Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review: Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins from Harlequin Teen

Stir Me Up
by Sabrina Elkins
Published:  October 1, 2013
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Source:  Publisher/NetGalley
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Cami Broussard has her future all figured out. She'll finish her senior year of high school, then go to work full-time as an apprentice chef in her father's French restaurant, alongside her boyfriend, Luke. But then twenty-year-old ex-Marine Julian Wyatt comes to live with Cami's family while recovering from serious injuries. And suddenly Cami finds herself questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Julian's all attitude, challenges and intense green-brown eyes. But beneath that abrasive exterior is a man who just might be as lost as Cami's starting to feel. And Cami can't stop thinking about him. Talking to him. Wanting to kiss him. He's got her seriously stirred up. Her senior year has just gotten a lot more complicated….

My Thoughts:  Stir Me Up is a wonderful coming of age romance that I really did enjoy.  Cami Broussard is a senior in high school, she has a boyfriend, is in the process of applying for college at her dad's insistance, and she works for her dad in his French restaurant.  As long as she can remember, Cami has wanted to be a chef, but her dad wants more options for her.  Things seem to be going well with Luke, but he wants to take their relationship places she isn't ready to go.  Everything in her life changes when Julian, her stepmother Estella's nephew is seriously injured in Afghanistan and comes to live with them while he recovers.  Estella raised Julian after his parents died, so he is like a son to her. Cami is not happy about the situation, but understands and wants to help.  Part of that help is that she is going to have to give up her downstairs bedroom to Julian, which she is not happy about at all, but again, willingly does, even though it means she is going to have to sleep in a tiny alcove since the house only has two bedrooms.

Julian is very angry and downright mean while in the hospital, and when he first comes to live with them, especially to Cami.  While it's  something that is understandable considering what he's been through, Cami isn't afraid to call him on his crap and does so quite often.  Julian responds to her in a likewise manner, telling her like it is and not afraid to speak his mind.  To say they don't get along is putting it mildly.  Over time, their relationship changes and they become friends, which gradually grows into something more.  This produces another plethora of challenges, especially considering their living situation and their rather complicated family dynamics.  As the year progresses, they grow closer, grow stronger as a couple and as individuals, and they face quite a few obstacles regarding the future, as well as the present.  Julian also has his own demons to deal with related to Afghanistan.

I loved Cami.  She is determined, strong-willed, and snarky.  She is unsure what to do about her future, but one thing she is sure of, and that is the way she feels about Julian.  Julian is a hot and sexy war hero, and despite his initial jerkdom, he turns out to be a really great guy.  He cares deeply for Cami also, he supports her and wants the best for her, not influenced by him or anyone else, including her dad.   He still has his "moments," but Cami refuses to let him wallow in self-pity or anger.  I loved watching these characters grow in their relationship and grow individually as they take life by the horns, determined to live it to its fullest.  The romance is hot between them and the chemistry is electrifying. There are some sexual scenes, which Sabrina Elkins wrote so well, and I applaud her in going where she did with that because truthfully, it made the story seem that much more believable and genuine.  It was also done in good taste.

Sabrina Elkins has done a wonderful job in creating two characters that are real and fleshed out, giving the reader the ability to really connect with them.  The secondary characters were all well written and fun to get to know.  I loved Cami's best friend Taryn.  Her dad and stepmother also played important roles in the book, as did Estella's son Brandon.  The plot is interesting and fast paced and I was engrossed from beginning to end.  The only thing I would have liked to have seen would have been an epilogue or a little more detail about what happens with Cami and Julian in the months and/or year(s) that follow the event the book ends on.  Don't get me wrong, the ending is a happy one.  That is just my personal preference, and doesn't effect the quality of the story in the least.   Another bonus that was entertaining and fun to read about was all the food/restaurant related things, which were delightful and enjoyable.   I read that Sabrina Elkins is considering writing another novel, which will be Taryn, Cami's best friend's story, and I am really hoping that pans out, and that maybe we will even get a glimpse of what is going on with Cami and Julian in it if she does so.  Stir Me Up is a great romance that both young adults, older adults, and those in between will love.

“He won't talk about the ordeal he's been through, either in the war or over the last few months. He won't tell me where he's headed, and I don't know where I'm headed, either. All I know is I'll remember this night--me in his arms and the lake behind me, the dance up there waiting, and the music filtering down to us. 'Dance with me?' I ask. And he does. Right there on the sand.” 

“Julian, I need you. Not in ways you can see. But in ways that I feel. If I’m your life raft, we’re in trouble—because you’re mine.” 

“I rest my head against him when our mouths break apart, and breathe him in. I love the smell of him, that mysterious, perfect, warm, delicious taste that is him.” 

“Part of the PTSD they tell me I have…” His voice trails off as he pulls my hair away from my neck, “includes trouble with feelings. Nothing affects me or seems real. It’s like I’m numb. Except for with you. With you, I feel too much almost.”.....Julian

"I want you, I whisper. The words just spill out of me. And suddenly, I realize they're true. I do want him. Kind of desperately."

"What I need to do is go out there and find out who I am. Explore the world a little. Taste it, take a bite of it. And then when I come back, not step into a footprint my father or boyfriend or anyone else made for me, but find my own way to make a footprint myself."

"Mom used to say life gives you everything in balance. Everything bad will be countered by an equal amount of good.".....Julian

About the Author:
I am a former journalist who worked for the Los Angeles Daily Newsand other newspapers in the greater Los Angeles area. Prior to this I worked in advertising, writing ad copy for corporate travel accounts and major motion pictures. My first job out of college was as an administrative assistant to an executive chef and a food & beverage director at a Four Seasons hotel. I also spent some time working as a prep cook for Spago in Beverly Hills.

I received my Master's degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California. While in graduate school, I had the privilege of studying fiction writing under renowned author Hubert Selby, Jr., and comedy writing under famed comedian Shelley Berman. I am a past participant of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Summer Writing Workshop.

Raised in the woods of Vermont, I now live in the greater Los Angeles area with my husband and three children. STIR ME UP is my first novel.


  1. I would love to read this, it sounds amazing. Great review.

    1. It really was good. I think you would really like it.

  2. I just read another review of this on another blog today. It seems you liked Julian a bit more than she did but both of you agree that this is a solid romance. I think it is one I would enjoy as it doesn't seem to be too full of drama!

    1. It was really good - kind of a YA/NA crossover. I did like Julian - he was a jerk at first, but then he cam around.

  3. Oh gosh I am a sucker for stories with soldiers in them, I think this will be a must read.

  4. Wow, I've been seeing this book everywhere! All the reviews seem to a few that it's a great story. Im glad you enjoyed, Ellen. Nice review!

  5. I've read some other good reviews for this one and it sounds great!

  6. I have this one. I'm glad the sex scenes were written well. I've been having issues with most sex scenes lately. They just seem too cheesy/too much/too unrealistic. I've read good reaviews for this one :)

    1. I really liked this one. It is in the Harlequin Teen section, but it really is more of a YA/NA crossover book. I thought the sex part was done really well. I hope you like it.

  7. For some reason I didn't love this as much as others have. I liked it, but didn't love it. The characters annoyed me for the first third of the book, especially Cami's dad. I'm happy you loved it though. Great review Ellen!

    AKA Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island


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