Book review roundup

Brief reviews of contemporary romances: Perfect Strangers; Come As You Are; Seven Days in June; Hot & Sticky; Winter's List; This Bird Has Flown and the love story Someday, Maybe.

Book review roundup
Photo by Jamie Street / Unsplash

I'm still working on my summer TBR pile. Yes, it's well past Labor Day in the United States, and although I pledge not to wear white pants anymore this year πŸ˜‰ I am going to keep tackling the list. In addition to the books on the TBR, I crossed paths with a few others and had to read them. Immediately. (Someday, Maybe; Perfect Strangers; Come As You Are; and Seven Days in June, I'm looking at you.) Here are brief reviews, also shared on BookBub.

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Slow-burn, second-chance romance about two writers, with such a stunning, sensual cover? This was another book that made me put down what I had been reading so I could start it immediately. As a concept, I love second chance romances but in reality, to be honest, I haven't read many that work for me, that I believe or feel. Seven Days in June--this story, this amazing and layered love story, I totally feel. I'm still thinking about it days after reading. Complex characters, with gut-wrenching trauma in their pasts and reasons not to rekindle that old flame but a connection that – thankfully for readers – neither Eva or Shane can let go. The two of them are, in Eva's words, "inevitable."
Incisive and fast-paced writing that evokes a mood – from drug-induced haze, despair, and longing to pride and joy (see above about feeling), with many great moments. From the opening chewing gum mishap and what happened in the Dream House to the charming text exchanges in Belle Fleur and how their reunion unfolds. I loved it.

Come As You Are by Jess Hardy

Sometimes you find just the right book at the right time – or maybe the right book finds you at the right time. Either way, I learned about and read this one while also reading some difficult (as in emotionally difficult) non-fiction and it was THE BEST mood-enhancing novel. The Gen X characters were a breath of fresh air, complex in their motivations and flaws, dealing with big issues--staying clean, an emotionally abusive ex, self-centered if not narcissistic parent, grief, fear of getting hurt again in spite of the undeniably strong chemistry and growing feelings. I loved the last-chair rides as well as the realistic age-related health issues easily woven into the story.
Funny, sweet, super-sexy times. Gorgeous cover art also, which I didn't let myself look at until after I read the story so that I could picture the characters from the words alone. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli

This is another book that, once I saw it, made me put down others so I could read it right away. It feels strange to use the words "heartbreaking" and "humorous" in the same sentence, but this book was both – sometimes within a single line. More than once, I found myself crying and laughing at the same time, a testament to the author's incredible writing and storytelling.
I was drawn to the book by the title, cover, and theme of grief as well as healing and resilience, family and friendship. From an author's perspective (at least my perspective as an author who has written [in another genre] about grief), it's a hard topic to tackle, especially when the grief is complicated. With Eve's wit and the well-drawn characters around her, Onyi Nwabineli expertly succeeds.
I loved meeting Eve's amazing family and friends and seeing how each person, with their unique personalities (and flaws), tries to ease her pain although she does not always make this easy. I loved how new relationships begin as a result of caring for her. And I loved learning about Igbo culture, from the huge, joyful weddings Eve talks about to the language and phrases woven throughout the story and the food her mom cooks. Intense, funny, heartbreakingly emotional, hopeful...this is a book I will keep thinking about for a long time, and I look forward to reading more of this debut(!!!) author's work.

Perfect Strangers by J.T. Geissinger

I put other books down and started Perfect Strangers immediately once I read the description – grieving author who goes to Paris to heal and (hopefully) write, meets a gorgeous stranger, and with boundaries firmly in place, they embark on an incredibly passionate affair. I did NOT expect the story to unfold the way it did. And I mean that in the very best, Take-me-on-a-heart-pounding-roller-coaster-ride-make-me-cry-with-anguish-and-then-happiness kind of way. That's all I'm sayin' except, wow. Read it.

Hot & Sticky: A Passionate Ink Anthology

I'm still working my way through this steamy summer anthology from erotic fiction writers organization Passionate Ink, and it is goo-ood. πŸ˜‰ Six-hundred-plus pages, 17 stories – paranormal, historical, contemporary – by some very talented and creative authors. I've been majorly impressed by the writing and the inventive worlds. Also, proceeds are going to a nonprofit dedicated to improving adult literacy. Authors, you had me at "pre-order."

Winter's List by Jordyn Kross

So dirty. So sweet. So well-written. And, clearly I need to level up my vacations.
When I say this MMF poly romance is an exciting romp, I mean it. πŸ˜€ It's also a story with substance. I love the easy way the protagonists come together (no pun intended here), like they just belong with each other. At the same time, Missy still finds it unexpected and, for reasons you'll have to discover by reading, at times challenging.
Among my favorite lines: β€œIt was everything she wanted yet so different from anything she'd known.”
Great characterization... Jack with his drawl and cowboy boots, the more subdued but magnetic Ned. Mmm-mm. It was nice to read some nice-guy beta – and also dominant – heroes. I like how the characters make consent explicit and respect one another's limits.
About the "list": To avoid spoilers I'll just say it is a very good list. πŸ˜‰ And a very good story overall – about kindness and trust, the challenges of less conventional relationships, and falling in love.

This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

Last but not least, This Bird Has Flown, which was sooo much fun. (Great links on this review's page – playlist from the author and a couple of interesting interviews.)

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