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A Shot in the Dark

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Life had never been simple for Miki Quinten. Her mom had died when she was eight, and in the aftermath of their loss, her father turned his grief into alcoholism, inadvertently converting their home into a melting pot of debauchery. Unwilling to be put into the foster system, Miki takes control of her own life and becomes invisible to almost everyone but her best friend and godmother.

It stayed that way until her junior year in high school and the sudden, unexpected crash landing of Childress High’s star defensive end, Dustin Hill, into her life. The unlikely pair are thrown together and discover they have more in common than either of them thought, and before either Miki or Dustin are prepared an unbreakable bond is formed between them. The only problem is, Dustin’s already in a relationship, and his controlling family have made it clear they want him to stay there.

Against Miki’s better judgment the two grow closer until fate’s twisted sense of humor intervenes and everything in Miki’s world is scattered, plunging her into a crisis she’s not sure she will ever recover from.

504 pages, Kindle Edition

Published March 12, 2018

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About the author

Lou Stock

21 books300 followers
Lou Stock has always lived in a world of her own, continuously lost in her imagination. Whether in the forests that backed up to her home in Aberdeen when she was only six years old, the unique landscape of Singapore she discovered at eight, or the rolling woodlands that rolled up to Dartmoor during her teen years, there have always been new worlds to explore.

Now an adult living in Oakhurst, Texas, surrounded by trees, she has too many stories to tell. When she's not writing, Lou can be found hanging out with her family, crazy pup, or at the computer lost in her creativity of her successful graphic design business, L.J. Designs.

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5 stars
253 (56%)
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119 (26%)
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51 (11%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 117 reviews
Profile Image for Dri ✰.
693 reviews213 followers
July 12, 2018
★ 4 stars!! ★

Another new author to me, first book I read from her and it certainly will not be the last.
I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I'm glad I gave it a chance!
What an emotional rollercoaster ride!

“How did you miss something you’d never had before?”

Profile Image for Sophie "Beware Of The Reader".
1,269 reviews337 followers
April 28, 2018
5 emotional stars

This book has been highly recommended by my friend Michelle Chen
Her selling pitch was a mix between Full Tilt and The Sweet Gum Tree.
How could I resist especially when Michelle has never stirred me wrong so far?

I went in blind not even reading the blurb
That's usually the best way for me to experience a book on blind faith trusting my friends

Now six boxes of used tissues later and red rimmed eyes I can honestly say that Michelle was right and that it will not be my latest LJ Stock book!
She is a “new to me” author in 2018 that I will add to my new favorites right alongside Kate Sterritt and James J Cudney all discovered this year. “Anonymous” author of The Siver Cage is another new author deserving a class of his own…

I don't want to spoil your fun and there is a part one and a part two in this book.

I will be minimalistic on the plot.

Miki is 16 self-sufficient and the daughter of an alcoholic. She lives in a small town in Texas and given her father's activities hosting unsavory guests she has learned to blend in. To hide in plain sight. To go unnoticed.
“Hardly anyone would miss me if I left. I was the ghost who was barely in existence, on the edge of everyone’s peripheral, but I’d long ago taught myself to blend into the scenery for self-preservation.

She lost her mom at a tender age and has been raised by her godmother Jen even if she technically lives under her father's roof.

Let's applaud Jen here as that woman, right alongside her daughter Megan has been Miki's backbone and family. Her unwavering love, her fierceness protected Miki all along. Everyone wishes such godmother for her kids.

On a Friday night Miki will bump against the town's golden son Dustin. He is the local football star. So out of Miki's league. He is the sun she was the moon. He basked in everyone's adoration even if he did not look after it.
“Dustin Hill was a senior at Childress High, and he was also the best defensive end the school had ever had, and the reason the team had a chance at State this year, which made him the best-known person in town. The boy was revered by everyone and worshipped by most, and I was always surprised when he didn’t have the drill team rolling out a red carpet everywhere he went.”

Miki was always fading in the background.
“Invisibility was a natural reaction to my unique situation.”

Surprisingly Dustin is far from a jock. He has depth, intuition, sensitivity, intelligence and has a secret.
Both will connect like they have never connected before.
They were meant to happen.

I stop here with the plot.

This book is essentially character driven. And what fabulous characters!
Miki was brave and selfless.

Dustin was the hero most dream of. He caught me in his web. I was mesmerized by his charm and charisma.

The purpose of the story is about a path you have to walk. It's about the twists that cruel mistress we call Fate can impart upon you.
It's about resilience and second chance.
How you choose to react to grief and loss. Faced with trauma you have a choice. Either wallow in your pain forgetting everyone around you. Blaming fate or others. Becoming angry and bitter.
Either trying to go on. For others who love you. To honor memories.

LJ Stock’s writing flowed effortlessly. I was not reading a story I was living another's life.

I cried buckets once more in the train and of course just before work when I was all doled up with mascara and all.
I smiled. I swooned. I hurt. I rejoiced. In one word: I felt.

Recommend it? Wholeheartedly!

Let's chat: do you love ugly cry books? Do you know this author?

Thanks for reading!

Find me on:
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Profile Image for Victoria L. James.
Author 20 books519 followers
October 19, 2017
I can't stop crying. I've been staring at a wall for about ten minutes, going over the story I've JUST finished, and my heart is so full, so warm, so broken, too... I don't even know how or why I'm writing this review right now. I know I'm going to get something wrong or miss something out, but I needed to write about this feeling while I'm experiencing it.

This is why I read.

A Shot In The Dark is the kind of book that reminds me why I read and read and read, on a never-ending quest to find the next story that will leave me feeling like I am right now. Like this. Like... lost yet found, happy yet so freakin' sad. Full... but empty. Full because I've just gone through one of those journeys I will never, ever forget. Empty because I didn't want to say goodbye.

I've read everything L.J. has ever released. Christ, I've co-written three books with her and thought, if anyone knew her writing styles and stories, it would be me. I would be able to figure out where this was going, right?

Wrong. And I've never been happier to say I was wrong.

Miki's journey is something that can never, ever be explained in a blurb on the back of a book cover. It's something I can't ever explain in a review. But you know those books you pick up and take a chance on—a shot in the dark, even ;)—this is one of those. I honestly believe the less you know the better. Go in as blind as you can and I promise you, you will not regret it.

There are so many twists and turns, so many forks in the road, so much love and so much raw, gut-wrenching heartache, you will not be able to put this story down. You won't. I wish I could say more, but I just think anything I tell you about the actual plot itself will ruin the entire experience.

If you ever choose to listen to me about anything, listen to me about this.

I wish I could give it more than five stars, but I also don't want to share it with anyone else. I feel privileged to have read it early, and I just know the whole damn world is going to enjoy having their heart stomped on by this mega-talented, severely under appreciated author.

Together, L.J. Stock and her main character Miki will take you hostage, and you will have the greatest case of Stockholm Syndrome ever known to man, because I promise you, you won't want them to ever let you go.

Floored. *drops mic*
Profile Image for 1-Click Addict Support Group.
3,749 reviews441 followers
March 22, 2018
Y'all, this book here was NOTHING like I expected and EVERYTHING that I didn't know I was missing!! A beautiful love story that you didn't see coming and when it hit me I felt like....well you have to read it for yourself. I don't think my review will do it justice but I will try to share with you why this is A.Must.Read!!!

Mikayla's life was not ideal but she learned to live it as best as she could until Dustin appeared on her rearview mirror. I was a bit skeptical because of who he was but the more I read on his true intentions the more I fell in love with the way he loved Mikayla. Their relationship had me on cloud nine but then..... Well there's too much to say and I refuse to spoil it for you but just know that you must prepare your heart and emotions because this book will have you all over the place.

This was the first book I've read from this author but it certainly will not be the last. I'm really at a lost for words on how unbelievably beautiful and breathtaking this book was. Kara~5 Stars
Profile Image for HMS.
1,415 reviews77 followers
April 13, 2018
This was a heart shredder. I was a sobbing snotty mess. Miki was self sufficient, invisible and just existing until Dustin Hill ran her off the road in his fervor to escape his life. Although the star of Childress, Dustin has no control over his life. His father, his coach and to an extent, a bitch control him. Miki listens to him and he finds it refreshing that she challenges him and makes him question just how much control he is allowing others to take. Just as quickly as Dustin enters her life, he leaves it and Miki has to find a way to carry on.
I'm stopping here for fear of a spoiler, so I'll just leave it at this; I loved the writing, the story, while heart breaking, was beautiful and I loved the characters, especially Garrett.

I took a half a star off because
Profile Image for Ambrosia.
129 reviews
July 15, 2018
I'm so mad, i feel cheated on, i was so invested in this book and the first part was good and then bam


Dustin's death was unexpected and cruel, and the fact that the heroine ended up with his brother who used to sleep with one of dustin's girlfriend in highschool was fucked up! I just can't it was just too disturbing for me and it ruined the entire story for me
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Anne OK.
3,429 reviews442 followers
July 5, 2021
This is my first read by this author, but it certainly won’t be my last! In fact, Lou Stock has a new release on July 8, 2021, entitled Before Us . . . There Was Him, and I’ve already clicked to pre-order.

Because everything about this story and these characters poses the potential for a spoiler, this is an extremely difficult review to write -- and I'm still a blubbering mess. So, you’ll have to read the blurb and go it alone from there. You won’t regret the decision.

The book is divided into two parts with a totally unexpected and devastating shocker in between the fourteen years that separate Part I and Part II. The transition was easy to follow, and the characters openly shared their thoughts and emotions fully and believe me, there were many. Gut punches come frequently and it’s hard to find hope at times between the flames of love and the mental and physical struggles that seemed to attach themselves to our main characters -- particularly the female.

Stunned and wrecked – those are the words that immediately come to mind every time I think about this bittersweet story and how it resonated with me. Well-written and certainly surprising, this is an author who hits her mark with a powerful story that leaves an impact on readers.
Profile Image for Heather Ross.
131 reviews3 followers
March 12, 2018
This book is, quite simply, a masterpiece. MIki’s story reads so beautifully that you know instinctively that it’s been written from the heart. She’s such a beautifully spirited character who has been battered and bruised by all that life has thrown at her yet never allowed any of it to break her spirit or stop her from being who she is. There’s a purity to her, a soul that’s somehow come through everything untainted. She’s the girl we all wish we could be.

I don’t want to say too much about the male characters in this book at risk of giving away too much of the plot, but needless to say, we are treated here to LJ Stock’s usual brand of hottie—swoon worthy with a smart mouth and a quick wit.

The story meanders along and you think you know where it’s all headed, and that’s when the author turns everything on its head. Because be warned, this is not your usual boy meets girl love story. There is a surprise at every turn here, and the author skilfully navigates you through each twist leaving you safe in the knowledge that while the words on the page might tear your heart out and stamp all over it, you are nonetheless safe in her hands. You feel at all times as though your heart is in the grip of somebody who has spent years honing their craft and that while she may shatter your soul with her words, she’ll also have glued it back together by the time you turn the last page.
Profile Image for Claire Allmendinger.
17 reviews9 followers
January 18, 2018
I was privileged to read an advance copy of this book and I’m not afraid to say that I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts before leaving this review.

The writing is simply stunning! LJ take us on Mikayla’s journey through the end of High School to adulthood and portrays it fabulously. Miki has had a tough life and her resilience and determination to be fiercely independent comes shining through the words from the get-go. She has a very close-knit group of allies in life and when that could have toughened her and caused her to build walls (it does to an extent) she can’t help but allow the High School jock, Dustin, into her heart. Turns out when Miki loves, she loves hard! And as a reader, you really can’t help but be rooting for her, whooping and hollering all the way as Dustin turns out to be far more than anyone expected.

When life hits…as life does…we are taken to the second part of Miki’s life. In my opinion, this is when LJ just outdoes herself. The second half of this book is even more passionate, captivating and plain un-put-downable. The surprises are genius and only the most talented writer could do that, all the while, keeping the reader fixated on the pages. The characters are well-formed and extremely likeable while the words just flow like the story just gushed from LJ’s fingertips.

I was broken several times reading this books, but LJ put me back together every time and the ending is so beautifully written and wraps up the story so perfectly. I think it’s up there as one of my favourite romance book endings ever!

Highly recommended!
March 18, 2018
OMG...This book was truly an emotional rollercoaster. The drama, twist and turns this book took me on left me breathless and wanting/waiting for more. I laughed, cried, cried some and then felt peace. This was an amazing story and brilliantly written.
Profile Image for Nikki Ashton.
Author 34 books326 followers
March 21, 2021
I have had this book on my Kindle for a couple of years, ever since I read Lou's collaboration with Vic James. I hadn't read it because I had a feeling it might break my heart. I was right it did and to say I sobbed is an understatement. That being said, Lou managed to put my heart back together and give it an extra little shine by the end of this gorgeous story of growth and love. The writing was sharp and beautiful and wrapped itself around my soul, never to let go. I have so much to say but can't without giving parts of the story away and yet I want to write pages of why this book is so amazing. It's not just the incredible prose and the descriptive narrative that Lou mixes together effortlessly, it's the characterisation that shoots this book to epic proportions. This love story has a destination that you pray for and you're taken on a journey of twists and turns and a route that you never considered to get there. Once you do reach the end you will most probably stare at your book or your kindle and wonder how the hell you get over this book. It has constantly been in my thoughts for the three days I've been reading it, feeling every emotion and pondering the what ifs—to me that is a mark of a brilliant story and an amazing story teller. I can not recommend this book enough. Yes you will cry, both sad and happy tears, but ultimately your heart will swell with love for these characters and their love stories.
Profile Image for Camila Matuella.
582 reviews
July 20, 2018
4 ★

Que livro mais lindo esse, de fazer a gente suspirar e chorar e chorar muito... Eu não sei nem o que dizer direito do livro a não ser que eu amei muito ele. ♡
Profile Image for Jan .
2,153 reviews45 followers
October 15, 2020
"there’s a preordained path we all take.”

There are books that stick with me long after the last page and there have been other books along my reading journey that broke my heart only to then put it back together but A Shot in the dark by L.J. Stock...I just have no words for this book. I finished it in awe.
I'm still processing, I'm still seeing scenes play over in my mind and the whispering of words still trailing through thoughts from this beautifully written book. 💕

A fateful meeting, a high school romance, a secret romance. Miki Quinten ventured into the romance of a lifetime in secret with the highschool superstar, they meet in secret places only they knew about, stolen brushes of hands and secret kisses until it all went terribly wrong. One moment changed her life forever but out of it came a beautiful story of first love.

"I wasn’t totally blind or delusional. I had noticed the secrecy that Dustin was establishing our friendship on. I was being hidden away like an enigma, a little secret that was bordering on dirty for the high school football star".

"One night. One night with this guy was all it took for me to see the world in a whole new set of colors."

Real, raw, moving, emotional, so many words stand out throughout Miki's story but tragic is the one that stands out the most.

A tragic upbringing, a tragic childhood then the after the trajic teenage relationship with her father came a tragic love story.

Two real loves in one lifetime, this is where it was real, the raw was dealing with the pain and having to go on when your world feels like it just ended. So movong, there are so many emotions this story evoked, I felt for Miki and so many times I admired her ability to get back up after being knocked down and the strength she had of a girl who had pretty much brought herself up.

A book of two halves, second chances, a character who's own heart became two halves until it became whole again, but not without a fight, not without healing and even then years had passed.

You need to go into this blind, I tried so hard with my review not to add spoilers with regards to the plot, you need to feed on the words and feel the emotions, look at this in color.
This was my first stand-alone book by this author and it won't be my last, I did finish with a contented and happy sigh, but the journey...damn. I can only describe it as and use the quote from the Lock stock and two smoking barrels

"It's been emotional"

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart”
― Helen Keller

Totally recommended read. Thank you to those who recommended it to me, this is one that will stick with me and that my friend is a masterpiece.

Profile Image for Di Vernon.
37 reviews
March 12, 2018

What an emotional rollercoaster, I laughed and cried my way through this book...sometimes at the same time. The characters are incredibly well developed, the storyline is in 2 parts which I can't say much on without giving spoilers. I will say that the story does contain underage sex she's 16 when they meet, he is 18 but in the context of the plot it works and isn't by any means gratuitous. Fell in love with not only the primary characters but majority of the secondary as well.
I would highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more by the author in the future.
Profile Image for Rosa Sharon (iScream Book Blog).
1,867 reviews294 followers
February 25, 2018
"Despite the scars that were now etched into my heart and soul, time continued to pass."

It was back in 2015 that I read a story that L.J. Stock co-wrote. I enjoyed it so much that when this title crossed my path, I remembered her name. After reading the synopsis I was intrigued, I blame my addiction to broken characters for some of the choices I make and for many of the tears I've cried. And I blame L.J. Stock for the heart-shaped lump in my throat as I try to make sense of my scattered thoughts and write this review.

This amazing story is told from Mikayla's POV. It begins with her being a junior in high school. She might be only 16 yrs old, but she's lived a hard life and is very mature. She's basically taking care of herself, and has been for years, with only a little help from her best friend and godmother. Her father provides shelter and not much else other than the stuff that no young girl should be exposed to. She knows that if she brings it to anyone's attention she would end up in foster care and risk losing the only the people that do love and care about her. So she just keeps to herself, hiding in plain sight.

When Dustin comes into her life she learns that solitude is overrated. There's something to what they say about sharing your thoughts and dreams with someone who listens and supports you. With him she was not invisible... he sees her. But unfortunately, the whole town sees him. He is the star athlete that everyone wants a piece of. His life is not his own and he is being pulled in so many directions he doesn't know if he is coming or going. When he almost ran into Mikayla, literally, he was shocked to learn that she'd been at school with him for a long time and he'd never noticed her before. And now that he has, he can't stop noticing her. She's off-limits, forbidden, and irresistible.

They find ways to spend time together, stolen fragments of time that only make them want more. "He was heat and comfort, love and passion. He was the other half of the whole that made us...us.

The author pulled me into their tragic love story. I held my breath and watched them fall slowly and beautifully in love in spite of all the reasons they shouldn't. I watched Miki come out of her shell and blossom under his care and attention. I saw the pressures his family put him under weigh him down and discourage him, and then I saw the peace he found just being in Miki's presence. They were drawn to each other like bees to flowers, and metal to magnets.

After reading the synopsis, I knew something bad was coming. I just didn't know what. I was afraid to turn each page fearing that whatever it was would be there. I fell so hard for this couple who had overcome so much and fought so hard to be together. I was mentally envisioning their future wedding, kids, and pets. There were a few other characters that I wanted to use for target practice. I was guessing what could possibly be considered a crisis that she might not ever recover from, afraid to even let my mind go there, but unable to stop it from doing so.

Well, let's just say that I survived, but just barely. I went through a box of kleenex and I gnawed my nails to nubs. My heart was put through an emotional wringer and I wasn't sure if I would recover. But one thing I am sure of, A Shot In The Dark is not a story I will be forgetting anytime soon. I'll be on the lookout for whatever the author has for us next. The line forms here...
March 6, 2018
Wow. This is my first solo book by LJ Stock & I have to say I’m absolutely blown away with this amazingly powerful story of love, loss & hope. This entire story wrapped tightly around my heart, as I became utterly lost to its beautiful characters, stunning storyline & heart wrenching, gut punching emotions.

It’s so hard to say a lot about this book without giving anything away, but what I will say is that Lou does an outstanding job at showing just how strong & resilient the human spirit can be in order to survive life. How love can save you from yourself, even when you don’t think you need saving & no matter how difficult the path you have to walk down is, the journey if your brave & courageous enough, will always be worth it in the end.

I loved Miki from the first moment I met her & just as her character grew, so did my love & respect for her. She could have let life crush her, but she didn’t, instead she carved her own path & owned it. God she is a warrior worthy of a beautiful life & she stole my breath with her courage & capacity to love. I seriously adored how she opened her heart with a such a pure, innocent beauty, giving her all to those who were worthy & never demanded anything in return. Such an amazing heroine.

My heart is so full, yet still feels battered & bruised long after I’ve finished. Lou has majestically woven so many fabulous layers into this story. I was left hanging on every single word, in every heartachingly beautiful scene, not quite knowing where she was taking me next & definitely not realising just how much the entire journey was going to hurt my soul.

This book...It’s so much more than a love story, it’s so much more than boy meets girl. It’s tragedy, pain & sorrow. It’s hope, faith & love.

Already a firm Top Read of 2018 for me. 5 Soul Crushing Stars
Profile Image for Amanda  B Gillespie.
510 reviews15 followers
March 12, 2018
A Shot in the Dark is one of those books that you cannot expect to read quickly or in one sitting. It's a very long book and could easily have been made into two books. It seemed like it was moving slowly, but I don't think it really was as much as there were a lot of words but all of them seem to be necessary because if I attempted to skip through a few words, you found myself having to go back because what I was missing was important. It was a very emotional story, and the end blew me away. It's not often that I don't predict early on what is going to happen and do it correctly but this one I caught myself messaging another friend with all kinds of expletives because it just really shocked me. I would have enjoyed this book better if it had been broken down into two books because I would have been more prepared for how long it really was. But I'm glad I read it. I did enjoy it, and will definitely read more from this author again.
Profile Image for Karyn.
297 reviews4 followers
March 12, 2018
What a rollercoaster ride this book is!

There is so much I want to say but I am afraid to give anything away. This is such an incredible story with many surprises that had me smiling and crying. The characters are wonderfully written and drew me completely into the story. This is one of those stories that keep you up way past your bedtime and stays with you well after you finish reading it. A Shot in the Dark would be a great book for a book club as you will want to laugh, cry, and yell with others about.

If you are looking for an incredible story that will have you gasping at the turn of events, read this one!

100 reviews
March 16, 2018
Great book

I'm not really good at leaving reviews but I just want to leave a quick one for this story. A story of young love turned to tragedy about enduring heart ache but never giving up. This story made me laugh and cry it had a good twist to it as well. Give it a read you won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for MammieBabbie.
301 reviews11 followers
March 13, 2018
An awing and heart shattering contemporary romance full of grit and overwhelming rawness. Romance will never be the same again...

There is so much that I want to say, but I can't. I want to beg people to read this book because it's one of those that will put so many things into perspective. Things that so many of us take for granted or overlook in our wonderings through life. I feel like L.J. Stock put a hole a in my heart and I can't quite seem to patch it up or stitch it closed. A Shot In The Dark did something that I can't quite put into words. I can't put my finger on when Miki and Dustin's story went from just that, a story, to a living and breathing journey. I want to shout and scream all this  angst flowing through me somewhere into the universe so that I don't have to feel like this anymore. I feel like there's no escape from all the haunting words and thoughts that are stuck in my head. Call me melodramatic, call me insane, but this book...this story has clawed itself into every part of my being. I can't shake it, and even though it's turmoil and suffocation and all these things that are making it hard for me to move on and just be...just breathe, I don't want to.

A Shot In The Dark is the first solo book I've read from L.J. Stock, and although it won't be my last I can't even begin to entertain the thought of reading another of her books so soon. I feel myself itch to do it but every time I think I can, it's like all these thoughts and feelings remind me that I'm not ready to. I never thought I'd get this emotionally invested in a book to the point that I struggle to pick another one up. I've had many a book blues, but this—this is something beyond that. It's like a tsunami of emotions and feelings and needs. It's a rip tide that keeps pulling me farther and farther away from sanity and reality and it's not even like I can fight it.

When I was recommended this book I didn't expect it to be what it is. Yes, I am going to be ambiguous about the plot. Believe me, you want to go into this book completely blind. You need to go in unknowing of everything that will unfold. This is one of those gems that every little twist and turn is cunningly and deliberately manoeuvred so that you don't just follow the story, but you live it with the characters. this is the kind of book that will change the way you read...the way you perceive words on a page. You know, there are books that are written, stories that are told with the intention of stirring these emotions in you, and yes, they are brilliant books. However, the build up and the draw of this book is so organic. It's not something you can provoke or insight, it's not a seed that's planted and it grows within you. It's something natural. It's the inevitable. It's fate. You know? Ms. Stock hasn't gone out of her way to make it what it is. It just is. And I know that it doesn't make sense. I know that it sounds silly, but it's the truth. Yes, the writing is faultless—EVERYTHING about this book is faultless—but it goes beyond the words. There's this rawness and this grit that overwhelm you. Your heartstrings aren't pulled, your heart itself is battered and bruised. It's ripped apart. This is a whole new experience. You won't know what hit you.

I normally like to talk about the characters, because I believe that characters can make or break a book. They are the living and breathing soul of the story, and in this case it's truer than ever. But, Ms. Stock has woven the story progression os tightly with that of the characters that it is impossible to discuss them without spoiling their journey for you. All I can say is that these characters go beyond make believe. They go beyond the labels and boundaries of fiction and reality. You don't just feel like you know them, you feel like you're a part of them. Or perhaps it's that they do become a part of you. They steal a parts of your heart and your soul.

I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I need to move on but I can't. I don't want to move on but I should. I'm stuck. I've never been this stuck before. I've read so many books. I've lost myself to so many stories. Yet, this feels like something different. Something more. This whole experience was unpredictable and although it pained me...although it made my life hell, I could always feel the clarity and freedom that came with every wave of gut wrenching emotions. In some ways I didn't think I could cope, but at the same time I had no choice but to trust where Ms. Stock was taking me. It was a journey that at times felt hard and lonesome, but it was also something magnificent and monumental.

A Shot In The Dark is the book that will change how you read romance.
Profile Image for Tara Bryant.
147 reviews3 followers
March 7, 2018
A Shot In the Dark
By L.J. Stock

“The two of us must have laid there for an hour or two before I felt his hand brush over my wrist, seconds before his fingers intertwined with mine. There was nothing more to say, but the touch made us both relax, making the silence even more comfortable than it had been.”

Taking chances....Making memories....Tragic endings.....New beginnings.....A Shot in the Dark makes all these things a reality. From the moment I started reading this book, I knew my heart would be broken. What I didn’t know, was how much love and emotion LJ put into her words, causing this story to completely devastate me. But LJ made amends, and A Shot in the Dark become an epic love story. I bawled (numerous times); I walked away to regain myself; but in the end I was smiling like a fool. True love always finds a way. Sometimes the path we have to travel to find it isn’t always fair, but in the end love wins and we are that much stronger.

“I thought I’d known him, thought I could trust him, but all he’d managed to do after our time together was hurt me. I’d allowed that. I’d given him the power to do that.”

A Shot in the Dark is home to some of the best characters I have ever met. Miki, Dustin, Garret, Jen and Megan bring so much life to the story! The words that LJ uses to create each character, each scene, and each setting flows like magic. Every piece has its place, and Childress is glue that sticks them all together. The setting is everything you’d expect from a small football town, from the expectations of the players right down to the “It” girl looking for a free ride out of town.

“I knew love had the absolute power of destruction. I understood the capabilities to render you incapacitated. Love was wonderful and awful all at the same time, and I knew I wouldn’t have traded that in for the world.”

I cannot tell you enough to read this book. It has everything a great book should have. Five simple words...A Shot in the Dark...they will change the way you view life and love. It will break you and rebuild your trust. It will make you cry and make you smile. This is one book you HAVE TO read. Trust me!!

“It wasn’t going to be easy, we all knew that, but for the second time in my life, I was figuring out that the best things in life were worth the fight, and I wasn’t going to stop fighting ever again.”

Profile Image for Michelle.
2,942 reviews21 followers
March 12, 2018
Miki (Mikayla) Quinten prefers to stay under the radar and remain invisible. She keeps to herself and avoids interaction with other people, including her own father who ignores her existence. She's biding her time until she graduates high school to start her own life independently. But Dustin Hill, star player of the football team, nearly collides with her one evening as he seeks his own escape and from there, they became friends. They share a lot in common and as Miki discovers, she really enjoys Dustin's company although he lives in the spotlight in their town and high school. But Dustin won't leave Miki alone because he has found someone he can be himself with. I adored both Miki and Dustin. Together, they are so sweet and lovable as a duo. Miki is so used to being ignored and neglected that she has accepted her loneliness, only to find that Dustin is the bright spot in her life that gives her purpose and meaning. And despite Dustin's high profile life with the expectations on his shoulders, he's very down to earth, caring and considerate and prioritizes Miki despite all of the obstacles and hidden nature of their relationship. I was completely engrossed in these two characters as I kept trying to figure out where this story would go and how it would end. So when I got near the end of Part 1, I was in for a big surprise and was completely gutted, thinking "No, no no!" and in complete disbelief. That didn't stop me from diving in to Part 2, wondering where this new direction would go, although I had an inkling, but still, was thrown for a loop in the very best way. It's not always easy to write these kinds of storylines and to do justice to all of the characters, both past and present, but I found myself invested again and loved the layers and lessons embedded in this story about love, loss, redemption, forgiveness and second chances. So many feels and interesting twists with a great cast of characters that I was on board with everything that happened and I actually hated to be done with the book. I loved this story and want to check out more works by this author.

*I received an ARC*
Profile Image for Charlie Matthews.
Author 4 books30 followers
March 12, 2018
Every once in a while you stumble across a story unlike no other, that will, quite literally, leave you breathless. All the while you’ll be wondering how you will ever recover from it. A Shot in the Dark did just that. Amongst other things...

It’s no secret that I enjoy L.J’s style of writing and that her storytelling is simply sublime. But this... This story was on a whole other level to that of which she usually writes, and I believe wholeheartedly that this story will be huge.

Now, I’ve been mulling over this review for what feels like an eternity, wondering how I will ever do the story justice. Whether this review will be worthy enough. Well, I’ve pretty much given up because, quite frankly, no review will be worthy. No review will do this story the justice it so deeply deserves.

I knew from the ending of part one that I would never recover from this emotional read, and I was right. More than a month later and I’m still fully invested in the characters, the plot and the emotional heartache. I guess that’s why I’m at a complete loss for words. All I can say is, if you do anything today, let it be this. Read, fall in love, go through the emotions no matter how hard they grip you. Because I can promise you this; you won’t regret it.
Profile Image for Mary.
24 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2018
This book! This freaking book just blew me away! It's definitely one of my favourite reads of 2018.

Ms Stock has an exceptional propensity to draw the reader into the story from the very first page. I was hooked immediately and captivated the whole way through.
I don't like to give away any plot details when I review books because I prefer to go into a book blind. What I will say though is that it's a story about love and loss, of endurance and ability to overcome. This book will wreck you, but fear not, it will also heal you completely.
Be warned though this book will leave you with a massive book hangover, oh the joys of being a book addict! ;)

This book deserves to be massive because it is quite simply a stunning story written beautifully.
Profile Image for Ann (Literary Lust).
1,105 reviews19 followers
July 16, 2022
A Shot in The Dark has been on my reading list for far too long, and I am so pleased to have finally read it.

I’d suggest you have tissues to hand – yes, you’re going to need them. I loved that this book is written in two parts and as much as I enjoyed witnessing the developing relationship between Mikayla and Dustin in part one, I actually loved the time spent with Mikayla and Holly during part two more. I completely understand why Mikayla wants to be like Holly - I absolutely love that girl!!

A Shot in The Dark is one of those stories that you need to go into blind. Please don’t read any spoilers as you’ll enjoy experiencing all the emotions that this story brings out in the reader as it progresses. I had no idea what was going to happen and I loved that.

You’ll adore Mikayla from the moment you meet her, and be thankful of Megan and Jen (who I absolutely adore too!!). There are a couple of characters that you’ll love to hate. Lots of twists and turns to keep you turning those pages, and a few scenes that will break your heart but many more that will make you smile. Enjoy!!

4 stars
Profile Image for Karen Wood.
548 reviews1 follower
May 17, 2020
WOW....where do I start with this book! It was recommended to me by another author who I trust, so I gave it a go and so glad I did. It is one of those books that you don't want to write too much about the storyline so as you don't spoil it for others, you need to read it for yourself, you need to feel it, live it, be swept away by it.

I found myself heartbroken before things happened, there were a lot of twists that I didn't see coming, some I should have, but was so engrossed in the story that my brain wasn't thinking straight.

This book had me from page one till the end, Such a beautiful story about love, loss and happy ever afters, you laugh with them, cry for them, Miki's story is heartbreaking but happy at the same time, 5 stars are not enough for this book, it is beautifully written, utterly brilliant, and a must-read.
Profile Image for Laura Smith.
600 reviews19 followers
March 12, 2018
Omg! Where do I even start. Firstly let me start my saying this is the best book of 2018 I have read and I know hands down it will take something special to beat it.

This is the first solo written book by LJ Stock that I have read and I loved every part of it. Yes the author ripped my heart out, stomped all over it and then put it back together, but it was worth it. This book is something special and I dare not say anything as I don’t want to risk spoiling this beauty for anyone. I can assure you, you will not be disappointed in the slightest.

The main character Miki is a very easy character to fall in love with you. She is strong and high spirited. Regardless of what she has gone through, she still keeps smiling and when Dustin comes on the scene, she really comes out of her shell. But fate has other ideas and things don’t work out quite as planned.

Oh and make sure have tissues handy! Trust me! YOU WILL NEED THEM!!

L J Stock has become one of my favourite new authors and I cannot wait to read more from her.
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