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review 2016-12-31 03:08
#CBR8 Book 134: How Not to Let Go by Emily Foster
How Not to Let Go - Emily Foster

Spoiler warning! This is a direct continuation of part one of The Belhaven series, How Not to Fall, and while the reader is given enough context to understand what happened in the previous book, it will not make as much sense or have the emotional resonance for the reader unless you have read the first one. Seriously, these books are two halves of a whole story. Also, you will probably get spoilers for the first book in the series in this review. So maybe skip it until you've read part one. It's a really great start to a romance, and I promise you that the second part gives the story a satisfactory ending.

 

At the end of an extremely steamy month of physical intimacy, medical student Annabelle "Annie" Coffey can't help but fall in love with her intense lover, Dr. Charles Douglas, only to be told that due to the horrible abuse he watched his family go through at the hands of his father, and the extreme emotional strain this has had on him, Charles isn't capable of returning her feelings. Their arrangement was always meant to be one month of no strings attached sex, before they went their separate ways, remaining friends. Utterly heartbroken, Annie is in no fit state to maintain any sort of friendship. She leaves Charles without even saying goodbye and goes home to her parents, hurt and devastated, to slowly put herself back together. The couple meet briefly a month later, at Annie's best friend's wedding, and Charles is mortified at how much he has hurt her.

 

They don't have any contact or see each other for nearly a year. Having worked closely together for years before they started their sexual relationship, both deeply miss the company and professional input of the other. Annie keeps writing long e-mails to Charles, but never sends them. She knows he will be at a big conference in London, where she will be presenting, however, and having spent their time apart trying to come to grips with her feelings for him, and recalibrating them, so they might have a chance at a friendship, she reaches out and asks to meet Charles when they are both in England.

 

Back in London for the first time in four years, Charles also has to face his family again. His genius computer programmer brother and his long-suffering, abused mother. When the airport is closed down suddenly as Annie is due to fly back to the US, she ends up staying over at Charles' brother and gets to meet and see for herself just how monstrous his father actually is. She begins to see the challenges Charles struggles against and what is he fighting so desperately not to become.

 

While at least the first two thirds of How Not to Fall is all laughter, intimacy, getting to know each other better, the flutterings of infatuation and a LOT of smexy times, the last third shows that in the face of severe psychological damage, the love of a good woman and an amazing physical connection isn't enough to magically heal.

 

In How Not to Let Go both Annie and Charles have to change and redefine their relationship. Annie has to get over her initial heartbreak and figure out if her heart has lied to her, or if Charles is worth loving and keeping in her life, even if she can never be his partner. It takes her a year of processing and soul-searching before she's ready to consider a friendship with him, despite their continued physical attraction. Charles, on the other hand, is gutted that he ever caused Annie a moment of pain and has spent a year just trying to be worthy of her respect. Through a lot of gruelling therapy, he's started mapping out exactly how messed up his psyche is and how many protective layers there are, keeping him from being able to allow himself to get close to or trust anyone.

 

There is a LOT of pain in this book and several rounds of gruelling emotional exploration. It's quite clear that both Annie and Charles are better together than apart, but Charles has such a long way to go before he can return Annie's love and his family situation really is so very messed up. While the first book was told entirely from Annie's point of view, this one has more or less alternating chapters from Annie and Charles, so the reader gets to fully see inside Charles as he works his way up from the pit of despair, through the swamp and wasteland, up rage mountain to battle the metaphorical dragon, before he can begin to break down the walls surrounding his inner self.

 

With How Not to Fall, I had trouble putting the book down, and kept reading long after it was entirely sensible. I find Annie and Charles such incredibly compelling characters and kept wanting to read more about them. In this book, I occasionally had to take a break, though, as their emotional journey was absolutely exhausting to me. While the first book focuses mostly on Annie, the second book is probably more Charles'. We get to meet Charles' family, his anorexic little sister, who has no end of imagination games to parse out people's inner psyche; his extremely brilliant and sensitive younger brother, who seems to express himself best through piano playing; his lovely mother and see the joy they can share when Charles senior, Lord Belhaven is nowhere near them. We also get to see the contrast in Annie's home life with her incredibly loving and supportive parents.

 

The first book ends on a cliffhanger, when Annie leaves Charles. The second book begins at the same place. Neither book will be entirely satisfying without the other, they are really two halves of a whole story. While some romances get the couple together quickly and spend very little time actually having them get to know each other, the opposite has to be said for Emily Foster. By the end of the book, Annie and Charles have known each other for about four years, and have had their "Thing" for the best end of two. The course of their true love certainly doesn't run smooth, and there is a lot of pain to work through and a whole lot of metaphorical dragon slaying to do before they can have a chance at their HEA.

 

I have no idea if Foster intends to write any more about the younger Charles siblings, but based on their appearances in this book, I would absolutely love to see a book starring Charles' younger brother Simon as a hero, or his wounded but snarky younger sister Elizabeth as a heroine. Preferably both. I know that she primarily writes scientific non-fiction, but based on these two books, it would be a terrible shame if she didn't continue writing realistic and very satisfying romance as well.

 

And with this, I post my final book review of the year. Cannonball 9 starts on January 1st. Anyone interested in participating can sign up here.

 

Judging a book by its cover: How Not to Fall had a couple embracing and kissing in the rain, here the weather is a lot more sunny (possibly indicative of the brighter times faced by the couple towards the very end of the book). It may just be me, but the male cover model reminds me a lot of Ryan Gosling. Charles does not. I forget exactly how Annie is described in the book, but I'm pretty sure the female cover isn't a very good match for her. Nonetheless, it's a sweet and romantic book cover. Doesn't quite match the emotional turmoil of the contents, but there IS a happy ending, so maybe I'm just being overly critical.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-134-how-not-to-let-go-by.html
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review 2016-12-31 02:04
#CBR8 Book 133: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
My Lady Jane - Brodi Ashton,Jodi Meadows,Cynthia Hand

According to history, when King Edward VI, Henry VIII's son died young and childless, certain noblemen who wanted to make sure a ruler of the Protestant faith ruled the country put his young cousin Lady Jane Gray on the throne. She ruled for nine days, before Mary Tudor arrived with her armies, removed the poor girl and had her beheaded. This book bears a vague resemblance to that story.

In the England of this story, the conflict in England isn't between Catholics and Protestants, it's between non-shapeshifters, also known as Verities, and shapeshifters, better known as eðians (pronounced eethians). King Henry VIII himself turned into a great big lion, on occasion, but even so, the eðians are generally hunted and distrusted by the populace in general. Princess Mary is staunchly against them and want them all killed, while young King Edward and his best friend and cousin, Lady Jane Grey read everything they can about them and would like nothing more than to discover eðian abilities of their own.

Sadly, Edward appears to be dying. He has been told by Lord Dudley, his chief adviser and his physicians that he's suffering from "the affliction" and that he is unlikely to have long, certainly not long enough to marry and produce a male heir. Luckily Dudley has a plan to secure a succession that will make sure an eðian-friendly ruler ends up on the English trone. He suggests that Edward change the line of succession to ensure that his cousin Lady Jane's heirs inherit. Of course, Jane needs to be married to produce heirs, but Dudley has just the candidate. His younger son, Gifford. There is the minor difficulty that Gifford Dudley is an eðian and spends every day from sunup to sunset as a magnificent stallion, but any heirs would be conceived at night anyways, so Dudley is sure Jane wouldn't mind too much.

When the extremely intellectual Jane finds out that she's to be married off within a few days, she travels to the Dudley estate (carrying with her a suitable supply of books to entertain her) to meet her intended. Unfortunately, because of some rather shameful nightly pursuits, Gifford (just call him G) has let it be known that he's a rampant womaniser. It's more socially acceptable than what he gets up to. Hence his older brother mistakes Jane for one of his younger brother's many suspected floozies and Jane believes her impending husband is a lecherous libertine (he's not, he's actually a poet). Nor does anyone deem it appropriate to tell her about her husband's eðian status, so she has quite the surprise the morning after her wedding, when the groom turns into a big horse in the middle of her bedroom.

As Edward takes a rapid turn for the worse shortly after the wedding, his sister Elizabeth warns him that he mustn't trust his physicians and he realises that Dudley is up to no good, and that Jane may be in terrible danger as well.

This is a delightful farce of a book, where we follow the points of view of Edward, Jane and G (he never liked the name Gifford) as the story progresses. Since there are three authors, I suspect each of them took one character and wrote their sections. Having loosely based the first half on actual historical events (if you ignore the shapeshifters), the second half is pure fantasy and a lot of fun. The book is clearly inspired by The Princess Bride, with the narrators occasionally interrupting the narrative to address the reader directly. Readers will recognise that most of Gifford's poetry is strikingly similar to that of one William Shakespeare. There is humour reminiscent of Monty Python and Blackadder, while at least one plot development brings to mind the lovely Ladyhawke, one of my favourite eighties movies (I'd love to get a version with a non-synthy soundtrack).

I've seen this book included on several best of 2016 lists, and while I'm not sure I enjoyed it enough to include it in my top ten of the year, it's a very enjoyable romp from start to finish. My one complaint is that the book is a bit long and I think some of the parts in the second half could have been edited a bit more. As a huge fan of Tudor history in general, and having always been sympathetic to poor Lady Jane, the nine days queen, who really didn't have much choice in the matter and was a political pawn her entire life, it was nice to see a story that reimagines a much happier ending for her. Possibly not the book for you if you take your history very seriously, but highly recommended for anyone who wants a fun, creative and irreverent reimagining of history.

Judging a book by its cover: While on first look, this may seem like any old historical novel, with your red-headed girl in Tudor era clothing and a big red font bringing your attention to the title, you need only take a closer look to see that there's more here. In little "hand-written notes" and arrows pointing to the girl on the cover, the writers explain that "Sometimes history gets it all wrong". The other notes say "It's not easy being queen" and "Off with her head".

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-133-my-lady-jane-by-cynthia.html
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review 2016-12-31 00:58
#CBR8 Book 132: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
One Fell Sweep - Ilona Andrews

Spoiler warning! This is the third book in The Innkeeper Chronicles and as such, this review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series. It's also a series that is best read in order, so if you are unfamiliar with the books, go start at the beginning, with Clean Sweep.

While Dina Demille may seem like a fairly ordinary young human woman, she is in fact an Innkeeper, and within the bounds of her inn, she is almost unbelievably powerful. Her broom is a deadly weapon. She can rearrange the rooms and gardens to suit any guest, she can open portals to other worlds and planets in the universe and she can mount a pretty comprehensive defence if someone is threatening the safety of her guests. The only permanent resident of her inn is the ruthless Caldenia, wanted across most of the known universe because of her many atrocities. There is also Dina's dog, Beast, who on the surface looks like a fluffy Shih Tzu, but may feature a lot more teeth than your normal dog. In her kitchen, Orro, her temperamental and brilliant Quillonian chef rules. He stays out of sight from the neighbours as he looks like a six-foot tall hedgehog.

Dina's chief concern is the comfort and safety of her guests, and making very sure that everyone in the quiet little place she lives doesn't realise that there is anything peculiar about the old Victorian building where she houses her other-worldly guests. She is still recovering from the strain of having hosted a large intergalactic peace summit and trying to figure out where exactly she stands with her handsome neighbour Sean (who also happens to be an alpha-strain alien werewolf who survived countless campaigns in a hostile environment that killed others of his kind pretty much instantly) when a particularly noisy and inconspicuous alien messenger brings word that her sister is in danger. Dina calls in favours where she can and soon she, Sean and Arland, a vampire warlord with whom she's had previous adventures are on their way to the universe's version of 19th Century vampire Australia to locate Dina's sister and her niece.

Maud, Dina's sister, is the widow of a disgraced vampire warlord and her daughter is half vampire. Once her idiot husband got himself killed, Maud and her child waged a six month revenge raid against the people who killed him, but Maud's at the end of her reserves when Dina and her twosome of powerful, very deadly men show up. While Maud has sworn off vampires forever, Arland is instantly smitten and does whatever he can to impress the extremely deadly lady, not to mention her semi-feral daughter. He even insists that he has to stay at Dina's inn for an unspecified amount of time, for an extended vacation. That he'll be close to the lovely Maud is probably just a side benefit.

Of course, having several highly trained warriors at her inn turns out to be good for Dina, as she ends offering asylum to an unusual alien, the Hiru, whose race has nearly been hunted to extinction by another, called the Draziri. They apparently ensure eternal salvation of their entire clan if they kill a Hiru. While helping the Hiru is almost certainly going to end badly, they offer her aid in locating her missing parents, something she cannot refuse, even if she didn't feel sympathy for their plight. Soon she has to use all her ingenuity and drain the inn's defences as they are facing an all-out assault from what is basically an alien gangster cartel who will stop at nothing to kill the Hiru and anyone else at Dina's inn.

Ilona Andrews started The Innkeeper Chronicles back in 2013 and has published each of the books in more or less weekly instalments on their website. They then take the finished product, clean it up, try to iron out any plot inconsistencies (which can easily sneak in as they are writing from week to week), add some scenes to make the story flow more smoothly, and self-published the results. This is the third book in the series, which by now has a small cast of recurring characters in addition to our heroine, Dina. As the series has progressed, the world-building gets more complex, the characters get more developed and the reader gets a clearer picture of where the authors may be going with this.

I always follow the story religiously while the authors post their instalments during the first part of the year, but enjoy re-reading the book when it's a finished product that they published. In One Fell Sweep, for instance, there is less violence and certainly a fairly PG ending, as the authors are aware that anyone can read the story when they come across it on their website. The book has an extended final chapter, where readers who want a more satisfying romantic ending with some decidedly more adult content should be happy with the result. There are also little scenes added throughout the book to help build Dina and Sean, and Maud and Arland's relationships. As a huge fan of Arland's since the first book, I was delighted to see them find him a suitable partner, as it's been obvious since book one that he didn't really have a chance with Dina.

While these books are somewhat less "meaty" and substantial than Ilona Andrews' other output, I still greatly appreciate what they are doing. There is no obligation to the fans to keep publishing stories for free throughout the year. Because these books are written in quick bursts from week to week, there may be less complex story and character development, but there tends to be a lot of breath-taking action. This instalment also had a truly heart-breaking chapter towards the end, which a lot off readers said beautifully captured the feel of truly crippling depression.

It makes me very happy to read that this book was number 2 on the New York Times E-book bestseller list, and 18th on the combined list the week after release, as well as number 2 on the Wall Street Journal's bestseller list I will buy anything the Andrews' publish, and their continued success brings me joy. I hope they continue the adventures of Dina and her inn for many years to come.

Judging a book by its cover: I know the authors hire an artist (I forget her name and was unable to find it in my quick Google search) to do the cover art and inside illustrations. While I'm not wild about Dina's cloak in this one, I like the little glimpse of her energy whip and her fairly casual outfit otherwise. I generally really like these covers and the artist's various character renderings inside the book. The one of Dina's sister Maud and her niece Helen is excellent.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-132-one-fell-sweep-by-ilona.html
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review 2016-12-30 22:34
#CBR8 Book 131: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen

Kelsea knows that when she turns nineteen, it is time for her to take her rightful place as Queen, like her mother (who died when she was a baby) and grandmother before her. She has been raised far from civilisation, by two loyal servants, who did their best to prepare her in every way they could for the duty she would be facing. What they have not done is socialise her in any way, she's barely seen another living soul since she was little, and they've refused to tell her anything about her mother or her mother's reign. So while she has a lot of theoretical knowledge about her realm, the Tearling, and its surrounding neighbours, she has little to no practical experience and is in for a sharp learning curve once some of the remaining members of the queen's guard come to pick her up to take her back to the capital.

The road back to her palace is fraught with danger, as her uncle, the regent, has sent assassins to dispatch Kelsea. He doesn't want to surrender his power, and there is more than one attack on the princess and her guards on their way to the capital. Along the way, Kelsea is rescued from an attack by hired killers by the Tearling's most wanted, a legendary outlaw calling himself the Fetch. This man and all his compatriots wear masks while they dispatch Kelsea's attackers, but later, when she spends some time in their camp, she gets to see him unmasked. He clearly has sinister plans for her uncle and is very curious about what sort of ruler Kelsea is going to be. She refuses to show fear and promises to rule the country to the best of her abilities. This seems to satisfy the bandit leader.

Once she returns to her palace, Kelsea discovers how her mother made peace with the neighbouring country, ruled by a powerful and seemingly ageless sorceress after an invasion several decades ago. Suffice to say, Kelsea is appalled and by her first actions, she sets in motion events that may very well trigger a new invasion. Shortly after, there is another assassination attempt on her while they are trying to get her crowned. It becomes obvious to Kelsea that her long-dead mother was a vain, weak and fairly useless queen who quite happily sold out the freedoms and rights of her people to keep herself safe. Her brother, Kelsea's uncle, has continued the mismanagement of the realm and most of the people are suffering badly. If she can survive, she has a hell of a job ahead of her, righting the wrongs of her predecessors. Luckily, she appears to have some sort of magical abilities too, bestowed on her by the royal sapphires that all heirs to the Tearling wear.

I've seen a lot of people give this book incredibly low ratings, probably because it seems that when the book was first released it was marketed as "Game of Thrones meets the Hunger Games". Clearly this was invented by someone who threw darts on a large board full of things that sold well in the publishing industry. "What if Hermione Granger was the heir to a really down-trodden, pseudo-medieval but somehow also set in our future kingdom, where the biggest danger was the evil sorceress in the next country over" would be a better description. Note that I didn't pick Hermione completely out of the blue. Emma Watson has apparently bought the adaptation rights and wants to star as Kelsea. I'm assuming that if that is the case, they're going to have to uglify her but good, as just in case you forget it, every third chapter or so, the author reminds you how plain, unassuming and dumpy Kelsea is. You are never really allowed to go long without being told how the new queen is rather ugly. So I can't really say that my mental image of her was Emma Watson, and also, I really felt that the girl had more important things to worry about than her appearance, but what do I know? I've never had to rule a fantasy kingdom that's pretty much been colonised and run into the ground by another.

The world-building is strange. There are references to America and England, and some generations ago, a man called William Tear apparently gathered all the scientists, doctors and learned people on ships to sail away to a new continent (no hints as to where this is), but a lot of their technology and medical expertise was shipwrecked on the way. So while there are knights and sorcery and people riding horses or using carts, and mostly very downtrodden serfs rooting around in the mud (it all got a bit Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the descriptions of the countryside and the populace, as far as I could tell), this is somehow set in the future. Also, the Red Queen who rules the neighbouring kingdom (I could look it up, but I can't be bothered to dig out my e-reader) seems to have lived for at least a century, clearly through nefarious magical means.

Kelsea has a sapphire around her neck that apparently cannot be removed until she is dead, as well as a second one that will belong to her heir. This one the Fetch could take from her though, and he gives it back to her later in the book when he feels that she has proven herself worthy to rule. Said necklace seems to be trying to communicate with Kelsea and can bestow her with magical powers. She also has a servant who appears to be a psychic of some sort, but only in the sense that she gets premonitions about bad things about to happen, she can't give specifics (that would be far too useful). Oh, and Kelsea has grown up reading and loving books because her guardian had lots of shelves worth, but in the rest of the kingdom, books are super rare and no one knows how to print them anymore or seems to care about relearning this skill (this is my nightmare).

For the first third or so, the book didn't interest me much and I actually put it down and read a bunch of other books in between. Then she finally arrived at her palace and discovered just how messed up a situation she was faced with as queen (I don't want to go into specifics, but trust me, it's pretty bad) and I started getting interested. This book is clearly just establishing the beginning of Kelsea's reign. Since each new chapter seems to contain excerpts from books written much later in Queen Kelsea's lifetime, possibly even after her death, I was never overly worried that she wasn't going to make it though to the end of the book (also, this is book one - I suspect she may survive until book three).

The tone of the book is also a bit strange. This is totally YA, and nowhere near George R.R. Martin territory (nor are there anything vaguely resembling Hunger Games - seriously publishers, did you read the wrong book before you sent out the press release?), but there are some scenes of pretty graphic violence and while there isn't a lot of sexual content, the Red Queen clearly isn't big on consent and doesn't care who she takes her pleasure with, and neither does Kelsea's weaselly uncle.

I've seen complaints that Kelsea is a special snowflake of a character, I didn't really think so. She is young, and has a lot of book smarts, but clearly needs to learn to rule properly, and has impulsively made decisions that are going to come back and bite her in her royal behind later. She seems to nurse an ill-advised crush on the Fetch, but there isn't really anything romantic hinted at with anyone. There are a lot of factions who want to oppose her, and she will clearly face a lot of challenges in the next two books before I'm sure she becomes triumphant and takes her people into a new golden age or something. As long as she makes sure there are books, I'll be happy.

It's a decent enough beginning to a fantasy trilogy. I'm really curious as to where exactly these books are set, as unless the ships mentioned were actually spaceships, I'm unsure where the Americans and English of old actually sailed to. As long as I'm entertained, and it doesn't play too important a part, I'm willing to turn my brain off in that particular respect. Since the trilogy is now completed, it seems likely I'll be reading the rest of it in the next year or so, but it's not like I'm impatient to pick up the next book either. I hope Kelsea stops moaning about how ugly she is in book two, though. Looks aren't everything, girl.

Judging a book by its cover: I've seen several covers for this book, the one that comes with my edition evokes a volume of fairy stories to me, with the red background and the black, swirly embellishments. In the centre "cutout", there is a palace on a hill, so you can probably guess from both the title and the image that this is a fantasy story. It's not the most exciting of images, but it's not bad either.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-131-queen-of-tearling-by.html
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review 2016-12-28 02:48
#CBR8 Book 130: The One in My Heart by Sherry Thomas
The One In My Heart - Sherry Thomas

From Goodreads:

When Evangeline Canterbury meets the gorgeous, intriguing doctor next door, all she wants from him is a bit of distraction, to help her get over a few rough days.

 

Her one-night stand, however, has other plans: He needs an accomplished and presentable girlfriend to bring before his parents - and for six months of her time, he is willing and prepared to spend an obscene amount of money.

 

Nothing but trouble can come of such an arrangement. But can Eva stop herself? Or will she fall headlong in love with a man who will leave her when their contract expires with a smile, a check and hardly a backward glance?

 

I really like Sherry Thomas' historical novels. Her characters tend to be complex and quite frequently quite wounded individuals, who have trouble forming loving bonds. The stories are frequently quite angst-ridden and there is a lot of heavy emotional territory that needs to be negotiated before the parties can find their happy endings. This is Sherry Thomas' only contemporary romance to date, and since she's currently busy writing gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes fan fiction (which I'm very much looking forward to reading, by the way), I doubt she'll be going back to this genre any time soon. 

 

I really don't know exactly what I think about this book. At the start of the book, it purports to be a very different story than it ends up becoming. Bennett, the hero, initially seems very manipulative and rather off-putting, while it's clear that the heroine, Eva, has a lot of emotional issues to deal with, not least her fears about her mentally unstable, bipolar step-mother, Zelda, with whom she also shares a flat. 

 

Back when Eva was a teenager, her father and Zelda took her to Paris, to a prestigious socialite ball, where she was supposed to be escorted by the son of friends of Zelda's. He never showed up, due to some scandal, and shortly after the ball, Zelda had a massive breakdown and extended hospital stay, after which she divorced Eva's father. Eva, who loves her step-mother fiercely, believes that if the "Somerset boy" had just showed up, Zelda might never have had said mental collapse and their lives might all have turned out differently. She keeps dreaming of this mysterious "Somerset boy" and never really allows herself any long-term relationships, because she's worried what might happen to Zelda if she's not there to take care of her.

 

Will you be surprised if I tell you that the gorgeous, fantabulously wealthy doctor that Eva has a one-night stand with, who later offers to pay her half a million dollars to pose as his girlfriend for six months, our hero Bennett, is none other than that mysterious Somerset boy? Of course you won't. He was pretty much always going to be. The scandal he was involved in way back then was considerable enough that his family broke all ties with him, and now he wants to mend fences and reunite with them. Showing up with Eva on his arm, a beautiful and very accomplished scientist with many lucrative patents and a career in her own right, who just so happens to be the girl they once tried to set him up with? They'll surely have to accept him back with open arms.

 

Yet Bennett's reunion with his family is not the whole story here. Eva has trouble trusting Bennett, for all that she becomes slightly obsessed with him and the way he can make her body feel. Even though he seemingly has a lot of less desirable qualities, he is always scrupulously honest with Eva about his past, the reasons he became estranged from his family and the many not so honourable things he did when trying to provoke his father over the years. Eva is completely incapable of opening up in return. 

 

Around the half-way point of the book, it became clear that Thomas was telling a different story from what you are first expecting. When Bennett revealed the full truth, I suddenly saw him and his previous actions in a completely new light, and instead Eva became the problematic character. Her many complex hang-ups and her absolute unwillingness to open up or in any way attempt to change made me want to both shout at her and shake her. I loved her relationship with her step-mother, and the very realistic portrayal of what living with someone bipolar is actually like, but it wasn't enough for me to warm to this as a romance.

 

For the first half of the book, Bennett sort of gave me the creeps as a hero, and for the second half of the book, I wanted Bennett to go off and find someone more worthy of him, because Evangeline was a rubbish heroine. It obviously all ends up working out in the end - it is a romance, after all, but this is by far my least favourite of Thomas' novels to date. I suspect that I would probably like it more upon a re-read, but it seems unlikely that I'll pick it back up again any time soon. Nonetheless, this book has words in the title that have made it a possible read in FIVE separate months this year for my Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge. It's also been on my TBR list for more than a year. I pretty much had to read it before the year was out.

 

Judging a book by its cover: My feelings about the cover for this book much reflect the feelings I have for the actual novel - largely indifferent. Beautiful scenery, I'm assuming it's the Italian coastline. Generic couple smooching. *shrugs* I find the choice to have one and my in the title italicised. It doesn't so much emphasise the words as make the cover look slightly off somehow.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-130-one-in-my-heart-by-sherry.html
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