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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Five brutal heart breaking stars

A Walk Through Fire (Through Hell and Back Book 1)A Walk Through Fire by Felice Stevens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh Felice Stevens you know how to wrench every but of emotion from someone. This book is brutal and heart breaking but it’s also uplifting and heart warming.

It’s about pain and loss, joy and hope, second chances at life and new beginnings. It’s about finding family and learning how to let yourself be loved.

Asher and Drew are a magnificent pairing, birth men bowing under the weight of their past, both men capable of bearing the weight of the other’s fears.

That I could get teary about what happens to one of the secondary characters is testimony to the world building skills of the author.

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Olive Juice – I love you, you broken and beautiful book

Olive JuiceOlive Juice by T.J. Klune

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew. I knew what it would be and, even knowing, (okay correctly guessing), didn’t stop the impact of this book one little bit.

I’m not going to spoiler in my review, I’m not going to try and summarise without revealing anything. I’m just going to say read this book. Do not try and find out what happens, you will kick yourself if you do. This book needs to be read blind.

This is a book about love, this is a book about pain, this is a book about expectations, second chances, fears, regrets, past lives lived. But, most of all, this is a book about hope.

At the end, when Pandora had opened the box and let out all the evils into the world, hope remained. This book is a powerful reminder to never let it go.

T J, I salute your incredible skill with words that you can take them and craft them into something so beautiful.

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Gut wrenching but also full of hope

Falling DownFalling Down by Eli Easton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second of the books I’ve had on my Kindle for ages which I knew was going to be a tough read because of the subject matter.

However, it’s not quite as bleak as Weight of the World and for a lot of the book, it’s a fairly traditional romance setting. Easton handles the themes of suicide and depression with a gentle touch and the voice of Josh’s mum was a clever way to allow the reader into his thoughts without loads of exposition.

I loved Mrs. Fisher, the elderly lady whose house Mark and Josh were painting, she brought a gentleness to the story and was a well fleshed out secondary character who perhaps, through her own loneliness because of her children living so far away, gained a sort of substitute family with the two men and provided Josh with a grandmotherly unconditional affection he’d not had before.

When the big dramatic moment came, it wasn’t unexpected but it was handled well and I liked that Mark’s family came to help out, dealing with him coming out at the same time, in what I thought was a fairly reasonable way, not quite perfect with enough of an edge to feel realistic.

Josh’s hurt was real, his behaviour true to character, if heartbreakingly sad, and the build up to the ending was well paced with more than one moment which make me catch my breath. I didn’t get as teary with this one as I did with Weight of the World because throughout this book just seemed to have a bit more hope.

Ultimately there is happiness and a sure sense of new beginnings for both Josh and Mark amid the peaceful landscapes of New England.

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Emotional powerhouse from Hart and McCormack

Weight of the WorldWeight of the World by Riley Hart and Devon McCormack

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Achingly beautiful story of loss and hope

I had this book in my TBR pile for weeks because I knew from friends reviews it was going to be a hard read but eventually I picked it up and here we are.

Individually Riley and Devon are two incredibly talented authors but put them together like this and it’s a powerhouse of emotions and superb storytelling.

This isn’t a romance in the traditional sense, but it very much is a book about love and hope, even in the bleakest of times.
It doesn’t mess about in how it deals with the black dog of depression and mental illness and there’s a fair number of harsh moments which could be difficult to read for anyone who’s ever had to get up close and personal with it.

But it does end with an epilogue that offers hope, hope for a better future, hope that the right help can be found and hope that each individual can find the other perfect person with which to make their whole, flawed as they may be.

Read it and weep, but weep for all the joy it also brings, the laughter, the fun, the day to day trivialities, the living of a life.

And the cover, that strength and support it shows, is absolutely perfect.

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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