Genre: Contemporary Women

Joint Review: Fire Bound by Christine Feehan

Posted April 27, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: Fire Bound by Christine FeehanReviewer: Holly and Casee
Fire Bound by Christine Feehan
Series: Sisters of the Heart #5, Sea Haven
Also in this series: Water Bound, Spirit Bound, Air Bound, Earth Bound, Bound Together (Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart, #6), Turbulent Sea, Hidden Currents, Magic in the Wind, The Twilight Before Christmas, Oceans of Fire, Dangerous Tides, Safe Harbor, Turbulent Sea, Hidden Currents
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: April 26th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, General, Contemporary Women, Fantasy
Pages: 400
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three-half-stars

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sea Haven novels returns to the circle of the six sisters of the heart, bound by the elements—and to one who possesses the power to inflame the most dangerous passions of all.  Flame-haired Lissa Piner is a skilled glass blower whose delicate gift conceals a burning inner strength that can destroy as exquisitely as it can create. Commissioned to design chandeliers for a string of luxury hotels, her remarkable skills have taken her to Italy. But Lissa’s real mission there is a secret. For her entire life has been a lie, leading to a chance to avenge a terrible wrong.   Enlisted as her bodyguard is Casmir Prakenskii, a trained assassin living off the grid. In Lissa, he sees a kindred spirit—something unexpected and wicked, mysterious and sensual. But more than desire is about to bring them together: because both of their pasts cry out for revenge. And for two people with this many secrets, this much passion, and this many enemies, someone is bound to get burned.

Casee: I love the Sea Haven series.  I’ve read all the books she’s written but the Drake Sisters and Sisters of the Heart are my favorite.  Fire Bound was like no other Feehan book.  Mostly it’s the men that are killers and, as readers, we simply accept it.  They are trying to protect their woman, right? Lissa was unlike any heroine  that she’s written.  Lissa is a straight up killer.  It doesn’t matter that she’s doing it for revenge for the death of her family, it’s still murder.  Yet, I wasn’t horrified.  It was refreshing change from her normal heroines.

Holly:  The Sea Haven books are my favorites as well. Lissa was a great heroine. I liked that she was just as deadly as Casimir and she wasn’t portrayed as someone who needed rescuing. I was actually surprised at the number of risks she took and that he didn’t try to stop her.

Casee: I did love how Casimir was partner, not a dictator.  He didn’t “allow” Lissa to do what she needed to do.  He helped her, understood her, and was generally there for her.

Holly: No, he didn’t “allow” her to do anything. She made her choices and he reluctantly followed along.

I do feel like Feehan keeps writing the same love story again and again. Lissa was a different sort of heroine and Casimir and different hero in that he wasn’t as overbearing and chauvinistic as the others, but the romance itself felt like the same thing we’ve read in all the other books.

Casee: I do agree with you about the love story being the same.  How can she write different love stories when she’s written so many?  While their romance didn’t fall flat, it was the same as the other Prakenskii romances.

Holly: It felt the same as all the other Prakenskii romances because it was the same. Almost exactly.

Casee: You’re right all the Prakenskii romances are all the same.  Touch palms and you’re my mate, hear me roar.  Have lots of sex, the heroine objects, then realizes she’s in love with him.  Lissa accepted Casimir almost from the start.  She didn’t fight it.

Holly: I really liked that Lissa accepted Casimir right away. Neither of them really fought it. The conflicts were mostly external.

Casee: The sex was the same as always, which I skipped through.  I want the story, not the sex these days.  Most of her books are over 10 pages per sex scene and there are always more than one.

Holly: I didn’t read the sex scenes beyond the first, either. I see other readers complaining about the lack of sex in books, but I feel just the opposite. I’m tired of pages and pages of sex scenes when, more often than not, the story suffers for them.

This book cleans up some story-arcs that started early in the series. It was nice to get some closure and see some things come to an end.

Casee: It’s been such a long time since the first book.  What story-arcs did it clean up?

Holly: Lissa and Casimir going after the Russian’s who have been after the Prakenskii’s for so long. View Spoiler » Which makes sense since there’s only one book left in the series.

Casee:  I didn’t even think about that arc being over.  I’m really smart like that.  View Spoiler »

I was very surprised by the oldest brother and how things played out there.  I’m really looking forward to the last book, even though I will be the last.  I will be sad to see it to, but I feel like begging her not to try to drag it on.  It’s perfect the way it is.  I’ll always re-read this series.

Holly: I’m curious about the oldest brother and how that will play out. Lissa chewing him out made me laugh. I guess we’ll see what happens when he meets Blythe again.

Casee: What I’m curious to know is if Blythe even knows she’s been “mated” to a Prakenskii.

Holly: I have a feeling she knows she mated, but I doubt she knows they’re married.

Heather on Goodreads said Feehan plans to continue the Sea Haven books (I haven’t bothered to look it up and confirm). I’ll be curious to see who and what that entails.

Casee: There are 29 Dark books.  I read them diligently because Dark Prince was the first paranormal/vampire book I ever read.  I don’t want the Sea Haven books to drag on like that.

Holly: I don’t want 27 books, but I’m not ready for the series to end.

Overall, I really liked Lissa and Casimir together, but it felt like a copy of all the other books. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, just that I felt like it was a story I’d already read.

Casee: I think it was a copy of all the other books too, with the exception on Ilya’s. Eventually you run out of material when you’re writing the same thing over and over.

Holly: I heart Ilya. He’s my favorite.

Casee: I do think this was my favorite of the series just because Lissa was so unique.

Holly: Water Bound is still my favorite of the series. Ricky is the best heroine Feehan has ever written, IMO. Lissa was unique and I liked her, but she doesn’t top Ricky.

I’m going to give this 3.75 out of 5.

Casee: I’m giving it a 3.5 our of 5.

Final Grades:

Holly: 3.75 out of 5
Casee: 3.5 out of 5

The Series

Water Bound
Spirit Bound
Air Bound
Earth Bound
Fire Bound

three-half-stars

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Review: Coming Back by Lauren Dane

Posted December 21, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Coming Back by Lauren DaneReviewer: Holly
Coming Back by Lauren Dane
Series: Ink and Chrome #3
Also in this series: Coming Back, Falling Under
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: December 8th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica, Contemporary Women
Pages: 320
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four-stars

The men of Twisted Steel are great with their hands.

And they're not afraid to get dirty.

Mick Roberts, the newest partner at Twisted Steel's custom hotrod and motorcycle shop, looks like a man with everything. But secretly he still craves the connection he lost when his best friend Adam and the love of his life Jessilynn walked out. Then, he wasn't ready for the pleasure they promised. Now, things have changed.

Rich, powerful, and insatiable, Adam Gulati is used to getting what he wants. And there's nothing he wants more than Mick and Jessi. He hasn't seen either in over a year, but the second he sets eyes on them again his memories-and his desires-can't be denied.

After trying to live without them, Jessi Franklin realized no one else can satisfy her like Adam and Mick. The three of them need one another-in more ways than one. It's time to stop pretending and submit to the hunger they all share. But once they go down this road, there's no turning back. As deeply devoted as they are, no one knows what great bliss their forbidden fantasy will find-or the price they may pay . . .

Jessi and Mick became best friends at the age of 5 when she saw him watching her birthday party through the window and drug him inside. They met Adam when they were in high school and the three formed an unshakable bond. Eventually they realized they felt more than friendship for one another and briefly tried a relationship. Mick, confused and conflicted because of his extremely conservative upbringing, fled after a short time, leaving anger and devastation behind. Adam began pulling away from Jessi until eventually he, too, moved on.

It’s been four years and all three have grown and changed. Jessi isn’t the woman she used to be, and both Adam and Mick have come into themselves and realized they gave up too much when they walked away from Jessi. When they all come together at the grand-opening of Twisted Steel’s new showroom, all three realize this is the time to fight for one another, not against.

In theory the idea of a permanent menage relationship is compelling, especially for a woman. Two dudes dedicating themselves to one girl’s pleasure? Oh yeah! Naturally the reality isn’t that simple. I like that Dane explores the complexity of the individual and group dynamics. Jessi was the common denominator and touchstone the first time they were together, but this time Mick and Adam realize they have to solidify their own relationship before they can commit to a future together. The outside criticism and society’s view of their relationship – especially their close family and friends – plays a large part in the conflict. The story is multi-faceted because the relationship is multi-faceted.

Jessi is a strong woman who knew what she wanted. She took the four years she spent away from her two best friends to find herself and come into her own, which allowed her to find definition away from them. Mick I loved from the previous books, and my feelings didn’t change. He was a strong, stand-up kind of guy who suffered from his past and was doing his best to move into a clean, happy future. That he had dark desires and a need to burn off tension in potentially negative ways didn’t detract form his overall character, since he found more positive ways to indulge with the help of Adam and Jessi.

Something I really loved was the deep and true friendship between all three. Mick and Jessi especially had a strong connection that came from a lifetime of knowing one another.

This is a sexy, sweet tale of love and acceptance. I stayed up most of the night to finish it.

3.75 out of 5

four-stars

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Joint Review: Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley

Posted November 13, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: Walk Through Fire by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley
Series: Chaos MC #4
Also in this series: Own the Wind, Ride Steady, Ride Steady, Ride Steady, Walk Through Fire, Walk Through Fire
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Suspense
Pages: 624
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three-stars

The flame never dies . . .
Millie Cross knows what it's like to burn for someone. She was young and wild and he was fierce and even wilder-a Chaos biker who made her heart pound. They fell in love at first sight and life was good, until she learned she couldn't be the woman he needed and made it so he had no choice but to walk away. Twenty years later, Millie's chance run-in with her old flame sparks a desire she just can't ignore. And this time, she won't let him ride off . . .
Bad boy Logan "High" Judd has seen his share of troubles with the law. Yet it was a beautiful woman who broke him. After ending a loveless marriage, High is shocked when his true love walks back into his life. Millie is still gorgeous, but she's just a ghost of her former self. High's intrigued at the change, but her betrayal cut him deep-and he doesn't want to get burned again. As High sinks into meting out vengeance for Millie's betrayal, he'll break all over again when he realizes just how Millie walked through fire for her man . . .

Rowena: For MC romances, Kristen Ashley is a definite go to author for us. She writes the grown folks kind of romances that never fails to rock our ever loving socks.

Walk Through Fire is the fourth book in the Chaos series and it follows Logan “High” Judd and the one that got away, Millie Cross as they take that journey back to each other. It’s been twenty years since these two have crossed paths and with their breakup being the explosive breakup that it was, it wasn’t a surprise to the reader that when these two run into each other again, lots and lots of drama goes down.

As always, KA wrote a story that had me all over the place. You name an emotion and I probably felt it while reading this book. For the most part, I loved it. This book had everything I love in a romance and I was satisfied when the book finally came to a close.

What did you think Holly?

Holly: ‘Finally’ came to a close is right. This book went on forever. It’s the book that never ends…it just goes on and on my friends. …

But let’s start at the beginning. Millie and High met at a party and knew they were meant for each other and only each other. Until suddenly Millie dumps High three years in. They haven’t seen each other in 20 years. She spies him in a Chipotle and overhears a phone conversation that leads her to believe he has kids and is maybe going through a divorce, so she decides maybe it’s time to bury the hatchet and apologize for leaving him. High is nowhere near a calm, forgiving place when it comes to Millie and they end up having hate sex. But even though it’s unhealthy, neither of them can walk away. Until the true reason for her leaving comes out, and High has to reevaluate everything he believes.

For me this book can be broken into 3 parts. 1) Millie and High reconnect. 2) They figure out their relationship. 3) blah blah blah.

Rowena: OMG, yes to #3. Holy cow, I didn’t think this book was ever going to end but I think it’s the same with every Chaos book that I’ve read. A whole lot of the ending chapters could be taken out of every book and we’d still get a solid romance with issues resolved and the set up for the next book completed.

Holly: The first half of the book really drew me in. Millie and High meeting again, him treating her like crap, her pushing back at him…all of that worked for me.

Rowena: I agree, I enjoyed seeing how much angsty sex these two kept having, no matter how much they told themselves they were over each other. High was a complete asshole but I never once hated him. I understood where he stood and even though I winced a lot in the beginning, I still wanted him and Millie to find their way back to where they were 20 years ago.

Holly: I didn’t love the Chaos ladies sticking their noses in, though. I liked Tyra in her book, but she has irritated the fuck out of me ever since.

Rowena: The old ladies do ride that line of annoying the shit out of me with all of their business minding but I’ve got to be honest. I love the shit out of Elvira. She is probably one of my favorite parts of this series. Her mouth and her sass livens shit up and I enjoy her in each and every book she’s in. I want to be her when I grow up, I love her so much.

You know what’s amazing? How much I did not care for High in the last book and how much I loved the hell out of him in this one.

Holly: I didn’t dislike High necessarily, but I didn’t like him either. I certainly wasn’t interested in his book. I ended up really liking him though.

Rowena: I didn’t dislike him, I just didn’t care much for him. When I found out that his book was next, I was a bit disappointed because he was such a background character that I didn’t really feel anything for him. I’m SO glad that I read this book because I enjoyed it. I enjoyed him. He was a great hero.

One of the things that I really enjoyed in this book was the realistic way that the whole thing with Zadie (High’s youngest daughter) was portrayed and handled. I liked seeing both Logan and Millie struggle with Zadie’s feelings and behavior. I thought it was well-written.

Holly: I liked that Zadie was a brat, too. Not because I wanted her to be a brat, but because it was totally realistic. In all other Ashley books when the heroine meets the kids for the first time it’s love at first sight and they instantly adore her. Not so here.

Rowena: Same.

Holly: I also love that Ashley doesn’t do the stereotypical ex thing. Logan’s ex? LOVED HER. I loved that she was who she was, wanted him to be happy and was genuinely a nice person. When they started going on about holidays and spending time together and Millie was like “OMG YOU’RE SO COOL” I was nodding my head along. She was totally cool.

Rowena: I really liked Deb and liked that she supported Logan and Millie’s relationship from the jump and wanted to help them with getting Zadie on board with it too. I understood Millie’s wariness during their first meeting together because it was a surprise to see an ex be so supportive and understanding and willing to help in any way that she could.

Holly: You know what I didn’t buy for a single second? That Mille lived in a bubble for 20 years. She had close friends but never went out? She ran a very successful party planning business but didn’t network? Her life just stopped the second she walked away from High? That didn’t make a lick of sense to me. She didn’t do much personal stuff? Okay, I can buy that. But she would have had to network and stuff for work.

Rowena: I found the whole Millie didn’t move on for 20 years, not even to have a one night stand or anything like that a bit much. So basically, she lived like a nun for 20 freaking years? [insert eye roll here] At times, it felt like Millie needed Logan in her life to give her life meaning and that really sucks because what kind of life is that? Where’s your self-respect? You made the decision to do what you did, so why punish yourself for 20 years? The adult thing to do would have been to move on, even if she didn’t move on to a new relationship and decided to live the life of a spinster, why couldn’t she have fun? Why couldn’t she take vacations? Have fun, laugh it up with her besties? Why did her happiness start and end with Logan Judd?

Holly: That’s it exactly, she began and ended with Logan. That makes no sense. I can’t respect a woman who see no value in herself outside of her man.

It also frustrated me how immature both Millie and High acted at times. They were in their (or close to? I can’t remember now) 40’s. I wish they’d acted like it. Instead they purposely lashed out at each other, refused to communicate and involved themselves in petty, high school-type drama. The Club didn’t show itself in a very favorable light, either. The way the men acted was silly and childish, and the women were just as bad. That thing where Hop serenades Millie at the club? I physically cringed. Like, WTAF?!?

Rowena: OMG, don’t even get me started on Hop’s song at the club. Grrrr….

Holly: The big problem was the second half of the book. Millie and High work out the animosity between them about 1/3 of the way into the book. The rest is all just external problems in the form of drama with his kids, club business and a bad guy using Millie as bait to draw High – and Chaos – out. Plus there were some things that made me want to bang my head against the wall. Example: The bad guy breaks into Millie’s house and tells her he took pictures of her and High having sex in her office/studio (which is in a building behind her house), yet they continue to have sex there without thought. Uh..what?

Stuff like that drove me crazy.

Rowena: Millie was 41 and High was I think, 43 cause he was a couple of years older than Millie.

But you’re right, they were immature in this book for a little bit and it annoyed me but when they get their shit together, I adored them.

Rowena: What did you think about the whole Valenzuela thing?

Holly: Eh, I think all Ashley’s suspense plots are dumb. I think they’re unnecessary and do nothing to further the romance, or story arc. Valenzuela was just background noise to me. I didn’t take him seriously and, in fact, rolled my eyes every time something about him was mentioned.

Rowena: OMG, same about Valenzuela. So his little minions did what they did, kidnapped Millie and he just…lets her go? He’s that untouchable that he’s not worried about loose ends, Millie running her mouth? Everything? [insert another eye roll here]. I didn’t understand it, I didn’t care for it and I was really hoping that this thread would run its course and end in this book, but I guess not.

Holly: And the book seriously went on forever. I kept wondering when it was going to end.

Rowena: How many times did I text you, asking when this book was going to end? I lost count because this book was so freaking long but that will not stop me from inhaling the next book in this series.

I’m mighty curious about who’s next. Are we going to get a book from Snapper? Hound? When the hell will we be getting more Rush? I want more Rush dammit!

Holly: I don’t know who she’s going to write about next, but I really want more focus on Rush. I kind of wonder if this thing with Valenzuela isn’t going to be the push for Rush since he wants the club totally out of everything.

Rowena: My eyes about popped out of my face when I read about Hound’s feelings for [dot, dot, dot] because wow, I wonder if they’re going to tackle that in a future book. What do you think?

Holly: I don’t know about Hound and the other. It seems like Ashley was setting that up. I don’t know how I feel about it though. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Rowena: Overall, I enjoyed this book. There’s a great deal of love, romance and a bunch of other shit that goes on and on but through it all, this book was enjoyable. I forgave everyone for acting a fool where Millie was concerned, I thought the bit with High’s kids was well written.

Holly: There were some frustrations with both Millie and High, particularly their lack of communication, but overall I enjoyed their romance. Ashley excels at writing stories I fall right into, and this was no exception. Though I wish it had ended sooner.

Rowena: What would you grade this one? It was a 3.5 read for me.

Holly: I’m going to say 2.75-3. I can’t decide if all the frustration I had pulls it down a quarter star or not.

Final grades

Holly: 2.75-3.0 out of 5
Rowena: 3.5 out of 5

three-stars

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Review: Undressed by Shannon Richard

Posted September 16, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Undressed by Shannon RichardReviewer: Holly
Undressed by Shannon Richard
Series: Country Roads #5
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: February 3rd 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Contemporary Women, Sports
Pages: 224
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She knows the rules of the game . . . but she can't resist his moves
Publicist Abby Fields's career is on the rise. And with failed romances in her past, she has no time for men. When a job opportunity opens up with a sports team in Florida, Abby eagerly packs up and heads south. Yet after a work event in Mirabelle, Florida, Abby finds herself in the arms of a hockey player whose heartstopping smile leads her to the steamiest night of her life . . .
Logan James is hot on and off the ice. With his team on an epic winning streak, life couldn't get better . . . until he meets Abby, the fiery redhead assigned to protect his team's image. Now Logan's finding it difficult to concentrate on anything other than getting Abby undressed. But after a secret is leaked to the press, the taste of betrayal opens old wounds. If they can't learn to trust each other, they may risk losing more than their hearts.
(50,000 words)

I haven’t read any of the other books in this series. I was kind of hoping to get a feel for the author’s writing by testing out a novella first. I enjoyed it enough to search out the first full-length book.

Abby recently moved to Florida and accepted a position in PR for the Jacksonville Stampede, a professional hockey team. Career-wise, this a great move for her. It’s also a good move for her on a personal level, since she recently had a bad breakup and wants nothing more than to be away from her ex and to focus on her career. All is going well except when it comes to star player Logan James. They rub each other the wrong way on a personal level, and professionally Logan blocks her attempts at promoting him at every turn. He wants his private life to stay private, which makes Abby’s job very difficult.

There’s an undercurrent of attraction and desire neither acknowledged until they ended up snowed in a small cabin on their way to a publicity event. They start drinking and playing a game and …well, it wasn’t long before they spent the best night of their collective lives together. Abby has a no-fraternization policy in her contract, so she pushes to keep their night quiet and a single thing. Logan understands why, and he’s all for keeping it quiet since he’s a very private person, but he doesn’t want it to be a one-time thing. He realizes there’s more to Abby than he first thought and he wants more of her – both in bed and out.

When the reason for Logan’s private reserve is made public, Abby and Logan have to take a hard look at their relationship and decide if what they have is worth fighting for.

I liked both Logan and Abby. Their antagonism toward each other in the beginning was kind of fun, and I liked how much chemistry they had. The main conflict – the no-fraternization clause in Abby’s contract – seemed believable given her profession and his position with organization. It was easy to see they had physical chemistry, but they formed a deeper connection as the story progressed. Their solid connection early on helped see them through their tribulations.

This was a sweet, well done romance. I fell right into the story and look forward to finding more from Richard.

3.75 out of 5

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Review: Sweet by Tammara Webber

Posted July 20, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sweet by Tammara WebberReviewer: Holly
Sweet by Tammara Webber
Series: Contours of the Heart #3
Published by Tammara Webber
Publication Date: April 27th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary Women
Pages: 340
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four-stars

From the author of NYT bestsellers Easy and Breakable - a new standalone novel in the Contours of the Heart series
He's the love of her life, but he doesn't know it.She's his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.He was damaged and wild, but resilient.She's always been obedient; now she's restless.
Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society's opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.
And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:Sweet.

We first met Boyce and Pearl in Breakable, a retelling of Webber’s smash hit Easy, as told from the point-of-view of Landon Lucas Maxfield, the hero of Easy. We learned more about his mother’s death and his downward spiral during his teen years there. Boyce was his tormentor for awhile, and eventually one of his best friends. As I noted in my review of Breakable, the bits with Boyce and Landon were some of my favorites.

Boyce and Peal grew up together in a small coastal town. (Aside: I had this picture in my head, from Easy and Breakable, of an East Coast small fishing village, but I’m pretty sure this was set in Texas, which totally threw me off.) He saved her life when he was seven, and has kind of looked out for her ever since. They formed a great, if unlikely, friendship that they maintained even while Pearl was away at college. When Pearl comes home after graduation with plans to attend the local marine biology program instead of med school, her parents kick her out and she ends up moving in with Boyce. For years they’ve skirted around their attraction to each other, but living in close quarters makes it hard for them to deny how much chemistry they have.

When they give in to the inevitable, both know it’s nothing but scratching an itch, because what they have is way too important to ruin with messy emotions. Except it’s never that easy, and before long both hearts are engaged.

This book started out a bit slow, with very little happening between Pearl and Boyce and a lot of info dumping. As soon as they started interacting all the time, the story really picked up and I fell right into it. I loved their relationship. They truly were best friends who relied on each other, opened up to each other and had a deep and very sweet bond.

Boyce’s need to care for Pearl, both emotionally and physically, was really adorable. I loved that he kind of adopted her as his responsibility, not out of obligation, but out of love and caring. It wasn’t a one-way street, though. He opened up to her in ways he couldn’t with anyone else. He trusted her with every part of himself, even the stuff he didn’t give to Landon, his best male friend.

I finished the book with a smile on my face and flutters in my belly.

4 out of 5

four-stars

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