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September 8, 2015

Loved It: Acts of Creation by Elisabeth Staab

Series: Evergreen Grove 2
Format: Mobi
Release Date: August 28, 2015
Publisher: Self
Source: Author
Genre: New Adult Romance

He’s living a lie.

Dante Ramos: Champion. Ladies’ man. Party animal. Women want him, and men either want to be him or put his lights out for sleeping with their girlfriends. It’s all an act. Inside, he’s so full of self-loathing he’s on a fast-track to self-destruction.

She’s living in the shadows.

Meeting Michelle at a support group for assault survivors shows Dante a new world of possibilities. Finally, someone in his life might understand him, and she creates in him a fierce need to protect. Trouble is, Dante lives his life in the spotlight, and the only thing Michelle wants is a place to hide.



I am thanking my lucky (book) stars because I've been stretching myself, picking up books that I won't usually read, and so far my daring has been paying off. Then again, Elisabeth Staab has yet to disappoint me so even if I am not a fan of sports romances and the NA genre, I have to say ACTS OF CREATION surprised me in the best possible way.

Here's why:
  • ACTS OF CREATION is half New Adult., half adult romance Is there such a thing? Well I say this because Michelle is 19 while Dante is 26. The age difference was a bit of an issue, I mean if you're in your late 20's up, it doesn't matter. But if the other person is still technically a "teen", it does become a point of concern. 

  • I loved how Dante respected their age difference, made sure that Michelle was sure and comfortable. He didn't use her attraction to him to push a romantic relationship, they took their time until both were ready to take the next step.

  • Surprisingly, it's not very angsty considering the age gap not to mention, both Dante and Michelle are survivors of sexual assault and abuse. They dealt with their baggage in the most steadfast, honest way possible. Dante and Michelle have stretched their emotions from the get-go, and there's an openess in their relationship that made it easier to share and bare than pose and hide.

  • It's clear from the very beginning that these two click and I love the absence of typical plot devices like, miscommunication or misplaced jealousy, to concoct a conflict. The entire story from beginning to end flowed and was consistent to Dante and Michelle's personalities.

  • Dante's survivor story got to me. His vulnerabilities side by side with him being a heavy weight boxer was a powerful contrast to me. Looks are deceiving. 

Once again, EStaab delivered a heartrending, but not too angry, NA love story that packed a serious punch. ACTS OF CREATION is an earnest story about family, friendship, and finding love amidst the scars of the past. It won't tear you to shreds, but it will still touch you nonetheless. 






Domestic violence and violence/crimes against women is no laughing matter. Michelle, can you give us guidelines on how to spot a "victim" and the best way to offer help? What's the best possible approach a guy can do if they're interested in dating someone who's been through such horrible experience? What's the "best first date" scenario looks like?

Wow, that’s a huge question, and I’m not sure really how to answer. I mean, I only know what I know, right? I’m no expert. So, the thing is I guess it depends. If by victim you mean someone who was just attacked, I’m thinking if we really look around we can see it in things as little as shaky movements or as big as bruises. I tried to hide what happened to me at first, but I was so shaken I couldn’t stop trembling or crying so my parents still asked what was wrong. When I walked home from that awful party, though? Nobody said a word. My dress was torn and I’m sure my makeup was a mess. The few people who passed me probably thought I was, you know, doing the olde walk of shame. So I guess if you see a person who seems shaken or shell-shocked or like they’ve been in a struggle, offering support and getting them to a hospital if you can is the best move. From there, police can be called. New clothes can be brought. Whatever else they need. I don’t know. Like I said, I’m definitely not an expert. I know I went home and showered that night, which was a mistake. The police needed evidence, and I washed it away.

If you’re talking more after the fact though, I personally like the word SURVIVOR more than victim. I can’t say what happened didn’t change me, but I’m still me and I’m still living. Survivor is a positive word, and those of us who survive come in all shapes and sizes. I don’t think that there’s any way to spot one without being told in some way. Dante is a great example. I wouldn’t have known he’d survived sexual abuse if we hadn’t met the way we did. Not of he didn’t tell me. Statistically, you probably know more survivors than you realize. And I think the best thing you can do is be a good friend to those people if they choose to tell you their story.


Thanks for the tips. And yes, SURVIVOR is a better word.

Let's talk about romance. What's the best possible approach a guy can do if they're interested in dating someone who's been through such horrible experience?

Hmmm, you might not know at first. Like I said, I don’t think survivors look a certain way, and some don’t share that history unless they’re with someone for a while and they’ve decided it’s the right time. Other than that? Uh… Gosh. Patience and understanding are big ticket items. Dante and I have an agreement not to spook each other needlessly, because it’s the nice thing to do, and someone might accidentally get smacked (he’s been teaching me self-defense, so it’s a real concern). Oh. Trust. Trust is HUGE. Especially after being assaulted by an ex boyfriend, it’s crucial to be able to count on the guy I’m with to be honest. But, you know what? I think I’d need those things anyway. I’d like to think we survivors have pretty much the same relationship needs, even if our history is a little complicated. Maybe we just need them a little harder. I think it’s an aspect of our history—something to be aware of, but not constantly focused on. One thing Dante and I are working on together, is living our lives without letting our pasts hang over us like a dark cloud. 


What's the "best first date" scenario looks like?

Oh! Our first “real” date was dinner at a great restaurant, like many couples. And it was great. Before that, we spent time talking and hanging out. Getting to know and trust one another. I think it’s the best way to start any relationship, don’t you?

Yes, I agree, and I love how you two met, became friends, and developed a romantic relationship.



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Elisabeth Staab loves passionate stories and happy endings. Her books have been called “emotionally delicious,” “action-packed,” and “gloriously snarky.” When not writing romance, she enjoys date night with her husband, reading Harry Potter with her kids, and marathoning her favorite books or TV series.

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54 comments:

  1. Great review and this sounds like something I'd like to read as well. Glad that picking up books that you wouldn't normally is paying off.

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    1. It's a calculated risk though, lol, I love EStaab so I'm already 50% sure I'll like this at least.

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  2. I'm curious about Dante since a post I read about him and now with your review I'm even more curious lol. It sounds like a really good one.

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  3. Replies
    1. Hahaha, I don't blame you there. I'm not fully IN yet

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  4. I do love a hero that has vulnerabilies...it just makes them more attractive. The whole less than perfect image, just love that. I actually don't have a issue with age different unless its like 15-20 years....then I struggle more with that. I just got into NA, but I have only read a couple of authors in the genre so far, so haven't really delved deeply into it yet. Just sinking my toes in it hehe but enjoyed what I have read so far.; But I think that due to the authors more than the genre LOL. Great review, I have been curous about trying this author out.

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    1. I haven't dipped in the NA pond fully either. The angst gets to me!

      I'm okay with age difference in historical romance, in contemporary it feels icky lol.

      I encourage you to try Staab, she has other books and I loved all of them. This NA series reads more like contemporary romance, not too much antagonism

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  5. Whew yeah that is a good age difference when still in those teen years. I still have book one on my tbr pile. Gah that pile!

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    1. The books are quick reads, get on it girl! Take a break from the sexy

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  6. Oh hello. I love underground fighters/mma fighters in books as much as football players, so yeah. I'd love to read this one too! I thought I saw it on NG. Hmmmm

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    1. How about boxing? Heck I expect you to love boxing!

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  7. I am hit and miss with NA, but I believe it is good to stretch ourselves. How else can we find the hidden gem? :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. Exactly. Plus it's a safe adventure if it pertains to reading.

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  8. He sounds like my type of guy. It's a good thing, when books touch you like that. Adding this to my TBR!

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    1. I'm sure he is!

      I love the whole discussion about sexuality in relation to abuse. It makes a lot of sense

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  9. This one sounds like it will grab the emotions. Enjoyed both review and interview, ladies!

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    1. Thank you, I hope you geet to try her soon!

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  10. oh her age, idk...but I'm glad they took their time with things. Isn't great when you read out of your comfort zone and enjoy it? Great review!

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    1. I'm eyeing your recs next *cracks knuckles*

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  11. I've seen several really good reviews for this book already. I might just have to read it too.

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  12. This is a NA I would try since the hero is vulnerable and as you said it wasn't heavy on the angst. I will add to the pile.

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    1. Ah yes, the angst haters! Yup, this fits the bill, all the drama and lovey dovey without the exaggerations

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  13. I love when taking chances pays off! Yay for another great read, you really are on a role!

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  14. Sounds like an emotional ride :) Heck of an age difference... Interesting.

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    1. Right? But if they're say a few years older, it wouldn't matter much.

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  15. I love the sound of a vulnerable male MC...and although the age difference itself isn't too much at her age I can see it being sticky.

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    1. It's the -teen in the end that still feels off somewhat

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  16. I love reading outside of my comfort zone! The best books are discovered that way. Most of the time, not all, but a good amount of them, yes. :) And I love the cover. *waggles brows*

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    1. He is hot huh, like a young Vin Diesl

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  17. These two sound great together even right from the beginning

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    1. Yeah, they cut to the chase and got their hands dirty early on

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  18. Kudos for stepping outside of your usual reading zone! And I'm glad that it worked out for you, too! :D

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    1. I'm still prickly about NA, I need someone to hold my hand when I venture out

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  19. Anna @ Herding Cats made me want this book, now you are too. Grrrr <333

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  20. Braine, isn't it so rewarding when your stretching your reading really pays off! Glad this one did

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    1. Yes ma'am, I should do it more often.

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  21. Low angst..hello there. Big age difference so I am surprised. I do like sports reads, and love that he didn't push her

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    1. It'ss the only kind of "NA" I'll read, low or no angst

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  22. Love the sound of Dante, and his vulnerable side. I can see why you think it's half NA, half adult. Great review!

    Naomi @ Naomi’s Reading Palace

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    1. Maybe crossover is a more appropriate term

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  23. Now this sounds good! I think we're kind of on the same wave length when it comes to NA.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. Yes we do! This series is good, I love that it doesn't exaggerate the drama

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  24. This one sounds interesting. Adding it to my TBR list.

    Simply Angela

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  25. I like that this is low on angst and that it doesn't have a lot of miscommunication (which I HATE) and stuff. I wouldn't have picked this up on my own but I'm intrigued now!

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    1. Right? Or stomping and sulking, like just hash it out and get it over with! Don't misbehave because you can't articulate your feelings!

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  26. Awww, love the review, Braine! *hugs! <3

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  27. I like they are friends to lovers. Sounds like a survivor read full of emotions! Fun getting to know Michelle in the character chat.

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  28. I really need to give this author a shot one of these days. I've heard so many great things!

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