Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review: The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott

Title: The Butterfly Project
Series: Companion to the Full Tilt series
Author: Emma Scott
Release date: February 28, 2017
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 5 stars


At age fourteen, Zelda Rossi witnessed the unthinkable, and has spent the last ten years hardening her heart against the guilt and grief. She channels her pain into her art: a dystopian graphic novel where vigilantes travel back in time to stop heinous crimes—like child abduction—before they happen. Zelda pitches her graphic novel to several big-time comic book publishers in New York City, only to have her hopes crash and burn. Circumstances leave her stranded in an unfamiliar city, and in an embarrassing moment of weakness, she meets a guarded young man with a past he’d do anything to change...

Beckett Copeland spent two years in prison for armed robbery, and is now struggling to keep his head above water. A bike messenger by day, he speeds around New York City, riding fast and hard but going nowhere, his criminal record holding him back almost as much as the guilt of his crime.

Zelda and Beckett form a grudging alliance of survival, and in between their stubborn clash of wills, they slowly begin to provide each other with the warmth of forgiveness, healing, and maybe even love. But when Zelda and Beckett come face to face with their pasts, they must choose to hold on to the guilt and regret that bind them, or let go and open their hearts for a shot at happiness.

The Butterfly Project is a novel that reveals the power of forgiveness, and how even the smallest decisions of the heart can—like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings—create currents that strengthen into gale winds, altering the course of a life forever.

After reading the Full Tilt series, I couldn't wait to read Zelda's story. She was one of Theo's tattoo artists at his studio and a graphic novelist. I thought long and hard, and for the life of me, I couldn't come up with another book that has a heroine like her. Point one for Emma right off the bat. That's one of the things I love most about her books. She always imagines fresh stories that give me new and exciting things to read about. With so many authors out there who just capitalize on what's in or "hot" at the moment, this is incredibly refreshing.

Zelda has just left Las Vegas for New York City to chase her dreams. Unfortunately the city isn't as accommodating as she had hoped. She's had nothing but bad luck since she arrived, and publishers are coldly slamming the door in her face. She briefly considers running back to Vegas with her tail tucked between her legs, but Zelda is made of sterner stuff than that. Her novel is more than just a dream for success. It's a tribute to the sister that haunts her, and her family that she feels like she is responsible for breaking. But more than that, it's her way of re-writing history. The heroine she creates exacts justice that her family wasn't fortunate enough to get.

With every finished drawing, with every decision Kira made, I felt closer to touching something I hadn’t thought possible. Not peace, maybe. But a reckoning.

I loved how her novel was more than just a fun element to the story. It drew a parallel to her past, and it helped her evolve and learn to let go of the guilt and sorrow. It was cathartic. Forgiveness was something that she couldn't grasp in the beginning of the book. She was too torn apart and wounded, and it was controlling her ability to be truly happy. She never would have expected the busboy in the little Italian restaurant she stepped into one night to change everything.

Beckett was an AMAZING hero. I adored every little broken piece of him. He was like a knight in dented armor-always trying to help and protect everyone around him, but unable to see his own worth. Like Zelda, he was dealing with a past that he couldn't forgive himself for. I think that's what made them fit so naturally. When they connected, you could see them both wanting more, but neither knew how to reach for it. Or for that matter, if they even deserved to be searching for happiness.

I recognized the weight of guilt hanging around his neck, because I wore it too.

Beckett and Zelda become roommates in order to share living costs. She is not the only one struggling to survive. He was virtually penniless and on the verge of selling some of his treasured vinyl collection for rent. Neither is too excited about sharing a space with a stranger, but very quickly a friendship blossomed I loved their tiny little apartment, rickety heater and all. There was something charming about how they made their happy memories there. And they charged it with so much sexual tension and angst, it made my heart flutter.

This, I thought, my thoughts echoing hers. Her. Her and no one else, ever again.

These two characters were stunning, they carried such a powerful impact. And seeing their love grow and flourish was absolutely enchanting to watch. Emma Scott knows how to write characters with beautiful souls that you want to wrap your arms around and hold tight. You will dream, cry, and learn with them. When everything tied together in the end and came full circle, I (once again) cried and felt so happy to have been along for the ride.

I kissed her there in the rain forest instead of surrounded by the winter cement of New York, and I felt as if I was free to go anywhere. I can love her anywhere…

The Butterfly Project took my breath away. It was a love story, with more depth than your average romance. Both Zelda and Beckett had to learn to love themselves first, to accept what they couldn't change and realize that the smallest acts of kindness can have an immeasurable impact. These two will gift you with an eloquent message of hope and love, delivered in Emma's typical poignant writing style. There were so many highlights of quotes that I loved, a true sign that she did these characters proud. If you haven't read this book yet, you need to correct that error immediately. Every time I pick up Emma's books, it feels like a homecoming. And The Butterfly Project was no exception.

*This is a complete standalone, but with characters connected to Full Tilt and All In.


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