About the Book
Title: The Thunder Beneath Usstyle magazineJames, girlfriend of a gorgeous up-and-coming actor, and friend to New York City’s fabulous. Then there’s the other Best, the one who has chosen to recast herself as an only child rather than confront the truth.
Author: Nicole Blades
Publisher/Publication Date: Dafina; October 25, 2016
Format/Source: E-ARC; Publisher/NetGalley
To the world, Best Lightburn is a talented writer rising up the masthead at international
Ten years ago, on Christmas Eve, Best and her two older brothers took a shortcut over a frozen lake. When the ice cracked, all three went in. Only Best came out. People said she was lucky, but that kind of luck is nothing but a burden. Because Best knows what she had to do to survive. And after years of covering up the past, her guilt is detonating through every facet of her seemingly charmed life. It’s all unraveling so fast: her new boss is undermining and deceitful, her boyfriend is recovering from a breakdown, and a recent investigative story has led to a secret affair with the magazine’s wealthy publisher.
Best is quick-witted and headstrong, but how do you find a way to happiness when you’re sure you haven’t earned it—or embrace a future you feel you don’t deserve? Evocative and emotional, The Thunder Beneath Us is a gripping novel about learning to carry loss without breaking, and to heal and forgive—not least of all, ourselves.
We slid into the car, across the warmed seats, sitting close enough that our heads gently knocked together a couple of times as we skimmed potholes. Then, while we were heading over the Brooklyn Bridge, it started. Hands and lips and gropes everywhere. By the time we got to my floor, we were on the floor, then the couch, on the counter, up against the fridge, bottom of the bed, in the shower. It was hot and sweaty and good. He stayed over. (Not my style.) I called in sick. (Also not my style.) We made breakfast together early that next morning and ate it sitting tucked beneath a pillow fort he made on the living-room floor. We lay there, tangled up like vines, and watched old game shows for hours. It felt good with Grant then. It felt normal. But it was never going to work. I’m not built for that.
When he called me the next week I was a little surprised. I was sure that he had only put my number in his phone because his Canadian insides would not allow him to treat me like some throwaway hookup. Appearances.
“Hey. It’s Grant.”
“I know. I didn’t wait the customary—what?—ten days before calling, but I want to see you again. So, I’m calling today.”
I smiled, but slid the phone speaker away from my mouth. He’s an actor. They’re trained to pick up on even the slightest nuance. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Do you want to come hang out?”
“Okay. We’re doing this, we’re playing that game?”
“Not a game. I don’t know what you’re going to propose; I’m maintaining a holding pattern. Can’t fault a girl. You Hollywood types are freaky.”
“Right. There’s always the creep factor to consider. I get it. Me being a Hollywood type and everything, it’s probably not going to help with what I’m about to propose. I mean, it’s kind of far-out.”
“Why, are you about to propose propose?”
“Yo. Not that far-out. But it does involve a hotel.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s a long story and it’s boring. Studio shit. Courtship for contract re-ups. My agent, Shawna, only told me about it two hours ago. Look, it’s ridiculous and excessive and whatever the opposite of flattery is, but I’m doing it, apparently, to keep the waters calm.”
“Wait, are they naming a penthouse suite after you or something?”
He laughed—a giggle, really, covered over in a breathy chuckle that slipped through his nose. It was cute, wiggling its way through the phone to the soft middle part of me just below my heart, and I knew I was about to say yes to whatever he was about to say next. I was in the net, trapped. That laugh of his—infectious doesn’t quite describe it. The way it would start, in the base of his throat, tickling him as it rose up to his nose and then dancing on his lips. I liked when he would let it fly, loose and wild, his mouth open, actual ha-ha’s tumbling out, his shoulders shaking and his head flopping off to the side. There was something so honest and joyful in it that left you surrendered, open, willing.
When I got to the hotel, Grant answered the door wearing the classic plush bathrobe along with a pair of thick, black-rimmed glasses.
“Are you seriously answering the hotel room door naked?” I said, stepping into the room despite my clear disapproval. “If there’s a half-drunk bottle of Jack and some small coke mountain piled on a glass-top table in here…then congratulations on being a total cliché, sir.”
Grant smiled, big and crooked. “You don’t mince a word, do you?”
“Well, do you blame me? You invite me to your publicist-arranged, studio contract, carrot-on-a-stick thing and then answer the door nude.”
“Bathrobe,” he said and tightened the sash around his middle like a miffed housewife.
“Fine. Almost nude, in a bathrobe.” I stepped in a little farther and scoped the grand suite. Whatever wasn’t white was chrome, and the windows were as tall as the walls. It was the picture of luxury and excess, and it was inviting.
“I think once you slip this robe over yourself, you’re going to want to be nude—sorry, almost nude too.”
“Is that right? Just a complete panty-dropper, huh?”
“Feeling is believing, homie. I even took out my contacts—like my eyes wanted to be on that freedom flow too. Go in there,” he said, making an easy motion with his head toward the wide bathroom. “There’s another one—it’s your size, smaller. I hung it on a hanger behind the door. Just slip it on, even over your clothes, and—you know what? No spoilers. You’re your own woman. Go in there. Take responsibility for your life. I’m going to order up some French fries since that’s kind of the only way you can really enjoy cocaine and Jack Daniel’s. That’s what I read in my Hollywood Clichés Handbook,” he said, his face straight and staring right at me.
I shook my head and bit back my grin. “All right, then. Let me investigate this overpowering terry cloth.”
“Actually, it’s bamboo.”
I narrowed my eyes at Grant and he broke. His giggle-chuckle pushed its way out and attached its cheerful self to my sleeve. And that was it: the marked moment when this man, with his singular laugh and movie-star chisel and helpless heart, descended into my brain, into my being, and started to build a home there.
Overall, The Thunder Beneath Us was an interesting read. Nicole Blades delivered a prologue with a harrowing situation that captivated my attention. However, in the next couple of chapters, there were moments that had extraneous details, which slowed down the pace. The story did get interesting again when Best’s secrets started coming out into the open. And Blades did an excellent job of depicting Best as a character who was profoundly affected by her past—one who had to learn effective coping mechanisms as she struggled with deep-seated guilt and the reality of what had happened.
I received an E-ARC of The Thunder Beneath Us from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Nicole Blades is a novelist and journalist who has been putting her stories on paper since the third grade. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, by Caribbean parents, Nicole moved to New York City and launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine. She later co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks, and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health.
Now a freelance writer, her features and essays have appeared in MORE magazine, Cosmopolitan, NYTimes.com, WashingtonPost.com, MarieClaire.com, BuzzFeed, SELF, and BlogHer. Nicole has been a speaker and panelist at BlogHer and MA Conference for Women. She also created Ms. Mary Mack, a blog that aims to bring compassion and common sense back to parenthood.
Nicole lives in Connecticut with her husband and their son.
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