Review + Excerpt: With Every Breath by Lia Riley

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: December 29, 2015 (out today!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Wanderlust #1
At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It's also the last spot a "play-it-safe girl" like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she'll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.

After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it's up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can't resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn't enough.

Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expected—love.

Can we just talk about that cover for a minute? Because I absolutely love it! It reminds me of the movie poster for Gone with the Wind and Australia or any of the epic romantic movies.
Writing Style/Pacing
With Every Breath was my first book by Lia Riley and it certainly won't be my last. I really enjoyed her writing style--it's sort of like a mix of Jay Crownover and Alice Clayton. There were some quick-witted wacky lines and internal dialogue that reminded me of Clayton's books but nothing over-the-top and delivers the same emotional, swoony punch like Crownover's books. The pacing is perfect too. It's a fairly short book being under 300 pages, but it didn't feel rushed nor did it drag at any point.

Plot/Main Characters
Auden just graduated from college with a journalism degree and was interviewing for an internship that she desperately wanted. To beef up her answers during her interview for the adventure magazine she mentioned that she's planning to go to Patagonia and write about the climber attempting the summit of La Aguja--which was where play-it-safe Auden found herself a few days later. 

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about Auden because she's a journalist. I mean, she's a total sweetheart and I felt for her because her twin sister was a real bitch who always brought her down. I understood her drive to secure an internship that may propel her career--it wasn't long ago that I was in her shoes. But I'm neither a fan of journalist characters nor the I'm-writing-a-secret-story-about-you-as-I'm-falling-for-you plot. I just find journalist characters sneaky as they pursue their story and I just feel so sorry for the ignorant party that I cannot root for their romance. With Every Breath didn't quite follow that plot all the way through because Auden decided early on in her acquaintance with Rhys that she's not going to pursue his story, which made me really glad and like Auden more.

As for Rhys, he was all kinds of messed up after a terrible climbing accident with his brother. Being a professional mountaineer, the accident was all over the news and rumor has it that he may have sacrificed his brother for his own survival. He refused to talk to the media about his side of the story and was attempting to climb the very dangerous La Aguja as a sort of penance for the accident. He's grumpy, brooding, and aloof. But, after rescuing Auden during a storm he found himself enjoying her company even though he didn't want to make any sort of connection with anyone. I liked Rhys a lot. He's a sexy Scottish hunk of man who talked with a brogue. There's just something about a hunky, brooding Scot who was responsible for some very swoon-worthy moments that is so damn sexy to me.

Love to Hate (some spoilers--read with discretion)
I just have to mention Auden's twin sister, Harper, because what a total toxic bitch! Who sleeps with their sister's boyfriend?! And the thing was Harper didn't even like Brett, she just did it to mess with Auden. Then, all ways she always brought Auden down... I don't know, you guys... I kinda want Harper to get her own book or novella just for the scene of her realizing her mistakes and apologizing to Auden. I also want to know why she had so much hatred towards Auden. I hate her, but I also want her side of the story.

Then, there's Deidrick the Dutchman who as annoying like a buzzing fly. When he came to Auden and Rhys's camp wanting an exclusive interview with Rhys, and Auden had to tell him off saying that he's too late because she already got it... OMG, she was doing it for Rhys but I knew her lie was going to come back and bite her in the ass!

Okay, this is not really a "love to hate" situation, but it is a spoiler so I'll include it in this section. Rhys's brother Cameron. For most of the novel I assumed he was dead--that he died during that terrible accident prior to the novel. But, it turned out he wasn't dead and may be in a similar mindset as Rhys in that he blamed himself for the accident. I was relieved. Okay, I thought, Rhys and his brother are going to repair their relationship and everything will be well. AND THEN THE TWIST HAPPENED. And I was like, WHAT?! But, I just learned that Cameron actually alive and then this...?! My heart just couldn't take it, you guys.

Final Thoughts
With Every Breath has everything you could want in a romance: fantastic main characters in sweetheart Auden and sexy Scots mountaineer Rhys, a mountain trekking adventure in an exotic setting, skillfully paced, "villians" you love to hate, and some pretty swoon-worthy moments. I highly recommend any NA and romance readers to pick up With Every Breath.

With Every Breath is already out in stores!

Even in my sleeping bag and dry shirt, her teeth chatter. If she balked at my request to undress, she’s going to go ape over this. Fuck it. There isn’t a choice.


A thin furrow appears between her brows. “Yeah?”

My stomach tightens. “I’m going to warm you.”

“How?” Her eyes widen.

I can’t hold her gaze and say what I must. “Body‑to‑body contact.”

The world outside rips apart, but in the tent, a heavy silence reigns. She shifts to a half sit. “Oh, no, it’s OK. Look, I’ll be better in a few minutes.”

“You said yourself the cold makes your asthma worse.”

“Yes, but—”

“I know you don’t have a reason to trust me. In fact, if this were normal circumstances, I’d no’ recommend it. But here we are.”

“Nothing about today is normal.” She slowly reclines to the mat, folding her arms across her chest like a mummy, eyes screwed shut.

“No harm’s going to come to you.” It sounds like I’m making a solemn oath.

She opens one eye, gives me an unfathomable look, before closing it again. I’m not used to a woman regarding me like something to endure. Uncertainty weaves through me.

I ease beside her. “This’ll go easier if you turn to the side.” Away from me.

“Good idea.” She rolls to face the tent wall. Her features are hidden, but I can hear each uneven breath, the slightly shuddering inhalation followed by a pause before giving way to a raspy exhalation.

She remains still when I reach, warily securing a handhold on her ribs, their sudden rise and fall the only sign of her silent gasp. “This all right?”

She utters no reply only a brief nod and grips the sleeping bag tighter.

“Everything will be fine, I promise you.” I keep my voice cool, aloof. Give no sign that my chest aches, as if instead of a heart, a great wallowing drunk stumbles about. I never cuddle. Prior to my last girlfriend, Sadie, my dealings with the opposite sex were kept to simple and straightforward shags. Occasionally girls tried to compete with the mountains, but they never stood a chance.

Auden gives another tentative nod, and her scent invades my senses, simple and straightforward, a hint of sweat from exertion, combined with the fresh fragrance of rain. She begins to settle, her violent shiver attacks growing fewer and further between, same with her coughing fits. I keep my pose rigid, controlled, resisting the mad urge to relax into her body as blood pounds thickly in my ears. I can’t do this, be with another person, be human. I need to be a machine. A robot with one goal and one goal alone. To conquer a mountain like La Aguja there can be no room left inside me for any other desire.

When my mind quiets and other wants are eliminated, my attention naturally focuses on visualizing the climb. Once on the rock, this single-​minded concentration will translate effortlessly into correct hand- and footholds or gear placements. In order to climb like you are the only person in the world, you can’t care about anything other than living in the moment. There can be no significant other in the mind’s periphery wielding the power to distract.

Outside the wind shakes the nylon, redoubling its assault. Zipped tight, shut away from the world, we could be anywhere. I’d always appreciated that about tents, how once inside, you became the ruler of your own cramped kingdom of cast-​off socks, sleeping bags, and carefully chosen gear. This time in Valle del Frances, away from the scene at the main climbing camp, is meant to be a chance to establish a cease-​fire in the battle with myself. Being in a tent, in the wilderness, far from a world I don’t understand and that sure as hell doesn’t understand me, is calming.

Now Auden Woods has come along and triggered a whole new conflict with her icy blue eyes.

Icy blue eyes? Looks like prolonged abstinence brings out a lad’s poetic side. If she looks back, she’ll see my mouth twisted in a humorless smile.

She doesn’t, though. She’s too busy trembling, and so I gather her closer, an unfamiliar protective sensation welling inside me. “Better?” I whisper, more a hoarse croak than anything gallant.

“Yes,” she says, turning, her full lips slightly parting to offer the word.

We’re two strangers, haven’t even shaken hands, and yet our bodies press flush. Despite every intention, mine starts to react, and Christ, quick, what are unsexy topics to ponder? When in doubt, go for geology. The Andes are the result of which type of plate boundary?

Conquering La Aguja is going to take all my mental resources. The next few days are needed for getting focused, concentrated, and prepared for the challenge ahead. Auden shifts, drawing closer, and my next breath is almost as ragged as hers.

Aye, this girl is just the sort of distraction that could ruin everything.

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