**MAJOR SPOILER ALERT**
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BRING ME HOME – BOOK FOUR
FOREVER OURS – BOOK ONE
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RELENTLESS – BOOK TWO
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PIECES OF YOU – BOOK THREE
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BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE SHATTERED HEARTS SERIES
Many readers have asked me if any of the stuff I write is autobiographical. The answer to that is yes. Some parts of the Shattered Hearts Series are inspired by events in my life. This is a series about letting go, addiction, forgiveness, and the all-consuming love between a parent and child.
I began writing Relentless shortly after I finished the Luke Series on January 15, 2013. When I opened up a fresh document in Microsoft Word and began to type, the first thing I did was type the dedication page.
At this point, I had seen some mild success with the Luke Series and I was quite happy with where things were going. I realized at that moment that there was one person (besides the dozens of friends and family members who had helped and encouraged me) that I could directly attribute my success to. I dedicated Relentless to this person, then I set about to tell the story of a girl named Claire who did something similar for a guy named Chris.
It takes a certain kind of person to let someone go for their own good and I’m grateful that someone cared enough about me to let me go. Of course, the story told in Relentless, and subsequent books in the series, is a bit more dramatic than the real life events I used for inspiration. But, in the end, the story has always been about a girl who loves so fiercely that she is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for that love.
CHRIS VS. ADAM
To me, there was never a competition between these two. They are both so very different. They were never really competing for Claire’s heart, since Claire’s heart always belonged to Chris. Chris was simply waiting patiently for Claire to stop running and realize that she did deserve to be loved by him.
Chris and Adam are both great guys. The biggest difference between the two is that Chris’s pain stemmed directly from the things Claire did to him, while Adam’s pain had nothing to do with Claire.
Chris’s pain was so new and he had to deal with it while also trying to make sure he didn’t lose Claire. Chris knew that no matter how angry or hurt he was over what Claire did to him, he didn’t want to be without her. And knowing Claire as well as he did, he knew that pushing her to make a decision was not the way to her heart.
Claire was like a temporary anesthetic for Adam’s pain, and his natural instinct was to fight for her when she began to pull away–even though that was not what Claire needed or wanted. Adam had trouble seeing beyond his pain where Chris always knew that he couldn’t allow his pain and anger to get the best of him. It wasn’t until Adam was faced head-on with Lindsay and he was taken back to the beach where Myles died that he finally began to let go of some of that guilt and anger.
Adam and Claire both represented an escape from reality for each other.
The first chapter in Relentless is entitled “Relentless Addiction,” and the chapter begins in a flashback of the moment Claire realizes her mom has died of a drug overdose. Addiction is a strong motif that is woven throughout the series.
Adam was as much addicted to Claire as he was to pot. Anything that could help him forget the pain and anguish of losing Lindsay and Myles became an obsession for him. Claire was addicted to meditation. It helped her bury the loss of Chris and Abigail and forget how unworthy she felt of love. When Adam and Claire met, they both gave each other a new addiction. She began meditating less while he began smoking less pot. They replaced one addiction for another, but they were still running from their demons; still self-medicating.
It wasn’t until they let each other go and finally faced their fears, self-loathing, and anger that they finally began to forgive themselves and others.
Music is a huge part of my writing process. Those of you who follow me on Spotify know this. I usually create a playlist for each book; sometimes for specific characters within each book. Sometimes, I’ll listen to the same song on repeat while writing a scene just to stay “in character.”
Music is obviously a very important part of the Shattered Hearts Series, and especially in Bring Me Home. Some chapters in Bring Me Home begin with a musical note, which links to a YouTube video of a song that pertains to or is mentioned in that chapter. I love getting feedback from readers who say I’ve introduced them to their new favorite song or that every time they hear a certain song they think of my book. I agonize over my song selections. I try to pick songs that not only contain the right lyrics, but also the right mood and melody for the scene(s) and character(s).
After months of obsessing over these songs, this is the Bring Me Home playlist:
I always love reading reviews or looking at the popular highlights inside my books to see which quotes people love the most. I certainly have some of my own favorite quotes from the series. Most of these have to do with life-changing moments or moments of clarity and love.
He takes his time, sinking in and out of me with the ease of a boat bobbing on a calm sea. That’s what I am right now. I am a calm sea because the storm hasn’t arrived yet. I know everything will be different when Chris leaves, but right now I want to enjoy this small sliver of peace.
“You didn’t take me into your home five years ago, Chris; you were my home. When I lost you, I lost everything.”
“Claire.” The way he says my name makes my whole body ache.
The familiarity with which he touches me, the comfort and ease of reaching for someone who you once knew better than yourself, all of this is embedded in this single touch. The second his skin touches mine, a shudder travels through me.
“Her name is Abigail. She lives in Raleigh.”
“She?” I whisper as I press my lips together.
“Yeah, and she looks just like you.”
From Pieces of You:
“The biggest mistake you made was loving me enough to let me go.”
“You don’t stop loving someone just because they’ve hurt you.”
The only time you’ll discover you’ve waited too long is when it’s already too late.
“…the quickest path to self-destruction is to push away the people you love.”
“No one knows how to love me like you and no one knows how to hurt me like you.”
From Bring Me Home:
Sometimes you forget how much you love someone, until you realize their smile is like a spotlight shined on your heart.
Love is not black and white. It’s not even gray. Love is every shade of color in the spectrum, changing with every ray of light given and stolen.
There are moments in life, and they happen so infrequently that they tend to really stand out, when life hands you the gift of perspective. Sometimes, we forget to show our appreciation. Sometimes, we get our priorities mixed up. And, sometimes, we forget how far we’ve come. But life always has a way of nudging you to remind you about these important things.
“Sometimes letting someone go is the ultimate act of love.”
“I’m sorry, Abby,” I whisper. “I’m sorry I wasn’t the mom you needed.”….”You’re a part of me that I will never forget. I love you so much.”
I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I love you.”
He closes his eyes and shakes his head as he lets out a breath he must have been holding for the past six weeks.
“I love you so fucking much,” he whispers, his voice tender and full of relief. “Let’s go home.”
I love Chris. I always have and I always will…. I think of the day we lay on the grass in Moore Square two years ago. We promised to love each other forever. Little did we know this was a promise we couldn’t break, even if we tried.
We both still strongly believe that she will come back to us, if only just to meet us once in her lifetime. I refuse to believe that she can’t feel how much I love her from hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
I hope you all have enjoyed the series and this behind-the-scenes look into how the series was conceived and written. I look forward to chatting with all about this series and more books to come. You can add my next standalone, Black Box, to your to-read list on Goodreads.
And now, I bring you the Bring Me Home book trailer created by the awesome Becca of Becca the Bibliophile.
HOW I WRITE:
I have a ton of beta readers. Some have been with me for years and some came on board after Relentless and Pieces of You. When I write, I submit the book to my beta readers one chapter at a time. They give me feedback on each chapter, telling me how they felt, what is missing or needs to be improved on, and what they’d like to see happen in the subsequent chapters. So this book was written by me, but I receive a lot of guidance along the way from my amazing betas. After we all spent two months crying together in our private group, I asked my betas to give me their thoughts on Bring Me Home, and this is what they had to say:
I feel that BMH is the end of a beautiful journey for Claire. In Relentless, we meet a woman who is broken, in Pieces of You, she begins to heal and start living life again and BMH is her journey to find her HEA. I have never known romance and love to be like this for two deserving characters and seeing this series end not only brings a tear to my eye for my loss of something great to read but also puts a smile on my face for the love, passion and devotion that these two people feel for each other. It is a beautiful journey that I am happy to have experienced and recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone!
– Christine (Shh Mom’s Reading)
A deeply emotional, intimate and heartfelt series that wouldn’t let me go. Beautifully written and paced, The Shattered Hearts books tell a story of forgiveness and hope that with an unwavering belief proves that love conquers all.
– Vilma (Vilma’s Book Blog)
A heart-breakingly beautiful coming-of-age love story that ties you to the characters as if they are part of your own world. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll empathize and you’ll cheer them on; just like you do for your real life friends and family.
– Kristin Shaw
[Y]ou now own a piece of my heart. I will never ever forget these characters and their journey and their amazing experience in finding their soul mates. Took my breath away.
– Jennifer Mirabelli
Bring Me Home is a romantic roller coaster ride. One that takes you on a true journey of learning what it means to follow your heart and accept your true happy ever after. What Cassia Leo accomplished with her words is pure perfection and something every reader lives to experience.
– Jodie Stipetich
Bring Me Home is an epic love story. I fell for each character time and time again. You are transported into their lives and you feel their emotions. I laughed, I cried, and I loved right along with them. This is a story about hope and growth, and one that proves that true love can mend hearts and change lives.
– Shannon Ramsey
[BMH] changed my point of view on the entire series. One of the best and most emotional books out there. Touched my heart in more ways then I ever imagined. Best of the series.
– Sam Stettner
Bring Me Home is the most emotional love story I have read. I felt as though I was right there with the characters through all the good and bad. Best book in the series.
– Carrie Raasch
Cassia Leo is a commander when it comes to characterization. Her audience will be captivated with their lives and fall in love with everyone one of them, empathizing with each one of their plights! It is a MUST read and finishes up the series perfectly.
– Deborah Meissner
As a reader this whole series has been one I will never forget. Bring Me Home has been one of the most amazing emotional rides I’ve ever been on, there were definitely downs, but so many ups. I absolutely love this beautiful heartwarming conclusion of the Shattered Hearts series.
– Haley Douglas
Every word written down pierced my heart, it hit me so hard that I fell even more in love. It just couldn’t get more perfect. My heart shattered and then started gluing back. I laughed and cried, I smiled and outright grinned my crazy ass smile. This journey took pieces of me with them and left me breathless.
– Trisha Rai (Devoured Words Book Blog)