I am very excited today to be hosting a blog tour stop for Kate Evangelista's Savor. I loved this book and am anxiously anticipating book 2. Read on for a 4 star review and a giveaway!
**Mature and explicit content. Not recommended for readers below 18-years-old. Yup, you've got to be that old to read my story. Consider yourself warned.** I’m Dakota Collins, a tough talking, eye patch wearing, workaholic photography student. Why am I important? Well, maybe because I get to spend an entire month with Vicious, only the sickest indie rock band out there. You see, I needed a subject for my Spring Showcase introspective in order to graduate. During a chance encounter at a club I’d been sent to cover for the Daily Gossip, our ironically named college paper, the features writer I usually teamed up with introduced me to the band—by accident, I might add. It involved a run in with a scary, bald bodyguard. Anyway, long story short, I signed a contract to take pictures of Vicious. I should have known their handsome yet way too serious for his own good bassist, Luka Visraya, wouldn't be able to keep his hands to himself. He’s gorgeous and all, but the way he smiles spelled trouble with a capital L. I’m in for a long month with him around. Crazy shit happens and then some. So, if you want the skinny on Vicious and the events revolving around my stay at Lunar Manor, read my story. Again, refer to the warning above.
Savor is the first book in the Vicious Feast series that follows a one-eyed college photography major and an uber popular band. Dakota Collins is very serious about her chosen profession. She sees the world through the lens of her camera. Her main objective is to find a subject for her senior project and to become a professional photographer. Her life changes when she meets the mysterious Luka Visraya one night while covering the opening of a new club. Luka isn't some random, small town singer. He's the bassist for the world's hottest band. When Dakota first sees Luka, she has no idea who he is. She isn't interested in radio hits and barely knows a song by Vicious Feast. She bravely asks Luka if he would agree to be her subject for her senior project. After her photography is assessed, she is offered the chance of a lifetime.
Dakota moves in with Vicious Feast for one month. The band loves her artistic photography and wants to use her shots for promotional materials. While she's with the band, she is permitted to use the entire band as her senior project subject. This is where the real story takes off.
I love Dakota's backstory, even though I still have many questions surrounding what happened to her. She has obviously been through a lot. Even though she had her spirit broken, she is confident and smart - she's not going to let some guy push her around. She is a very tough girl who refuses to allow her past to control her. She goes into this project wanting to keep her relationship with all the band members professional, but she has a difficult time doing that with Luka. Luke knows how to push all of her buttons - both good and bad. When things in Dakota's life let her down, she doesn't wallow in self pity - she gets up and does her best to get her life back on track.
Luka Visraya is beautiful. Supernaturally beautiful. He seems like an honest, loyal person who isn't caught up in the celebrity of his music. He's the type of guy that makes music for himself - not for record executives or anyone else. He is a control freak when it comes to his work. However, Luka is hiding something. I wanted to like Luka. Hell, I wanted to LOVE Luka, but he screws up time and again in this book. I think Luka develops genuine feelings for Dakota, but he uses her in more ways than one. I don't want to spoil this book, so I'll just say that just when I was rooting for Luka, I learned some things that smacked of betrayal. Luka doesn't do anything without a well thought out plan.
Luka and Dakota create a fun, sexy pairing that I definitely want to see played out. Luka gets so caught up in his own bull shit in this book that he just steamrolls Dakota, regardless of her feelings. But this is why I like Dakota as a character so very much - she doesn't pout and feel sorry for herself. Hell, no. Dakota Collins is NOT that girl.
I enjoyed the other characters in this book. There is quite the cast - Phoenix, Dray, Dimitri and Yana. All of these characters are featured in this book and all interact with Luka and Dakota. I genuinely liked all of these characters up until the very end. All of them are written perfectly. Evangelista does a wonderful job adding depth to the characters and their role in this story. When I think about what I loved so much about this book, the first thing I think of are the characters.
Savor is considered a New Adult genre book. It has its steamy moments, but it is not as graphic as some other NA books I have read. There are a handful of explicit scenes and a few F bombs, but it's definitely not as smutty or raunchy as some.
This book ends on a mild cliff. It's not a "I'm-throwing-this-book-across-the-room-what-is-this-author-thinking" cliff, but it is definitely a game changer. I thought this was a contemporary new adult romance right up until the very end. I'm interested in how Vicious Feast plays into the ending of this story. I NEED more of this story now!
I took off a star for very minor reasons. One being the game changing cliff hanger that opened up a whole new can of worms, and maybe a little because I think it's ridiculous that TWO hot boys have a similar tattoo that makes quite the impact on this story. I also think that after reading this book, I have way more questions than answers. I need a little bit more - some things need answered, even if the larger mystery is still open.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I had never read a Kate Evangelista book previously. I was so taken with her character development and writing style that I bought and read another book of hers immediately - Taste. Be forewarned....there is another stand alone book by Evangelista that focuses on characters with the same names as the ones in this book. It is not a prequel novel and the characters in Savor are somewhat similar, but the Savor world is completely alien to the Taste world. I love Evangelista's writing style and her complex characters. The world building is perfect - subtle and beautiful. If you are a fan of dark new adult books with a twist, this is for you. I can't wait until the release of book 2, Relish, due this spring.
I lowered my camera. The use of my full name never came with good consequences. I blinked my vision back at her even if I wanted to spend the rest of the night taking his picture. Sweat rose over my upper lip. I may just have found my subject for the Spring Showcase.
The only problem?
I had to find a way to convince him to be in my project. Something told me this wouldn’t be easy. By the way my heart beat in my ears, drowning out the music and Silvia having a fit in front of me, I wanted it too much. I wanted him too much.
“This the guy you were saying?” I showed Silvia the picture I’d taken. This seemed to pacify her because she sidled closer, mesmerized like a moth to a flame.
“Luka Visraya,” she said with a moan like she’d just tasted the most luscious chocolate before taking a long gulp of her cocktail. The name didn’t register. Silvia must have noticed my blank expression because she continued. “He’s the bassist for Vicious.”
Still no pings of recognition in my head.
She slapped her thigh. “Where have you been? It’s weird that you haven’t heard of them. Their songs are on the radio like every second.”
Of course I hadn’t heard of them. I liked listening to country and I hardly kept up with current events.
“Name one?” Okay, I had a name. Luka. Exotic. A bassist. Part of a band I should know about. So he’s famous. I slowly felt my chances of asking him to be my subject slip from my grasp. If he was someone famous, fat chance he’d say yes to a graduating photography student like me. I just about deflated when Silvia mentioned one of their songs. “Oh, I know that one!” By accident. It played in the radio of the cab I rode in to Sacrifice. I stared at the picture of him then lifted my gaze to where he sat. “He’s gone.”
“What?” Silvia whipped around in time to come face to face with a wall of man. “Whoa!” She pushed at him. “Watch it, buddy!”
“Give me the camera,” he said in a threatening tone.
Big. Beefy. Bald. The three Bs that made up the quintessential bodyguard.
I clutched my DSLR closer to my chest and looked up at him with my good eye. “And why would I do that?” The patch didn’t seem to intimidate him because he just reached out. So much for my Bond villain aspirations. I moved away from his grubby hand. No one touched my camera but me.
Despite her size, Silvia came between me and the mountain. “We’re here to cover Sacrifice for our college paper. You don’t have the right to take away my colleague’s camera.”
Yeah! You give it to him, Silvy.
Not that I couldn’t take care of myself. But if Silvia wanted to play hero, I wouldn’t stand in her way.
“What seems to be the problem here?” a soft, authoritative voice chimed in.
The bodyguard moved aside to reveal the Gothic Lolita. She stood at just about the same height as Silvia, but she possessed an older aura even if she seemed to be our age.
“She’s been taking pictures,” Baldy said.
Lolita’s kohl eyes landed on me then shifted to my camera.
“As I was saying to the big guy,” Silvia explained. “My colleague and I are covering the opening of Sacrifice.”
“For what paper?” Lolita asked without taking her eyes off me. I clutched my camera like an extra appendage. In some ways it was. After losing half my sight, I relied on my camera like an extra eye, seeing the world through its lens. I would rather die than lose it.
“The Daily Gossip,” I said before Silvia could answer just to relieve some of the awkward tension building in me under her gaze. “We study at Wexler U.”
She tilted her head, crossing her arms.
“Okay,” I quickly stammered out. “I get that the name of our paper sounds like a tabloid, but the Daily Gossip is a cool campus paper.” The last part maybe only I believed since Silvia raised her eyebrow at me, but Lolita and the mountain didn’t have to know that.
No one spoke after that. Even in a noisy club, the silence in our group rang in my ears. Not waiting for the situation to get any more awkward, I plowed forward with my own selfish intensions.
“You know Luka.” I said it more as a statement, but it came out like a question.
“I’m Dakota Collins and I’m graduating this spring. I was wondering if Luka would be interested in—”
“What would I be interested in?” a smooth voice joined our group.
The walls of my throat closed, chocking the rest of what I had to say. All eyes turned to Luka. Silvia dropped her empty glass. It bounced off the bodyguard’s shoe and landed in a clatter but didn’t break. Even with my height, I still had to look up at him.
“What are you doing here?” Lolita admonished. “You should be backstage.”
One side of his lips came up. God. Without the scowl, his face lit up. I had to stop the urge to lift my camera and start snapping away. And his eyes were piercing blue. The kind that stretched over my mother’s farm in the summer. Damn.
Seeing him up close, I knew I’d give any one of my kidneys for a chance to take his picture in a formal shoot.
“We have five minutes. Chill, Yana.” He tugged at one of her pigtails.
“Luka,” Silvia managed. “I’m a big fan. Will you sign my chest?”
Bypassing my petite colleague, Luka’s intensely blue gaze studied me. He reached out and I flinched back. His fingers almost grazed my patch. What the hell was the matter with him? Trying to touch my eye patch was tantamount to poking a bandage over a wound and asking the person if it hurts.
Gothic Lolita—Yana—yanked Luka’s arm down. “I’m so sorry!” Her whole aura changed. She went from all business to panicky. “My brother sometimes forgets his manners. He didn’t mean anything about touching your…” She bit her lower lip, maybe trying to keep herself from saying the wrong thing.
That little faux pas cleared my head of the Luka haze and spurred me into action. “Luka, will you let me take your picture for my final project?” I didn’t know where my courage came from, but I knew if I didn’t take this chance, I’d regret it. I had to have him as my subject.
Still not removing his gaze from my face, like my patch transfixed him, he tilted his head to one side very much like his sister did earlier.
“Luka, don’t!” Yana said, but from the consideration on Luka’s face, she was too late.
“You’re a photographer?”
“Yes.” I nodded, in case the word wasn’t enough.
“And you’d like me to be the subject of your project?”
God yes! This time, I could only nod. I didn’t want him to see how eager I was. And I couldn’t live with myself if I embarrassed myself further.
I waited with baited breath.
It seemed everyone in our group waited with baited breath for what the golden god had to say about my brazen request. I soon realized when Luka spoke, everyone listened. The way he pronounced every word precisely yet still spoke so smoothly, like butter on warm toast, captured everyone’s attention. To say he captivated us was an understatement. Something in me certainly wanted to hear him keep speaking. He could read from an accounting textbook in that voice and no one would get bored.
“I need to know that you’re good,” he finally said.
Something about his words seemed to hold a different meaning. I must have missed the alcohol in the soda Silvia had given me. Maybe I was drunk and this was all a blackout dream.
“What are you saying?” Yana faced Luka all the way now, her petite form all rigid.
He unleashed a full on megawatt smile my way. I almost had to cover my eye from it. At my side, Silvia gasped. Her long nails dug into my arm. Like staring at the sun, I couldn’t take my gaze away from him no matter how bad it was for me.
“We’re about to perform. I want you to take several pictures then send them to Yana. If she approves, we’ll see about your request.”
Then, like smoke, he disappeared into the crowd.
When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she lives in the Philippines and writes full time.