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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Just as good as the first one

After the Fire (Through Hell and Back Book 2)After the Fire by Felice Stevens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the first book I got teary at what happened to one of the secondary characters. This book continues on that story as Jordan has to come to terms with his loss.

I loved as well how Felice brought Lucas in to the story and back into Ash’s life without it feeling like just a plot device, it worked well within the narrative.

This one is angsty, but it’s a different kind to the first book. Here there’s more to do with grief and loss, anger and pain, a sense of hopelessness than the relationship driven dramas of Drew and Ash.

Jordan and Lucas’ dramas came more from what was happening around them as they tried to move on, although there were relationship hiccups too.

I liked that they were quick to anger but also quick to reconcile, they talked and they sought expert help when the sh*t hit the fan.

In bed they were dynamite, I loved how Jordan slowly realised he could love Lucas without the guilt and how Lucas realised he could depend on Jordan in spite of his mistakes.

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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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