ARC Review…On Solid Ground by Michelle Kemper Brownlow


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Emotional abuse can break both your heart and your spirit. Twenty-one year old Gracie is broken and weak but she’s determined to heal. With the encouragement from her best friend, Becki and her best friend-turned-boyfriend, Jake, she is ready to do what it takes to heal from the pain she suffered while with her ex, Noah. Gracie’s post-Noah days are filled with the gentle love she receives from Jake but in her sleep she is plagued by nightmares that she fears will never go away.

It’s summer on UTK’s campus and Gracie, Jake and Becki have all decided to stay at school for the summer, each for their own reason. Gracie wants to be as far away from Noah as possible, Jake knows Gracie will need him to lean on and, because of a late in the game change of major, Becki has a ton of classes to take before her senior year.

In the beginning of summer, Gracie and Jake continue to steam the windows with their beautiful love-making but Gracie’s internal struggles with self-esteem and confidence weigh heavily on their relationship. Jake’s point-of-view alternating throughout the book will have readers falling even harder for him.

When Gracie’s new counselor suggests she may have jumped into a relationship too quickly, Gracie knows what she needs to do to make a full recovery. With strength she didn’t know she had, she walks away from Jake to recover her spirit. Staying true to the promise he made her the semester before, although heart-broken, Jake remains her closest friend and support system while trying to give her the space she needs to heal.

Gracie has spent years pouring her heart into volume after volume of journals. Gracie starts writing poetry that seemingly pours from her heart, proof that writing is merely an extension of her soul. Gracie also reconnects with her musical talents and takes up guitar again, a talent not even Jake knew about. The beauty in her passion for both playing music and writing renders Jake speechless.

Gracie is inspired by what she’s learning about herself in therapy, writing poetry and lyrics. And as fate would have it, she unexpectedly runs into Calon Ridge, the lead singer of her favorite local band, Alternate Tragedy.

Memories of an evening she spent with Calon two years prior and his sudden intense interest in Gracie throws both she and Jake for a loop. Jake experiences something he’s never had to deal with. He is jealous; fist-clenching, pulse-thumping jealous.

With broken souls and passion for music in common, Calon and Gracie reconnect on a different level. Calon becomes a creative confidant for Gracie and with his cocky humor, sexy mannerisms and sensitive spirit, he convinces her to begin to explore the depths of her talent by taking the stage. Jake’s new job as a bartender gives him a front row seat to the sensual connection between Calon and Gracie as they practice. But that connection is just what Gracie needs to lift her confidence as she starts to find herself again.

Becki and Gracie spend more time together than usual because of their shared newly-single status and Becki is completely intrigued by Calon. Becki’s honesty and no-filter humor is gut-busting hysterical and keeps Gracie grounded and giggling. She’s up for a summer fling but may not be expecting the intensity Calon’s soul holds.

And when the end-of-summer festival brings the whole cast of IN TOO DEEP back, front and center for a weekend none of them will soon forget, stakes are set, tempers flare, truth prevails, and unexpected plans are made. And Gracie finally finds herself On Solid Ground.


My review:

On Solid Ground is the follow up to Michelle Kemper Browlow’s emotional debut, In Too Deep.  I fell in love with Gracie and Jake in that debut and damn if I didn’t fall in love with them even more in On Solid Ground.

Gracie is just at the very beginning of her personal journey to become stronger and get back to the girl she once was.  The girl she was before she experienced the emotional abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, Noah.  Luckily she has the amazing Jake by her side to help her realize the amazing and beautiful soul she is.  But it won’t be an easy road for her and certainly not her and Jake’s relationship.  Will they be able to weather the storm left behind by Noah?

Jake is bound and determined to make his Gracie see just how amazing she is.  He needs to her to see herself through his eyes.  She has been too broken and seeing her like that is killing him.  He will give her whatever it takes to build her back up….even if it means time away from the woman who holds his heart.

Together Jake and Gracie have more hurdles to overcome than anyone they know.  Determined to put the past in the past, and heal the hurt that has been caused, they will need to reach within to find the strength to be survivors…..together.

This.  Book.  KILLED.  Me.  Gracie broke my heart when she opened up and started the healing process.  She is an amazing, strong, determined, resilient and beautiful person.  Inside and out.  She is an inspiration to anyone who reads this book.  I think we can all learn something from her.  To take the steps she knows she needs to get herself to a better place and admit that she needs help getting there is truly amazing and it is gift to be able to read.  Now, let’s get to Jake….*dreamy sigh*.  Damn, where to even begin?  He is truly an amazing partner.  He gives Gracie any and everything she could possibly need to get back to the girl he fell in love with all that time ago.  He is a guy and girl would be lucky to call hers and had me crying too many times to count with his insight and caring soul.

Michelle also introduced us to Calon, the smoking hot lead singer of a local band and one that shares a deep connection with Gracie.  He’s another beautiful and intense person with a story that broke my heart.  I really, REALLY, hope he gets his own happy ending because that boy truly deserves one.

But beyond On Solid Ground, and In Too Deep, I have to say that I think Michelle Kemper Brownlow is one of the most truly unique and special authors I have come across these days.  She writes from her heart and soul and I can feel it in every page.  Rarely does a reader come across a gift like that.  My wish is that my review reaches someone who may not have heard about Michelle and that person decides to read her work.  Thank you Michelle, for another phenomenal story and I look forward to seeing more from you!


5LovesRLBFive Loves



About the author:

Michelle Kemper Brownlow has been a storyteller her entire life. Her debut was on the high school cheerleading bus granting requests to re-tell her most embarrassing moments for a gaggle of hysterical squadmates.
Earning her Bachelor’s degree from Penn State University in Art Education and then marrying her very own “Jake,” she moved to Binghamton, NY where she taught high school. After having two children she quit work and finished her Master’s degree in Elementary Education at Binghamton University.

The Brownlow family of four moved to Michelle’s hometown of Morgantown, PA while the children were still quite young. A few years after moving, her family grew by one when they welcomed a baby into their home through the gift of adoption. The family still resides in PA, just miles from where that high school cheer bus was parked.

Michelle has been an artist for as long as she can remember, always choosing pencils and crayons over toys and puzzles. As a freelance illustrator, her simple characters play the starring roles in numerous emergent reader books published by Reading Reading Books.

“Writing is my way of making sense of the world. When I give my characters life on the pages I write, it frees up space in my mind to welcome in new stories that are begging to be told,” says Brownlow.

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