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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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text 2015-04-09 15:50
Flora: Florist Heroes and Heroines of Romance Novels
As You Wish (Rock Stars in Love) - Elyssa Patrick
Love in Bloom - Arlene James
Demon Hunting In Dixie - Lexi George
Duke of Sin - Adele Ashworth
Falling Star - Olivia Brynn
Loving Lily (Daughters of Liberty (Zebra)) - Everett Corinne
A Piece of Heaven - Barbara Samuel
No Flowers Required - Cari Quinn
Pan's Conquest - Aubrie Dionne
Rushing Amy - Julie Brannagh

In California wildflowers in the desert signal Spring. Orange poppies, baby blue eyes, paintbrush, owls clover, Mojave Aster, Parry Gilia,  peppergrass, and  alyssum are everywhere. 

 

Here are some wonderful Romances for you featuring flower lovers otherwise known as florists!

 

My lists are never in any particular order. 

 

1. As You Wish by Elyssa Patrick

 

Love doesn’t always follow the sheet music . . .

This Christmas, Portia Jackson needs a miracle to save her family’s generations-old florist shop. What she gets instead is a car that breaks down during a blizzard. Help arrives unexpectedly when the infamous Aubry Riley pulls over. She only expects him to drive her to the gas station . . . she never expects that kiss. But Portia lives in the real world—she knows this is only a holiday fling for Aubry. Except it doesn’t feel so temporary, and the last thing she wants is a broken heart.

Sometimes you have to sing some different notes . . .

Rock star Aubry Riley has no secrets. Thanks to the media, everyone knows about his troubled past. Six years have gone by since his world crashed, and now he’s ready for a comeback. But first he needs to reconcile with his family—starting with his six-year-old daughter. A month-long vacation at a Vermont lake house affords him the perfect opportunity to take a step in the right direction. He doesn’t need any other emotional entanglements, especially not with the bright-eyed florist he can’t stop thinking about. But no matter how hard he tries to resist her, he can’t. Now all he has to do is to convince Portia that there is nothing temporary when it comes to love.

 

2. Love in Bloom by Arlene James

 

Lily Farnsworth can thank a mysterious benefactor for the chance to open her own flower shop in Bygones, Kansas.

 

But Tate Bronson is the biggest challenge the relocated Boston attorney has ever faced. Forget about tossing out the welcome mat—the handsome widowed rancher seems determined to keep Lily at arm’s length. As everyone buzzes over the identity of the anonymous donor, Lily’s doing her part to revitalize the struggling town.

 

With the help of Tate’s little girl-turned-matchmaker, can she create a garden of community and love deep in the heart of Kansas…and one special man?

 

3. Demon Hunting In Dixie  by Lexi George

 

A warrior, a demon, and the girl next door. . .

Looking For Trouble

Addy Corwin is a florist with an attitude. A bad attitude, or so her mama says, ‘cause she's not looking for a man. Mama's wrong. Addy has looked. There's just not much to choose from in Hannah, her small Alabama hometown. Until Brand Dalvahni shows up, a supernaturally sexy, breathtakingly well-built hunk of a warrior from-well, not from around here, that's for sure. Mama thinks he might be European or maybe even a Yankee. Brand says he's from another dimension.

Addy couldn't care less where he's from. He's gorgeous. Serious muscles. Disturbing green eyes. Brand really gets her going. Too bad he's a whack job. Says he's come to rescue her from a demon. Puh-lease. But right after Brand shows up, strange things start to happen. Dogs talk and reanimated corpses stalk the quite streets of Hannah. Her mortal enemy Meredith, otherwise known as the Death Starr, breaks out in a severe and inexplicable case of butt boils. Addy might not know what's going on, but she definitely wants a certain sexy demon hunter by her side when it all goes down. . .

 

4. Duke of Sin by Adele Ashworth

 

Vivian Rael–Lamont lives peacefully in the small town of Penzance, Cornwall, where everybody believes her to be widowed, when in truth she left London unwilling to let her husband's exploits taint her family name. All's well, until someone threatens to reveal her married status and expose her to scandal – unless she can obtain an original signed copy of a Shakespearian play, owned by none other than the reclusive and mysterious William Raleigh, Duke of Trent. Vivian is unexpectedly drawn to Raleigh and, for the price of passion, he ends up joining her quest to catch the blackmailer, a discovery which only leads them to more danger. And although their bond only grows stronger, they soon realise the fruitlessness of their relationship – a married woman of noble background cannot enter into an illicit affair with the Duke of Sin.or can she?

 

5. Falling Star by Olivia Brynn

 

Adam has set his sights on florist Jade Graham. She’s not the kind of woman he’s used to, she’s too smart to play the role of arm-candy. Adam is going to have to keep his celebrity status a secret for as long as possible, because what woman in her right mind would get attached to a playboy without a conscience? Jade Graham is going to be one tough case, but she seems hell bent on proving that there is more than one way for a star to fall.

 

6. Loving Lily by  Corinne Everett

 

Spirited Lily Walters was more concerned with providing for herself and her younger brother than winning a husband, which is how she came to still be single in her early twenties. Necessity brought about a career as a florist, taking advantage of the latest rage in London. Little did Lily suspect how useful her career would be to the Patriot cause. When she realizes her brother Peter has become involved with the Sons of Liberty, Lily determines ways to aid the cause herself. After Adam Pearson arrives in town, and the Patriots begin preparing for war, messages are passed using the specific flowers chosen for her arrangements for the meanings that the different flowers represent. In addition, as Lily moves freely among the Tory's entertainment, she gathers information to aid the cause. Occasional stolen moments with Adam make clear the heated passion between them.

 

7. A Piece of Heaven by Barbara Samuel

 

In the sun-baked hills of New Mexico, Luna McGraw has lived a lifetime of regrets, struggling to conquer the demons that destroyed her marriage and caused her to lose custody of her beloved daughter. But as Luna fights to rebuild a relationship with the troubled teenager, she remains haunted by images of her own childhood and the father she barely knew.

Strong and resilient as the houses he builds, Thomas Coyote comes into Luna’s life one extraordinary night when his grandmother nearly dies while conjuring a fiery brew of spiritual enchantment. Luna does not need a man— especially one with a needy ex-wife—to complicate her fragile dreams of the future. Their attraction pushes them both beyond reason into a place where there is only possibility. Yet it will take more than passion to recover the tattered pieces of Luna’s soul, more than time to forgive the sins of an offending husband, and more than promises to mend the broken heart of a child.

 

8. No Flowers Required by Cari Quinn

 

Flower shop owner Alexa Conroy had it all before the recession hit and her customers fled to cheaper shopping grounds. Desperate to make ends meet, she sells her dream home and moves into the rundown apartments above her shop. When she spots six feet of sexy distraction—complete with muscles, piercings, and tattoos—ripping up flooring, Alexa knows the karmic windfall she’s due just landed on her doorstep. And the attraction’s definitely not one-sided. Dillon James, reluctant heir to the corporation about to foreclose on Alexa’s shop, is not about to jeopardize their scorching chemistry by admitting he’s not the building’s handyman. But with only weeks until her business goes under and his identity is revealed, Dillon must find a way to convince Alexa cooperation isn’t a dirty word, help her save the shop from his brother’s greed, and persuade her that he’s not the enemy…or risk losing the only woman who’s seen the real him.

 

9. Pan's Conquest by Aubrie Dionne

 

Syrinx pulled a fast one on Pan to escape his raging lust. The God of Chastity wasn't about to break her vows and succumb to his temptations. Transported to the twenty-first century, she runs a florist shop - fulfilling her fake, mortal life. Until the breathtaking Parker Thomas hires her to decorate his grand estate for a gala. Five hundred roses? Easy enough. Except Parker makes her feel things she can't ignore...

As the God of Fertility, Pan is used to maidens flocking in droves to his pastures. So when Syrinx denies him, he's determined to win the one that got away. He poses as a mortal to get close to her, but he doesn't count on falling hard for his conquest - hard enough to make a life and stay.

But Syrinx is falling in love with a man that doesn't exist. Can Pan hide his identity forever, or will the truth tear them apart?

 

10. Rushing Amy by Julie Brannagh

 

For Amy Hamilton, only three Fs matter: Family, Football, and Flowers. It might be nice to find someone to share Forever with, too, but right now she's working double overtime while she gets her flower shop off the ground. The last thing she needs or wants is a distraction … or help, for that matter. Especially in the form of gorgeous and aggravatingly arrogant ex-NFL star Matt Stephens.

 

Matt lives by a playbook—his playbook. He never thought his toughest opponent would come in the form of a stunning florist with a stubborn streak to match his own. Since meeting her in the bar after her sister's wedding, he's known there's something between them. After she refuses—again and again—to go out with him, Matt will do anything to win her heart … But will Amy, who has everything to lose, let the clock run out on the one-yard line?

 

Did I miss your favorite florist? Let me know! Vote fore the best of the best on my Goodreads list: Flora: Florist Heroes and Heroines of Romance Novels

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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.

REALLY?!!!

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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text 2014-04-23 06:23
Reading progress update: I've read 142 out of 142 pages.
Loving Liberty - Belinda Boring

"Inspiring" my foot. I'm calling it now, though I think it won't be until late tomorrow before I have a chance to explain my reasons in the review. I'm just going to give you the rating now.

Zero stars. Seriously. Not worth the digital ink it was printed on and I am quite upset/sorry to say that.

Review to come.

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text 2014-04-23 05:49
Reading progress update: I've read 92 out of 142 pages.
Loving Liberty - Belinda Boring

NO, NO, NO! This is not cute or cool. This book is pulling a "Levitating Las Vegas" card and I'm not happy about it. Please stop using mental illness in such a trivial and offensive way, NA authors. Please just stop. Coming up with some bogus mental disorder for the parents to rule over their child's head because she wants to gain independence is complete and utter B.S.

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