Review: American Queen

Review: American QueenAmerican Queen (American Queen Trilogy, #1) by Sierra Simone
Series: American Queen Trilogy #1
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on October 25th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 392
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Blistering hot, crazy as can be, I absolutely was obsessed with this book.  Don’t look for reality here, but intense fantasy, oh, oh, yes.

THE STORY:  Greer Galloway, born into a political family, met and fell for a war hero at the age of sixteen.  Their relationship was highly charged and completely inappropriate.  The ten years since haven’t diminished her feelings for Ash, but they have been complicated by betrayal and life and her deepening and darkening desires.  Five years ago, Greer met Embry, Ash’s best friend. Now as Ash, now President of the United States, has sent Embry to bring Greer to Ash’s side, Greer has complicated feelings for both men.

OPINION:  This book is sexy bonkers at times.  The President, Vice-President and the First Lady all together. Crazy stuff and yet completely appealing because the emotions between these characters are so well expressed and so raw.  The book acknowledges everything: lust, love, pain, jealous, anger, desire, caring.  I loved how these three interact with one another and the struggle between them to find a way forward.  This is one of those books that I read and kept thinking about. The story of these three has just begun as each book appears to focus on one particular character in the trio.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book contains are complex menage.  The menage is definitely emotional as well as sexual as each of them has to deal with a range of emotions for and about one another.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  AMERICAN QUEEN is the first book in the American Queen Trilogy.  This series is meant to be read together and this book ends on a cliffhanger.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Someone to Love

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

Review: Someone to LoveSomeone to Love (Darling, VT #2) by Donna Alward
Series: Darling, VT #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on March 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  The story of two damaged people who are survivors of some of life’s tragedies, this book dwells not on the sadness of their lives but how they can move forward to find joy in one another.

THE STORY:  Ethan Gallagher is a widower with two young boys.  Having met, married and lost the love of his life, Ethan is dwelling in his grief and has no intention of falling in love again.  When he meets his sister-in-law’s best friend, the two rub each other the wrong way.  Willow Dunaway is too much of free spirit according to Ethan.  From her dyed hair to her tattoo, Willow is not serious according to Ethan.  When his sons take to Willow, however, Ethan finds himself spending more time for Willow and finding out that that former high achieving high schooler has rebuilt herself after her life was shattered.  Willow is herself afraid of falling in love, but this firefighter and his two adorable children call to her heart.

OPINION:  Can I admit to really liking stories where the main characters get each other completely wrong in in the beginning?  And boy do Ethan and Willow see one another in a warped way in the beginning. Assumptions, stereotypes and just plain misunderstandings abound in the beginning.  The two end up fighting and arguing and just purely want to dislike one another.  Because, of course, they are perfect for one another but neither wants that to be true.

Ethan is a good and honest man who loved his deceased wife tremendously.  The two made promises on the infamous kissing bridge (which promises love for life), but the lifetime the two expected ended far too soon.  Buried in grief since her death, Ethan finds himself being pulled, unwillingly, into life again. Willow touches something in Ethan that he believed broken and he finds himself resenting it. He doesn’t want to feel again and he certainly doesn’t want to love.  But despite himself, he begins to fall for Willow.

Willow, herself, is closed off to the possibility of love.  A youthful mistake almost destroyed her and caused her to reinvent herself. Her safe and comfortable self discounts the possibility of truly opening herself up to weakness and love.  It is much easier for her to keep her relationships constrained and herself in control. Quirky and unique, Willow demonstrates the dangers of assuming you know someone’s story based on appearances or superficial knowledge. As Ethan (and we the readers) learn, Willow has deep reasons for being who she appears to be on the outside. Ethan and his sons begin to break down the protective walls that Willow has built and he thus challenges her control.

The romance between Willow and Ethan is so powerful because these two seem to have no chance as the book begins. They learn that they are more similar than they expected and liking one another turns to a powerful sexual attraction and eventually they have to make the leap of faith to trust love.  Even if there are no guarantees.

WORTH MENTIONING:  For fans of the first book SOMEONE LIKE YOU, there is a little special surprise for you too!

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SOMEONE TO LOVE is the second book in the Darling, VT series.  The romance in this book is independent of the other book in the series, but the main characters of this book do appear in the prior book.  This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

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

four-stars

Review: Renegade’s Pride

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

Review: Renegade’s PrideRenegade's Pride (Cahill Ranch #1) by B.J. Daniels
Series: Cahill Ranch #1
Published by Harlequin Books on February 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A perfectly adequate book that fails to be completely engrossing because of the number of characters and storylines introduced.

THE STORY:  For nine years Lillian Cahill has thought about the man who left her.  Trask Beaumont ran out on Lillian under suspicion of murder.  He’s now returned to clear his name and get back the only woman he has ever loved.  But strange things are now happening in town with women disappearing and the question is whether these things are connected with Trask’s reappearance or Trask himself.

OPINION:  The story of a couple who gets a second chance at love, RENEGADE’S PRIDE introduces readers to a town where there are many secrets.  During the book, we are introduced to many characters — especially the Cahill’s — who have secrets which will be revealed in the series.

For me, this book spent a lot of time on introducing all the characters.  As a result, the relationship of the main couple failed to be compelling.  My first problem was that I just couldn’t get over the nine year gap in their relationship.  Because the building of the relationship of Trask and Lillian took place years ago, it is considered established as the book begins while I didn’t really get the connection between them.  While the relationship progresses as the book goes on, it takes a long time for these two to truly feel like they belong together.

The focus here in the mystery of what happened nine years ago.  But with so much going on, the relationship got a little lost.  That being said, the story as a whole was good enough to keep me interested and make me want to read more about the people in this town.

WORTH MENTIONING:  There are many unfinished storylines as typical of Daniels series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  Renegade’s Pride is the first book in the Cahill Ranch series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

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

three-stars

Review: Royally Matched

Review: Royally MatchedRoyally Matched (Royally, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: Royally #2
on February 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 276
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“I have an hour before I need to leave, so it’ll be tea and …Sense and Sensibility for a bit. It’s the perfect read. Just enough drama and angst to be interesting, but mostly light and entertaining, with the happiest ending. Colonel Brandon is my favorite–the ultimate book husband. He made good and upstanding look sexy as all get-out. Someday, I’ll meet a man just like him–romantic, steady, and reliable–and I don’t give a damn how silly that sounds. How immature or fanciful.

“Because I have a theory.

“If nightmares can come true, and sometimes they do…then so can our happiest dreams.”

FINAL DECISION:  Intensely romantic, this book feels a little more like a fairy tale than real life, but that’s one reason it is so good.  A shy librarian who falls in love with the future king of her country and tames the wild rake.

THE STORY:  Prince Henry is having trouble adjusting to being the heir apparent after his brother abdicated his position as next in line for the throne of their country.  Now, after a lifetime of fun and games, Henry is feeling the constant pressure to be perfect.  Temporarily banished to a distant estate, Henry agrees to participate in a matchmaker reality show to find a wife (think The Bachelor).  While beautiful women are all around him seeking fame and perhaps him, Henry is drawn to the sister of one of the contestants — Sarah Von Titebottum, a shy librarian who has agreed to accompany her sister to avoid having to give a presentation.  Despite his participation in the show, Henry has no intension of finding the love of his life — but Sarah changes all that.  But how can a man who has always been considered a shallow party animal and womanizer convince a woman looking for serious and responsible that he is man for her?

OPINION:  Funny, romantic and sweet was not what I expected when I read the description of this book, but that is what I got.  Henry is simply adorable. He’s a man who has placed in a position that he never expected to inhabit.  Now he is struggling to figure out how to be himself as heir when everyone else seems to be trying to tell him who he should be.  While his grandmother, the Queen, wants and expects Henry to be circumspect and proper, he instead decides to agree to a matchmaking reality show to find a bride. He doesn’t actually expect to find a bride — just relief from his boredom and internal fears of not measuring up.  He doesn’t expect to find Sarah.

While the two had met before, this is the first time that he has spent any significant time with her.  And he finds that she gives him the opportunity to be himself — a man — rather than a prince.  Their interactions are funny and sweet and while Henry is challenging Sarah to come out of her shell, she is allowing him to be responsible and serious in his own unique way.

Sarah was a particularly interesting character.  She has an air of innocence worthy of any potential bride of a prince, but she also has spunk and quirks that make her fun and modern.  I genuinely liked her and I loved how she is willing to see the man and not the prince.

This story is willing to be blatantly romantic.  There is a gauze of fairy tale over the entire story, but I thought that worked well for this story (which is different from the reality in the first book in the series).  I loved the book and if I had one complaint it is that I would like to see more of this couple together and happy because they have work to do in the world.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is told in alternating first person point of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ROYALLY MATCHED is the second book in the Royally series.  While the romance is independent in this book, I think it is better to read the first book to understand more about Henry.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Wildfire

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

Review: WildfireWildfire (Fire, #3) by Anne Stuart
Series: Fire #3
Published by Amazon Digital Services on February 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 290
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I really enjoyed this story because there is serious drama and suspense as Sophie and Malcolm are trapped on the island with Sophie’s insane husband. The pacing and characters makes this a very enjoyable book.

THE STORY: Sophie Jordan was an operative with the Committee until she fell in love and married a target of her investigation.  He turned out to be a psychopath and an arms dealer.  Once her husband found out that she had lied to him, he tried to have her killed.  Instead, Sophie was left parallelized and at the mercy of her husband.  Malcolm Gunnison, undercover as an arms dealer, comes to the island in order to finish the job that Sophie botched.  He’s going to discover Sophie’s husband’s new biological weapon and then kill him.  Mal will also kill Sophie if necessary or if she gets in his way.

OPINION: I am a huge fan of Stuart’s Ice series.  Several of those books are on my all time favorites list.  Until this book, the Fire books have been okay but don’t begin to approach the amazing Ice books.  I’m happy to report, however, that WILDFIRE, while not as superlative as the best Ice books, is definitely worthy of being in the same universe.

I really liked Sophie in this story because as the book begins she has been in a deadly battle of wills with her evil husband. I prefer this damaged and dangerous heroine over the sweet innocent.  Sophie made mistakes in her past and has paid for it for years.  Now she is ready to win her freedom and kill her husband, if possible.  She also is immune from handsome dangerous men — or so she believes.  Of course, she find herself reluctantly attracted to the dangerous Mal. The combination of innocence, cynicism, ability to survive and desire to be free makes Sophie’s character one that I desired to follow her journey.

Mal is a nicer Stuart hero than most in these series.  While he begins the book entirely willing to kill Sophie if necessary — or even if she is somewhat inconvenient to him — he quickly begins to fall for her as well.  And although he does some bad things in this book, he is not as dark as some of Stuart’s heroes.  I liked his competence, his determination to do what is necessary and his total commitment to his mission — until, of course, Sophie begins to upset this world.

The story is tense and filled with danger and drama.  There is always the question of the motives of the various characters. I liked that there is almost constant danger with the characters.  From the first page, the characters are in precarious positions and that made the story go quickly.  By having all the action of the book take place on a private island with limited characters and danger all around, the constant sense of peril is preserved.  I liked the story and the development of the characters as they progress.

While not reaching the heights of the best Ice books, this book is the best of the Fire series so far.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The Fire series is about the American branch of the Committee, an anti-terrorism group that uses whatever means necessary, including murder, to stop terrorists.  The series this spins off from, the ICE series, has characters which are mentioned or make appearances in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WILDFIRE is the third book in the Fire series.  This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: Somebody Like You

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

Review: Somebody Like YouSomebody Like You (Darling, VT #1) by Donna Alward
Series: Darling, VT #1
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on February 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Those who stood on the bridge and sealed their love with a kiss would be together forever.”

FINAL DECISION:  A book with a wonderful sense of heart, I absolutely loved this one.  Wholesome and sweet with just enough humor and angst to keep the story exciting, my first Donna Alward novel made me immediately preorder the rest of the series so that I can find out the fates of the other characters.

THE STORY:  Laurel Stone has returned to her hometown after a failed marriage which necessitated a change in careers.  Laurel now owns the Ladybug Garden Center which is reconnecting her with the outdoors that she loved growing up.  Laurel’s return to Darling also ends up reconnecting her to Aiden Gallagher who broke her heart when they were a teenagers.  Aiden is now a police officer in town.  Aiden and Laurel have a long history together and, in fact, they are legends because they are depicted in the most famous picture in town.  As small children, Aiden and Laurel innocently kissed on the Kissing Bridge where legend holds that those who kiss there will be together forever.  Now the town wants to update the photo using Aiden and Laurel again, but Laurel is in no mood to cooperate.

OPINION: A lovely, heart warming small town romance, SOMEBODY LIKE YOU was a book that I read only because it was offered to me to review.  I accepted the chance to review the book intrigued by the Kissing Bridge and the idea that two people who were photographed on it as children get a chance at romance as adults.  Sometimes I just have to take a wild chance and see what happens.

I’m happy to report that this was a wonderful book.  Funny, sweet, and heartwarming.  Once I began reading it, I couldn’t put it down.  The story satisfied something in me that likes the gentle and real relationships.  (I love angsty dramas but this book isn’t that type of book.  Instead, this book feels like sweet and cold ice cream on a summer’s day — recognizable and incredibly satisfying).

Laurel is a woman recovering from the end of a marriage that made her question all her assumptions about her own future and happy endings.  She is generous and willing to help others even to her own detriment.  She is unwilling to purposely hurt others and that had led her to be taken advantage of by some…but it also opens her up to being wonderful in helping those who genuinely need assistance.  I loved that she is a normal woman who is struggling to determine what she wants from life.  She works hard, is charitable and has to work through her mixed emotions for not only Aiden but her ex-husband.

Aiden is so much a normal guy that I never expected him to become one of my favorite romantic heroes.  Like so many of us, he made mistakes as a teenager.  In his case, it resulted in him hurting Laurel which is something he never intended to do. He is considered the goofball of his family, but like so many clowns, his humor hides a sensitive soul. Aiden is a man who wants to make a difference out of the genuine goodwill in his heart. Caring for a homeless man, solving small town disputes and crimes, and being an important part of his family is a normal day for Aiden.  Laurel and her pain and love brings out Aiden’s desire to care for her.

I loved the romance between Aiden and Laurel. Two people who have known one another all their lives, their interactions have been a series of getting to know one another and then moving apart.  Their romance seemed to have possibilities as teenagers, but immaturity sent them spinning out into the world with other relationships.  Meeting again as adults, the two know one anther but don’t truly know the inner self of the other.  But this time, Aiden and Laurel begin to discover the true self under all the superficial.  Aiden sees the generous and hurt woman under Laurel calm facade and Laurel discovers the deep and caring man under Aiden’s humorous surface.

I’m all for large romantic gestures, and Aiden’s final one made me sigh and smile and read again.  When I began the book, I had expectations and I liked how the book played with those expectations, turned them around and then surpassed what I expected from the final scenes.  Bravo!

The town of Darling manages to feel both incredibly normal and real and also quaint and a typical small town.  The characters are quirky and bring a tremendous amount of humor to the book.  I just knew when I finished this book that I had to read the next books in the series.  And so I shall…see my reviews soon.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book doesn’t contain explicit “on screen” sex and is perfect for those who might want a less graphic and yet entirely satisfying romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SOMEBODY LIKE YOU is the first book in the Darling, VT series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: Tempting Zander

Review: Tempting ZanderTempting Zander (Knight Security, #4) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Knight Security #4
Published by Smashwords Edition on January 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: A good story but nothing overly special.  I enjoyed this as a one time read.

THE STORY:  Zander Buchanan is brought in as head of security for Kate Stewart, a superstar singer. Kate has an ex-boyfriend who is stalking her and she has hired Knight Security to supplement her normal security.  Zander has wanted Kate desperately even as he is exasperated by her. He knows he has to keep his distance to do his job.  She’s hot for him, too.

OPINION:  This is a perfectly adequate story if a bit predictable.  Zander and Kate are fighting their attraction, there is danger from the ex and the ultimate resolution and happy ending.  The characters were nice enough but a bit forgettable.  The best part of the book for me was a scene between Zander and Kate in a store dressing room which was completely memorable. The book was in the category for me of a book that I enjoyed while reading but won’t be one that I think of returning to…except for maybe that dressing room scene.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a short novella.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  TEMPTING ZANDER is the fourth book in the Knight Security series.  Although there are some overlapping characters, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Some Kind of Magic

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

Review: Some Kind of MagicSome Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 304
Goodreads
three-half-stars

“I’d never know for sure who much that damn perfume had factored into his feelings for me. And he’d never know for sure how little his fame factored into my feelings for him.”

FINAL DECISION:  This is an enjoyable if a bit predictable story. I liked Eden’s quirky if conservative nature that is changed when she meets the rock star and begins to allow herself to want more.

THE STORY: Eden Sinclair is a biochemist.  One night she wears the latest work from her office out to watch her musician brother. She ends up meeting Adam Copeland and in a move unlike herself, ends up having really hot sex with the slightly grungy musician.  Eden doesn’t realize that Adam is an international rock god wanted by women all over the world. When she finds out she also discovers that her work “perfume” is actually a pheromone designed to attract men.  Now Eden is afraid losing Adam but she doesn’t know if he wants her or the perfume enhanced version of herself.

OPINION:  The positives of this book is how normal the relationship between Eden and Adam is.  Adam might be a rock star, but he also is messy and wants a normal dating relationship with Eden. Eden doesn’t treat Adam with awe, and Adam responds to that.

They both have insecurities in their relationship.  Eden is conflicted about the perfume. She worries that the attraction on Adam’s part is rooted in that pheromone spray. As the book begins, she can’t imagine that she is attractive enough to draw someone like Adam to her. Throughout the book, that instinctive fear that she is not good enough threatens their relationship. I very much enjoyed the growth in Eden as she begins to stretch herself, reach for dreams that she feared trying for.  Adam is insecure as well because he always has the fear that his fame rather than his own self is what attracts Eden to him. This is especially true because even if Eden doesn’t care about his fame, those surrounding her are always effected by it.

The negative in this book for me is that things happen too slowly and didn’t hold my interest in the middle of the book. There were some chapters that I had to push myself through. I thought the pacing could have picked up and would have made the book more compelling.

This is only a small negative because in the end, I enjoyed the book as a one time read. I look forward to what this author will write next.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is the author’s debut novel.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SOME KIND OF MAGIC is a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

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

three-half-stars

Review: Jacked Up

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

Review: Jacked UpJacked Up (Birmingham Rebels, #3) by Samantha Kane
Series: Birmingham Rebels #3
Published by Loveswept on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 240
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite book of the series.  This one has a developing relationship between three people who have never had a menage relationship before but find themselves falling in love with one another.

THE STORY: Sam Taylor and King Ulupoka are teammates on the Birmingham Rebels football team.  Sam is a war veteran with PTSD and guilt from the death of his comrades and hasn’t had sex with a woman since his return because he worries about his nightmares. King convinces Sam to break his celibacy and King agrees to stay in the room to make sure that Sam doesn’t have an episode.  The problem is finding a woman who would agree to such an arrangement.  The two end up meeting Jane Foster, an ER nurse who has been the “good girl” all her life.  When she meets Sam and King, she is attracted to both of them and decides to agree to their scheme to break her “good girl” mold. The night opens them all up to new possibilities.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. I really felt these three characters as they worked towards building a three way relationship. None of the characters had previously been in an menage relationship before and weren’t looking for that when the book begins.

Each character has their own journey in the book as the trio winds their way towards a satisfying relationship.  King is the most open to the idea of the menage. He is a big hearted friendly man.  He is the most open sexually to the idea based on his past experiences. But even King has to work out the idea of what are the proper boundaries of a relationship with three participants.

Sam is quiet and closed in. He is trying to work through his issues and he finds that King and Jane balance him in different ways.  While Sam has never had a relationship with a man, he begins to realize that his relationship with King is more than friendship. While Sam struggles with three problems (1) his PTSD and the fear that gives him for any relationship; (2) his attraction to King and (3) the menage.

Jane has her own struggles. She has classified herself as “good girl” and fears the idea of taking action that challenge that view of herself. Thus, even when she wants the menage relationship, she can’t contemplate being involve with such a public relationship with these two famous men. She ends up being the catalyst in the relationship and brings all three players together.

I thought the baby steps that these characters have to take in defining what they want in their relationship was interesting and more realistic. There are many issues they have to navigate between them and I liked seeing them have to think about and address how the relationship is going to work. I thought this book addressed the complications well.  The book could also be considered “beginners menage” and I liked seeing people work through the difficulties and complications.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a true menage with MM, MMF and MF involved.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  JACKED UP is the third book in the Birmingham Rebels series.  This book can be read as a standalone but there are recurring characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

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

four-stars

Review: On Second Thought

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

Review: On Second ThoughtOn Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Series: Cambry-on-Hudson #2
Published by HQN Books on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 480
Goodreads

FINAL DECISION:  A book that focuses on two sisters experiencing the ending of the relationships and the birth of new ones, this book was interesting but the romance was definitely secondary.

THE STORY:  Kate finally has everything she has ever wanted except a child.  She and her new husband have been trying since their marriage and have hopes of having a child soon — then he husband dies in a freak accident on the night her stepsister expects to get engaged. Ainsley has been with her boyfriend for eleven years and expected to be with him forever — until the death of Kate’s husband convinces him to dump her. Now Kate and Ainsley are living together and their mutual grief and anger bring them together in a way they didn’t expect. Both also have other men in their lives step up and begin to develop a different romantic relationship.

OPINION:  I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a fan of so-called “women’s fiction” because I prefer books where the romance is central to the story.  While this book has romance (two of them) in it, I was left unsatisfied because I wanted to know more about the romance between the characters than either Kate or Ainsley’s personal journey.

That doesn’t mean the book wasn’t good.  It was well written and I really did enjoy it, but I wouldn’t read it again.  The central story in this book is Kate’s loss of her husband. Because the book begins before her husband’s death and takes her through her grieving process, her husband is a central part of the book.  This is Kate’s journey and I greatly appreciated that her journey was complex and multifaceted and addressed head on how one lives again after a loss.  The book was especially refreshing in that it doesn’t judge Kate for moving on — even if other do. It is all here..the grief, the anger, the denial, the desire to be normal and live again.  The emotions are messy and much remains unresolved.

For me, however, the complexity of these emotions meant that they overshadowed any romance between her and Daniel. Things between them felt like default. I liked him and liked his character, but I didn’t feel any intensity between them. Instead, it felt like any guy who had been there for her would have garnered the same response from her. I walked away from the book wondering if the two would even be together in a couple of years.

I really liked the story of Ainsley more and I wish there had been more resolution to her story. Ainsley is suffering when her boyfriend of eleven years dumps her, but that event opens her up to the possibility of a different guy. I thought that her feelings for her ex were resolved before she got involved so the romance felt less conflicted and I really got some connection between these characters.  Her romance was funny and sweet and my only wish is that I had gotten more.

This book is billed as two sisters who resolve their relationship.  But there really isn’t much to resolve between these two.  Yes, there was distance and the two were not particularly close, but there were no serious disagreements or problems between them.  Rather than being their story, I felt that Kate’s personal journey was the heart of this story and Ainsley had a supporting role (even though the book is told in alternating first persons).

Ultimately, the book is a serious look at grief and loss and living again, but not my favorite kind of book.  (I do want to note that I read Higgins previous book in this vein, IF YOU ONLY KNEW, and liked it much better).

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is really women’s fiction rather than romance although romance does play a part.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  This book is loosely connected to IF YOU ONLY KNEW as the two take place in the same town, Cambry-on-Hudson.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

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