The tale of two different books
I think of Brayden as being the queen of WLW romance and I’m always very excited to read her new books. I was a little late in reading this one. I was trying my best to space out all the books I was most excited to read so that I had something really good to look forward to –meaning this book-. Because I was much later than normal, it gave me the opportunity to read a lot of early reviews that surprised me. While the reviews started quite positive, they slowly took a turn that became more and more mixed. While many people loved this book, there seemed to be a number of readers that felt that this story was really the case of two books. The first half people seemed to love, the second half not so much. And while I can say that I really enjoyed parts of this book, I also have to agree that this was the tale of two different books.
I loved the first half of this book. Actually, it was more the first 60% of the book that was an obvious 5 stars for me. The writing was very easy to read, the storyline hooked me in, and I loved the chemistry between the two mains. Yes, it was more sexual chemistry and on the lust side, but who cares, they were hot together and they made such a fun couple to read about. Brayden brought back that palpable chemistry and steam that I felt was missing a bit in some of her Tangle Valley books. There was one scene that was not a sex scene -more like heavy foreplay- well let’s just say that it was hotter than a lot of the sex scenes I’ve been reading lately. I think sometimes authors forget that women have boobs, either that or they just want to get down to business –pun intended- so it was nice to see that Brayden sure remembered.
I was enjoying the book immensely and was even thinking this was going to be one of my easiest 5 stars read all year, but then the second part of the book happened. At first, I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was in the book, I just noticed that there were a couple of ways -being choreographed- for Brayden to go in for the big angst moment. I am not a fan of the dark moment/80% moment or whatever you want to call it. To me, it is way overdone and I prefer authors to mix it up, but I know Brayden mostly keeps to that rule so I expected it. However, when I looked down at my Kindle, I realized it was much more in the middle of the book, around the 60% mark instead. This was confusing until I realized that instead of going with one or two of the obvious angst moments, Brayden went with like five of them. While I sometimes love a lot of angst, this didn’t have that fun, soap-opera angst feel. Instead, it felt overdone and that the characters were no longer acting like who you thought them to be.
After the angst kicked in, the worst part happened in that the book just started to drag. To be stuck in this mess, for almost half of the book, is way too long and had me questioning things. Before, where I didn’t mind that they mostly had a sexual connection, I started to think maybe that wasn’t enough. That maybe they didn’t have a solid foundation needed to be together long term if they were now acting like this. I also started to notice things that I missed before like how I didn’t actually like the secondary characters. While Kelsey had some good potential -and I would read her story if Brayden wrote one- the rest of the cast suddenly seemed pretty lacking. And we all know how fantastic Brayden is in writing friends and other secondary characters so this revelation was surprising. In the end, I really limped through until the ending. Had the story not dragged like that, had the 20% that was not needed been cut out, this book would have been one of my favorites of 2021.
TLDR- This really is the story of two books. I loved the first 60% and was an easy 5 stars. The last 40% just barely makes 3 starts for me so that’s how I came to my final rating of 4 stars. This might be one of the more problematic books I have given 4 stars to, but there were parts in this book I truly loved. The first half has that Brayden magic, chemistry that you can actually feel as a reader, good dialogue, and some wonderful steamy scenes. I would honestly consider reading the first 60% again, and then just stopping and adding my own fake HEA to it. The last 40% was a struggle for me and the book unfortunately drags. I still would recommend this to Brayden and romance fans because parts of it are wonderful. Just be aware that the second half of the book won’t be for everyone.
A copy was given to me for an honest review.