*Blog Tour* Counting Daisies by Nicola Haken

Title: Counting Daisies
Author: Nicola Haken
Genre: MM Romance
Release Date: August 1, 2016

Dylan Roberts and Cameron O’Neil were good kids. Growing up together, they shared everything. By the age of fourteen they were more than best friends – they were in love. They dreamt of their future, of success, marriage…happiness. They were going to grow old by each other’s side.

But… “Kids are stupid.”

When tragic circumstances forced them apart, Dylan discovered that life wasn’t the fairytale he dreamed of; it was dark, difficult, saturated with pain and shame. Life wasn’t meant to be enjoyed, merely survived, but even that became a challenge.

Damaged, worthless, and disgusting, he saw no point to his pitiful existence…

Until he came face to face with the boy he used to love.

Successful, honourable, and happy, Cameron had achieved the future they planned. He was good, positive, popular…everything Dylan would never be. What would happen if Dylan let him back into his world? Would he destroy Cameron too? Would his poison push him away like everyone else?

“Everybody leaves.”

“They leave or they die.”

But what if…what if Cameron didn’t?

“This is a deep and powerful book with the main theme which is refreshing less about the path of a relationship and way more about the real life gritty obstacles that come on the way of their HEA.” – Reader Review

“This book was phenomenal. I cried so many tears. Story was heart breaking and heartwarming all at the same time.” – SiKReviews

“This was a beautifully crafted story of friendship, love, bonds, addictive behaviour and heartache. It was hugely emotional in parts, and Nicola doesn’t hold back.” – 2 Girls & Their Kindles

He clung to my shirt, his knuckles turning white. “Make it s-stop.” 
“I…I don’t know how.”
Fuck this. Fuck heroin. Why the hell would someone do this to themselves? I’d never seen this level of pain before that hadn’t resulted in death, and even that was only on TV. 
Dylan sobbed into my chest and I held him while he did. My arms were all I had to offer. He remained so cold despite my palms rubbing up and down his back, and he was dirty, too – dried up vomit sticking to his skin and hair. I’d never felt so helpless in all my life.
Needing to do something, anything, I climbed to my feet, lifting his body with me. “Come on,” I encouraged, struggling to take his weight on my own. “Try and walk for me.”
He whimpered and mumbled but made little effort to move. So, sliding one arm behind his thighs, I scooped him up like a baby, carrying him towards the bath. He clung to my neck, his grip weak, while I turned on the water. I turned the temperature down to barely warm, worried the heat might burn his shivering skin, before lowering him into the bathtub, under the fine spray of the shower. 
His muscles twitched and his eyes closed as he hugged his knees to his scrawny chest. Taking a sponge and some shower-gel, I scrubbed softly up and down his trembling body, gently manoeuvring his arms and legs when needed so I could clean every inch of him.
“I’m tired, Cam,” he barely whispered, dropping his head to the side.
My heart ached, like it was trapped inside a vice that was trying to crush its ability to beat, as I lathered some shampoo into his fair hair. “You can sleep soon. Nearly done.” 
I tried not to cry as I massaged his scalp. I wanted to be strong, but I’d never felt more vulnerable. Removing the showerhead from the hook on the wall, I hovered it over his head, rinsing away the tea-tree scented suds, before doing the same to the rest of his skin. After shutting the water off, I grabbed a large towel from the heated rail next to the toilet and rubbed it over his skin in the bathtub before lifting him out and doing the same to his back.
“I-I can’t d-do it anymore,” Dylan cried as I wound my arm around his waist, urging him to take a step.
“You are doing it. It’s almost over.” I had no idea if my words were the truth, but I had to hope they were for both of our sakes. Honestly, I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore either.

My Review

I was first introduced to Nicola Haken when I came across Broken. Aptly titled, that book almost broke me. It made me love Nicola as an author, so when I saw that she was writing Counting Daisies, I just had to read it.

So a little backstory for me. I don’t really like to read about addiction. Due to deeply personal experiences within my family, reading about addiction can often times take me back to a time in my life where I have to ask myself what happened? What could I have done to help? Could I have done anything to help? Would they have listened to me? Was my love enough? In my experiences, the answer is no. Because in my experience addiction has destroyed-either directly or indirectly, people close to me. So, often times, if I know ahead of time that the story is one where any of the main characters are dealing with addiction, I shy away. Because I have not had an HEA with an addict. But I love Nicola, and I know she would never fail to give me an awesome story.

With that being said….and as spoiler free as possible….this book is about Cameron and Dylan. Cameron and Dylan were childhood friends, and each other’s first love. Dylan has suffered horrible loss in his life. His mother died during childbirth, his father in his early teens, then his grandmother. He was left an orphan and put into the system, a system that failed him. He lost Cameron for 16 years and for 10 of those years Dylan has been an addict. Dylan is damaged. He has emotional issues that he has never dealt with. He knows he is an addict, but he wants to change. He’s just not strong enough yet. So he seek’s out Cameron because he has an ounce of hope that he can find a reason to change.

Cameron went on to become what he always wanted in life, a chef. Always wondering about Dylan. So when he runs into Dylan one night after work, he does not even question anything, he just wants to help. Because he still loves him. He always has, he always will. Dylan WANTS to be a better man, someone worthy of the love Cameron can give him, but the addiction is almost too much. Often times, the addict part of his brain wins out over any rational thought. He tries, with Cameron’s help, to get clean. He does it without medical help and without psychological help. Something he absolutely should not have done, but he did it. And it worked, for a little bit. He was doing ok, until the addict in him began doubting. Then he spiraled. There was a trigger, and he did not have the coping mecanisms needed to help himself. He withdrew. He relapsed.

But Cameron loves him. He wants to help him. He wants to be there for him in whatever capacity that entails. So he does. He does what he HAS to do to help Dylan heal. This time, Dylan does it the right way. And these two come out stronger for it.

These two men….This story….made my heart ache for the boy that was lost and so desperately needed to be found.

This book also introduces us to some pretty stellar side characters in Paul and Derrick. I would LOVE to see a story with these two fellas…..as Dylan puts it “If these guys don’t end up together, I’ll eat my own dick”

Addiction, she’s an evil, manipulating bitch. And I fucking hate it. This book is a small glimpse into the pain that it can cause. Addiction never ends. You are always fighting it. My hope is for anyone who is facing these demons, to seek out help when it is offered. When you can find it, take it.

Nicola lives in Rochdale, England with her husband and four children (six if you include the dog and cat!) She is the author the author of the m/m romance Souls of the Knight series, and is currently working on a standalone with new boys, James and Theo, due for release early 2016. When she is not busy playing with her imaginary book friends (or talking about them with real life friends!) she can usually be found carrying out her ordinary mum/housewife/all round slave duties. Oh, and if the kids ever ask, she moonlights as the Pink Power Ranger while they’re sleeping…




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