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Publisher's Summary

Heartbreakingly beautiful and completely engrossing, Used is packed full of twists, turns, and a gripping romance sure to leave listeners emotionally spent and asking for more.

At the age of 17, after a decade of lies, hurt, and severe abuse by her brother, Lucas, Sabra Valentine is able to breathe. 

Lucas is behind bars, thanks in large part to Sabra's quick thinking and self-preservation - even if that's one more secret she has to keep. 

Now, seven years later, life is moving forward, and Sabra is starting to heal, live, and love again with her friends and Trevor Collins by her side. He's tall, dark, and sexy, and he doesn't fall for Sabra's games. The future is finally looking bright - until one phone call shatters everything. 

Used is a romantic suspense with domestic-thriller elements. Please be aware that there are topics that may be triggers for some listeners, and this work is meant for mature listeners.

©2020 Kelly P. Simmon (P)2021 Kelly P. Simmon

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✫✫ 4.5 Stars ✫✫

What a great debut novel for Kate Dunbar! I was unsure if this was going to be a very dark book because of the warnings but in the end it really wasn't IMHO. Yes there were dark themes and situations but most of them were in the past and even in the flashbacks we didn't get more than a quick retelling without descriptions or details. So while I am sure this book needs trigger warnings for some, it wasn't an issue for me at all.

In the very beginning I thought the story was going to be very different and I am so glad I was wrong. I really enjoyed the love story between a girl with a bad past and a boy who just wanted to love her. For me this was a story about sexual abuse, family dysfunction, shame and growth all in one. We learn that no matter how bad the past, if you find the right person to trust and share your issue with, you can come out of it a stronger person. Loved that so much!

Stella Hunter's narration was great, she has a young voice and was perfect for these characters. She hit all the emotions spot on and her voice for Lucas was creepy.

8 people found this helpful

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WOW ❤️ 5 ⭐

WOW ❤️ 5 ⭐
What an amazing story for Kate Dunbar's debut novel! This was a very emotional story that at first I thought was going to be hard to to listen to but it was very well written. When the story goes to the past abuse, it was just touched upon the time when it happened and no details were mentioned. Sabra was such a strong woman getting on with her life with Trevor until her brother Lucas was let out of jail. I wish she didn't try to do everything on her own and alienate Trevor. I found myself with tears many times listening to this story because my heart was breaking for Sabra because she was just so ashamed to tell Trevor her past until she had to. I also found myself happy and smiling and enjoying their love story. I love Trevor and what a wonderful man he is and that no matter what she did or said to him, he kept coming back and always loved her. This was a wonderful story of letting real love in to help heal you and start living again. Stella's narration was just phenomenal! She did all the voices and characters fantastic, and if you didn't know better, you would have thought there were male and female narrators. I think her beautiful narration also helped bring out the feelings in this audiobook. I really loved this book and would recommend it, if the abuse triggers aren't an issue for you.

2 people found this helpful

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Intense and emotional

I’m not sure where to start with this review. Both the author Kate Dunbar and narrator Stella Hunter are new to me.
This was a raw, gritty, powerful story that drew me in and kept me on the edge of my seat whilst listening. Please be advised that there is some domestic violence and therefore may be a trigger for some, so you have been warned. The author handled the subject matter with honesty and dignity.
After years of abuse Sabra is finally coming into the light with Trevor by her side. It was beautiful to listen to her learn to trust in Trevor and find real love.
There were so many twists and turns that I felt as though I was on an emotional roller coaster that wouldn’t stop and let me off.
This is a powerful story of determination, of overcoming the horrors of ones past and learning to live, love and trust again. The narration drew me in and brought the story to life for me. Stella Hunter certainly did justice to the characters.
I was amazed to learn that this is Kate Dunbar’s debut novel, what a book to start her career on.


2 people found this helpful

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Heartbreaking and Compelling!

Used by Kate Dunbar is so much more than a book about abuse. The author handles the topic with compassion, awareness, reality and panache. I loved how love was the healing mechanism in this book. The imagery and descriptions were vivid and emotional. Stella Hunter was perfect at performing this book. She added the right emotions and brought the characters to life. I highly recommend it. Thank you #AudiobookObsession for recommending this title to me.

1 person found this helpful

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Deeply Emotional Book

There are a Lot of hard emotions in this book. It made me happy when Sabra started healing but it made me cry for the fact that she suffered at Lucas's hand so much.
Standalone with no cliffhangers.
Sabra grew up in the perfect family with a brother from hell, and her parents never new.
Now she is moving forward with a great guy, Trevor who refused to give up on getting her attention.
Then he'll came back into her life. Can she survive this time.
I received a free copy of this audiobook for my unbiased opinion.
Some parts are hard to hear but Kate did an amazing job.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful story about survival!

Used is a story that will break you and put you back together again. It’s a story of abuse that becomes a story of empowerment.

Sabra spent years at the abusive hands of someone that should always want to protect her. Her very own brother, Lucas. Finally able to breathe after he’s sent to jail, Sabra is free. Seven years later, Lucas is out and she is thrown back into the nightmare she thought she woke up from.

This book was a beautiful story of survival. Sabra should be broken. But she’s the strongest woman I’ve ever read. To go through what she did and still be able to want happiness out of life is so admirable. She has two people that helped with this. Her best friend, Micah, who’s a protective spitfire that I loved. And Trevor. Trevor is absolutely amazing. Strong, confident, compassionate. And those are just a few of his traits.

This story pulls you in from the very beginning until the end. I was given an ALC of the audiobook version. It was narrated by the talented Stella Hunter. She brought Sabra to life and narrated her story with such passion. This is Kate Dunbar’s first novel and I’m so thankful she chose me to listen to something so personal.

1 person found this helpful

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5 Twisty Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Used by Kate Dunbar has been on my TBR since 2017 and I had not gotten around to reading it yet. I got the opportunity to review Used in audio... my socks were knocked off. This story is a dark, twisted and fantastic story of a woman that must face her past and her fears to get to her happiness. Trevor is a rock and the light in her darkest hour. I would recommend this story to anyone and plan to reread this over and over.


5 Twisty Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

#twistylovestory #fivestarreview

1 person found this helpful

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Epic and thrilling! Loved it!

Used by Kate Dunbar is an intense, epic, ride! This story is narrated by Stella Hunter.

Sabra has had a dark past, that she has kept locked inside for a long time. She finally gives herself to Trevor, who she trusts and eventually comes to love. However, demons from her past that have used her keep coming back to haunt her, so its difficult to truly give her entire self to Trevor. Trevor is persistent, and gives his whole self to her. I love how he becomes her rock. Then one fateful night, Sabra comes face to face with her past...

Stella Hunter was fantastic as Sabra. I truly felt all of Sabra's twisted, and haunted emotions in her performance. Her "Trevor" voice was super tempting, and made you truly root for her to make it work with him. Overall, her performance of this story kept me captivated the entire way!

Kate Dunbar's debut novel was haunting and alluring in all the right ways. This book has some triggers, so I encourage you to listen to the beginning of the novel, to make sure this is the right book for you. This story will leave a lasting impression on your heart, and will give light some tough topics, that are so worthy of being aware of! I really enjoyed this story and I look forward to Micah's story next!

1 person found this helpful

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Through the darkness a light will shine

I was pulled in from the very beginning of this story. Warning this book has dark subject matter that may not be suitable for everyone but I will say this, the author told the story without having to give all the disturbing details that you know were there for this character. Well done and I applaud the author for getting the story out without having to expose Sabra's tragic experiences any more than she did.

Sabra Valentine is a sweet child but she has a secret. One that could destroy her family. Fast forward to adult Sabra and she is still keeping her dark secrets hidden deep in her soul. When her best friend Trevor finally earns her trust she starts to see she can never heal without exposing the wounds that have been there for years. There is healing in this book and an understanding for domestics abuse victims as to why things are allowed and kept silent. I got wrapped up in Sabra and wanted her to find her HEA. I loved Trevor and his patience and love for Sabra. I love that he never gave up on her no matter what.

Stella Hunter did an amazing job narrating this story. The emotion for Sabra was there throughout and I felt she captured her perfectly. I loved listening to her narration.

I loved this book and highly recommend it. Even if dark thrillers are not normally your troupe, as they are not my go to either, I hope you will explore it as I really enjoyed it and so glad I listened. I hope you will be too.

Through the darkness a light will shine and love will heal all the broken pieces.

1 person found this helpful

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What a Fantastic Debut!

Kate Dunbar’s debut novel, Used, is not my regular type of read. I am also on a blog hiatus because I just can’t focus on most books right now while I am in the middle of a home renovation. I had no such issue with USED. In fact, I listened to it in a couple of days, riveted, and tried to beg off on plans so I can continue listening.

"A shadow sits on the steps leading to my door. And I know exactly who it is. It’s the same shadow that’s been following me my whole life."

Sabra is finally opening up to the idea of a relationship with her close friend Trevor after holding herself back for 4 years because of her past when her past comes back to haunt her. Her brother Lucas was released from jail and is back in her life to terrorize her.

Sabra’s story is told in the present, but there are some flashbacks that allude to what happened to her in the past without a lot of triggering detail. Her brother was a sick fuck, and the more you read and see the ways he now tortures her from afar, the more you realize happened in the past, yet Kate never actually tells you.

Trevor. OMG, Trevor was amazing. He was so patient (four years!), and he was determined to fight her demons and the walls she put up. He was protective and supportive and was just the perfect guy to help Sabra through this horrible ordeal.

“I want a present and a future with you, sweetheart. We can’t ignore the things that have happened or were done to us in the past. They have helped mold us into who we are today. And I love who you are today.”

I have never read a story where a character is emotionally and sexually tormented by a sibling and it’s a scary situation that never even occurred to me, but is probably way more common than I thought. But I must say, it drove me a little crazy that Sabra didn’t have enough self-preservation to tell her parents, a counselor, a friend….anyone. Her best friend Micah (who was an amazing character) knew a little, but nobody knew it all. She is very lucky to have both Trevor and Micah in her life.

“Please don’t shut me out again. Please let me be here for you. For whatever you need.” He pauses. “I’m here, Say.”

Likes:
•A completely unique story, unlike anything I have read before.
•Kept my attention riveted when nothing else has.
•The way it was told, with vague flashbacks and glimpses of the past was seamless and so well done.
•Trevor was literally perfect in every way.
•Micah, her best friend, was a fantastic addition.
•Despite the darker theme, there was still enough light romance to balance out the book.

Dislikes:
•The flashbacks may have been a little too vague. I think a little more info might have added to the suspense and emotion.
•I wanted to scream at Sabra a few times. Her sense of self-preservation didn’t work very well. She told nobody her concerns and put herself in stupid situations.

The Narration:
Stella Hunter did a fantastic job bringing Sabra’s journey to the reader. She brought all the emotion and fear Sabra was experiencing, and she told the story beautifully.

The Down & Dirty:
Despite Used by Kate Dunbar not being my usual light and happy read, I was sucked in and wanted to cancel all plans so I could find out what happened next. Used was suspenseful and romantic and kept my interest from start to finish. It's hard to believe this is a debut novel because it is written SO WELL. It was a tricky way to tell a story, with flashbacks that don’t reveal a lot but enough, and Kate executed it without flaws. I look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next!

Rating: 4 Stars, 3 Heat, 4.5 narration

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  • Sara
  • 03-11-21

Emotionally charged!

This is Kate Dunbar's debut novel.... SAY WHAT?!?! Let me tell you guys something, I've had some experience with some of what Miss Dunbar wrote about. She created very vividly what goes on in the head of a survivor. There's so much doubt and fear. There's a bit of self-loathing and even promiscuity. Dunbar shows us the effects of abuse and what's in the mind of the abused. This story made me feel so much. I found myself talking out loud to Sabra.

I'm wildly impressed that Kate Dunbar gives us such an emotional story with layers of love and taunt manipulation with some psychological warfare mixed in. We see a sick obsession come to a head in Used and it is one crazy ride fraught with cold calculation and intimidation. I was truly held captive and am looking forward to reading more from Miss Dunbar in the future.

I was quite pleased with the narration by Stella Hunter. I do wish the conversations were done in dual narration but since the book is only in one POV, I get it, but there was a lot of conversations with males that could have benefitted from that male voice. Hunter tried and does change her voice for the males and it helps. Other than that one quirk of mine, I LOVED this narration. I feel like Hunter did a perfect job of adding the emotions that Sabra delt with into her voice. I felt the fear, the anger, the hope, the longing, the delight and even the fun. I felt those mundane days along with the days riddled with fear. Amazing job! I give narration 4 stars.

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  • PATRICIA
  • 03-08-21

Emotionally powerful!

Sometimes I listen to a book and so emotionally involved that I feel like I am there. Kate Dunbar brings to life a story of abuse, family dysfunction, heartbreak and healing. Our story features Sabra, a college student looking for that big acting break and trying to enjoy her life. Trevor has been her friend for years, and as things turn from friends to lovers, we see a change in Sabra. And our story begins. Sabra is an amazing woman. She is strong and resilient, but there are definite skeletons in her closet. Trevor is the kind of man you want by your side. He is sweet, loving and patient. Dunbar takes us through their story, from Sabra's point of view as we find out her past. It's written with past and present in each chapter, letting us learn as things go on. Suspense is high and the story relevant. Dunbar has put her soul into this story, and it is one that will stay with me.

Stella Hunter narrates this story and her performance is fantastic. This has a lot of emotional scenes, and Hunter sets us up, giving each character the valuable features that make the listen realistic. I felt like I knew the people, felt their pain, and healed with them. She truly gave life to the book and I enjoyed it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • DJ (@drinkingdixy)
  • 03-08-21

5 AMAZING STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

5 AMAZING STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
USED BY KATE DUNBAR 💛
WHAT A PHENOMENAL DEBUT NOVEL!

This is Sabra’s Story and so I don't want to give too much away except it’s a story that matters, it shows courage, strength and is definitely an inspiring read.

Kate manages to tackle an exceedingly difficult and dark subject about Physical and emotional abuse. It’s not an easy read at times and it leaves you with no question at all as to what Sabra went through but it was written with such thought, huge amounts of consideration and so much understanding.

You will feel every pounding heartbeat, share every single tear shed, and feel everything Sabra experiences throughout this story as I held my breath and felt my heart break for her so many times.

Whilst Sabra still to this day carried the pain and fear from her past within her she showed such strength and determination in not allowing her past to hinder her future and she is so beautiful inside and out.
She has a wonderful best friend in Micah and undoubtedly the most amazing boyfriend EVER who both love and support Sabra unconditionally.

The patience and understanding Trevor shows throughout the book was absolutely beautifully written. He was a true gentleman and all I will say is I fell in love with him instantly.

Alongside the dark side of the story was the most gorgeous love story that developed throughout the book, it was delightful to see them grow as they broke down the walls that stood in their way.
Once I started this book I could not put it down and devoured it in record time and couldn't I wait to for the audio to hear Stella Hunter tell the story and I wasn't disappointed. Stella was the perfect choice to bring all the characters to life.

Thank you so much Kate for the ARC and ALC and sharing your story. Believe me it was so worth the journey it took you to write it to have it in my hands.

I really hope we get to hear more about Sabra and Trevor in the future.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 03-08-21

A raw and emotional debut!

Used is an fantastic debut novel by Kate Dunbar, the blurb grabbed me instantly and sounded like a book that was right up my alley. A romantic suspense with, twists and an aspect of psychological thriller about it, I found this a brave, well written, inspirational debut.

Sabre is the heroine of the story and we get to know her throughout the novel over 20 years of her life from age 8. She is a heroine that experiences something awful at the hands of someone that shouldn't cross those lines, a trigger topic for some but a reality for many women across the world. Used does not go into the details of the darker elements to the story, however they are inferred and allows the reader to imagine the horrors Sabre has been through. If I was reading a true psychological romance I would prefer those details be given; but for a romantic suspense I really didn't miss them. Omitting them kept the focus on Sabre and her emotional state in the present rather than her past.

Trevor is the Hero of the story, her friend and a guy she has always had a mutual attraction to. He really is the light in this book, he is strength and a shoulder to lean on, he brings a levity, romance and hope to Sabre's world and I found him really endearing.

The writing quality was consistent although I did find there was a lull about quarter of the way through for a few chapters, but once it picked up again I couldn't put it down.

Now Stella Hunter's performance on the audio was phenomenal! She really captured the emotionality needed to portray Sabre's story. I also loved her male vocal and found her performance a pleasure to listen to, I will definitely seek more of her work out.

I can't give many details away, but this is definitely a debut I can recommend to those readers who like a romance that pulls on the heart strings and explore a story about the darker side of humanity, that not many have the courage to tackle.

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  • debbie (Dr21982)
  • 03-08-21

Fabulous debut👏🥳

Huge congratulations to Kate Dunbar on her debut 👏👏👏This is a fabulous start to what I’m sure is going to be an amazing journey and career for her in the book world. I love her writing style and the way the book flowed with ease just the way I like it. Its raw, heartbreaking, emotional and traumatic but it’s full of strength, grit, healing and determination as well. Sabra is so strong but yet so broken at the same time. The book goes from present to past where we get little snipbits of what transpired between her and her brother Lucas when she was just a child and she does so well to keep that secret by trying to live as normal a life as possible until she gets the call that Lucas has been released from prison. He’s back and he’s back for her. Sabra’s strength and courage throughout the book is an inspiration and I instantly fell in love with Trevor who treated her so well it brought tears to my eyes. My only wish after reading this book is that everyone who has been through something like this will finds some happiness and peace again and maybe even a Trevor of their own💕
This book was provided to me through audio by Little Dog Press and narrated by Stella Hunter for an honest audiobook review.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Gillek2
  • 03-12-21

Sabra and Trevor!

Sabra has worked hard to try and overcome a devastating situation that started when she was a child and continued through her teenage years. She wanted to keep what was going on a secret so that she didn’t hurt those she loved the most and she thought she found a solution before it came down to either her or her tormentor until it all came crashing down.

Years later she appears to be living the life of a normal college student until her past resurfaces. She and Trevor have know each other for four years and have been getting closer until she receives news that throws her into a tailspin. She feels threatened and doesn’t want to bring anyone else into the line of fire but Trevor isn’t about to let her just walk out of his life.

He is patient and understanding and hopes that with time she will realize he can trust her with her heart and her past.
This is an emotional story of strength and resilience with compelling characters that draw you in. The narrator did a great job at bringing out not only the emotion but the suspense of the story as well.

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  • Jan M
  • 03-12-21

Heartbreaking and Compelling

Used by Kate Dunbar is so much more than a book about abuse. The author handles the topic with compassion, awareness, reality and panache. I loved how love was the healing mechanism in this book. The imagery and descriptions were vivid and emotional. Stella Hunter was perfect at performing this book. She added the right emotions and brought the characters to life. I highly recommend it. Thank you #AudiobookObsession for recommending this title to me.

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  • Jocelyne
  • 03-11-21

Wow! I loved it!

Wow! I loved it! This is a captivating debut novel written by Kate Dunbar. Sabra and Trevor's story is breathtaking, suspenseful, and enthralling, filled with twists and turns. Sabra is beautiful, and a strong, resilient survivor. Her past is heartbreaking. Trevor is handsome, caring, and supportive. The back and forth, past to present, is well done and easy to follow. Stella Hunter did an outstanding job with the narration. I HIGHLY recommend it.

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  • Demetra Toula Iliopoulos
  • 03-10-21

When true love wins

This story will have you glued to the stoy right till the last work. Kate Dunbar the author wrote a heartfelt, gripping story. She also teaches you that you should never let the past stand in the way of true love . The world-building was is very well done and the descriptions given make it easy to visualise everything. Both the characters are very different but they are also very well drawn together.
Heroine is Sabra. Hero is Trevor

Sabra thankfully has Trevor by her size . When the past comes back , Sabra is afraid that Trevor will drop her. Trevor is by her size Once Trevor finds out what really happened he knows he can’t let his love die

Stella Hunter performance is great . She did all the tones for the characters perfect.