not influence my review in any shape or form I wasn t sure what A Beholden Heart was about but I wanted to read it because M.L Steinbrunn wrote it I absolutely loved her Redemption series and was eagerly awaiting a new novel by her She writes the most beautifully broken characters that are often lost and have no hope and turns them into a beautiful woven story A Beholden Heart is no different it is the story how one person can change another person s life just by being themselves It shows how much one person can have an impact on our life rather we notice it or not Matt and Gwen s point of view tell the story Gwen is new to Middleton she is currently living with her grandmother for her senior year Her parents are moving to London because of a job offer, Gwen turns down going to London shocking, I know but it is for a good reason Matt is the town s golden boy The most popular boy in school and of course he is the star football player A bit clich but it works This is no love story although I did ship one couple then decided it was best if that ship didn t happen that another ship should happen, I was confused can you tell This is truly a story about friendship, the kind that makes you wonder what you ever would have done without that person The kind that shows you that a person can truly change you for the better What I love the most about M.L Stienbrunn s novels is that I find a deep connection not just with the main characters but also the minor characters I absolutely loved Sam and Spencer and their banter I thought it was perfect for the story I wanted of both them and I saw they will be getting their own stories that you of course will see reviews on later within the year There were parts I found a bit unbelievable They weren t serious enough that they took away from the story So for me they were easy to overlook The story was beautiful and left me in tears It was a bit of a trigger for me but overall it was beautiful and I look forward to the rest of the series I hope you pick this up and you walk away knowing that you make a difference in someone s life It could just be by simply saying hi to someone or just being yourself you make a difference. What a beautiful and emotional read In A Beholden Heart we meet Gwen, who hasn t really lived life, and is entering her senior year of high school When she starts a new school, and has some freedom to finally live, and not be cooped up in the house, she embraces it fully She s never really gotten to experience high school, so her happy go lucky attitude doesn t help her with the cliques at her new school She instantly befriends Sam, who I adored, and also becomes friends with Matt and Spencer.Matt is Mr Popular and lives behind the facade that he s happy being the football hero, but he wants so much out of his life When he becomes friends with Gwen, she helps him see he can realize his dreams and make himself happy I loved watching Matt grow in this story and seeing how much he changed from when we first met him.Sam, Spencer, and Matt were all really good friends growing up, but something happened a long time ago that tore Spence and Matt away from Sam With the help of Gwen this group of friends find one another again, and the school itself changes because of this spark of life that is Gwen Her character is beautiful, happy, and always looking for the positive in life I really loved how she was able to bring peace to a group of people that deserved it after so long.This book really isn t a love story at all It s based in high school and is really about finding yourself, being happy, and embracing life to the fullest Gwen seemed to have changed everyone s life she entered in this book, and I loved her character dearly I hated that she had the condition that she did, but instead of letting it bring her down, she continued to move forward and decided to be happy.This is a powerful story that definitely pulled at my heartstrings I laughed, I cried, and I felt at peace even if I was torn up when this book ended I definitely am looking forward to seeing where these characters end up after A Beholden Heart ends Matt and Sam deserve chances at repairing their broken relationship, and Spencer just needs to be around, because his character definitely brought the fun times in this book when we needed it A Beholden Heart by M.L Steinbrunn is a story of love, loss, and learning to life life to the fullest I highly suggest this beautiful read Go one click your copy today 4.5 emotional stars I have a confession When I found out ML was putting out a new novel, I was excited One, because I read her Redemption series and loved it And two, I m a YA reader I did, however, assume I knew exactly the story I would get high school kids, guy meets girl, a little angst, happily ever after, the end And that was okay with me.I.Did.Not.Get.That.Story.A Beholden Heart is told from both Gwen and Matt s POV ML s characters speak in such a way that they give you just enough information to keep you guessing What is the big secret between Spencer, Matt, and Sam How can Matt s dad get away with being such a douche Why do Gwen s parents have issues with Grandma Marnie The answers to these questions are revealed, but in little bits and pieces that make you speed read I think what surprised me most is that A Beholden Heart isn t a high school love story There s definitely love there, but it s a love of friends Of family Of accepting the things you cannot change, but finding a way to make them better.I loved all the main characters Spencer and Grandma Marnie are a hoot, Sam is a great friend although I wanted to shake her a couple of times for shutting down in the info department , and Matt, while still the stereotypical smart athlete, has depth to him than most male teen protags I ve read Gwen is pretty, smart, and wise beyond her years which normally bothers me, but not here She has to live with one flaw that she cannot change, and she s been through enough to warrant her behavior and views on life That said, I did struggle with a few things, such as view spoiler Matt s dad s sudden 360 in behavior after one confrontation with Marnie hide spoiler There are books that you read in life and not matter what you will never ever forget them because they have such a huge impact on your life, heart, or emotions and this is definitely one of those books This book is beautiful and beautifully written from start to finish It left me speechless, smiling, and tears rolling down my face Yes, grab tissues Gwen is one of the sweetest and most caring people I have ever read about Life hasn t been easy for Gwen She has always been different because that s the hand life dealt her But instead of being sad and hating everything and everyone, she chooses to live her life to the fullest When Gwen moves to a new town and new school with her grandmother, she has no idea that her whole life is about to change in the blink of an eye Matt is the popular kid in school He only hangs around certain crowds and focuses all his attention on football On the outside, Matt looks like he is living the perfect life but on the inside everything is a lie When Gwen moves to town, he knows there is something interesting about this girl but he doesn t know just how much she is going to change his whole life I don t want to give away any spoilers but this book is amazing from start to finish Both Matt and Gwen have their own struggles to overcome and they seek help in each other I also love the secondary character Sam and Spencer and they also play a pretty big part in the story line This book pulled on my heartstrings but in a good way I love Matt, Gwen, and the gang and I can t wait to see what the future holds. Read the full review on Bookaholics Not So Anonymous.Note This ARC was provided by Enticing Journey Book Promos in exchange for an honest review.While I didn t shed any tears, A Beholden Heart was an emotional read and one that I didn t see coming I had this pegged as a young adult story about a girl who was different and the guy who everyone wanted to be like and together they showed how being different was okay Gwen Parks and Matt Rhodes, who is the reigning king of their school but can t wait to leave it all just to be free of his father, form what others consider an unlikely friendship, but I do think that they gravitated toward one another because they were exactly what the other one needed at that point in their lives And this is where this story is different I can t get into why, though, so you re going to have to trust me and read the book Suffice it to say that this isn t your typical YA story, and that blurb had me thinking one thing and give a heck of a lot to love.The book isn t perfect There were a few editing issues, though with me assuming the copy I received was for advanced reading purposes meaning there are bound to be editing issues that have yet to be touched upon before the final publication I didn t let those affect my overall impression of the book Sticking to the storytelling, there were times that the transitions felt a bit abrupt and the resolutions of relationships that were strained had that overly idealistic feel of happening in the spur of the moment But even with these criticisms of mine, the book never lost its heart I m looking forward to seeing where M.L Steinbrunn is going to take this series, especially since something brewing between two particular characters was already hinted at here I m giving A Beholden Heart 4.5 stars rounded off to five stars for Goodreads and hope you ll TBR it today.
My name is M.L Steinbrunn and I am a young adult and contemporary romance author My work includes the popular Redemption Series and a young adult series, which includes my new release, A Beholden Heart In addition to writing, I work full time as a high school educator and coach in rural Colorado where my husband and I are raising our four young children Through education I have enjoyed guiding
- 186 pages
- A Beholden Heart
- M.L. Steinbrunn
- 07 October 2017 M.L. Steinbrunn