A MelanieM Review :717 miles by Sophia Soames

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The calculated flying distance from Oslo to London is equal to 717 miles which is equal to 1153 km. If you want to go by car, the driving distance between Oslo and London is 1732.79 km. If you ride your car with an average speed of 112 kilometres/hour (70 miles/h), travel time will be 15 hours 28 minutes.

Adam Vik Solheim should not be in London. He’s not supposed to be anywhere near the British capital, because Adam Vik Solheim, age 19, is supposed to be on a beach in Bali. He is supposed to be on the first stop on an Asian backpacking trip of a lifetime. That was the plan. That is where he is supposed to be. Not here. Alone in a weird house in a strange city, being paid to look after some troubled 17-year-old.

Felix Haugland has to survive the final 3 weeks of school. Make it through 21 more days of hell. Then he is going to hide out in his room for the rest of the summer until he can figure out how to get his life back on track. Find a school far far away, where he can start over and not make mistakes.
He doesn’t need a flipping babysitter. He just doesn’t. His life is messed up enough as it is.

This is a New Adult story and is set in the UK where the age of consent is 16. Trigger warnings: Severe bullying and mature content.

Several things intrigued me about this novel when I first heard about it.  It mentioned a discussion about the age of consent in Europe, the disparity in school systems from the US, an odd family dynamic, and of course, two countries (England and Norway) that it’s primarily set in.  Plus to top it all off it deals seriously with the issue of bullying.  All from a author I had never read before.  With an absolutely stunning cover to boot!  Yes, I grabbed it up and will forever be grateful I did.

717 miles by Sophia Soames is that not to be missed novel that you want to review.  Unexpected, beautifully written, that carries such an emotional impact with it’s characters and storyline that days later they and it are still with you, lingering in your mind and heart, scenes and phrases tumbling over and over.

The title from from the distance from Adam’s home in Oslo to his new temporary position as an au pair in London, England.  It’s exactly 717 miles and as he leaves home for the first time he is feeling every bit of it.  It’s not a place he thought he would be but extremely poor decisions from both himself and his long-time group of childhood friends has cost him and them dearly.  I won’t go into it here, it’s a tale for the story and Adam to tell, and it will unfold in the novel.  It too has both it’s heartbreakingly funny and deadly serious moments.  Just like everything in this book.  So human, so real, and young.

The story is told from both Adam’s and Felix’ perspective, a format that works so well here.  Their initial impressions of each other is important as is their descriptions, so we see them through each others eyes.  And it’s how we see Felix’s relationship with his unusual mother, Birgit, an expressive wonderful single mother whose style of parenting is not everyone idea of parenting but as Adam comes to realize it works for Felix.

I don’t think I can even begin to do justice to the incredible characterizations here.  Not just the two young men but all the families, and friends.  Each and everyone is an exquisite portrait of a real person, oozing with life and vitality.  You want to crawl inside this book and meet each and everyone.  Be a part of this unique circle of people in both countries.

Which makes one of the major elements here all the more realistic and frightening.  You see Felix is being badly bullied in school.  Physically beaten bullied. There is violence.  So if this is a trigger be warned.  It also marks such a major difference in my understanding of the school systems in the way it was treated.  I do understand some of  the difference between the UK systems and their as a good friend of the families was a headmaster but here the lawyers would have been outside the door, the headmaster held accountable the first time a student landed in the hospital and the culprit identified.  The inaction by the school and headmaster, however, realistic, frustrated me and made my heart hurt not only for Felix but for all those existing outside the story if true.  Adam is there to be his friend and Felix need a friend and more.  This entire thread, especially when told from Felix’s side, will make you weep.  It will get worse, and then get better.  Just know that.

Then there is the slow burn relationship between Adam and Felix.  Slow to develop because at first Felix sees Adam as an adversary, someone to drive away as he had all the other “babysitters” his mother has employed.  But Adam has younger brothers he loves and he knows how to deal with someone who clearly needed him.  It’s wonderful watching it unfold before you.  The dialog, the scenes, they alternate from hilarious (Adam learning to navigate the London traffic) to the serious (pulling out exactly what’s happening to Felix) to the amazing (all the cooking and baking that Adam does.  We  watch the transition from both pov and we start to cherish both the relationship and the  young men.

And oh that ending!  Sob.  Yes, I loved that ending too.  This book!  I’m already itching to reread it soon.

When you finish a book you love, you sort of bask in the glow of a story and characters so well done that you are just so happy.  Happy for them, happy you found the story, and in this case happy I found this remarkable author. Yes, I highly recommend this story to everyone! Go, go, go, grab it up and start reading immediately.  It will be on my Best of 2019 list.

Cover Artist: Miriam Latu. The cover artist is a Norwegian artist who works in charcoal on paper.  That’s the unusual beauty behind the cover and it’s Norwegian models that fit the story so perfectly.  Honestly this novel just continues to give starting with the cover and a link to the artist’s studio.

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Book Details:

ebook, 371 pages
Published April 30th 2019
ISBN139781092506168

Looking for that Heartwarmer that Spans the Globe? Check out the Release Blitz for 717 miles by Sophia Soames (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: 717 miles

Author: Sophia Soames

Publisher: Self published

Cover Artist: Miriam Latu

Release Date:  April 30, 2019

Length: 104 969 words/ 371 pages

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Heat Rating: 4 flames  

Trope/s: New adult

Themes:  Coming of age, Au pair (Manny), Travel, Family, Airline Industry,

London, UK, Oslo, Norway, School. Enemies to lovers. Bisexuality. Gay. Out and Proud.

TRIGGER WARNINGS:

 Deals with serious bullying.

For US readers, this story is set in the UK where the age of consent is 16.

The MC’s are 17 and 19. Mature content.

It is a standalone story.

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Blurb

The calculated flying distance from Oslo to London is equal to 717 miles which is equal to 1153 km. If you want to go by car, the driving distance between Oslo and London is 1732.79 km. If you ride your car with an average speed of 112 kilometres/hour (70 miles/h), travel time will be 15 hours 28 minutes.

Adam Vik Solheim should not be in London. He’s not supposed to be anywhere near the British capital, because Adam Vik Solheim, age 19, is supposed to be on a beach in Bali. He is supposed to be on the first stop on an Asian backpacking trip of a lifetime. That was the plan. That is where he is supposed to be. Not here. Alone in a weird house in a strange city, being paid to look after some troubled 17-year-old.

Felix Haugland has to survive the final 3 weeks of school. Make it through 21 more days of hell. Then he is going to hide out in his room for the rest of the summer until he can figure out how to get his life back on track. Find a school far far away, where he can start over and not make mistakes.

He doesn’t need a flipping babysitter. He just doesn’t. His life is messed up enough as it is.

Excerpt

I don’t notice him at first, wrapped up in a blanket sitting on the sofa. The house is dark and quiet and if it wasn’t for the light from his phone, I wouldn’t have noticed him at all. He just looks up and meets my eye for a second. Looking a little bit sad.

“Where is your mum? I thought you were going to hang out today?”

“Gone to her boyfriend’s. Not sure when she will be back. Didn’t check. She left you money on the side there.”

“Oh.”

I don’t know what to say. Apart from that I’m sorry she is a bit of a shit mum. I mean she left him here alone, whilst she’s gone off to see her bloke. Then, I kind of think that we are all adults. Well, Felix might be. I am not. I still don’t know what to say.

“Philip went on the group chat. I got bored.” Felix gets up from the sofa. Walking over to the kettle and flicking the switch. At least it fills the silence, the kettle humming quietly as the water heats up.

“I saw that, it was funny. Really good.” I pretend to check my phone.

Felix gets a cup down. Pulls out a teabag. Tilts his head towards the coffeemaker.

I get a coffee pod out and load it whilst Felix gets another cup. Nudging my hand as he places it in the brewer, which makes me jolt back. I don’t know why. I just don’t know how to act around him when we are alone. Like this.

He is leaning back against the counter. Chewing on his bottom lip with his arms crossed over his chest. Wearing joggers that are slung low over his hips, and a hoodie that just doesn’t quite cover the blond fuzz on his stomach.

I am standing there biting my nails and fiddling with the envelope on the counter. I try to catch his eye. Staring at his lips and thinking dirty thoughts. Then, looking away the minute he looks up.

It’s different flirting with girls. If Felix was a girl, I would be all charming and touchy-feely and wink and compliment her and we would both know where things would end up in the end.

With Felix, I haven’t got a clue. I don’t know where he falls, whether he is straight or gay or whatever he defines as. He might just think of me as some big brother figure. Someone who makes him feel safe. Someone who he kisses and clings to and cuddles. He seems as confused as me. His hand shaking a little as he pours the boiling water in the cup. Stirs with a teaspoon. Spills a little on the side.

I try to be helpful. I mean, I try to wipe it up with a tea towel, only to nudge his arm with my elbow which makes us both jump. I spill half of his tea. The cup spinning on the worktop. Felix’s hand touching mine, as we both try to catch the cup before it falls. Me catching it and Felix jolting back like he has been burnt. He is sucking his finger into his mouth. Catching my eye and not looking away. He just looks at me, all eyes and hurt and feelings and… I don’t know. I suppose it’s heat. Desire.

It makes me a bit crazy. I mean, I am already crazy, but I think I must be crazier than should be allowed, because I grab his face with both hands and launch at those lips. Just smashing my mouth on his. Walking him backwards until he is being squashed against the kitchen table that is creaking and scratching along the floor under the weight of us.

I am panting. Hard. Being the worst kisser in the world. There is nothing sensual or soft about me and my kissing. Not like I would kiss a girl. I am kissing Felix because I need to. Because I am desperate and because his hands are fisting the hair on my head, pulling and scratching my scalp whilst he catches his breath. Letting his forehead rest against mine, breathing hard and fast against my lips.

Then, he starts to kiss me. Properly kiss me. The way I should have been kissing him. Lips and tongues and more than a little bit of teeth, hard and hot and making me feel lightheaded. I am not breathing properly. Not getting enough oxygen to my brain. Grinding against him. Rutting and jerking whilst he is whimpering and panting and making all these little sounds that just egg me on.

I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know what got into me. I let go. I let him go. Pull my hands back and step away from him. Wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. Stumbling backwards and blinking into the light like I have just woken up.

“I shouldn’t have done that.” I mumble. Well I shouldn’t. I wasn’t supposed to do that.

 

About the Author

Sophia Soames should be old enough to know better but has barely grown up. She has been known to fangirl over tv-shows, has fallen in and out of love with more pop stars than she dares to remember, and has a ridiculously high-flying (un)glamourous real-life job.

Her long suffering husband just laughs at her antics. Their children are feral. The Au Pair just sighs.

She lives in a creaky old house in rural London, although her heart is still in Scandinavia.

Discovering that the stories in her head make sense when written down has been part of the most hilarious midlife crisis ever and she hopes it may long continue.

Miriam Latu is a Norway based artist, specializing in hand drawn pencil portraits. She works with old-school pen and paper, and more of her work can be found on Instagram

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Giveaway

Little Harbour, my first novel, will be FREE on all Amazon platforms from April 30 until  May 4.

Go grab it if you haven’t already read it!

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