Book Review

Book Review: Always Only You (Bergman Brothers #2) by Chloe Liese

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 366 pages
Author: Chloe Liese
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: July 25th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Get ready for an emotional ride filled with laughter, longing, and a sweet slow-burn in this sports romance about love’s power not in spite of difference, but because of it.

Ren

The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Deadpan delivery, secret heart of gold, and a rare one-dimpled smile that makes my knees weak, Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is.

I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue. Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too.

Frankie

I’ve had a problem at work since the day Ren Bergman joined the team: a six foot three hunk of happy with a sunshine smile. I’m a grumbly grump and his ridiculously good nature drives me nuts, but even I can’t entirely ignore that hot tamale of a ginger with icy eyes, the perfect playoff beard, and a body built for sin that he’s annoyingly modest about.

Before I got wise, I would have tripped over myself to get a guy like Ren, but with my diagnosis, I’ve learned what I am to most people in my life—a problem, not a person. Now, opening my heart to anyone, no matter how sweet, is the last thing I’m prepared to do.

Always Only You is an opposites-attract, forbidden love sports romance about a nerdy, late-blooming hockey star, and his tough cookie coworker who keeps both her soft side and her autism diagnosis* to herself. Complete with a meddling secretary, tantric yoga torture, and a scorching slow burn, this standalone is the second in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.

*This is an #OwnVoices story for its portrayal of autism by an autistic author.

THIS WAS AMAZING.

My new favorite hockey romance.

This grump and sunshine trope was everrrrrything. They were absolutely adorable. Such amazing chemistry that I was for them from the get-go. I love the way that the attraction and angst is written. It’s an immediate connection, but has the perfect build-up that it doesn’t feel instant. It feels natural and real and brimming with all of feels.

The representation was wonderful. Frankie is on the autism spectrum and has rheumatoid arthritis. I love how she was written. That she wasn’t any less capable of accomplishing the things she wants to. Frankie is exactly who she is and I love that she learned to love herself and learned to let Ren love her too.

There were many great conversations with other characters that helped broaden my understanding of chronic illness and those who are on the spectrum. This is the importance of Own Voices books and the knowledge that can come from reading them while enjoying a beautiful story.

Ren was the best cinnamon roll. I love that he was the sunshine (since it’s usually the female that’s the sunshine). Wow did he bring it all. His commitment and passion for the areas of his life made me swoon. I loved his soul. He’s a nerdy Shakespeare lover, a REDHEAD and absolutely smitten with all things Frankie.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary sports romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to open door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: chronic illness (rheumatoid arthritis), chronic pain
Book Review

Book Review: How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 302 pages
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: May 15th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

LOVED THIS.

Definitely my new top favorite of Center’s books.

I had held off of this one for a long time because I wasn’t sure about the romance. I was worried the patient/provider romance would feel icky. How pleasantly surprised I was that I didn’t feel much that way at all. I thought it was approached well and worked into the relationship conflict like it should have. Of course there were going to be questions and hard conversations an that’s exactly what I got.

Maggie was the epitome of resilient strength. I can’t even begin to imagine those who go through similar situations. I like the depth of despair and grief depicted, but also the light and the hope. It was a study in contrasts of a non-linear movement towards a new and accepted normal.

“It’s the trying that heals you. That’s all you have to do. Just try.”

The writing is contagious and I was hooked from the first chapter. I didn’t think I was going to fly through it so quickly but the audio was amazing and I desperately wanted to continue listening anytime I had to put the book down. It’s a emotional and beautiful plot with many nuanced story lines that all play into each other so well.

“When you don’t know what to do for yourself, do something for someone else.”

I enjoyed the romance and the grand gesture at the end. It was sweet and those final tender conversations were very sweet. There’s an uplifting message within all of the turmoil and Center brought such beauty to this story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: plane crash (fully described), medical trauma, ableism, infidelity, suicidal thoughts

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Carley Fortune
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Release Date: May 10th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an eARC.

BINGE WORTHY.

These types of reads both haunt me and make me the happiest. Why? Because the format of dual timelines where you’re not quite sure what caused the fallout causes LACK OF SLEEP. I binged this in a day chasing down the reason Percy and Sam fell apart and hoping they’d find their way back together.

It was an interesting tiny tidbit that when they ran into each other again there wasn’t immediate animosity. I really liked that they were able to already find some common ground to reconnect and rehash what happened between them.

The trope of childhood friends to lovers was written beautifully. I loved the sweet friendship that started to become longing looks and brief touches to finally saying OH HEY I LIKE YOU. Ah, young love. Percy and Sam definitely get in their own ways sometimes, but somehow it was endearing. Fortune’s ability to craft this story was amazing. All the mess that can come with first love and rekindling that love years later had me glued to my book.

I do stand by that I just didn’t love the last big piece of information needed to answer why there’s been so many years apart. I AM grateful that it was handled really well. The drama had already been thrown down so at this point, I thought the characters all approached it in a realistic way. Which all led to a sweet ending.

Great read, highly recommend. Perfect for summertime!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: multiple brief open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of a parent(s), infidelity, on page panic attacks, anxiety

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Book Review

Book Review: A Love Unexpected (Under Kansas Skies #1) by Leah Brunner

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 226 pages
Author: Leah Brunner
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: September 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

My one and only goal has always been to make it to congress. I’ve got it all: the looks, the brains, the connections…

Except I missed one glaring requirement: a wife.

The conservative voters of Kansas don’t trust an unmarried man. Which means I need a bride. Immediately.

The lovely Odette Hastings seems to fit the bill. She’s a wholesome small-town girl, and most importantly, in need of cash. I’ll give her the money to take care of her elderly parents, and she’ll be the political arm candy I need.

The only problem is Odette is a little too beautiful, a little too intelligent, and much too distracting. I have to keep my eye on the prize. Even when I’m starting to think there might be something I’d rather have more.

WONDERFUL DEBUT!

Well this is a hidden gem in the sweet romance arena. If you don’t get farther then this first paragraph, know I highly recommend this one!

I LOVE marriage of convenience. Yesss, you do have to suspend a touch of reality, but that’s the best part! I liked how Odette and Madden came together to mutually help each other as their attraction grew. The second half held a lot more romance, banter and angst and that was this books sweet spot. It was SO GOOD. I was wrapped up in this couple without a doubt.

I only wished the first half held a bit more of that. This book is super short (barely over 200 pages) and I think with more page time the romance could have been amped up more. I thought the conflict was handled well and that even more a politically minded book (Madden is running to be a congressman) I didn’t feel beaten over the head with the agenda. It was woven in well and kept the romance at the forefront.

Really excited to get Sophie’s story in the next book!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: closed door (married couple)
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: blackmail

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