Review and giveaway: The Slow Burn by Kristen Ashley

True to KA form this book had all the feels and I loved every moment of it! I cried, I laughed, I swooned. The perfect story.

There’s something about a duology that just works. You don’t have to commit to years of rereads to try and remember what happened. These rank right up there after the standalone. And the Gamble brothers definitely deserved more than a standalone.

“You got soft leather and smooth whiskey and I got goose down and kitten fur. But under what we got, it’s granite and steel. Daphne made that. That’s her legacy. That’s what she gave us, what our kids will get…”

We met Toby in the first book, The Hookup, so we get a glimpse on his personality but we don’t fully get to know him til this one. I love everything about him. His actions scream perfection. From the first time he meets Adeline I just knew he was gonna make an impression. And all throughout this book he wanted nothing more than to take care of her, even if she wanted to do everything on her own.

Adeline is a single mom trying to make ends meet, and doing it alone. She is deeply independent, like her mom was, and it’s starting to take it’s toll on her. Toby made an impression on her, but he’s off limits. Or is he?

While there was an instant connection between these two, they tried to fight it, hence The Slow Burn. I love books like this. You could see from both of their POVs how they felt. When they finally connected, it was explosive and romantic. He was made to care for a woman and the woman he wants to care for is Addie.

“I’ll agree, Gamble Men are the best. But Forrester Women are better.”

Kristen Ashley knows how to write an alpha man. Which is probably why I reread her books quite often. There’s something about a guy who takes charge and protects his woman’s body and heart. While Toby was an alpha, he was sensitive to her heart and didn’t attach from all ends. He cared for her in a way that gave her the independence she needed while still taking care of her needs.

And don’t get me started on that epilogue. Those always kill me.

~Melpomene

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Review: The Songbird by Marcia Willett

Love how this new-to-me author develops so many characters in such a clear and natural way so as not to confuse this reader who usually likes easy escape reading. The characters are distinct, but not caricatures or stereotypes; they’re of every generation – and even the olders and youngers are relatable.

Especially memorable are William, who after years of doing what his wife wants, finally grows a pair and does the Right Thing; Mattie, who is loving and innocent and fun and young – and so so sincere; and Tim, who moves to the cottage with a heavy burden, and leaves the cottage with someone to share it with.

Though my copy was an ARC, I was a little taken aback by the formatting – especially all of the proper nouns that weren’t capitalized, and the majority of sentences that started with lowercase letters. Just threw off the flow for me and made the act of reading a little bit of a chore.

Besides that, I really enjoyed this cast of 10 or so characters, living their lives, figuring out their problems, getting to know each other and themselves. There’s not a whole lot of action, but Willett does write a story filled with poetry, deep thoughts, and emotion.

-calliope

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Review: Dane’s Storm by Mia Sheridan

This is a book about survival, mentally and physically. From the prologue, I was instantly sucked in. I knew this was going to be a doozy of a story. My heart was in my stomach after those couple of pages. Whew!

Dane and Audra’s story is a heartbreaking one. What started out as a whirlwind romance eventually turned into heartbreak and resentment. What they went through, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The unimaginable pain they have lived with through the years is more than most can bare. They never imagined they’d get a second chance. But the heart wants what the heart wants.

“You weren’t my just my first love. You were my once-in-a-lifetime.”

When circumstances bring them together, Dane offers to fly them back home to resolve an issue, but no one expected his plane would go down and they would be fighting for their lives. While they’re trying to survive they are forced to come to terms with what made them break all those years ago. I wish it didn’t take a plane crash to bring them to this point, but sometimes fate likes to rattle us.

This story is told from both POVs and in the end, I found myself feeling more for Audra than I initially thought. She tends to be rough and tough and hold things inside, but it’s a defense mechanism. She knows once she opens herself up, all her walls will come crashing down. I am thankful that Dane took initiative and started to chip at her defenses. She wasn’t the only one hurting. Once she realized that her heart could start to heal.

“You must bloom.”

This is a standalone which was released as an audible first, but I’m reviewing the ebook. I haven’t listened to it yet. Not sure if this a fast read, since I’m a speed reader, but all I know is that I couldn’t stop. I needed to know they would be okay. I needed to know they would be healed, inside and out. I needed it. And I’m glad I found out. Mia Sheridan has this way of writing that makes you feel it all. All the pain and sadness, and then the joy. Can you epilogue? My heart is happy.

~Melpomene

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Review: When We Found Home by Susan Mallery

Three lovely people grow up -separately- without loving parents, and though they don’t share the same mothers, they do share the same paternal grandfather. This guy might be in the background of the story character-development-wise, but he’s the hub that brings his three grandchildren together. Well, with a little help from a friend.

Susan Mallery wrote a terrific story about a non-traditional family. Malcolm was raised from boyhood by his grandfather. Keira was brought into the family home much later – and at the transitional age of 12 has a hard time feeling like she belongs. Delaney, a woman who works in the same building as Malcolm, helps bridge the brother-sister gap. Meanwhile, a third sibling is found and brought “home.” Callie isn’t sure this new world is for her, but feels a sense of responsibility for Keira.

I’ve read a lot of half-siblings-brought-together stories, but none quite like this. Mallery wrote fresh characters with realistic flaws and shortcomings, characters you can be annoyed with and cry with and laugh with… and sympathize with. And Mallery keeps up the realism all the way to the end, when everyone really has found home, even if it’s not what you’d expect. Terrific story about family, loyalty, and love.

-calliope

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Review: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover


As with all marriages, there’s ups and downs. But what happens when the downs seems to take over? How do you cope? How do you get up each day and keep going on like everything’s okay? All Your Perfects shows what happens when you do that. When you don’t talk about what ails you, even as your world falls down all around you.

This book was brutal and heart breaking, but in the end, healing. Not all marriages can be saved. But not all marriages need to end. When talking doesn’t work anymore, action is needed.

“…I promise to love you more when you hate me than when you love me…”

My heart was in my stomach for practically this entire book. You should see my % updates. I was a wreck. The pain could be felt through the pages of this story. The struggles between Quinn and Graham were heartbreaking. Plain and simple, this book shook me. It made me question my views. It made me wonder. It also made me want to go to my hubby and hug his neck and never let go.

“…I promise that I will love you more during the storms than I will love you during the perfect days…”

In the end, there is a healing. A healing of the body and soul. Is it wrapped up in a nice little bow? No. In fact, healing comes in different forms and not every form works with every couple. You need to trust that whatever path you take is the one that was meant for you. But I do believe this was the perfect way to end this journey.

Well done, Colleen, on another real story with real feelings and real actions that left me an emotional wreck and useless to my family. I look forward to your next roller coaster manuscript.

~Melpomene

Buy All Your Perfects https://amzn.to/2ySBEmE

Review: The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr

The Family Gathering is book 3 in the Sullivan’s Crossing series, where I loved book 1, but had some reservations about book 2 (quirky wanderer gave me pause). I’m feeling the love again for this installment.

Dakota needs time to decompress after serving his country, so he visits his sister and brother in Sullivan’s Crossing. Besides building a relationship with his siblings and their families, Dakota starts to build a life in town (he sees it as temporary but come on now).

I very much enjoyed Carr’s customary secondary plot lines that reference past books but don’t depend on them. I also liked that she focused so much on family — because Dakota’s family totally had some issues to resolve! And of course the romance…. well, it’s obvious Sid would be a tough nut to crack. Question is, is Dakota the guy to do it…

As for my favorite part of most books: I won’t tell the hows and whys and wherefores, but after some work, Dakota and his family experience some pretty nice happily ever afters.

-calliope

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Review: The Summer Sail by Wendy Francis

Abby, Caroline, and Lee hop on a cruise ship with their guys and their kiddos… to celebrate a 20th wedding anniversary, share some personal news, await a proposal, and straighten out some of life’s twists and turns.

I loved the cruise ship setting. So fun! For an hour or two each night I was whisked away into the land of lounge chairs and umbrella drinks — and hot sunny days. Wendy Francis did a fantastic job making the friendships real and easy. The women were like sisters with each other – just how I’d imagine this trio in real life. And although some of the plot was predictable, Francis developed it in a fresh, engaging way. I was in it for the whole cruise: laughter, tears, and mouth agape. Nicely written, very entertaining!

-calliope

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