[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]
Loved the backdrop in this book. World War I (with the reader knowing it’s nearing its end... but not the characters). The dreadful influenza reaching American shores and starting a war all of its own. Socialites in their own little world, feeling the bigger world as an intrusion that may or may touch them (whether draft or flu). Murders in those ‘higher spheres’, with the reminder that with a little money, nobody will try and look further. The early times of another type of poisoning, too, for the girls who painted clock dials with magic glowing in the dark (if you haven’t done so yet, read The Radium Girls, it’s really interesting).
I liked the beginning well enough: an engagement party, one of the guests falling to her death on the stair, and it turns out the fall isn’t what killed her—poison did. This murder, more than the party itself, reunites the three main characters, who got separated four years prior to these events, due to various reasons, but mostly selfish ones, such as falling out of favour (God forbids your daughter keeps associating with the child of people who committed suicide, right, this is so vulgar and out of taste); and considering the latter, there’s no wonder this relationship is tainted, poisoned, from the start, simmering with both happiness at having friends back yet also with resentment and bitter memories. Which in turn made Allene, Birdie and Jasper unreliable narrators to the power of ten, because in a mystery with murders aplenty, they were part of the pool of potential culprits just as much as other people at the engagement party.
There was a lot of unhealthy tension in this book, because of the characters’ past, and because of other secrets that got revealed later. Although in a way, I liked it, I wasn’t too keen on how it all unfurled; the characters weren’t very likeable, but for me that wasn’t even due to their personalities (I can enjoy a ‘non-likeable’ character), more to the fact they were somewhat inconsistent with what was told of them at first. For instance, Allene is presented as loving chemistry, but this didn’t play as much of a part as I expected (mostly she still remained the socialite totally oblivious to the people around her, unless what affected those people affected her as well). Perhaps Birdie was, all in all, the most consistent of all. I’m not sure where the line was, that line that would’ve made me like these characters more; it just didn’t click with me here.
The narrative, I think, was also poised between too little and too much. Part of me wanted more of the setting (New York, descriptions, parties, how the flu claimed people—horrifying symptoms, and so many deaths), yet at the same time, the setting plus the murders didn’t mesh fully, and the plot felt too convoluted when nearing the end. And, of course, what’s happening to Birdie—as the author mentioned at the end (and I agree), historical accuracy demanded there could be no closure on that specific point, but this means that, well, either you already know about that bit of history, or you don’t, and it makes no sense. Tricky.
Conclusion: It was an OK read for me: mildly entertaining in general, but not a gripping mystery. Here I preferred the setting to the characters.
I like this story a lot. The story of a couple, Sam and Rosie, who have given up. They can't have children so they are going to adopt. That wasn't working so well for them either. They were positioned to have two different children which fell through both times.
Now, they have a chance with Jonah. An seven year old boy from Kenya who has a special, very different background from the rest of the children at the foster home. He was found at the airport alone and he won't tell anyone anything about where is from.
I loved Jonah in this book. I felt so sorry for him. Rosie was constantly getting on my nerves, but that was just her character. A woman who wanted a child so bad that she would overcome all obstacles including her husband.
A great read that I thoroughly enjoyed and sped right through. I had to know what happened to Jonah, Rosie & Sam. Poignant and emotional.
Thanks to Little, Brown Book Group and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Well, I have to say I was rather blown away by this one. Now I will confess, I first saw the posting for this ARC in Brandon Witt’s group and was so excited to see a new Witt that I immediately went to obtain my copy. Well…it took actually getting the file for me to realize that this was actually a Rosalind Abel book and not a Brandon Witt. Yeah yeah…I know they are the same person but…I will get back to that later. Nowhere in the FB post or in the ARC Instafeebie posting did it tell me this and clearly if I had read the other books I would probably have known this. But I had not. So it wasn’t a new Witt after all. *tears up* But I was committed and I needed up uphold my end of the agreement. So I proceeded. And…
I absolutely loved this.
I commented only a week ago how very few “boyfriend for hires” I have read and how much I had wanted one...so clearly someone was looking out for me. This was the perfect “boyfriend for hire” book. And while I expected fluffy romance based on the cover and author, I was greeted with some absolutely beautifully written scenes. From the scene at the cliff to the shipwreck to the photography aspects to some of the most amazing and quite intimate sex scenes I have read in a while. The characters had so much depth and were developed just beautifully with their backgrounds unfolding in a way that had me tearing up many times. And how these characters become so open so quickly with each other is another level of brilliance. I mean I think we all can more easily open up to someone you don’t really know, or have no expectation of trying to impress. In these situations you are just more free to be yourself. And this was captured quite well.
As with other books by this author, the family dynamics were also so perfectly portrayed and I found myself chuckling out loud many times. Now as for Lavender Shores, the quaint gay loving community that acts as the backdrop for this series, it actually worked for me. Now could I read numerous books set in this, I am honestly not sure. But I think if I was going to have one land in my lap, this was the perfect one for me.
Even more than losing you, that’s what I hate the most. That I hurt you. I’ve never met another man like you. Never met one who I’ve admired as much as you. Nor one who seems to be incapable of seeing how truly wonderful he is. If there’s any reason I should feel shame, it’s that. I added to your inability to see your worth. And I do. That is my shame. And you are my loss.
Gaaahhh…I mean this was beautiful. And don’t even get me started on the jar of snow. *cries*
Now, as I mentioned above, I have not read any of the Abel books. And like with several others I know, the whole Abel/Witt author name change just honestly turned me off. I am a huge fan of Brandon Witt’s work. He has written several of my all time favorite books and when I pick one up I know I am in for an emotional journey into the love between two men. Authors write different types of books all the time. They may go from comedy to romance to paranormal to horror, lots of sex to minimal sex. Honestly it matters not to me, as there are some authors that become an auto buy for me. The name change here felt like catering to a reader group or a type of romance that wasn’t something I wanted or liked. I personally love reading MM Romance written by a gay man. Not to say that a woman can’t do it and do very well, but there is something about having an author who is actually a gay man that I like. So to see someone who I see as a well established author in the MM genre change direction to utilize a woman’s name just bothered me. So yeah, I had no desire really to read these.
Imagine my continued surprise when I found out that the main MC in this book is a male author of MF romance who goes by a female name. Sorry, but I eyerolled at the name…I mean "Ginger Peach". Seriously? Do women really pay more attention to a book with a name like this than one with a man’s name? I mean is Nicholas Sparks a woman? No. I just don’t understand this aspect (both from a character perspective and from an author perspective) and honestly this was really my only issue with the book.
For me I just found myself rather sad not to have Brandon Witt’s name on the cover. To not have the cover image be that described as part of the story. The “authenticity of the author” is something that as male or female I respect and I was extremely happy to ultimately see Lamont embrace this aspect in the book, especially in regards to him finally writing a MM Romance.
And I know I will likely be in the minority on my feelings regarding this but oh well…it would not be the first time. And as an author has every right to do what they chose with their books, I don’t necessarily need to agree.
The bottom line is that this book was absolutely lovely and I fell in love with the characters, the story and the writing. So if you are wanting a beautiful MM Romance then this certainly fits the bill and does so with the “Witt” I have grown to love.
*Highly Recommended* as part of the series or as a Standalone (as I read it).
**Note: An ARC was obtained in exchange for an honest review.
Favorite book(s) of the month: A Messy, Beautiful Life
Books started this month but haven't finished yet: Süßer Ruf des Todes, Blutzeuge, Miraculous - Die geheime Superheldin, Just One of the Boys
This month has been okay-ish. But I'm okay with it, cause September just wasn't my month at all. I'm glad it's over. But this month brought me A Messy, Beautiful Life. A book that is going to be on my favorites list for a long time now. I LOVE IT. I'm also super close to finishing my Reading Challenge for this year. Thank god!!! (or well, thank me, cause I'm the one doing the reading)