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review 2016-10-10 14:04
Bittersweet Symphony (The Damaged Souls series Book 2) - Belinda Boring

‘Forgiveness came by being brave enough to follow your heart, wherever that journey took you’


Having read ‘Bittersweet Melody, (which I absolutely loved) I was eagerly awaiting the release of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’.  I am so glad that I got the opportunity to complete Cooper and Caylee's’ story. This was an incredible conclusion to what I considered to be a heart-wrenching, bittersweet and unforgettable story of two people whose love for each other has endured pain, loss, and tragedy.


The story picked up where book one left off. Caylee and Cooper are officially a couple. Things appear to be going well, despite Cooper’s ongoing struggles with PTSD. Caylee was his healing balm. Because of her, he was able to get through each day, however, due to his failure to let go of the guilt over his best friend’s death he risked destroying the very thing he held dear. Would Cooper allow the demons of his past to destroy what he and Caylee had?


The pacing was slow, however, the story was not boring. In fact, I was compelled to read on as I was curious to discover how the story would unfold. This is not the type of story that can be rushed.  It has to be consumed as one would consume fine wine. I must confess, that as I approached the last few chapters, I was afraid to continue. Why?  Well, to be honest, I didn’t like the route that Cooper and Caylee's’ relationship was taking. I was thinking, ‘That can’t be happening not after all they have been through’.   However, I moved past the fear and continued and I am glad I did.


In reading this series my eyes were opened to the effects that PTSD can have on an individual as well as their family and friends. My heart went out to Cooper, seeing him struggle on a daily basis not knowing when an incident, a word or anything for that matter would trigger an episode. I know it could not have been easy living like that. As for Caylee all I can say is ‘Wow!’ She demonstrated how much she loved Cooper with her patience and kindness.  While reading, I was reminded of the fact that no matter how strong we may believe we are, we are unable to overcome pain and trauma without emotional and physical support.


‘Bittersweet Symphony’ was more than a romantic story. It spoke of healing, forgiveness, love and letting go of the pain of our past. It demonstrates that letting go of the pain of our past is the first step in the healing process.  Holding on to the past will destroy our future happiness. Blaming ourselves for things outside of our control is not healthy and will eventually destroy us physically, mentally and emotionally.


I enjoyed the author's writing style. The manner in which she conveyed the emotions of the characters and described every scene made me feel as if I was a part of the story and not just viewing from the sidelines.






This was an awesome story and one which I highly recommend.

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review 2016-02-25 01:18
Loving Liberty - Belinda Boring

I received a complimentary copy courtesy of The Romance Review in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing that came to mind while reading was OMG! I am not sure I can adequately express the beauty of this story, but I will surely try my best. The emotions that this story evoked in me made me feel as if I was living the story alongside the characters. This is my second time reading Belinda Boring's work and she did not disappoint.

LOVING LIBERTY is about a 21-year-old college student named Liberty. Now when you hear the term liberty, the things that come to mind are freedom and independence. However, for Liberty Montgomery, her name did not match her lifestyle. She lived a life of privilege and wealth, and unfortunately for her, living this way came with conditions. She was unhappy as her life was governed by restrictions. Her parents controlled every aspect of her life. This included what she ate and drank, how she dressed and the type of friends she kept. She knew that she was living the life of a prisoner, but she was afraid to take the bull by the horn and tell her parents that she has had enough. However, a chance meeting with a hot and sexy bartender will have her re-evaluating all she had endured while growing up.

From the moment he met Liberty, Oliver Nichols knew she was different from the girls he encountered at the fancy functions where he worked as a bartender. He recognized that she was a caged bird dying for the day when she will be able to seize her freedom. He was able to recognize this as he was once where she was. This made him the perfect person to help Liberty to live up to the name she was blessed with. Will Liberty be able to get past her fears and put an end to her parents' dominance over her life?

I enjoyed the manner in which the characters were portrayed. I felt everything that the author was hoping to communicate to her readers. I was fascinated by Liberty's journey from being a caged bird to one that was able to soar to the highest of heights. I thought she was strong in light of all she had endured at the hands of her parents and sister. In spite of all this, she was able to maintain her sanity. It is my belief that one of the things that kept her going was hope. Hope that one day she would be free to live her life the way she had always dreamed.

Oliver was totally swoon worthy. He is the embodiment of what most women look for in a man. He and Liberty were perfect together. He showed her what she had been missing all her life. He gave her a taste of freedom. Oliver's hope was that she would realise the beauty of freedom and that she would be brave enough to seize it. He was not pushy and he would do all in his power to protect her. He stood by her and never once did he judge her.

I did not like Liberty's parents. Not only are they controlling but they were also pretentious and snobbish. It is evident that they were more concerned about keeping up appearances rather than their children's wellbeing. Their idea of love was warped. As for Liberty's sister Erica, she was just plain evil. I am convinced that she is a spawn of the devil. LOVING LIBERTY is the type of story that engages you from start to finish. It is my belief that there is no way you can read this book and not have your emotions engaged in every possible way. The writing style was captivating. You will find yourself turning the pages as you are eager to discover all that will transpire. The author satisfies your literary needs, but at the same time leaves you wanting more of the story and the characters.

This was a beautiful story and I highly recommend it. I am looking forward to reading more of this author's work.

Review originally posted at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=20303

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review 2016-01-18 23:38
Bittersweet Melody - Belinda Boring

Have you ever read a book that you love, but when it came time to write the review you were at a total loss as to what to write? Well, BITTERSWEET MELODY was that book for me. I was not sure I could write a review that would accurately capture what I feel about this story.

This is my first time reading Belinda Boring's work and I have to say I was impressed. She has found a new fan in me and I will be adding her to my list of must-read authors. This book was everything I thought it would be. BITTERSWEET MELODY is a captivating story that will inspire you and leave you craving for more. I was pulled into the story from the moment I began reading. I did not want to put it down but, unfortunately, real life has a way of messing up our best-laid plans. By the time I was finished I was totally bowled over. Now I am impatiently waiting for the sequel.

The tale was narrated from two points of view, that of the hero (Cooper) and the heroine (Caylee). This helped me to understand their thoughts and feelings. This was important, especially in Cooper's case. Cooper was a complex character. They were so many layers to him. He came across as someone cold and unfeeling, but when you see what he has been through, you can't help but feel for him. He genuinely believes that he deserves to be in pain, and the only way he could cope was through alcohol and mindless sex. Guilt sure does have a way of colouring one's perception.

In spite of his reckless behaviour, I loved Cooper. Here we have a war veteran turned rocker, who was broken on the inside and who believes he is not worthy of forgiveness, yet Caylee believed otherwise. Caylee came looking for him to get answers about her husband's death. What she saw was a hero and a man worthy of love. She blew into his world and turned it upside down. She caused him to feel again.

I enjoyed the dialogue between them. It was not all dark and serious. There were moments of laughter. Then there was the constant push and pull vibe they had going on. One minute Cooper is giving in to his feelings and the next he is pulling away. However, Caylee did not give up on him no matter how much he frustrated her.

The romance did not happen quickly. Caylee and Cooper had no intention of falling in love. After all, she was still mourning the death of her husband, while he was blaming himself for the death of said husband. It came when they least expected it.

I appreciated the author's writing style. Her portrayal of the characters' emotions was awesome. She made me feel everything they were feeling. This made it easy to connect with them.

If you are looking for a story that will make you cry, laugh and likely scream then you will love BITTERSWEET MELODY. It is a great start to what appears to be a wonderful series. -

See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=19870#sthash.fiYsko9s.dpuf

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text 2014-06-25 05:49
New Cover Reveal - Loving Liberty by Belinda Boring

Loving Liberty
by Belinda Boring
Series: Doggie Day Spa Mystery, #1
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Release Date: July 13, 2013

New Cover Reveal

Liberty Montgomery is many things:

A dutiful daughter. Perfect wife-in-training. Easy to manipulate. Compliant.

But secretly she wants more.

For years, Liberty has dreamed of a life filled with opportunities—a life where she makes the decisions, living by her own rules. Unfortunately, her parents have other plans for her, ones that involve her submission and total obedience. Every attempt to break free from their control is met with threats, leaving her feeling trapped. Just when all seems hopeless, Liberty meets Oliver Nichols. With just two words, be brave, he stirs up her secret longings for more . . . friendship, fun, and independence. He almost has her believing her dreams are possible. However, taking a stand can be terrifying when you've spent your entire life pleasing others.

Are some chances worth taking? What would she risk for freedom?


belindaA homesick Aussie living amongst the cactus and mountains of Arizona, Belinda Boring is a self proclaimed addict of romance and all things swoon worthy. When she's not devouring her latest read, you can find her celebrating her passion for books on her blog The Bookish Snob.

With all that excitement, it wasn’t long before she began writing, pouring her imagination and creativity into the stories she dreams. Whether urban fantasy, paranormal romance or romance in general, Belinda strives to share great plots with heart and characters that you can’t help but connect with. Of course, she wouldn’t be Belinda without adding heroes she hopes will curl your toes. Surrounded by a supportive cast of family, friends and the man she gives her heart and soul to, Belinda is living the good life.


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text 2014-04-26 03:56
Review: Loving Liberty by Melinda Boring
Loving Liberty - Belinda Boring

Initial reaction: This is going to be a long expansion in the full review, but I'm honestly disappointed in how juvenile and false this narrative came across. Not to mention it pretty much trivialized everything from rape/sexual assault to mental illness and put it all in some chick-lit-ish cute bow just so that the heroine finally grew some buns of steel close to the end of the book to tell her controlling parents the word "no." And all in the measure of a bad boy who just so conveniently happens to love her and *show* her the right way. Never mind her actually doing these things herself and being proactive, because she's never once that in this narrative. Always the follower.

I'm not happy with this work at all. The unfortunate thing was that it had a good premise, but the execution was just wrong. All wrong.

Full review:

Fair warning, long review.

I struggled a couple of days figuring how to write this review. Even pondered over it in my commutes, because I don't think I've read a book this mediocre since RaShelle Workman's "Touching Melody", but for entirely different reasons. So this will be equal parts rant and constructive examination.

If going by premise alone, "Loving Liberty" would be the kind of book I'd like to read. I like seeing characters struggle and grow through the course of a narrative. I like watching characters stand up for themselves in the face of adversity and come into their own as they learn to assert their needs, wants and desires in life. I even like more than my fair share of romances, though I tend to prefer slow burning romances. The reviews cited for this book were mostly glowing, and I'll admit that made me a little weary because I didn't see much in the way of critique, but I jumped in anyway for the experience.

What I got from the experience made me beyond angry. Granted, the tone of this review is probably much more dialed back than if I'd written this in the heat of finishing it, but I'm glad I waited because maybe I can spell out what went wrong with this story on so many levels it'd make one's head spin - and why I'm utterly baffled by the fact that it's getting so many praises. What the heck did I miss in this story to make it such an inspiring read? Inspiring? More like insipid, unrealistic, belittling, trite, puerile, highly offensive without knowledge of being that way, and extremely formulaic. It wasn't worth the time or the digital ink it was printed on.

One of my biggest pet peeves reading is a story that feels like it's beating me over the head trying to sell all of its respective intentions on a surface level. That's probably the first line of offense "Loving Liberty" commits, though depends on who you are as far as how this may be offensive. Despite every intention behind the construction of this work - it is entirely puerile in the way it's told. I was extremely surprised to see this, even considering this is an NA work (which I know you guys know I have a mostly miss ratio with this genre, but I read it anyway to see if I can find something that clicks with me, and I'm fortunate to say I have in a few occasions. VERY few.)

The tone of this felt like it didn't really know which audience it wanted to write for. This is New Adult, but the narrative feels like it could be a combination of that, middle grade, YA, or happy go lucky adult chick-lit (which is extremely inappropriate given some of the tougher subjects this story tackles). Boring's narration is largely inconsistent and awkward, the voice of the heroine is naive and grating. She's supposed to be 21 years old, but sounds like a 13 or 14 year old girl (and I'd almost hesitate to say that, because that's underselling that age group for some levels of maturation). More on this in just a bit.

I got that this was a story about a young woman who's controlled by her family for just about every aspect of her life, but from the obvious *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* references to Liberty's name in the text to the purported role she has in this story, I think this book set itself up to fail from point one.

It felt fake. This entire narrative felt fake. (This is a description I know I'll probably come back to often.) It's like expecting someone to serve you a hot fudge sundae and they only give you the whipped cream with the cherry. Doesn't cut it. One-dimensional characters, melodramatic scenarios, NA stereotypes, blatant disregard for the seriousness of mental illness and using it as a plot tool, trivialization of rape/sexual assault, slut shaming, bitch slamming, tool of a boyfriend who just so happens to be oh-so-perfect and cater to every need and teaching the heroine how her life is screwed up and ways she needs to rise above it (never mind she doesn't figure much for herself), over the top evil family....and this narrative expects me to take it seriously for standing up for what you believe in and not taking crap from anyone? THIS is supposed to be INSPIRING?!!

But I digress, let me start at the beginning.

Liberty lives with her parents at 21. They control every aspect of her life, from the clothes she wears to the classes she takes at her local college. Even her choice of a potential lover (Andrew). I'm actually not knocking that premise off the bat because in a situation where a family is abusing another family member, this can happen. I remember reading the case study of a 34 year old woman who still lived with her parents and they basically ran her life to where she didn't realize she *had* any choices, or else she would be physically, mentally and emotionally punished. It was a really sad situation because the woman was very secluded and it took her years of therapy to realize she could make choices for herself and stand outside of her parents' shoddy abuse.

Liberty is quite different. If it isn't obvious by her name (*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*) that she desires independence, then she take the opportunity to tell the reader this in several capacities. Lo and behold, she ends up meeting a perfect bartender whom she instalusts over and finds a common point to speak about her controlling presence. I think I heard Liberty obsess over this guy's muscles and imagining him shirtless in multiple spanning pages.

Oliver isn't a bad character, don't get me wrong. He starts out charming enough, but then devolves into the familiar perfect male character as the story progresses. He becomes Liberty's "rescuer" through the narrative. Some of this actually could've had potential if it wasn't so heavy handed. I did want to like some of the times when Oliver made the gestures to let Liberty choose where she wanted to eat and encourage her to be able to *make* choices in general. But I felt like the narrative was handing this to me on a silver platter and Liberty was more passive than active, following Oliver's lead in just about every spectrum.

And Liberty's family was the worst. I don't even think Domyouji's mom from Hana Yori Dango could hold a candle to the OTT cruelty that Liberty's mother, father, and sister showcased. Liberty's sister slut shamed and sold her out so many times, it was very unbelievable - drama for the sake of drama - all over a guy no less. (I'll get to that guy later, because I have a whole section I'm dedicating to "other" guy, and he was the reason I was beyond angry with this book.) Liberty's mom was overbearing, constantly demanding of Liberty's time and expectations without even a thought given to her daughter's wishes. Liberty's father expected perfection from her studies and to aspire to "be a good wife" - which is just as much misogynistic as it is inaccurate towards a person's worth. But as Boring introduces these problematic turns, she really doesn't do much to knock them down, especially not in subtle ways when she actually does try to do so.

Case in point: Andrew. Screw him a thousand ways to...well, you know. It wasn't just the fact he was a problematic character. Oh no, he was a set piece for melodrama and problematic presentation for a lot of different things.

Andrew is the boy that Liberty's family wants to set Liberty up with. He's supposed to be charming, wealthy, the "perfect" boy for Liberty to hook up with. But Liberty hates him, and for good reasons. Unfortunately, this is also handed out in a "Captain Obvious" fashion. Every time she pushes him away, he gets more intrigued by her. Every time she does something he doesn't like, he belittles her. He shames her weight, knocks down her ideas on traveling abroad, basically the two are not a good match and yet he doesn't do anything but want to possess her any way he can. Even to the point of heckling her and SEXUALLY ASSAULTING HER after they've officially been not together anymore.

Andrew is the reason why Liberty's sister hates her with the power of a thousand...somethings. Why her sister slut shames her and basically blackmails Liberty into getting Andrew to like her instead of Liberty. Of course said plan backfires, so Liberty gets in trouble for seeing Oliver to the side. Liberty's family obviously doesn't like Oliver. They will do anything to keep her from seeing said bartender.

Even threaten to trap their own daughter through the guise of mental illness.


I had enough issues with the way mental illness was treated in "Ten Tiny Breaths", "Levitating Las Vegas" among other narratives. NA seems to be a ground for showcasing either having a mental illness in an over the top fashion that's far in the measure of drama for portrayal of that character's experience OR as a baiting tool to keep a character from doing something the character's caregivers or enemies don't want.

In this case, Liberty's parents pretty much told her they would have her committed (again, she suffered from depression when she was younger and they trapped her at the hands of a cruel, manipulative doctor) if she threatened to leave the life she wanted to leave behind.

Tell me again how this is supposed to be realistic. Tell me again how this is supposed to be "inspiring." It's manipulative and utter B.S. and I don't understand why this kind of thing is shown for portrayal in the measure of mental illness - it's offensive and inaccurate and honestly someone has to call it out for being what it is: melodrama. And I'm not sympathetic for calling it out to be this because I hate seeing it. I really do. I wish NA authors (and even Boring herself) would actually treat mental illness for being the difficult measure that it is. That they would treat bullying for being what it actually is. For treating sexual assault/rape for what it actually is, rather than as an afterthought or vehicle for melodrama or conflict porn.

It doesn't convey any kind of understanding or respect for the issues they really are. And if it can't be portrayed seriously, how the dickens is it that others will be able to understand what it is and take it seriously? Portraying these very important problems in our society so casually makes them trivial and people numb to them (which is dangerous!), and the portrayal of these was in fact trivialized in a way that made me sick as I read such. So honestly, I couldn't take her narrative portrayal seriously. At all.

Ultimately, Liberty gets her moment to shine by standing up to her family and controlling circumstances, but it isn't without the heavy backing of "true luv" and Oliver's constant presence. It would've been far more rewarding if Liberty had really come into her own for herself. Instead, it felt like the moral of the story was that you need a man (or S.O.) to help you along and see you through all of your problems. And real life doesn't work that way. Sometimes you have to pick yourself up by your boot straps, and you have to do it alone. There may be people encouraging you along, and that's fine - we are human. We can't make our lives without being able to have some emotional support close to encourage along the journey. But ultimately, the decision to move forward in the face of adversity lies from within, and then it's series of stages from that point which are never so clear cut or easily resolved.

This narrative felt so false not only for the portrayals, but the overarching messages it so blatantly sent out. It even tries to "hang a lantern" on the portrayals (like the reference to Liberty's name), but honestly that felt more cheap than amusing.

I cannot recommend this narrative.

Overall score: 0/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.

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