This book just hit all my buttons and almost made me cry

RegretRegret by Christina Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book needs a tissue warning! I didn’t full out blub but I was so close and definitely had very leaky eyes at the ending.

Sometimes a book just resonates with you as a reader and this was one of those for me. I could feel every ounce of Nick’s guilt and grief and all I wanted to do was reach into the book and wrap him in the world’s biggest hug.

Brin, on the other hand, for a lot of the book I wanted to sit down and just talk to, get inside his hurt and ask him to think logically about why Nick might have done what he did. His hurt was perfectly valid and I totally understood why he’d cut him off but as soon as they reconnected, it became really clear there had been something seriously wrong at the heart of Nick’s behaviour.

There’s nothing more delicious to me than a true enemies to lovers or second chance romance and this book turns both up in spades. Christina Lee is a writer who has such an authentic way of connecting her readers to the characters she’s writing. They are honest and real and flawed but also beautiful and hopeful and loving.

The sadness at the centre of this book is also wholly believable, it never once feels like a plot point thrown in just to create the drama. It was heart-breaking and something you know sadly happens more than we’d like to think and which leaves people living half lives.

The characters which surround Nick and Brin are also fully drawn out, inhabiting their own slice of the story perfectly and bringing the necessary depth to anchor their relationship reconnection on.

I’m really hoping this is the start of a new series Christina because I want to know more about Tristan and the mysterious Mr V’s boyfriend!

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Fast paced military romance

The Only One Who KnowsThe Only One Who Knows by Cat Grant

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this one with its military setting and element of danger to spice up the plot.

There wasn’t anything particularly unusual about it, just two hot alpha men finding a passionate love on the training field and being willing to fight to keep it going when all common sense said they shouldn’t.

This is book one of the series so it’ll be good to see if the solid HFN turns into a positive HEA in the next one.

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Oh my word the angsty in this one is unending!

The Truth As He Knows It: (Perspectives #1)The Truth As He Knows It: by A.M. Arthur

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s an awful lot of angsty in this one, it just racks up and up until you reach a point where you wonder how much more one guy can take. . . and then another tonne is dropped.

However, in spite of all the angsty, this book isn’t an uncomfortable read, it has lots of sweet romance at the heart of it alongside some smoking smexy times and it has a lovely ending which feels like a genuine start of something pure and true.

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Favourite Bluewater Bay book yet

Selfie (Bluewater Bay, #13)Selfie by Amy Lane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely my favourite one yet in this series. This book deals – most beautifully – with grief and how it can utterly cripple you to the point where you simply cease to be. You can function but you basically stop living.

For Connor that happened when the love of his life, Vinnie, was killed by a drunk driver and their 10 year relationship became a source of constant pain because – as Hollywood actors – they’d spent those 10 years hiding everything about how they were lovers, partners, friends, irreplaceable, from the world. No-one knew Connor’s overwhelming grief wasn’t just for his best friend. Until one night a drunken, but thankfully silent, video exposed all that pain.

This book so beautifully gives us Connor, in all his heart-break and grieving, his fears, his anger, his tentative steps back to the road to “normal” and it spares no punches in doing so. It’s also a story about love, about hope, about getting a second chance and not being too broken to grasp it.

I don’t think anyone writes this type of romance better than Amy Lane and this book takes all those tropes about the toxicity of having a closeted relationship and exposes them. The setting has been built up throughout this series of mostly stand alone books but they are still loosely connected through the town of Bluewater Bay and the TV show Wolf’s Landing which is filmed there.
This book sees appearances from some of the MCs from previous books and introduces its own new set of wonderful secondary characters who add flavour and I especially loved Jilly, Connor and Vinnie’s manager, who had been hiding her own pain a bit too well also.

Noah, Connor’s new love interest, is a study in contrasts. Part African-American, part Native American, he’s deferential in his role as Connor’s driver and general PA but, as their friendship develops, he becomes more than just a rock to lean against, he represents a way out of the darkness and into the light.
He’s sarcastic, witty, domineering in the bedroom and takes charge of Connor, allowing him to just switch everything off and remove the pain of loss and change it up for something else (although I’m not sure that exactly worked for me).

Not everything is doom and gloom though, there are flashes of humour, of sunlight and soft kisses as well as steamy sex and hot passionate love making. There are bike rides and brilliant acting shots, new friendships and, eventually, there is acceptance, closure and moving on.

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Festive thoughts on loss and hope

Today is my mum’s birthday, she would have been 69, just one year younger than her mum is celebrating in this photo.

My mum didn’t make it, she died in April 2014 just three weeks after being diagnosed with liver cancer at the age of 66. Too young.

Her brother Steven, at the centre back of this photo, died earlier this year. Where once there were six, only four remain.

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My mum (second from the left) and her brothers and sisters with their mum on her 70th

“Everyone can master a grief but he that has it.”

–William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing