ARC Review + Giveaway: The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar

8 Aug 2015

Book Title: The Paper Swan
Author: Leylah Attar
Series: Standalone
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
Genres: Dark Romance
They say it takes 21 days to form a habit.
They lie.
For 21 days she held on.
But on Day 22, she would have given anything for the sweet slumber of death.
Because on Day 22, she realizes that her only way out means certain death for one of the two men she loves.

A haunting tale of passion, loss, and redemption, The Paper Swan is a darkly intense yet heartwarming love story, textured with grit, intrigue, and suspense. Please note: This is NOT a love triangle.

A full-length, standalone novel, intended for mature audiences due to violence, sex and language. Subject matter may be disturbing for some readers.



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"How much do you think your life is worth, Skye Sedgewick?"
The Paper Swan was every single thing I love about dark gritty books! I purposefully waited 24 hours to write my review to spare everyone a verbal diarrhea of fangirling. You're welcome. Even more so, I'm treading lightly here as this book should be experienced as blindly as possible without too many plot spoilers.

I'd first experienced Leylah Attar's writing when I read 53 Letters for My Lover I knew she had talent for slightly, but not over the top, poetic prose, but her venturing into the dark side of Contemporary Romance was one smart move on her part! Way to go!

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What do we get with The Paper Swan? We get a plotline that carries the reader from sweet childhood moments thru adulthood filled with anything but sweet. The heroine, Skye, is the kinda spoiled but loveable wealthy daughter of Warren Sedgewick, prominent businessman with dirty ties to the Mexican cartel. She befriends her nanny's son, Esteban and they essentially spend all their early years together- one rich, one poor, both fast friends much like siblings, making paper swans, collecting sea shells along the Mexican coastline and singing Spanish lullabies with Esteban's mother, MaMaLu.

And then they separated, grew up, and everything went to Hell in a hand basket. Enter the dark side of The Paper Swan. A side filled with vengeance, abduction...captivity. An anti-hero named Damian that's ruthless and will stop at nothing to exact his revenge on her father.

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The Paper Swan promises a hero filled with rage yet deep down a tiny warm light still shines beneath all the hate. What I LOVED most was Ms Attar didn't do what so many authors do with tropes like this and have the cold-hearted anti-hero do an immediate 180' change of heart in the presence of love- to turn a hateful hero into this swoony sweet Casanova. The plot has an angsty slow build AND a slow thaw. So often books are centered around revenge but with the snap of the fingers, all plans are off and the H/h ride off into the sunset. Not believable.

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The Mexican cartel is focused heavily in this book and it's clear the author did a fair amount of research with both their illegal dealings and also the life inside Mexican prisons. There's cartel lingo and I wish I spoke Spanish a bit more but I wasn't completely lost on their dialogue.

The Paper Swan is gritty, dark and violent at points, yet packs a love story of epic proportions. That innocent young first love that spans a lifetime and never seems to extinguish completely. The story spans some 25 years and we truly live through a journey here..of giving us the completeness of everything going full circle. This is why I prefer standalones. We get it all, wrapped up in a perfect package and aren't left to wait months for the sequel in order for the story to be fully played out. We also get dual POVs, but not the flip-floppy every chapter type. The type where when you're just starting to think, I'd sure love to be in Skye's head right now, the POV swaps to her. And though the book spans many years, there isn't big disjointed time-jumps that tend to drive me crazy. It flowed flawlessly. 

Leylah Attar has a poetic writing style that engrossed me from the start. Not over the top, but coupled with thorough character development and depth of story, it's completely all-encompassing. It's truly a book to get lost in...lost in the world of her characters, lost in her beautiful words. This quote I found strikingly beautiful and truly shows the love story buried beneath the violent cartel plotline.

"We are sand and rock and water and sky, anchors on ships and sails in the wind. We are a journey to a destination that shifts every time we dream or fall or leap or weep. We are stars with flaws that still sparkle and shine. We will always strive, always want, always have more questions than answers, but there are moments like these, full of magic and contentment, when souls get a glimpse of the divine and quite simply, lose their breath."
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I HIGHLY recommend The Paper Swan for fans of darker, grittier books yet still want that love story built in. The story is sadly believable and told in a way I couldn't help but embrace it wholeheartedly, wishing for a happily ever after for all. Bravo, Leylah Attar! Thanks for venturing into the dark side. And please please please give me a novella at least for Raphael.

An ARC copy was kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


Leylah Attar writes stories about love - shaken, stirred and served with a twist. When she's not writing, she can be found pursuing her other passions: photography, food, family and travel. Sometimes she disappears into the black hole of the internet, but can usually be enticed out with chocolate.


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