Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review: The Wilson Mooney Series by Gretchen de la O

Below you will find each individual synopsis, but Bethany has chosen to review this as a series. 

Almost Eighteen (Wilson Mooney #1)
Almost Eighteen
(Wilson Mooney #1)

Abandoned by her mother at the vulnerable age of eight; only to be shipped off to a boarding school in Northern California by her grandparents, Wilson Mooney, is one girl who knows what it’s like to have to grow up way too fast. Now, a month away from turning eighteen and orphaned by the death of her grandparents; she knows exactly what she wants. All it takes is a spontaneous ski trip with her narcissistic roommate to Colorado to make it a reality. When "he" happens to show up at a party in Aspen, Wilson becomes tangled in the powerful emotions of first love, sexual inexperience, and society’s principles. She lives a whirlwind weekend filled with newly discovered boundaries, calloused aches for a family she never had, and all the pressures of keeping their weekend together a secret.

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Eighteen at Last (Wilson Mooney, #2)Eighteen At Least
(Wilson Mooney #2)

Chained by unfortunate timing and restricted by society’s expectations, every choice Wilson and Max make becomes pivotal to their future together.

Eager to take their relationship to the next level, Wilson returns to Aspen with Max to celebrate her eighteenth birthday. When an uncontrollable situation leads to a split-second decision, both will be tested like never before. Butterflies will soar, hearts will clash, and Wilson’s relationship with Max will spin into a silken cocoon with choices that seem too impossible to overcome.

Could it be…uncovering the deep ache that lays dormant in their hearts will become the real threat to their forbidden love? Or will the pressures of keeping their relationship a secret be too much to bear?

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Beyond Eighteen (Wilson Mooney, #3)
Beyond Eighteen
(Wilson Mooney #3)

Max Goldstein has been confronted by death, betrayal, and unwanted expectations. He must work to find the delicate balance of a love that has been tested and a family that has been broken. Returning to the warmth of Wilson’s arms, he finds the only place he can be truly healed. Unfortunately, teetering on the edge of losing everything he’s ever wanted, Max must make decisions that pull at his sense of responsibility and push at his desire to protect the life he’s found with Wilson. 

When Wilson Mooney is thrust into adulthood, she never expects her childhood demons to come knocking. Struggling to balance the delicate nature of her relationship with Max and the burning sting of betrayal; Wilson realizes she must dig deep within her soul to find forgiveness. Will she allow circumstances out of her control to shape her future? Or will she find the strength and maturity to go beyond eighteen and have the life she desires with the man she loves? 

Will Wilson and Max ever get to have their happily ever after?

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4 Stars

--> I had the pleasure of meeting Gretchen at the Portland, OR signing event in October 2013….oh my, she is a hoot and I actually ‘saw’ some of her in her writing in the book and I loved to hear/read it! <--

I was so excited to do a FULL series review on this trilogy….and I am so glad I did! This was a great book series and was a very even keeled, easy read, but also had just the right amount of angst. It was a younger series….younger than I would normally read, since it was based in the POV of an innocent high school beauty who had the hots for her sexy teacher, but there were some scenes that were HOT!!!! Let me start over….I love Max oh so much! No wait….let me rephrase that again: FUN and slightly angsty book. Yeah….that fits! (Boy , I sure did love Max!!)

When I first started to read this book, I felt that Wilson was a very young, slightly naïve girl that had an impressive imagination. She had so much inner dialogue that was witty and playful, but we also got to see the “teenager” POV….her mind wandered aimlessly, very often. To read her stories that she conjured up in her mind, it made me realize how young she really was, and having said that, I personally feel that it was written superbly. Like, I completely felt that I could “go back” and really relate to her!! I allowed myself to slow down and remember a time when I was young and in love for the first time. The dumb things we did and felt and thought (WOW!). Hindsight is always 20/20….but it was nice to read it from a teens perspective, but to have the adult “lived through it” knowledge. The writing flowed effortlessly and I felt like I could understand Wilson a lot.

Young love….a first love. It’s the thing butterflies were meant for….however, Wilson’s just so happen to be destined to be awakened by her Government class teacher. 

There was something about Max that made butterflies come to life in my stomach. ~Wilson

Now, to be honest….if my Government teacher was as hot and sexy as Max was, I would….never mind. Ha!

Wilson attends an all-girls school in California, is in her senior year and has the rock-of- all-rocks for a best friend; Joanie. Her life growing up was full of abandonment issues, pain and eventually heartache to top it off. But Joanie was always there for her and always helped her get through anything; a true best friend to the nth degree. Joanie knew all her deepest darkest secrets, including the fact that Wilson had a crush on her teacher. Wilson had many fantasies about their “future” together and it was humorous to read her thoughts about what her future looked like with Max.

Wilson happened to get invited to Colorado for a ski weekend with her roommate, and this is where the story really picked up for me.  Guess who just so happened to have a home in Colorado as well? Yep! Max had a family home there. I really enjoyed this part of the book because things were starting to happen and I wanted to know how it all played out. How did Wilson and Max finally find out they had feelings for each other and that they were mutual? Now, normally I wouldn’t think that would be a good idea to encourage, but this story really had me rooting for their relationship to take off. An age gap does not negate the feeling of love….even when one is underage. The feelings are the same. Butterflies, lust, giddiness….it’s all there.  Their encounters reminded me of the innocence of a kiss with the one you have a crush on, but also the sexual power behind such a simple act.

I really felt the angst in this one and had to walk away from the book for a little bit, but I didn’t want to stop reading it!! I love angst….one of the things I crave in a book, and this one had a perfect amount. For me, it was more from the view of an adult seeing how things were going to play out because of her immaturity and naivety. But, it always ended up working out in Wilson’s favor….eventually.  Predictable? No way. If I was guessing, I was guessing all the wrong things, and I am glad for that! (I hate figuring things out before they actually happen…)

In book 2, the intensity ramped up….exponentially.  For being very discreet in the sex department, it was so sensual and loving between the two of them that I found myself smiling and actually giddy for them. I enjoyed it! Max is super swoon-worthy and so very loving, and Wilson was still very innocent and naïve, but so very beautiful, inside and out.

Wilson and Max were able to steal time alone together and were taking a trip back home to Colorado for her 18th birthday….this was to be their little getaway. There were some scenes in this book that just made me weak in the knees!! The sexiness and the sensuality between these two, it was off the charts. Their ‘need’ for each other was intense and deep, and it was very palpable.

“I pressed my ear to his chest and heard his heart beat. It was a rhythm I could get lost in. My eyes close, and for the first time in my life, I was truly home. “ ~Wilson

“She had a way that no other woman ever had with me before. It was like I found the meaning of what true love is. I know, sounds sappy; but until Wilson, I really never could understand how guys I knew would give up everything for a woman. Fuck, if this girl asked me to stop breathing….I would.” ~Max

This story takes us through the ups and downs and challenges of a forbidden love. It takes us on a journey through some rough times that cause some serious heartache….and boy, let me tell you, I felt all the anguish that Wilson and Max felt. I was hurting right along with them.  I teared up and really felt the pain that was ricocheting between all the family members within the family dynamic, as well as between Max and Wilson in their own relationship. But, I also really felt the draw between Wilson and Max, the pull and magnetism, and their deep affection for one another.  They truly had a “love at first sight” kinda love and it made me smile, often. There wasn’t anything that could stand in the way of their happiness….but that certainly doesn’t mean it was all unicorns and rainbows. Oh no, they had some heavy stuff to deal with. It played out really well and the tension and angst was just the right amount for a well-rounded story.

Book 1 was in Wilson’s POV, along with book 2, except for the prologue and the epilogue; that was in Max’s POV. I loved this little change up! It really made me look at things differently since I was getting a different perspective. Book 3 was an alternating POV between Wilson and Max and it worked perfectly for the final book in the series. I felt that the book stayed in a very ‘safe’ zone and was an enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend this series!

“Tell me I’ll always be the last thing you think of when you go to sleep and the first thing you want when you wake up,” I said.
“You will always be the road I‘ll take, the voice I will follow, and the breath I’ll hold. Max, you are my home,” she breathed as she looked into my eyes; her words filled me and shook me to my core.

This book was a very enjoyable and sweetly romantic 4 stars, from start to finish.


About the author:
Gretchen de la O

Gretchen de la O

By day Gretchen teaches computers, by night she dawns the cloak of motherhood, wifehood, and authorship. She is finding her way through self-publishing and is truly learning to let go with every curve and bump in the creative process. Gretchen enjoys writing about first loves and first times, in the first person. She is a firm believer that anything is possible if you set your mind to it; and what you expect out of life, always finds a way of showing up.

She happily lives in Northern California with her amazing husband, their three terrific boys, her talented mother, one goofy black lab, one crazy kitty, and eight happy chickens. Even though it sounds like it, she doesn't live on a farm.

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