Blog Tour + ARC Review: 9 Letters by Austin Blake


descriptionLuke Cawley is a broken man. After his wife's tragic death, he lost everything that mattered in the world. Now, his life is filled with hard days, harder nights, and a steady stream of alcohol and the wrong kind of women.
Nothing helps.

Until the letters arrive on Luke's doorstep.
Nine envelopes. Nine messages. Nine chances to find his way back.

Rae Goode is looking for the real thing. After fighting her way out of a string of bad relationships, she's ready for something different--something true.
She meets Luke while piecing her life together, and right away she can tell that he's different. Drawn together by fate and the desire to heal, Rae and Luke discover new ways to mend their broken hearts--one letter at a time.

Discover Blake Austin's debut novel of loss, redemption, and ever-enduring love.


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I decided reading Nine Letters out of the blue. It’s no secret I like to take chances on new author and when the blurb is appealing I rarely second guessed myself.
Nine Letters has the potential to be the first book to many more to come. Austin Blake is one true talented author. The writing is excellent, the book will captivate you and Luke's story is gripping! Managing to write about such a heavy and real subject can be tricky but Austin Blake delivers a beautiful tale about the journey of a man who needs to continue his life.

"I couldn’t handle getting better. I didn’t even want to get better. Easier to just stay at rock bottom, you can’t fall again when you’re at rock bottom."

When the story starts, it’s been a year Luke lost Emily, his wife. I wouldn’t say he’s a mess but he’s lost for sure. When he receives 9 letters, he doesn't know it's the first step for his reconstruction. Those letters are going to change him, but most importantly there are going to help him find his way back.

This is the story of a man who needs some guidance. It's the journey of a man who loves his wife so much and feels guilty about everything he’s done in the past. He feels responsible for her death and he doesn't know how to accept it and move on.

I devour this book and I wanted to know what was in the next letter. The pace of the book is so good. With each letters, Luke has actions to accomplish before reading the next. He could have cheated but he's so faithful to his wife's memory that he follows each and every one of them carefully.

"Let the memory of me, but not the weight of me, stay with you."

You’ll get to see how low Luke is and how many steps he has to be himself again. Like I said, at the beginning he was more lost than broken but there's a scene that totally broke my heart. I felt his emotions while turning the pages and I wanted to jump on his lap and comfort him.

"Losing your wife is like losing your whole future, present, and half your past."

The romance aspect was IMO just a background. He meets Rae, a connection is made and there's hope for the future but this is not the purpose of the book. It's a way to show that there's still hope when you don't see any good, that even if you have one true love, there are other types of love who can make you happy.

I didn't give it 5 for two specific reasons. In the book there are some religious innuendos that were too present and I felt it to be a little too pushy.

The other reason is Rae. I didn't feel connected with her and her reactions were excessive. As the book is not focus on the romance between her and Luke, I was also laking some background and I didn't get enough of them as a couple.

But as I said, it wasn't the focus on this book and I prefer it that way. I would have prefer she wasn't mention in the blurb.

To sum it up, Blake Austin brings us a strong first novel with lots of grief and pain but also full of hope and love. I can't wait to read other stories this author has in store.



I was about twenty minutes early for my shift, but I got up to the bar, grabbed a rag, started wiping it down, bussing some dishes.

"Damn, Luke," Jake said, watching me work. "You win the lotto or something? Royals win the pennant last night and I forgot to watch?"

"I'm just in a good mood, that's all," I said.

I thought about it a moment longer, decided I should tell him more. Impart some wisdom learned from my not-particularly-advanced years.

"When everything's dark for so damn long and your eyes get used to it," I said, "just a little glimmer of sunshine lights up the whole world."

He nodded, then grabbed a bus bin and headed back into the kitchen.

Warren though, Warren wasn't impressed. He was sitting by one of the daytime barflies, but he'd stopped talking and was just watching me. I was on thin ice, and I knew it. I couldn’t afford to lose my job. A heartbroken, drunk, angry widower is probably as unemployable as the average ex-con.

I came on at the end of the day shift. Warren liked tending bar during the day, because it meant just shooting the shit with the regulars. That day I had a smile for every customer, sparse words of wisdom like day drunks want to hear. Tending bar wasn't my dream. But to hell with letting that make me lazy. I kept the place clean, I poured drinks like I cared.

I was getting into the swing of it when happy hour kicked in and a few more people filtered through the door. Couple of middle-aged bikers, a retired couple that parked their RV out front. 

The door swung open again, letting in a little bit of that early-evening cold, and I glanced up to see a crowd of three women, with two men. One of the women was a reddish blonde, radiant. Sort of stole the light out of the room. It was Rae. Our eyes met and her smile gave the room back its light.

She'd been in jeans at the shelter, but she was in a blue dress now and she looked damn fine in either. Took my mind right off Maggie, faster than I thought it would be possible. I met her eyes, and she gave out a little gasp and giggle. I was probably smiling in surprise myself.

The crowd came over to the bar. I'd thought the other four were two couples, but I realized pretty quick that the black girl with the afro was dating the quiet white guy in a beard and glasses and tattoos, and that the other guy was trying to impress Rae. He had a John Deere hat, but his clothes were way too clean for me to buy it that he worked on a farm. I hated him, right off. I probably would have hated him if he was the best guy in the world, though. The other girl, she was tall, latina, and for some indiscernible reason was interested in the poser farmer.

Most of the time, I'm awful at reading people. But for some reason, at work I can tell you everything about everyone who walks in the door. About who's into who, about who had a bad day at work. Who wants to get drunk and miserable, who wants to get drunk and happy, who wants to get drunk and start trouble. Maybe it's some magic of the job, maybe it's just how people carry themselves at a bar. Helps with tips, that's for certain. You wingman right, and the money flows in.

Warren, he likes to upsell them drinks when he's doing that. Get them excited about the top shelf. Not me.

"Hey, Rae," I said.
"Luke," she said.

John Deere looked at me like I was the scum of the earth. And maybe I was, but if I was the scum then he was... I don't know, something worse than scum. Wannabe scum.

She introduced me to her friends. Nicole had the afro, her boyfriend was Eric. The girl with bad taste was Irina, and John Deere had some name but honestly it went in one ear and out the other. He was John Deere to me. Yeah, maybe I'm an asshole.

"So, how do you know this guy?" Deere asked, tossing me a look that said I clearly wasn’t good enough to be friend with someone like Rae.
"Oh, he came in just the other day. Adopted the sweetest dog, a bloodhound." She turned to me, flashing that dimple high on her cheek. "How is he? You guys call a truce yet?"
"King's great," I said. "I mean, he's probably at home right now, eating everything I've ever owned, but I figure I was due for a purge anyway, right?"

It was a lame attempt at humor, but Rae laughed.

"What can I get you all? Friend of Rae's is a friend of mine."

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About the Author

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Blake Austin is a guitar playing father of one, who lives in Los Angeles. He's written music for as long as he can remember and was inspired to add book writing to his repertoire. 9 Letters is his debut novel.

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