Choisie Series- Book 2
By Lori L. Otto
When devastating news brings an abrupt end to a romantic rendezvous, Livvy Holland struggles to accept the death of one of her closest mentors. Livvy’s artwork has always been an expression of her emotions, and avoiding the pain she feels from her recent loss makes painting seem impossible. Her inspiration gone, she devotes her attention to the future she’s planning with Jon Scott. Blissfully happy in her own denial, all of Livvy’s free time has been given to the boy she’s always loved. Facing grown up decisions, she finds it hard to live up to her parents’ expectations of her as a daughter and an artist. Under her father’s constant scrutiny and persistent surveillance from curious paparazzi, Livvy finds it difficult to maintain the adult relationship she’s begun with Jon. The changes in Livvy are evident to those closest to her, and a few that were once her allies begin to interfere with her personal life. This newfound attention – along with distractions that take Jon’s attention elsewhere – cause Livvy to question all the choices she’s made: what college she’ll attend, what man she should be with, and what she thought was her life’s purpose. Livvy faces her greatest challenge when Jon’s unanticipated plans derail her own. Overwhelmed, confused, and longing to satisfy her own wants and needs, Livvy must endure more heartache before finding herself. This book is intended for mature teens and adults.
Lori Otto is best known for her Emi Lost & Found series – a series about the life of Emi Hennigan, including a prequel and three of the most beloved and heartbreaking novels that I have ever read. If you have not yet read the Emi Lost & Found series, I highly recommend it! Be sure to read Not Today, But Someday, Lost & Found, Time Stands Still and Never Look Back – in that order – before beginning the spin-off Choisie series.
Lori Otto introduces her readers to a charming young lady named Olivia Sophia Holland in the Emi Lost & Found series. The novels of the Choisie series center on the life of Olivia Holland. They are titled Contessa, Olivia and Livvy. I would like to express my appreciation to Lori Otto for the opportunity to review an advanced reader copy of the second novel of her series – Olivia – in exchange for my honest review.
Olivia Holland is a sixteen year-old high school senior at the beginning of Olivia, having skipped a year ahead in high school. We are told that her Granna (Donna) passed away while Olivia was out of the country. Olivia was commissioned to paint a portrait of Donna prior to her death. The portrait was to hang next to the portrait Olivia had already painted of Donna’s son, Nate. Donna was always a positive force for Olivia. She was her teacher and mentor, encouraging Olivia to discover her creativity and to grow as an artist. Olivia knows that she disappointed her Granna because she had not finished her portrait prior to her death. She feels incredible grief and guilt, which results in her loss of direction and incentive to paint. Olivia also does not want to move on to other projects until she has finished Donna’s portrait. She loses sight of many things that are important to her – her artwork, education and the relationship she has with her father and family.
Olivia’s artwork has always defined a part of who she is. Without her art, she becomes absorbed in her relationship with Jon. He becomes the primary focus of her spare time. At the beginning of the novel, Jon is eighteen and beginning his freshman year of college at Columbia. He has his own struggles in Olivia. His mother and brothers are extremely important to him. Jon has accepted a role as a father-figure to his brothers because they have no father in the picture. Jon attends college classes and attempts to maintain his grades, while also hoping to give his brothers some stability at home. Their mother is an alcoholic. When she loses custody of his younger brothers, the boys are eventually placed in the custody of their aunt in Utah.
Olivia and Jon have grown up together. They have a very tangible love for each other, but they are both very young. Jon gave Olivia a promise ring in Contessa – they are both extremely young to be involved in the type of emotional and physical relationship they have found themselves in. At times, Olivia can be bratty and self-destructive, whereas, I felt that Jon had matured quite a bit in this novel. Although Jon obviously loves Olivia, his primary focus is on his family and studies. He is willing to sacrifice his teenage freedom to provide for his brothers. Jon realizes that Olivia is still very self-centered and not mature enough to handle the serious type of relationship that they have. I believe he understands that Olivia needs to experience life and grow as an individual before they can make a serious commitment to each other.
I found the character growth in this novel to be brilliantly written. It makes perfect sense that Jon would be more responsible and self-sacrificing; not only is he older, but he has experienced a harder life. Olivia has always had what she needed. She has wonderful parents, but they have micromanaged her life to protect her from the press, paparazzi and people that would take advantage of their family wealth. It is very obvious that Olivia has some growing up to do. I want to commend Lori Otto for writing the perfect ending to Olivia. I have no doubt that great things are ahead for Jon and Olivia in the final novel in the series, Livvy. Five outstanding stars for Lori Otto’s Olivia!
Contessa – Book 1
Book one of the YA/New Adult Choisie series by the author of Emi Lost & Found! When she was four, a generous couple welcomed orphan Olivia Sophia into their lives. As she grew up, her parents made good decisions for her, raising “Livvy” to be an intelligent and creative young girl. Now sixteen, three people influence many of her choices: her first love, her second father, and a third man who speaks to her through his artwork. Livvy’s father is practical and steadfast; even-tempered and quietly observant. She’s an artist who acts on her emotions and thrives on attention. Unhappy with their differences– and misunderstanding her father’s methods– Livvy chooses to focus on the similarities she shares with an enigmatic painter from her mother’s past. Her overactive imagination leads her down an obsessive path– one that only stands to hurt everyone around her. The distraction of a new boyfriend has the potential to end her search and reunite her family, but his involvement in her life could be just as devastating, taking Livvy away from her father for good. Mature YA for limited sensual content.
After graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1997 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Lori Otto worked in the billboard industry for ten years. Frustrated with trying to communicate entire messages in “seven seconds or less,” she decided to leave outdoor advertising and return to her love of creative writing.