I fell for ‘Falling’ by Kris Bryant.

Shaylie Beck is a real state broker on a flight home that goes terribly wrong. When the plane crashes, she is one of the eleven passengers lucky to be alive. In the support group for survivors, she meets Piper Cole, a yoga teacher who lost both her fiancée and her best friend on that flight. As Shaylie and Piper’s connection deepens, Shaylie is faced with the decision of telling Piper what she saw before the crash and risking losing her forever…

‘Falling’ is a slow-burn romance that starts with the extremely stressful situation of a plane crash. The author herself says that she is afraid of flying and came up with the idea of writing this novel based on the premise that the best can come out of the worst circumstances. Ms. Bryant is really good at choosing one-word book titles that can catch readers’ attention and this is no exception. ‘Falling’ conveys not only the plane crash but also falling apart and falling in love. This novel deals with all of them.

This book is written in first person as it’s usual for this author, in this case, from the point of view of Shaylie. That gives the reader a prime seat to her process of falling, literally and metaphorically. However, compared to Ms. Bryant’s previous book ‘Listen’, this novel focuses more on the good aspects of Shaylie’s recovery process rather than the post-traumatic consequences of her accident. On the other hand, with this single point of view, it’s hard to understand what is going on with Piper and how she is dealing with her loss. Hence, her actions might feel a bit out of character and unpredictable.

This is mainly a romance and its feel-good aspects. As a Yoga enthusiast, I loved the description of its healing powers. The cast of secondary characters and the m/f romantic subplot also help in bringing up the good in humanity. It might feel too sweet at times but it works well with the main feel-good premise of the book.

Overall, a very good slow-burn romance about falling apart and falling in love. 4 stars.

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Committed’ by Suzanne Falter.

This is book two of Ms. Falter’s ‘Oaktown Girls’ series following a group of lesbian friends in the San Francisco Bay area. ‘Committed’ resumes the story of Lizzy and Tenika, co-owners of ‘Driven’, a garage for women, and their respective girlfriends Kate and Delilah. A new couple is introduced in this book, Frankie, a police officer suffering from PTSD, and Sally, a psychic with bad luck with relationships who is trying to adapt to changes in her life.

All of the three couples’ stories share approximately the same amount of page space in the whole novel which revolves around the issue of commitment in relationships. It is written with seven different points of view (the three couples plus Kate’s former employer) but despite there are so many different characters, it’s not hard to follow each story. However, I recommend to read ‘Driven’ first as a lot of what happens in this book is based on the previous one.

The new romance story takes a long time to start and not much happens in this book. I would have liked to see more development of Frankie and Sally’s lives and of their relationship. As they aren’t together much in this book, it’s hard to feel the chemistry between them. Hopefully there will be more about them in the next one.

If you like novels with groups of friends with the chance to catch-up with the stories of all the couples involved, and you don’t mind committing (pun intended) to read a whole series, then this book is for you.

Overall, a good novel about commitment in relationships with a new romance on the side. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘You’re my kind’ by Clare Lydon.

Justine Thomas and Maddie Kind were a couple at university until Maddie left without saying goodbye. Ten years later, they are reunited at a friend’s funeral and Maddie wants to make amends for her past behaviour. Justine is not very keen to let Maddie back into her life but both have changed and this new Maddie is kinder, caring and still gorgeous. Will Justine keep her distance or will she give their relationship another try?

‘You’re my kind’ is a second chance romance that starts with a funeral. As anti-climatic that it might sound, the author makes it work more as a celebration of life than sorrow for an irreparable loss. Lydon is a master of lesfic rom-com with a British feel. Only that this time, she combines her usual witty, funny and sarcastic dialogues and situations with a savvy reflexion about life and death. As the author presents a piece of her philosophy of life, the story will make the reader cry, laugh and keep faith in humanity.

The novel is written in first person from the point of view of Justine, which helps to give an air of mystery to Maddie and her puzzling actions of the past. Despite that narrative distance, both characters are realistic and well-rounded and their chemistry is sizzling. Ms. Lydon knows how to write a good sex scene and this was no exception, both scenes reveal deep intimacy. Plus that first kiss was worth the whole read by itself. Hot, hot hot!

The secondary characters, mostly a group of friends, are also multilayered and altogether set the tone for compelling emotions around life, love and death. But, in my opinion, the absolute showstopper is ‘Cake Heaven’, the cake business featuring all kind of sweet delicacies. Warning: if you have a sweet tooth you might be tempted to run for some cake!

Overall, a great second-chance romance with a British feel and savvy insight about the most important things in life. 5 stars.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Twice in a lifetime’ by Jodie Griffin.

Talia Wasserman is a widow with grown-up daughters who just got a job as a civilian assistant to Lieutenant Eve Pope, chief of Police Community Relations. Their chemistry is hard to ignore but boss-subordinate relationships are frown upon. To make matters worse, there is a criminal on the lose endangering female police officers. Can Talia find love twice in a lifetime and not lose her partner again?

‘Twice in a lifetime’ is an interracial romance with a small side of mystery. Kudos to the author to feature two women in their early fifties, both with grown-up children and a bisexual protagonist who is in a lesbian relationship for the first time. This provides a realistic view of a bisexual character who didn’t have to deal with homophobia before because she was married to a man.

The story is written in first person from the point of view of Talia which, in my opinion, restricts the development of the plot. As a result, the mystery part is very much on the side, because Talia isn’t involved in the criminal investigation. Most of the action, which is lead by Eve, is told by the author and not shown by the characters’ actions. Unfortunately, this takes the thrill off the story a bit. The second half of the book, however, is better paced and more enjoyable.

The dialogues are well written as the author builds the mains’ chemistry through their banter and witty remarks. The book could have done with more of these conversations. It’s refreshing to see that the mains talk about their disagreements in a mature way and the sources of conflict aren’t forced into the plot. Both characters present their feelings with clarity and maturity that comes from their life experience and is coherent with their ages.

The relationship between Talia and her two daughters is very credible and enjoyable to read. In my opinion, the author got the tone right for these relationships and the description of Jewish traditions and family life enriches the plot tremendously.

Overall, a good interracial romance with older characters, well-rounded secondary characters and a bit of action on the side. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Unexpected Partners’ by Michelle Larkin.

Dr. Chloe Maddox is a cop turned sex crime profiler who has restarted her career at the Boston Police Department, where Dana Blake works as a detective. One evening, Chloe sees a suspect in the office that triggers lost memories from when she was abducted and left for dead two years prior. Dana immediately recognizes that Chloe has a connection to a previous case and is the only one capable of sending the psychopath to jail. As the suspect is arraigned and released on bail, Dana and Chloe find themselves running away from a serial killer. Can they survive and help each other move on from their previous traumatic experiences?

This book was intense, with crimes that are sexual in nature. However, a lot is implied and thankfully not described in detail. The two main characters endure many ordeals, yet are strong and have great, immediate chemistry. Even though circumstances are not ideal, the budding romance is not too much of a stretch as it’s skillfully written.

The story captures the reader right away and moves along  with several action scenes. I feel there was probably one too many of such scenes, but the book kept my attention all the way to the end. The secondary characters are well done and enjoyable. I also liked that, although the book lacks of a formal epilogue, there was complete closure for all the characters.

For all the animal loving readers, there is a wonderful canine in this one. Unfortunately some of the interactions seemed a bit far fetched and the veterinary medicine felt like it was pulled right from the human medicine side of things. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Taz and especially, the book’s dedication. I agree with Ms Larkin, humans are flawed and dogs love us unconditionally and do lead by example!

This is Ms Larkin’s second published work. I picked this one up after enjoying her debut novel ‘Mercy’ pleased to see law enforcement characters continue to be the main characters in her stories. I will definitely be looking out for her next book.

Overall a solid action, crime-romance. 4 stars

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Review of ‘Mercy’ by Michelle Larkin.

Mercy Parker is an FBI agent working in the Unsolved Child Homicide Unit in New York. She gets called in to assist in a fellow law enforcement daughter’s murder with no leads except for the one left only for her. As she finds a way to pursue this, another child goes missing. Mercy immediately recognizes her connection to both cases and the need to involve a retired FBI profiler, Piper Vasey. Piper is a psychic who has secluded herself after the death of her husband and a lifetime of being shunned by her gift. She has become another victim as Mercy tries to desperately reach her. Together with the help of a few friends, they must find a way to reach the missing child and prevent an evil form from annihilating the human species.

This book has some dark, haunting parts that some readers may find disturbing. It does lighten up somewhat as the two main characters start working together, providing some much needed levity and, at times, outright humorous dialog.

It becomes clear early on how there are metaphysical elements illustrated through several of the characters. There is also a second story line, based on the yin and yang philosophy, intertwined with the above mentioned one. This story is well defined, and very interesting as some of its support (albeit a small part) is based on true events. The power of good and evil are showcased in a different light and with a new set of grave consequences.

The author did a great job creating the characters. The leads have chemistry and, as I said, share some entertaining dialog. There are no boring or aggravating characters, and they all work well together to advance and enrich the story line. There is even a handsome chocolate Labrador that becomes integral to the tale!

I loved the cover design by Tammy Seidick. It has crisp colors with Mercy Parker’s FBI badge and a desolate building. The title in red font pops and alludes to a case file, which is fitting to the story. It is definitely eye catching, which is what a cover should accomplish.

Mercy was released last year and was Ms Larkin’s debut novel. I can’t wait to read more of her work. Overall, an interesting concept that will appeal to readers who enjoy action, law enforcement and the metaphysical. 4.5 stars.

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