Review: Simply the Best

Review: Simply the BestSimply the Best (Chicago Stars, #10) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Goodreads

FINAL DECISION: With two characters who have more in common than at first glance, this messy and sexy story with some mystery was really enjoyable.

THE STORY: Brett Rivers is a cutthroat sports agent known as “The River” who is devoted to his job when a costly mistake involving his top client puts his career at risk. Rory Garrett is struggling to launch her chocolate business after having a drunken misunderstanding with Brett that makes her feel like a failure yet again. But when an unexpected event happens involving Rory’s celebrity footballer brother and his ex-girlfriend, she and Brett reluctantly join forces, both wanting to find Rory’s brother – Rory to help her brother and Brett to save his career. Despite their mutual attraction, their differences threaten to undermine their goals…unless they can work together to unravel the mystery, confront their personal demons, and maybe even find an unlikely happy ending.

OPINION: Phillips’ latest Chicago Stars romance is classic SEP fun. Rory dreams of having her own chocolate shop, but she’s broke. Her half-brother Clint is a famous football player with a lot of money. Brett is Clint’s agent who helps manage his career. Rory and Brett don’t like each other at first. (Well, actually they kind of do, but I’ll leave that surprise for readers) But then something happens with Clint and the two have to work together.

As Rory and Brett spend more time together, they start to enjoy each other’s company. Rory is messy and disorganized but super creative. Brett is very organized and responsible. Opposites attract, and the chemistry between these two is hot. What I loved best is that as the book goes on, Brett is shown to be more of an emotional mess than expected and Rory has responsibility and maturity in different ways. This is not a true “enemies to lovers” but comes pretty close. Watching them go from antagonism to deep love is what SEP excels at. You just know they are perfect for each other even when they fight.

There are also some funny side stories with Rory’s stepmom Kristin. I loved that SEP did not make her a caricature as she first appeared.

This book has everything great about SEP’s writing: humor, steamy romance, interesting mystery, and characters who are at their core decent people. Rory and Brett have their flaws as humans but end up balancing each other out nicely.

WORTH MENTIONING: I want Clint’s book now. He’s much more interesting now with some darkness and baggage.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SIMPLY THE BEST is the tenth book in the Chicago Stars series. This book can be read as a standalone. While there are mentions and cameos from other characters in the series, they are limited, and there is no overarching plot. Brett works for Heath Champion, so we get some glimpses of Heath and Annabelle from MATCH ME IF YOU CAN (Chicago Stars book 6).

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

Review: When Stars Collide

Review: When Stars CollideWhen Stars Collide (Chicago Stars, #9) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Series: Chicago Stars #9
Published by William Morrow on June 29, 2021
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: “WHEN STARS COLLIDE” is a delightfully fun, well-crafted book that shines with Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ signature wit and wonderfully resonant characters that I just loved.

STORY: Thaddeus Walker Bowman Owens, a backup quarterback for the Chicago Stars, and Olivia Shore, an international opera diva, end up traveling together on a nationwide tour promoting a luxury watch brand. Neither is happy about the team-up. Quickly there is something between them that develops as Olivia’s journey is complicated by threatening letters, haunting photographs, and dangerous encounters with an unknown villain. These two talented, passionate, and ambitious stars have a friendship but also some intensity between them. As both are devoted to their careers, there seems to be no future, and yet there is such desire and yearning between them.

OPINION: This sparkling gem of a novel is Susan Elizabeth Phillips at her finest. Infused with her trademark humor and wit, WHEN STARS COLLIDE is a hugely entertaining read that had me hooked from page one. As expected with Phillips’ books, the characters leap off the page. Backup quarterback Thad and opera superstar Olivia feel like people you’d love to be friends with in real life – despite their fame, they are down-to-earth and handle their conflicts in refreshingly adult ways.

The banter between them gave me life – their chemistry sings from their very first meet-cute. As they navigate their nationwide tour and subsequent safety issues, their connection deepens into a supportive partnership. Phillips perfectly balances drama, humor, mystery and romance in a “beach read” that was impossible for me to put down.

After being in a reading slump myself, the sheer joy and smile-inducing fun of WHEN STARS COLLIDE was exactly what I needed. Phillips’ distinctive humor shines here, with plenty of goofy and even madcap situations. But beneath it lies two characters written with heart and depth. I adored watching Thad and Olivia realize how much alike they are despite first impressions, finding common ground as ambitious, passionate artists. This book left me grinning from ear to ear. I somehow missed it upon release but am elated to have found this gem.

WORTH MENTIONING: While not necessary to read the other Chicago Stars books to enjoy this one, readers of the series will get some great cameos from characters in the series. Nothing intrusive, but the book seamlessly roots itself in the Chicago Stars universe.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHEN STARS COLLIDE is the ninth book in the Chicago Stars series. This book, however, can easily be read as a standalone. While there are a few cameos from characters in previous books, nothing is really missed by starting here instead of reading the previous books (although they are great and highly recommended).

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: The Night Island

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: The Night IslandThe Night Island (The Lost Night Files, #2) by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: The Lost Night Files #2
Published by Berkley on January 9, 2024
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed the suspenseful narrative, gradual romance development, and interconnected world-building which harkens back to many Krentz/Quick/Castle books, but I was left with some loose ends.

THE STORY: The book continues the story of Talia March, Pallas Llewellyn, and Amelia Rivers, who formed a bond after a night they can’t remember that gave them psychic abilities, prompting them to investigate what happened. In this book, when Talia follows up on a lead about a list of other test subjects, she finds the informant, Phoebe, missing and meets Luke Rand instead, who is also seeking the list. They realize they have a common goal and join forces, pretending to be a couple to investigate the remote “Unplugged Experience” retreat on Night Island. On the technologically isolated island, Talia and Luke encounter suspicious guests, strange plants, and deaths as they use their powers to uncover the secrets of the retreat and find the list, all while beginning to genuinely fall for one another even as danger lurks. Phoebe is not the first to disappear at the retreat, and Talia and Luke must rely on their psychic talents and blossoming romance to stay alive and solve the mystery.

OPINION: From the opening disappearance, a tone of tension and mystery permeates the narrative that immediately hooked me. I enjoy getting to know Talia and Luke, who both possess psychic gifts. Krentz does a great job establishing initial chemistry between them. Krentz makes great use of the pretend relationship combined with — “we can’t be together because of our cover story.”

As the book reveals the background stories of Luke and Talia, they have a shared bond that builds a strong connection between them that works both for the investigation and also for the romance. I’m always left wanting more romance in Krentz’s current romantic suspense format, but what is here worked for me.

While the ending feels rushed to me, leaving key questions frustratingly unresolved (probably awaiting the third book in the series), I really enjoyed the well-paced suspense narrative.

As a longtime Jayne Ann Krentz fan, I enjoyed connecting the dots across her elaborate interconnected worlds. I especially enjoyed the connections to her historical Arcane series books. I’m happy that Krentz has apparently decided to keep going forward with these stories even thought I don’t expect a final resolution of any of these bits and pieces. It is fun being reminded of books I read years ago and know that Krentz hasn’t forgotten them either.

But it is Luke and Talia and their somewhat sweet romance that kept me hooked even when the central island mysteries ultimately end up lacking full resolution.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has strong paranormal elements.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE NIGHT ISLAND is the second book in the Lost Night Files series. The romance here is self-contained and this book can be read as a standalone although there is an overarching storyline…but a reader can quickly catch up.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: The Talk of Coyote Canyon

Review: The Talk of Coyote CanyonThe Talk of Coyote Canyon (Coyote Canyon, #2) by Brenda Novak
Series: Coyote Canyon #2
Published by MIRA on November 28, 2023
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Sets up an intriguing small-town family feud and budding romance that ultimately disappoints due to a lack of meaningful chemistry between the couple.

THE STORY: With her piercings, tattoos, and bleached spikes, Ellen Truesdale sticks out in small-town Coyote Canyon. But blending in was never her goal. Ellen’s here to undermine her estranged father’s well-drilling company, still bitter that he abandoned her as a child. Running a rival business in this male-dominated industry proves tough for a single woman, though. When an important job goes wrong, her dad’s business partner, Hendrix Durrant, comes to help. Hendrix begins to question events from the past. He realizes his aunt and Ellen’s dad did her wrong. As he advocates for Ellen, tensions with his family intensify. Feelings develop between the two former rivals. Opening up to Hendrix helps Ellen release her anger and rediscover the loving family she always longed for.

OPINION: The Talk of Coyote Canyon offers some interesting initial dynamics between Ellen and her estranged father and stepfamily. Novak does a decent job developing Ellen’s character and her trust issues stemming from childhood.

The setup also establishes a promising romantic tension between Ellen and Hendrix early on. The book choses to be a slow-burn which would work if the characters were deep and complex. However, the relationship falters later on as the two lack chemistry, making their interactions ring hollow.

Additionally, while much time is spent exploring the family and romance arcs, the endings feel rushed. The resolution of the story with Ellen’s father happens abruptly after establishing lasting conflict. Ellen’s father remains one-dimensionally unlikeable for most of the book before his jarring change of heart. Likewise, Ellen and Hendrix’s union wraps up too suddenly.

The mystery plot twist is also dissatisfying as the resolution is abrupt and completely pointless.

Overall, Novak sets up an interesting family drama and romance that ultimately disappoints in the execution and payoff. Despite potential, the lack of meaningful connection or resolution leaves something to be desired.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is a slow burn. It takes a while for the romance to get started.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE TALK OF COYOTE CANYON is the second book in the Coyote Canyon series. This book can be read as a standalone. This is a small-town series, so characters from the first book appear, and a new reader can quickly catch up on the relationships.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

Review: Talulah’s Back in Town

Review: Talulah’s Back in TownTalulah's Back in Town (Coyote Canyon, #1) by Brenda Novak
Series: Coyote Canyon #1
Published by MIRA on August 22, 2023
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: The book was okay, but I didn’t end up feeling the connection between these characters as strongly as I wanted. The story worked, but Talulah felt like a mess.

THE STORY: Talulah Barclay has returned to her hometown of Coyote Canyon fourteen years after being a runaway bride. She now has a successful restaurant and a budding relationship with her partner. The death of her great-aunt brings Talulah back to a place where it seems like everyone has an opinion of her actions. Unfortunately, Talulah’s runaway tendencies did not end with leaving her teenage sweetheart at the altar — she’s done it three times in total. Talulah doesn’t like confrontations and hates disappointing people. This leads to her relationships getting messy, and she ends up running away in panic. Brant, her ex-fiancé’s best friend, greets Talulah soon after she returns to town, and there is a definite attraction between them even though it makes everything even more complicated.

OPINION: I admit that parts of this book I really didn’t like. One thing is that Talulah is dating and sleeping with someone else and yet has sex with Brant. My morality did not like that, and thus I lost a lot of respect for her as a character. Other reader’s mileage may vary.

Except for that, I really liked how the relationship between Talulah and Brant develops. Everyone in Coyote Canyon seems to be against their relationship, and yet the attraction (first) and then the emotional/intellectual relationship (second) begins to develop. Talulah is a people pleaser who keeps trying to put others above her interests. I really liked that Brant pushes back and won’t allow Talulah to sacrifice herself for him.

By the end of the book, however, I wanted more of their relationship. Perhaps there was too much going on in this book and Brant and Talulah ended up getting lost in the drama.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are a lot of characters being introduced in this book for the series — perhaps too many characters at once.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TALULAH’S BACK IN TOWN is the first book in the Coyote Canyon series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: From Lukov with Love

Review: From Lukov with LoveFrom Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata
Published by Mariana Zapata on February 1, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 540
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: A true slow burn, this book was exactly what I needed to read right now. A substantive relationship with characters that have depth and interest. New author to me, but I look forward to reading more.

THE STORY: Jasmine Santos is a talented but struggling figure skater whose career has hit a rough patch. She is dealing with the pressures of her sport, financial difficulties, a bad last partner, and trying to reconnect with her family. She has been floating since separating from her last partner but keeps skating even as people begin to see that her career is over and she should consider teaching. Enter Ivan Lukov, the brother of one of Jasmine’s friends. Ivan is a skilled, successful skater who has been pushing Jasmine’s anger buttons for years. Despite their history of clashes and differences in personalities, Jasmine and Ivan agree to become skating partners out of necessity — but only for one year. Along the way, the relationship between the two changes as they develop a complex and evolving relationship that goes beyond the ice rink.

OPINION: This is the first book by this author that I have read, but it won’t be the last. It eschews the overdramatic and grounds itself so deep in reality that I felt that I could meet these two characters at the local ice skating rink. Jasmine is such a complex character: prickly, caring, a perfectionist, a bit of an emotional mess. At first, I wasn’t sure about her, but the book does such a great job of bringing the reader into her life that I quickly began to love her quirks.

Ivan — oh, simply adorable. The way the book is structured, readers don’t know his thoughts in the book. Therefore, we only get to know him through his actions and words and how Jasmine views him which changes as the book progresses.

The relationship between Jasmine and Ivan builds slowly and felt so real. The book really builds from the characters and doesn’t rely on cheap dramatic tricks to draw the characters together. Instead, it is the small things — helping after a car won’t start, babysitting that builds the relationship. The best part of this book? By the time the book ends, there is no question that these two are perfect for one another.

The family dynamics were amazing here as well. Jasmine has a lot to learn about her family. This book serves as her catalyst for finding what her role is in her family. By the way, I loved Jasmine’s mom and her siblings. They are devoted to Jasmine but also funny characters. It really felt like a great family.

I just loved this whole universe of characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Great for fans of ice skating.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Twilight

Review: TwilightTwilight (Twilight, #1) by Stephenie Meyer
Series: Twilight Saga #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on July 18, 2007
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 513
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: TWILIGHT has a story built on numerous tropes that are universal; however, the first-person narrative centered on Bella’s teenage introspection occasionally lacks depth and frankly is annoying (as sometimes teenagers are) yet still encapsulates universal struggles of identity and love.

THE STORY: Bella Swan’s story begins as she relocates to Forks, a rain-soaked and unassuming town in Washington state, to live with her father, Charlie. At her new high school, she finds herself initially out of place and a bit of a loner, but she catches the attention of the mysterious and captivating Edward Cullen, whose pale skin and remarkable features set him apart. Despite Edward’s initial attempts to distance himself from Bella due to the inherent danger his vampire nature poses to her, their connection grows stronger. Bella’s curiosity and Edward’s eventual inability to stay away lead them into a whirlwind romance and, ultimately, danger for Bella.

OPINION: TWILIGHT is the story of an ordinary girl who encounters an extraordinary world. It is essentially the most incredible high school story that we have seen again and again — new awkward girl falls for the high school quarterback. Harkening to those stories gives this a universal essence while everything else is pushed to a new limit with the inclusion of vampires (and werewolves). The unlikely connection between Bella and Edward in an intensely romantic (but not sexual), relationship filled with tension and angst.

Meyer skillfully builds their bond, juxtaposing Bella’s human vulnerability against the peril to her of Edward’s vampire existence. This central romance evolves in an interesting manner despite the first-person narrative focusing solely on Bella’s limited perspective. Bella’s character lacks some depth and complexity, often her feelings are defined by her reactions to Edward’s actions. Just when things seem to working for Bella and Edward, external threats emerge, including vicious vampires without the Cullens’ restraint. The book feels cinematic with big set pieces linked together by pages of description and dialogue and Bella’s internal monologue that I ended up skimming on this re-read.

TWILIGHT explores universally relatable coming-of-age experiences – grappling with identity, the exhilaration of first love, and learning to embrace the unconventional. These themes transcend genres and capture the essence of adolescent adversity and longing. Ultimately the most compelling part of this book is the interweaving the ordinary realism of small-town life with the tantalizing allure of vampire fantasy.

WORTH MENTIONING: I liked the movie more than the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TWILIGHT is the first book in the Twilight Saga.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Not That Duke

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: Not That DukeNot That Duke (Would-Be Wallflowers, #3) by Eloisa James
Published by Avon on July 25, 2023
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Very enjoyable story. Two decent people who get things mixed up, which causes difficulties in their relationship. Stella’s insecurities and Silvester’s desire to appear perfect create difficulties for this couple, who are so obviously perfect for one another from the start.

THE STORY: Lady Stella Corsham knows that Silvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington, is not for her — even as she can’t keep her eyes away from him. Stella knows that Silvester is in love with the beautiful Yasmin, and Stella, who is freckled, a redhead, wears glasses, and has a curvy figure that is not fashionable, doesn’t believe she can compare. Silvester likes Stella, who is eccentric and intellectual, but is determined to win the hand of Yasmin, even against his friend Giles, but cannot stop thinking about Stella and wonder what she will do or say next.

OPINION: I generally don’t like romance triangles, but I never felt that Silvester “loved” Yasmin. He was always more engaged with Stella, even as he kept insisting that he was going to win Yasmin’s hand. He was more intellectually and physically attracted to Stella. Their interactions were sweet and funny.

Indeed, they are so obviously perfect for one another that the conflict comes from the fact that Silvester pursued Yasmin first. The first half of the book sets up that conflict with readers seeing how Stella’s insecurities are based on her experience and how much she is devastated by Silverster choosing Yasmin.

Stella’s distress in this book about all the ways she is “not” is sometimes hard to read. Her pain was intensely real and understandable. I did love that other women in her life were determined to show Stella that she had value even if she didn’t fit in with the shallow societal standards.

I do love a good “married couple needs to build a relationship” book. The book so clearly demonstrates that mere desire is not enough, and Silvester and Stella learn to communicate their needs and weaknesses with one another. I thought their connection was wonderful as they really see one another’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is broken into two parts. In the first part, Silvester is pursuing Yasmin. After the transition, Yasmin and Giles are married, and Silvester’s attention finally turns to Stella one hundred percent.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NOT THAT DUKE is the third book in the Would-Be-Wallflowers series. This book overlaps with the events in the prior book THE RELUCTANT COUNTESS, and therefore there are spoilers for that book. It is not necessary to read that book first, but this book is so much better if you have read it.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE; I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: How to Tame a Wild Rogue

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: How to Tame a Wild RogueHow to Tame a Wild Rogue (The Palace of Rogues, #6) by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #6
Published by Avon on July 25, 2023
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite book of the series! This is an amazing book that leverages the relationships the series has already developed into a wonderful story of two people who meet by chance, pretend to be married, learn about one another, and fall in love.

THE STORY: On a dark and stormy night, Lorcan St. Leger walks through the London dock areas as a man who has accomplished so much. He managed to raise himself from the slums of St. Giles to become a privateer for the Crown (with some questionable choices along the way), and things seem to be going well. Until he spies a woman climbing out of a window and dangling in the air. That is how St. Leger meets Lady Daphne Worth. Daphne is as desperate as St. Leger is self-satisfied. Forced to take employment due to her family’s reversal of fortune, Daphne had to save herself from assault. When a major storm forces Daphne and St. Leger to take refuge at Grand Palace on the Thames, the two masquerade as a married couple to get a room. It turns out the owners of the Grand Palace are not strangers to either Daphne or St. Leger, which makes their fake marriage even more complicated.

OPINION: I loved this book. It has some great tropes, including forced proximity. So much of the story takes place within the rooms that Daphne and Lorcan rent at the Grand Palace. I’m a sucker for two characters who can talk their way through the book. But don’t be fooled, this book is hot. Nothing is better than sexy talk that just explodes on the page by the end of the slow burn.

I liked these characters. Both Daphne and Lorcan have depth and are just decent people. The story avoids all the cliches and easy answers that I expected in the story. Relationships are messy and complicated, and this book doesn’t shy away from that messiness, whether it be romance, family, or friendships.

Daphne is a woman who has taken on so much burden of caring for her family. No one has taken care of her, and Lorcan, who could have been only concerned with himself, always has a community behind him, whether it be the slums of St. Giles or his crew, always looks out for others even while he tells himself another story of his life. Her strength allowed me to believe the circumstances that surround this book. Daphne is not sheltered even though she has pockets of innocence and naivety. Lorcan is a man who needs to care for others, and his encounter with Daphne gives him something to care about even while he fights those instincts. The decency of these characters and the avoidance of the obvious romantic situations kept me engaged in the book. I was rooting for these two on every page of the book.

While the story takes place primarily within the walls of the Grand Palace, the vibrant community that has been built throughout the series blossoms in this book. The arrival of Daphne and Lorcan causes (or exposes) problems in the household. This book felt so vibrant with all the relationships shifting and being renewed.

I think this is the best book in the series, but it relies upon all the previous books to have so much depth. There is one night in the book that might be the funniest sequence I’ve read in one of Long’s books. It felt like an old sitcom or a 1940s movie comedy. I don’t want to give anything away because it is structured so well, but I loved the entire evening, which was funny but also served as an important catalyst in the book.

We get to see a lot of the people in the Grand Palace, which I really enjoyed because I do love the characters, and I like to see how the Grand Palace is changing and how these people are growing together.

I can’t say enough about this book, and it is definitely my favorite book of the year so far. My last note is that his book has a perfect epilogue that left me feeling so happy about the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Who knew that spillikins could be so sexy?

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOW TO TAME A WILD ROGUE is the sixth book in the Palace of Rogues series. The romance here is self-contained and thus can be read as a standalone; however, the other characters matter in this book, and a richer experience awaits those who read the series in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 enthusiastic stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

five-stars

Review: Resonance Surge

Review: Resonance SurgeResonance Surge (Psy-Changeling Trinity, #7; Psy-Changeling, #22) by Nalini Singh
Published by Berkley on July 18, 2023
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I absolutely adored this book. The StoneWater bears have been a highlight in the Trinity series and this book is no exception.

THE STORY: Theodora Marshall is an unremarkable low-gradient Psy, often disregarded by everyone except her fiercely powerful twin brother, Pax. But in their venomous family, Pax’s trust in her is unwavering, making Theo the sole person he confides in. The only person Pax entirely trusts, he sends Theo to investigate a hidden chapter of their family’s history—an unregistered rehabilitation center initiated by their grandfather.

These Centers, remnants of the Psy silent past, are infamous for inflicting unimaginable pain, psychically erasing the minds of their unfortunate victims, rendering them empty shells. As Theo delves into the truth, she finds herself accompanied by Yakov, the right-hand man in the StoneWater clan. A scowling bear of a man who bears a lineage of foreseers, Yakov is skeptical of Theo, and the fact that he has dreamed of her since he was sixteen is both attractive and dangerous for Yakov. In Yakov’s visions, he witnesses Theo’s fate—a chilling and relentless surge of blood that seemingly cannot be stopped. Despite the grim foreboding, Theo presses on, determined to reveal the unsettling secrets of the Center and confront the terrifying legacy of her family’s past.

OPINION: I loved this book and its characters. The StoneWater bears have been a highlight in the Trinity series, and this book is no exception. Readers are treated in this book to two romances. Not only do we get Yakov and Theo, but the book continues the Trinity romance between Arwen and Pavel. As both Thea and Takov are twins, I very much enjoyed how both sets of twins are central to this story. No one does family and community like Singh. The characters are always in relation to others — not only the romance but friends and family. These connections always give Singh’s stories depth and interest. These are not autonomous people who can do whatever they want. Like all of us, they have constraints upon them if they want to live in relation to others.

This series has plenty of Changeling-Psy pairings, but it is the individuals that make each one unique. I loved Thea and Yakov. Yakov is a strong bear, but also an incredibly caring bear. His connection with Thea is deep, which is important because of her history. The Psy-Changeling series always messages that people are complex and complicated. No characters are easy stereotypes.

Thea is a woman haunted by a past that she only knows in the shadows. Damaged because of treatment by her father, Thea struggles with guilt and anger. In contrast to the era of Silence, Singh’s world values characters with all their flaws and limitations. Sometimes in series with characters with amazing powers, value is placed merely upon those with power and uniquely valuable attributes. Singh’s characters are often flawed and damaged by their pasts. And yet — or because of this — the characters are valued by those in the community.

I always am comforted by Singh’s world because there is an underlying decency and goodness where these characters dwell. Love is valued, relationship is valued, and both community and individuality are valued.

The romance here is sexy, but also just feels like a warm hug. Thea needs warmth and caring, and that is what Yakov provides. Definitely strong, but incredibly decent and a man that one just wants to cuddle up with.

The overarching story of Trinity is not advanced much here. There is a sense that some of the major players (perhaps Pax Marshall, who is Thea’s brother) need to move into position for the next act in the story. I’m not sure how long the Trinity movement of the Psy-Changeling series will last, but clearly, something major will be coming soon.

WORTH MENTIONING: Kaleb. That’s all.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RESONANCE SURGE is the seventh book in the Psy-Changeling Trilogy series. The book is also the twenty-second in the Psy-Changeling series. This book should be read as a part of the series. While I recommend starting from the beginning, a reader can start with the first book in the Psy-Changeling Trilogy series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley to prepare a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

five-stars