Stella has had a crush on Will, her big brother's best friend for years. However, because of the two of them, she's been unable to date anyone since they chase off any guys who might try. The two of them have just graduated, leaving Stella finally free to date. With the help of her best friend, Franklin, the two concoct a plan to get a Stella a boyfriend - the Boyfriend Bracket. But when Will ends up being around a lot more often than expected, Stella finds herself focusing on him more than any of the guys in the bracket.
I picked this book up for the "boyfriend bracket" concept, so it was disappointing to see just how early on it was dropped. The little the book did have of it was rushed through or told in summary after the fact. The majority of the guys were never even on page. I knew what direction the book was ultimately going to take based on the synopsis, but I thought the eponymous bracket would at least play a bigger role in the book.
The romance didn't particularly do it for me. Will had spent years chasing other guys away from Stella because he didn't want anyone else to have her, even though he had no intention of asking her out at that point. He goes along with overprotective and possessive behavior on Stella's brother's part to keep other guys away from her. I'm just not a fan of that type of behavior.
I was disappointed the book quickly discarded a unique premise for a romance with the big brother's best friend who participated in overprotective and possessive behaviors. The tossing of the unique premise wouldn't have necessarily ruined the book for me since I love a good romantic comedy regardless of how cliched it is. But throw in an overprotective/possessive love interest and there has to be some incredibly strong writing with some killer chemistry to sell the story to me. And this just didn't deliver.
This was just what I wanted to read. A light, paranormal mystery with a side of romance thrown in! See, Lucy is a Valentine and the Valentines have this ability/gift to see auras and match people together. There is also a curse; Cupid's Curse, that follows them around that prevents a Valentine from having everlasting love. When Lucy was 14 she was shocked and lost her ability to see auras. She developed a brand new gift: the ability to find lost objects. However this made her question her identity, her worthiness, and threw her into a tailspin.
Lucy finally found herself in this book. Her parents, Oscar and Judith, have a very unconventional relationship that works for them. I really liked all the characters. This book was funny, fun, and serious. I really enjoyed the mix of paranormal, mystery, and romance. I thought the mystery was a really good one.
Lucy is a very likable character. The same for Sean and Lucy's family and group of friends. I liked that she gave up her trust fund and put herself through college. It was even better when she started to see her gift as something that was unique and beneficial. I look forward to seeing where she can go and who can be helped!
I do think the curse isn't a Curse so much as a self-fulfilling one.
For Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2018, this is my cozy mystery pick.
After being blackmailed into teaming up with his uncle, Spider-Man had to figure out how to stop his uncle while keeping his parents safe. And Spider-Man's actions had drawn the attention of Captain America who was not happy that someone so young was fighting crime.
Spider-Man's story with his uncle continued to be great in this book. There's a lot of emotional turmoil as Miles dealt with his conflicting feelings over wanting to go to his parents, but not trusting that they'd accept him as Spider-Man after comments his father had made about Spider-Man and others with powers. Plus this was his uncle blackmailing him who he looked up to for so long, so there's that extra betrayal as well. And the resolution to this story line just opened up even more conflict for Miles in the future.
Then I flipped a page and was suddenly informed that the US was falling apart, Texas had seceded, Washington DC was in ruins, and anti-government militia were wreaking havoc all over. I knew I'd stepped into a crossover event that I had no information about. For the rest of the book, the major events of the book were disjointed as big things kept happening off-screen that had a huge effect on this book, but I had no context for. Miles' story was at least fairly straightforward and not missing chunks of plot that left it impossible to follow, as sometimes happens in comics taken over by crossover events. However, the events outside of Miles were harder to follow since they were missing a lot of information.
The third volume of the series continued a great run before being taken over by a crossover event that demonstrated why those can be so frustrating for people who aren't reading every issue in the crossover.
Warning: Grumpy review ahead.
Don't let my rating or review sway you from reading the book. Most of the issues I had with it are of the personal taste variety. And one thing at the very end that ticked me off. ... Two things. ... Maybe three things, lol.
The writing is strong, and Barrett and Schuyler (pronounced Skylar) are interesting characters who despite their various flaws and hangups might just be perfect for each other. I didn't completely feel the love connection between them, since half of their "relationship development" that took place seemed to happen in the bedroom. But when we did get actual relationship development, it was pretty well done.
Since it's been so long since I read the first book in this series - and the primary thing I remember about it was that ridiculous drama-ridden fourth act - I didn't recall if I had issues with Schuyler or not. I know there was a reason I initially decided to skip this one, but lord help me if I can remember it now, lol.
I should have listened to my former self.
For the most part, I really liked Barrett and Schuyler, and there was certainly enough there in their backgrounds that could have made a truly compelling story, but most of what we get is a watered down contemporary romance that doesn't distinguish itself from the mainstream m/m genre. Barrett had the most interesting background, so of course we only get snatches of it. Schuyler's backstory is... well...
Ok, so Schuyler's cousin, Matty, drowned in the lake when they were teens. Schuyler was there when it happened. He drinks himself into oblivion every year on the anniversary, blaming himself for what happened. For 85% of the book, that's all we know about it. Then we find out a couple of Matty's friends were also there. And then it just gets stupid because
despite every indication that Danny is seriously unstable, Schuyler decides to just drive down to the lake when Danny leaves a note on his car requesting a meeting with him there. Without telling anyone where he's going. Or who he's going to meet.
So he drives down there like a buffoon and confronts Danny, who is upset that Schuyler still exists. And then we find out what really happened that fateful night: Danny started bullying Schuyler for being gay, taunting him to kiss Danny's girlfriend - why the girlfriend was all for this idea, who knows; she's incidental to the story and never appears on page except as a blurry fuzzy afterthought on this backstory - all because ... wait for it ... Danny's also gay, but in the closet and hates himself for it. So of course he HAS to bully Schuyler for also being gay. And of COURSE his teen self has to attack teen Schuyler for being around and TEMPTING him and making him feel his horrible gay feelings. And of COURSE Matty ends up in the lake during this fight and no one notices until it's too late and Matty was too drunk to get himself out of the lake on his own.
And that's how Matty died. And that's why Schuyler blames himself. Because showing up when Matty asked him to come and having Danny bully him clearly makes it his fault. (Guilt isn't logical, I know that, but still. Put the blame where it belongs.)
But that's not all! Danny isn't torn up about accidentally knocking his friend into the lake and killing him. NO! He's been tormented all these years by his gay feelings. That's what keeps him up at night. That's why he's so maladjusted. That's why he's a walking blowhole.
So naturally, since he's got this horrible crush on Schuyler he's got to call present-day Schuyler down to the lake, then ask him why he was always around back them - um, because Matty was his cousin????? - and attacks him again!
And then - AND THEN - after all this goes down and Schuyler's released from the hospital and Danny's locked up, Schuyler finally sits down to tell his aunt Dixie, Matt's mom, what actually happened that night 15 years ago. AND WE DON'T GET DIXIE'S REACTION! We just go from him saying "There's something I need to tell you" to jumping six weeks ahead to the epilogue so Schuyler can get a fracking tattoo to memorialize Matty. You know, that's sweet and all, though why he'd want angel wings made out of water to remember how his cousin died is beyond me. You know what I wanted to know though: What did Dixie say or do when she found out? It's only her son that she lost, right? Her one and only child. So who cares what she thinks about all this. (We also don't get Barrett's reaction but his really doesn't matter here.)
AND THEN Schuyler doesn't even press charges. And neither does Dixie apparently, so the only thing that happens to Danny is he has to go to therapy for a few months and do some community service. Oh, and he's getting a divorce. Oh, and Danny's therapist thinks it would be a really good idea for Schuyler to go and see Danny again so Danny can get closure. ... HE NEARLY BEAT A MAN TO DEATH BUT HE DESERVES CLOSURE.
And of COURSE Schuyler is an absolute saint about all of this. Why should he be angry about nearly dying? Or all those years he was bullied as a teen? And all those years he was scared into silence about that night Matty drowned because Danny threatened him?
Thank God we didn't get a scene of him actually going to see Danny again, so there's that.
So anyway, all that aside this was a decent read. Except that 20% in the middle of the book that had practically three or four sex scenes in a row. I ended up skipping most of that. I did like the one toward the end though, before all the stupid happened.
I might be rating this too highly, lol. But I didn't hate all of it, and most of it was decent, and some of it was even nice and sweet. So 2.5 stars it is.
P.S. You can't open both eyes wide when one of them is swollen shut.