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

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.


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

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.


Review: The Bride Wore White

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 Bride Wore WhiteThe Bride Wore White by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #7
Published by Berkley on May 2, 2023
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. It is an enjoyable and satisfying read, with witty dialogue, engaging characters, and a well-developed paranormal element. the romance between Prudence and Jack was a highlight as I loved their prickly interactions. I especially was excited about the more prominent nods to the Arcane Society, and I hope there is more in this vein to come in the future of this series.

THE STORY: Prudence Ryland is a dream reader and psychic consultant who finds herself in danger when her latest client intends to kill her. When she uses her abilities to save herself, she decides to flee and make another life for herself. She changes her career becoming a librarian and moves to a new home, hoping to start fresh. However, she is kidnapped and wakes up in a bloodstained wedding dress next to a corpse, leading to her being framed for the murder. Prudence comes to Luther Pell in Burning Cove to ask for his assistance in proving her innocence. Luther assigns her case to his associate, Jack Wingate. Jack, who is scarred and grim-faced, initially believes Prudence to be a fraud or a murderer, but eventually agrees to help her. However, his idea of helping involves using her as bait for the killer. As the danger to Prudence increases, she finds herself struggling with her growing fascination with Jack.

OPINION: The Bride Wore White is a delightful addition to Amanda Quick’s Burning Cove series, blending elements of historical romance, mystery, and paranormal fiction to create a truly engaging and entertaining read. As the seventh book in the series, it continues the story of the eponymous seaside town and its colorful cast of characters, while also introducing new players and deepening existing relationships.

One of the standout features of Quick’s books is the way she incorporates paranormal elements into her storytelling. The Bride Wore White is no exception, featuring a variety of psychic abilities and supernatural phenomena that add an extra layer of intrigue and excitement to the narrative. From Prudence’s psychic dream consultations to the mysterious chimes that only Jack can hear, there’s always something otherworldly happening just beneath the surface.

I especially loved the relationship between Prudence and Jack. They are two individuals who have lived through emotional isolation and loneliness, and watching them slowly open up and connect with each other is deeply satisfying. The snappy and witty dialogue between them adds another layer of enjoyment to their interactions. Quick is a master at crafting sharp and clever banter between her characters, and it’s no different in this book.

Another highlight of this book is the ongoing development of Luther and Raina’s relationship. Fans of the series will remember these two characters from earlier installments, and it’s been fascinating to see their connection deepen and evolve over time. Their interactions in THE BRIDE WORE WHITE are particularly enjoyable, adding a sense of warmth and familiarity to the overall story.

Perhaps most excitingly for longtime fans, this book features numerous references to the Arcane Society, a secret organization that has appeared throughout Quick’s/Krentz’s/Castle’s various series. For readers who have followed the paranormal threads woven throughout these books, THE BRIDE WORE WHITE is a veritable treasure trove of easter eggs and allusions. It’s clear that Quick has a huge history of the Arcane Society at her disposal and it’s immensely satisfying to see those pieces return and come together in this latest installment.

Overall, The Bride Wore White is one of my favorites in the Burning Cove series, boasting Quick’s signature blend of romance, mystery, and the paranormal. With engaging characters, an intriguing plot, and plenty of nods to Quick’s larger body of work, it’s a must-read for fans of the author.

WORTH MENTIONING: I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I wonder if someone has a matchmaking talent that we might see more of in the future.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE BRIDE WORE WHITE is the seventh book in the Burning Cove series. It is not necessary to read the other books to understand the events in this one since the romance and mystery stand alone. However, readers of the series will know more about the characters who appear in the book. The heroine appeared previously in CLOSE UP.

STAR RATING: I give this book 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.


Review: A Tempest at Sea

Review: A Tempest at SeaA Tempest at Sea (Lady Sherlock, #7) by Sherry Thomas
Series: Lady Sherlock #7
Published by Berkley on March 14, 2023
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 336

FINAL DECISION: Another amazing entry in this series that just gets better all the time. This one was especially good for fans of the romance between Charlotte and Ash. The mystery is great and has a wonderful Agatha Christie feel.

THE STORY: Charlotte Holmes has been in hiding to escape Moriarty. An offer from Lord Ingram’s brother, Lord Remington Ashburton, an agent of the British government who offers Charlotte her protection from Moriarty in exchange for her finding out particular information. Charlotte’s search brings her to the RMS Provence, where she sails in disguise dangerously with friends and foes. Charlotte is searching for a dossier when a murder occurs, which brings the police and also danger of Charlotte being exposed.

OPINION: I have two favorite parts of this book. First, the assembly of people on the boat when the murder occurs. The story felt very much like an Agatha Christie novel where the suspects are brought together, and there are different motives that might have led to the murder. My second favorite part of this book is the development of the relationship between Holmes and Ingram. They have come far from the first book in the series. While I enjoy the mystery, it is the strength of their connection that makes me re-read the series.

Because there are so many familiar faces in this book, it was nice getting to know more about these secondary characters and see how they have progressed through the series. The mystery here was very cleverly set out, and I liked that there was a great twist. So many of these books have followed a familiar pattern, but this book, in a different setting upends how the case is investigated and how the mystery is communicated to the readers through flashbacks revealing information at just the right time.

This book is well written and well constructed as a mystery. In addition, the series manages to stay fresh for fans of the series and provides a great deal of character development and a great romance. My only regret is that I have to wait until the next book to find out where Charlotte’s story goes from here.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book reminds me somewhat of Death on the Nile which I watched recently because of the murder on the ship with lots of people with dangerous connections.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A TEMPEST AT SEA is the seventh book in the Lady Sherlock series. The mystery here is self-contained and thus can be read as a standalone for that aspect. However, there is a continuing overarching storyline in this series that makes it better tor read the books in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: The Love Hypothesis

Review: The Love HypothesisThe Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
Published by Berkley on September 14, 2021
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 383

FINAL DECISION: This book is fun and light, like cotton candy. Even the “serious” storyline is really fluff because it lacks complexity. I liked the book, but I probably won’t remember it in a year. That being said, the book is perfect for someone looking for a fun rom-com.

THE STORY: Olive Smith is a STEM field Ph.D. candidate at Stanford. When Olive realizes that her best friend, Anh, is perfect for the guy that Olive is casually dating, Olive decides to help their romance along. Olive knows that Anh won’t make a move even after a breakup because of Anh’s loyalty to Olive. So Olive tells Anh that she has already moved on and is dating someone else. When Anh shows up at the lab when Olive is supposed to be on a date, Olive grabs the first guy she finds and asks him to kiss her. The man agrees, and Olive soon finds out that she has been kissing, Adam Adam Carlsen, a young brilliant professor, and a total jerk. Surprisingly, he also agrees to keep up the fake relationship facade telling Olive that he could benefit as well. There is an expiration date for the ruse, but Olive can’t help but find that the fake relationship feels more real every one of those days.

OPINION: I thought this was a sweet romantic comedy. Hazelwood’s writing style is witty, charming, and engaging, and her characters are lovable, relatable, and full of personality. Rather than presenting a traditional alpha male lead who bulldozes his way into Olive’s life, Adam is respectful, supportive, and willing to listen. Overall, this book is delightful and left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. It’s the perfect book to curl up with on a rainy day, and it is a fun and lighthearted read that made me laugh and smile. The secondary characters and their romances made me smile as well. This book also has some grumpy/sunshine vibes as Olive teases Adam out of his being too serious and makes him see himself more clearly which I really loved. I also really liked that Adam is so supportive of Olive’s work.

The negative to me is twofold. First, I really didn’t like the happy-for-now ending. I’m not sure that these two won’t break up in a year. This is true especially because we don’t really learn anything about these characters having a deep relationship. Instead, everything is funny and light. Even the serious items we learn are not really the stuff that sustains relationships. Second, the entire story was pretty shallow, and everything could be predicted from the start. There is a harassment story that was clear a mile away including how it would obviously be resolved. So while I enjoyed this book, it lacks the depth that would make me come back to re-read.

WORTH MENTIONING: The pumpkin spice drink wars made me laugh out loud.


STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: A Sinister Revenge

Review: A Sinister RevengeA Sinister Revenge (Veronica Speedwell, #8) by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #8
Published by Berkley on March 7, 2023
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 320

FINAL DECISION: I tore through this book. Launching from the conclusion of the prior book, this book brings together so many elements of what I love about this series: the relationship between Veronica and Stoker, a good mystery, and plenty of supporting characters that have their own stories. Loved this one.

THE STORY: After being apart from her partner/lover Stoker for several months, Veronica arrives in Bavaria with Stoker’s brother Tiberius to seek Stoker’s help. Tiberius has received death threats over something that happened years ago amongst the “Seven Sinners,” his group of friends. Now two of his friends have been killed, and the message sender suggests that Tiberius might be next. Not knowing why he and his friends have been targeted, Tiberius intends to assemble a reunion and include Veronica and Stoker to help reveal the killer. The only task is to find Stoker (who has been out on his own since discovering Veronica’s “husband” in AN IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSTER) and convince him to join the hunt.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book so much after the tension of the prior book. Where that book was so hard on Veronica, this one felt flirty and fun even though Veronica and Stoker were dealing with their relationship for most of the book. That’s what I loved about this book. I knew that things would work out, so I just enjoyed the ride.

Another enjoyable portion of this book is learning more about Tiberius and seeing the relationship between him and Stoker develop. We also get to see more of the youngest brother Merryweather. I love the dynamic that is developing where Veronica is bringing this broken set of brothers together.

The mystery here is fun with lots of suspects. It reminded me somewhat of some of my favorite Agatha Christie mysteries — lots of suspects involving social events and plenty of deaths.

This is one of my favorites already, and I look forward to more in this series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book resolves the conflict which ended AN IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSTER.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A SINISTER REVENGE is the eighth book in the Veronica Speedwell series. The mystery here is self-contained, and thus this book can be read as a standalone. However, this book’s overarching relationship plot flows directly from the prior book in the series, and this series is much better to read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: An Impossible Imposter

Review: An Impossible ImposterAn Impossible Impostor (Veronica Speedwell #7) by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #7
Published by Berkley on February 15, 2022
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 334

FINAL DECISION: This was a challenging book to read because the expectations I had were disturbed. I enjoyed that the author refuses to fall into an expected template of what these books should be. Readers might be disturbed from their comfortable expectations, but that makes the series more exciting to me.

THE STORY: Veronica Speedwell and her lover/partner Stoker are asked by Sir Hugo, head of the Special Branch, to investigate whether a long-lost relative of his goddaughter is a fraud. Jonathan Hathaway was believed dead after the eruption of Krakatoa. Sir Hugo has come to Veronica and Stoker because she knew Jonathan so he hopes that she will know whether the newly reappeared Jonathan is an imposter or not. Complicating the matter is that the man has no memory of his identity and has been injured, but meets the description of Jonathan. Veronica and Stoker go to the family estate to confront the possible imposter, but she also has to confront secrets from her past.

OPINION: This is a difficult book to review without giving spoilers because all the significant parts of the book depend upon the information that is revealed during the book. Because of this, I decided to just write a list of what I loved about this book:

*Veronica is personally challenged in this book as never depicted before.

*A new villain is born.

*This mystery has plenty of drama and twists and turns.

*Stoker and Veronica have some great relationship moments here — not all of them are good.

*I was surprised as my opinions of different characters changed and evolved throughout the book. The complexity of the characters in this book was well done.

*This book bothered me in many ways which I enjoyed as the author is challenging the readers’ expectations.

WORTH MENTIONING: Upon finishing this book, I immediately wanted to read the next. The book doesn’t end on a true cliffhanger, but the overarching storyline is at a significant point.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AN IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSTER is the seventh book in the Veronica Speedwell series. The mystery here is self-contained, and thus the book can be read as a standalone. However, overarching character development depends upon the continuing relationship between Stoker and Veronica, and this book is so much better if read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: An Unexpected Peril

Review: An Unexpected PerilAn Unexpected Peril (Veronica Speedwell, #6) by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #6
Published by Berkley on March 2, 2021
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 346

FINAL DECISION: A very “drawing room” mystery where most of the drama involves lots of events and talking with people. I enjoyed this one just a bit less than others because Veronica and Stoker feel constrained — something that they recognize themselves. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t think this was a great addition to the series. The mystery is good and I always love Veronica and Stoker.

THE STORY: The Curiosity Club, a social club for women who dare, is honoring Alice Baker-Greene, a mountain climber who recently died in an accident. At the exhibit, Veronica Speedwell and her partner and lover, Stoker, discover that Alice’s death might not have been an accident. Veronica attempts to get Princess Gisela of Alpenwald to investigate the death which occurred in her country. The evidence disappears, and so does the princess.

OPINION: This book has a different feel than the others in the series because the events take place where Veronica must be more constrained than normal in her investigations. For that reason, the story ends up being a bit less “big adventure” than others in the series.

The mystery is well-done, and I don’t have any complaints other than some boredom on my part by all the social and political meetings.

So what about what I really read these books for Veronica and Stoker’s relationship? I loved how these two are developing their relationship. There are adjustment issues as they try and feel out how to define their relationship. What the limits are. What the expectations are of one another.

Veronica is very skittish because she fears the loss of her independence. She has never had a real relationship and keeps men at a distance by taking control. But her relationship with Stoker requires a commitment that she is unsure how to make. I loved how their relationship issues are interwoven with the mystery. Things are not completely settled between these two, and I love it!

WORTH MENTIONING: I liked seeing Veronica and Stoker working through their new relationship after the events of the prior books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AN UNEXPECTED PERIL is the sixth book in the Veronica Speedwell series. The mystery is self-contained and can be read as a standalone, but for me, the relationship between Veronica and Stoker is the main reason I read the series so I recommend reading in order to follow the overarching storylines.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Passion

Review: PassionPassion (Passion Quartet, #1) by Lisa Valdez
Series: Passion Quartet #1
Published by Berkley on July 5, 2005
Genres: Historical
Pages: 332

FINAL DECISION: This book was a roller coaster for me. At times I almost laughed at the sex scenes, but by the end of the book, I loved this story. When written, this book was groundbreaking in the erotic historical arena.

THE STORY: in London’s Crystal Palace, Passion Elizabeth Dare meets a stranger, and the two engage in a sexual encounter. A widow, Passion finds her desires awakened after a loveless marriage. She agrees to continue to meet while she is in London, believing that no one will be hurt by these secret and anonymous encounters. Mark Randolph Hawkmore, Earl of Langley, cannot stop thinking about the mysterious woman he meets at Crystal Palace. At the same time, his “real” life is falling apart as he is being blackmailed into marriage. Mark is determined to free himself from those scheming against him. As Passion and Mark get closer emotionally in their secret relationship, their real lives are destined to collide and perhaps destroy everything.

OPINION: By the end of this book, I loved this story. I’m glad I persevered through the story because, at times in the beginning, I almost gave up on the book. But as the emotional connection between the characters grew, I began to love the story more. Mark and Passion first come together purely physically, but an emotional connection quickly grows between them.

As the reader knows more than either of the characters, the collision course they are on is quickly revealed, and thus there is tension in how the characters will become aware of the troubles that they are facing.

Passion is incredibly lovely as a person. I wanted her to be more selfish, but I understood her choices even if I had done something differently. Mark is damaged, and he is completely undone by Passion. By the end of the book, he has changed and is willing to do the right thing even if it would hurt him.

I’m so glad I gave this book a chance because I had heard it was bonkers. Yes, there are things that I had just to accept and move past, but on the whole, this book was emotionally engaging, and I really was surprised by many of the twists of this book in a good way.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is some bananas stuff in the sex scenes that I have questions about anatomically. Readers who are not able to put some implausible things aside to enjoy the story should probably pass on this one.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PASSION is the first book in the Passion Quartet. (Note that the author only wrote the first two books of the promised quartet).

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Hana Khan Carries On

Review: Hana Khan Carries OnHana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
Published by Berkley on April 13, 2021
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 348

FINAL DECISION: I almost DNF’d this book at about 55% because the book seemed more interested in Hana’s family restaurant, her radio career, her visiting relatives, and just about everything except the romance. I continued reading, and it got somewhat better, but too much about her and not enough romance for me. The final quarter of the book was great the characters and story came together well. I might try it again with my expectations in check.

THE STORY: Hana Khan is balancing a lot is things. Her family restaurant is on a decline just as a new competitor is opening in the neighborhood. She has an anonymous podcast about her life and an online friendship/relationship with a follower. She is trying to establish a career in radio broadcasting but worries about the compromises she may be making. And the owner of that new restaurant is a man that she can’t seem to forget.

OPINION: I liked a lot about this book, but I expected a romance and got women’s fiction instead. Perhaps my mistake, but the book’s blurb emphasizes the romance, which is not true in the book itself. Enough about that.

I thought the book depicts well Hana’s life and community. I enjoyed learning about her as a character,  and I thought she and the other characters had integrity and real identity in the story.

Because I wasn’t interested in Hana so much as the romance, I almost gave up on this book about 50 percent in. The romantic interest is introduced by then, but they have almost no page time. The last third of the book is much more focused on the romance which I really enjoyed, but there was too much other stuff to get through to enjoy that part. The final 25 percent of the book was really good. The plot and the characters fell together so well. I wish the setup had been better, but I really enjoyed that final piece. Indeed, I was prepared to give the book three stars (others might enjoy it much more) but pushed it up once the final acts of the book were done.

Hana and Aydin’s relationship was really enjoyable in the last half of the book, as they are the focus, and I loved how respectful they are to one another, how Aydin listens to Hana and how things are resolved between them.

I remain ambivalent about his book. I might try this book again after understanding the balance between Hana’s journey and the romance. The ending was so good that I might like it better next time.

WORTH MENTIONING: For readers who are interested in Hana’s journey rather than romance, this book is well-written and explores many contemporary issues of race, religion, immigration, gender, and a woman establishing herself.


STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.