Monday, May 20, 2013

I *Heart* Ryan Blog Tour: Going Under by S. Walden {Review + Guest Post + Giveaway}

Welcome to our stop on the I heart Ryan Blog Tour hosted by the Romance Addict Book Blog. Check out all the Ryan goodies below and be sure to enter the Giveaway! Thanks for stopping by!

{Click the banner to follow the tour!}

Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: March 14th 2013
Author: S. Walden
Pages: 344
Format: Mobi/Kindle provided for tour

Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a “Fantasy Slut League,” scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls. Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend’s death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the “unsuspecting girls,” and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret. (This is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains graphic sex and language and a description of sexual violence.) 


A suicide, a secret sex club and a girl out for vengeance. Going Under is an emotional, Difficult and Beautiful story about surviving cruel injustice.

Wow...I seriously don't even know how to explain my feelings about this book right now. I think I am experiencing every emotion known to man all at once. This book was very gut wrenching and future readers need to heed the warning about the graphic scenes throughout. This is a story about a girl, Brooke, who after the death of her best friend Beth, goes to the school she attended to investigate the boy who raped her and was ultimately responsible for her death. See Brooke is trying to absolve herself of the guilt she feels for cheating with Beth's boyfriend before her death. While at Beth's funeral Brooke runs into a handsome guy that sparks instant attraction but due to her grief she forces herself to forget him. Once at her new school she seeks out Cal, the boy responsible for Beth's suicide and vows to expose what he did. What Brooke finds is a whole group of guys who take advantage of young girls and score it in their secret sex club. Brooke tries to get closer to Cal, the group's ringleader by going out on dates with him. She is determined to use herself as bait in an attempt to expose this vile group of guys but when she meets Ryan Foster, the cute guy from Beth's funeral, she chooses a different route to expose them. Along the way she befriends Terry, a computer Programmer she works with who helps her hack into the guys computers and discovers their secret. As she gathers more info she starts falling for Ryan and they ultimately become a couple. When she starts warning the girls on the list of names the guys keep track of they try to shut her up by scaring her. When that doesn't keep her quiet they ultimately drug her and do the unthinkable. Now Brooke is forced to deal with her own issues at the hands of these boys and a surprise twist will leaving you desperate for Oxygen as the story comes to a close.

This was probably the most difficult book I have read next to Colleen Hoover's Hopeless. I can't handle sexual abuse or stories about rape because I am intolerant of injustice. Even with reading the warning in the synopsis I wasn't prepared for what happened. Told solely from Brooke's point of view, I was enthralled in her quest to bring justice to her best friend Beth. There were times when Brooke would have flashbacks of her friendship with Beth that would fill in details to their history without dragging the book down. One particular moment, when Beth had caught Brooke with her boyfriend, in her room, on her bed, was pretty hot. It sucked and I hate to admit it but the shit was hot. Shortly after that incident Beth killed herself which caused Brooke to carry the burden of guilt thinking she caused her friend's death. I was cheering her on during her mission and I honestly didn't think she would be the character who was brutally assaulted. The scene was very descriptive up to a certain point and I was sick to my stomach throughout the entire scene and the following moments after. Watching her go from strong and determined to victimized and fragile was very hard to watch. I think what made it so hard to experience was that you almost BECOME Brooke throughout the story so when she's assaulted it's almost like you are living it. I had a love/hate thing going for Brooke. She was flawed, emotional and very human. I loved watching her encourage other victims to speak out and not let the guys win. What I didn't love about her was how naive she was at one point that ultimately got her in trouble. After having been so strong and supportive to the other girls, and being so vocal about not trusting the guys, I was pissed off that she trusted one of them so easily! It didn't make sense to me. It almost seemed out of character and a little unbelievable that she would let her guard down like that.

Ryan Foster... my God I don't think I have ever loved a fictional man as much as I love him! He comes into the story at an awkward moment, meeting Brooke at her friends funeral and you immediately want them together because you feel the instant attraction between them but then feel bad for Beth and Brooke. When he comes back on the scene with his Electric blue eyes and absolutely swoon worthy personality you are almost salivating for them to be together. Ryan is mysterious and Sexy and obviously hiding something Brooke can't figure out. These two were very hot together. I loved watching them get closer the more the story progressed. Ryan was such a sweet, flirty guy and it didn't take much for me to fall in love with him. I think i fell for him during the gaming lesson *wink*. For me the love story was the saving grace of the book. Through the first half of the story I was certain of the rating I was going to give at that point but once I got to chapter 20 I wasn't so sure anymore. I didn't know if the author could pull the story out of the shitter so to speak. I was an emotional wreck for Brooke, her parents and for Ryan. At this crucial point in the story there wasn't much book left and I started worrying about how it would end for everyone. I think the author did a great job with the ending though even if it felt a bit rushed to me. I needed a little more recovery time and I don't think we got to see enough of Brooke on the mend from the ordeal but if you can stick it out past chapter 20 and 21 I think you will be pleased as well.

I thought the supporting characters were a much needed, fun and entertainging part of the story that added some light hearted moments and funny quips to take away from the tension. Brooke's friend Gretchen was just as determined to see these guys go down once she found out what happened to Beth. Terry, the cook at the diner where Brooke worked was funny and amazing. I loved watching him hack into the guys' email accounts to help Brooke gather evidence. He was a vital part of her plan to expose them. Terry was flirty and fun, especially when he met Gretchen for the first time. I was hoping for those two characters to get together despite the age difference. 

Rape is a very difficult and emotional subject especially to read about and I honestly think the author did a great job covering the angles and emotions following such an event. It was because of this difficult subject and the graphic scene detailing bits of the abuse that I was determined to rate this book low until I got to the end of if. It wasn't just the way the author wrapped up the story it was the closing note the she addressed to the reader about the sensitive subject. Shining a light on the fact that the victims of these crimes need to feel like they can talk to someone and not keep this to themselves no matter what. Yes it's embarrassing and painful and disgusting but you don't have to suffer alone. There are people to talk to who can help you heal and move on from such tragic circumstance and  I loved that the author chose to close her painfully beautiful book with information to get help. I love when a book goes deep and changes how I feel and think and Going Under has been one of those experiences. Even though it was extremely difficult to read about, I am glad I chose to read this book. The love story between the two main characters was well developed and romantic. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who has suffered through this kind of ordeal but to anyone who doesn't know much about it I absolutely would. I think it can teach valuable lessons to young women who read it. Yes it was a love story, and yes it had some funny, cute and flirty moments but the overall message of the book was the most beautiful part.


~After my last afternoon with Ryan, I thought my entire world shifted. My entire purpose. I no longer cared about revenge and guilt and victims. I cared about being with a boy who was nice to me, who treated me like I was the most important person in his life. A boy who made me laugh, talk my head off, say silly embarrassing things, come like an exploding star. Loc. 3427

“Brooke, you will be good for me. Better than I deserve. Do you understand? I’m not expecting us to make love like experts. We’re eighteen. How about you just relax and let me do all the work.” Loc. 4784

“And, really, if I’m being perfectly honest, I just love a woman’s body. I love to touch it. I love to kiss it. I love to make her feel important and special,” he said. “And I really love to make her come.” Loc. 4875

I *heart* Ryan Giveaway


1. signed paperback copy of Going Under

2. $20 Game Stop gift card

3. Lana Del Rey’s single “Video Games”

4. Playstation 4 decals

5. Skateboard stickers

6. “Gamers Embrace” T-shirt

7. Ryan’s love letter to Brooke

All About Ryan

“Ryan, why are you so gorgeous and strange?”

 My sister told me she laughed her butt off at that part in the book—the part where Brooke gets drunk. I wanted it to be silly and lighthearted to take away from some of the heaviness in the novel. I mean, good grief. If the entire novel were like Chapter 20, who on earth would read it??

But back to gorgeous and strange Ryan. It’s official. The ladies love him, and many of you were a little mad you didn’t get more of him in the book. In my defense, I will say that Going Under was not meant to be primarily a romance. In fact, I purposely wrote the romance as a side item. This did not make for completely happy fans. You were semi-happy, but not all-the-way happy. ☺ So here’s me making it up to you. I’m giving you a little inside information on our leading man that hopefully will allow you to forgive me in some way for not featuring him on every page. xo

Full name: Ryan James Foster
Born: September 27 in Raleigh, North Carolina at WakeMed
Astrological Sign: Libra
Stats: 6’2”; 180 lbs; brown hair; blue eyes
Favorite food: Steak fajitas
Favorite music: The Smashing Pumpkins, specifically their Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album. (His older cousin turned him on to ‘90s alternative rock.)
Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones
Activities: surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding (he’s really hot when he snowboards), swimming, making out with Brooke
Favorite book: The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Favorite movie: Snatch (Hey, what do you want me to say?)
College degree: B.S. Business Finance
Current job: Finance manager for a chain of local skateboard and skateboard supplies stores in Chapel Hill, NC

 Idiotic move in college: Hosted a “hurricane party” at a friend’s place half a mile from the beach. These are popular parties during hurricane season in Wilmington, NC, and they really piss off the local authorities. No one was hurt, but a lot of college students got wasted and then naked. Ryan only got partially naked.

Biggest regret about Brooke: Not getting out of the car. He drove to NC State to see Brooke her freshmen year. He sat in the car in front of her dorm. He waited for hours and finally saw her walking towards the dorm entrance. And he wanted to go to her, but he was afraid. So he watched her swipe her key card, open the door, and disappear from view. He wouldn’t see her again for two years.

Sweetest Moment: Marrying Brooke. Simple. No fuss. A courthouse. The important people. A beautiful woman in a little white dress. Saying “I do.” And the next installment in their great big adventure.

Random Stuff:
~Broke his arm three times when he was in elementary school and middle school.
~Had braces twice: once in fourth grade and then again in seventh because he never wore his retainer.
~Played center forward in soccer until he messed up his knee.
~Pledged a fraternity in college and then quit.
~Turned down a make-out session with a girl in his freshmen composition class. Told her he was already committed to someone else.
~Became inseparable friends with Alyssa from philosophy. She was the only one who could stomach his incessant talk about Brooke.
~Wears one contact in his right eye to give him monovision (one eye sees distance and one eye reads up close).
~Does pushups every day.
~Tried vegetarianism for a week at the insistence of his friend, Charlie. Missed his steak fajitas too much to commit for life.
~Wants to give Brooke babies as soon as possible.

Okay fans. If that didn’t placate you, I will be collecting questions about Ryan during the tour that I will answer at the end. You have to email me at to ask a question (please limit them to two), and I will post all the questions and answers by June 9. Sound good?

S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she's not writing, she's thinking about it. She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at and follow her blog at where you can get up-to-date information on her current projects.



  1. This sounds really intense and I did add it to my TBR. I think I'll have to be mentally prepared to read it. Great review!

  2. I've read the book and absolutely loved everything about it. Yes, you have to mentally prepare yourself for it but it is well worth the read :)

  3. I haven't read this yet, but I own it. My friend who is a crisis counselor (specializing in rape/sexual abuse) read this and was completely on board with how the author handled the situation. It's not something that's easy for anyone to read, I think. And having gone through an attempt, it's certainly not easy for me either. I'm glad you stuck with the story, and fell in love with the characters.

  4. Hey Hootie.

    I'm blown away by your review! So thoughtful and thorough. Thank you for putting so much into it and for really allowing your followers to get a feel for the storyline and characters. Appreciate you being a part of my tour.

    xo Summer

  5. I'm a sucker for emotional books and after reading your review I know this is right up there.


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