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review 2018-07-08 23:54
ARC Review: Life Of Bliss by Erin McLellan
Life Of Bliss - Erin McLellan

I read this without realizing it was book 2 of a series, but that didn't really hurt my enjoyment of it. 

Frenemies-to-lovers is a fabulous trope, and the author made fine use of it in here. However, that's not the only trope in here, because frenemies lead to fake boyfriends to oops, we got drunk married. 

Victor and Todd hate each other, but love to hate-fuck each other when their friends/couple Rusty and Niles aren't looking, except they really don't, because Victor hides a massive crush on Todd behind his snarky sarcasm, and Todd only sort of hates Victor because of guilt and shame over almost screwing with Dusty and Niles' HEA (which apparently happened in book 1).

At the beginning of this book, Todd, Rusty, and Niles are coming back from vacation and stop over in OK City, before going home to small town Oklahoma. Victor lives in OK City, so they meet him for dinner. Todd is already counting the minutes until the end of dinner so he and Victor can sneak off for sexy times. 

While coming down from the orgasmic high, and noticing a strange shift that seemed to have happened during sex, Victor tells Todd about attending his sister's upcoming wedding solo, and hating that, and somehow Todd agrees to be Victor's fake boyfriend at the wedding.

Alcohol comes into play, and they wake up the morning after the wedding married. 

From there, the book turns into a bit of an angst-fest, with both men keeping the marriage secret while agreeing to see if they can make it work, Todd making up stories (lies) when Rusty and Niles inquire of his whereabouts, Victor wondering if this marriage will last the summer, and whether it should, Todd and Victor NOT talking about how they really feel, feelings getting hurt, Todd coming clean to his family, which is a bit... shall we say... rough, Victor feeling like giving up, and two men who love each other being almost too damn proud to confess their true feelings.

The writing is fabulous. There are one-line zinger that had me giggling, and some humorous moments, such as Victor's box of sex toys being labeled "important documents". 

What I also really appreciated is that the author went beyond what could have become simply a rom-com and actually dug deeper into both characters. Todd especially suffers from a lack of confidence in his relationship skills, considering that he blew it with Rusty, and doesn't quite know how to navigate the waters between his feelings for Victor, his desire for something permanent, and his fears of screwing up again. Victor too isn't just all snark and sass, and there are worries keeping him up at night, specifically how to make enough money to keep paying rent, and whether his job will still exist after the summer. 

So while there are giggles and snickers to be had, and while the sexy times are hawt, there is more to this story than just those. Add a sweet HEA, and you have yourself a fine romance. I had a grand time reading this book, even without knowing anything about these folks from the first book, and I think you would too. 

** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2018-03-17 06:44
Life Of Bliss - Erin McLellan

Todd is in a place where he feels like he is both in a rut, and ready for something new.  He needs to decide if he is going to keep his current affair a secret.  Will he be able to meet his new guy halfway to a new future?


Victor is all in if Todd even gives him a hint.  They have been secretly hooking up for a while now.  Then something happens that puts how they feel to the test.  Secrets have a way of getting out......


This was such a fun read.  The characters had such heat!  I loved the banter and angst between them.  I hope to see them again in future stories.  I give this book a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!



***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

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review 2012-06-11 00:00
Alice Bliss - Laura Harrington Book received from and reviewed for Book Geeks

Alice Bliss is fifteen years old when her father volunteers to go to Iraq to fight a war Alice doesn’t believe in.
While her mother, Angie, her eight year old sister, Ellie and Alice herself are all fervently against this idea, Matt Bliss can’t be dissuaded. He feels the need to do something useful and has to go, no matter how hard the separation will be. And, after all, it will only be for one year.
It is only a few months later when Alice and her family are visited by army officials informing them that Matt has gone missing in action. Although very little is known, they are told that he was shot and taken away by the enemy.
For the remaining members of the Bliss family a very uncertain time starts. They have to learn how to live with hope when there is nothing to hold on to and subsequently how to say goodbye to a loved one much earlier then anybody could have imagined.
Alice’s personal journey is a complicated one. She has been closer to her dad then her mom for all her life and now finds it almost impossible to communicate with Angie who is not really dealing with Matt’s decision and the subsequent events herself. She is in the middle of the always tumultuous teenage years, trying to discover what she wants from life, where she stands in the world and her new feelings for Henry, who has been her best friend for as long as she can remember.
Alice and the rest of her family will have to find new ways to be together, to cope with grieve and continue living while coming to terms with the loss of the man who was the centre of their lives.

This is a beautiful and heartbreaking coming of age story. Alice is a very realistic teenager; her emotions are all over the place, she is uncertain about most things she feels, thinks and does. She is at times completely unreasonable, and while she is aware of that, unable to do anything to change it.
She is also a wonderful big sister to little Ellie and completely devoted to her father.
Because Alice comes across as a normal teenage girl you could meet any day, anywhere in the world, it is very easy for the reader to share her emotions. You feel her pain, sense her insecurities, share her hopes and experience her despair.
I challenge anyone to read this book and not end up with tears in their eyes on at least a few occasions. I would also be surprised if any reader could read this book without breaking into a big smile once or twice.
The story is mainly told from Alice’s perspectives but occasionally you get an insight into the thoughts and feelings of others around her. This means that the reader knows that Angie is aware of her shortcomings as a mother and her desire to do better, even while she fails. We also get a good idea about the confusion Henry experiences when his feelings for his best friend change into something more, something he isn’t quite sure how to deal with. Because of this shared perspective the story feels balanced and true to life where it could otherwise easily have been an overly sentimental story about a teenager.

Overall this was an engrossing, charming, heartbreaking and wonderfully told story. There were times when the story was maybe a little bit too American for my European mind, but in the end this is a universal story of loss, and the different ways in which we learn to deal with it.
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