The Forever Factor by Melissa Brayden

The Forever Factor
Published: 11/15/22

Melissa Brayden’s books will always be an automatic read for me, not only because they are some of my favorites but because she writes banter better than anyone in sapphic romance. Second chance romances are one of the genres I gravitate towards the most and this one was a really enjoyable read. Bethany and Reid fell in love their senior year of high school and thought they would always be together but it wasn’t meant to be. Fast forward eleven years and the two find themselves running into each other, literally, at the grocery store. Forgiveness isn’t easy but what choice do you have when your forever keeps showing up.

I really liked how Melissa wrote this alternating between then and now. Flashbacks don’t always work for me but I can’t imagine this one being written any other way. The then was a very good YA story of first love and the mistakes that are made when fears get in the way. And the now is an adult romance between two women who had lived their lives always looking back to that first love that they have never been able to duplicate.

Melissa Brayden never fails to impress. I read this one in a day and had a smile on my face throughout. Bethany and Reid were always meant for each other, even if the forever took a little longer than they expected. An easy read filled with the snappy banter and heartfelt longing that Melissa writes so effortlessly.

An ARC was received from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

The Last Lavender Sister by Melissa Brayden

The Last Lavender Sister
Published: 7/12/22

Aster Lavender is looking for excitement. She is tired of her small town, Homer’s Bluff and she is tired of being the forgettable member of her family, always outshined by her more charismatic siblings. She thinks she will have to leave town for something extraordinary to happen to her. Until the temporary vet, Brynn Garrett shows up and brings light into Aster’s overwise gray existence.

Brynn has had her heart broken and Chicago now feels too busy and way too lonely, even though she is surrounded by people. When her vet school friend calls and asks her to take over her practice for six months, Brynn thinks this may be the change she needs. The moment Aster sees Brynn she is struck by her beauty and Brynn finds Aster’s awkwardness endearing. The two strike up a friendship that has the potential to be so much more.

I have loved many of Melissa Brayden’s characters over the years, but I think Aster Lavender, may be my favorite of all of them. She has so many facets to her personality. She is socially awkward and nerdy yet isn’t afraid to make her feelings know and stand up for those she cares about. One of the many things I love about this book is that it spans several years so we get to see how Aster changes and grows as a person. Her character arc is wonderfully written.

Both Brynn and Aster are such memorable characters who have such big hearts you can’t help but root for them to make it work. I wanted to shake Brynn a few times, but it was all part of the journey.  A journey I won’t soon forget and one I know I will revisit many times.

An ARC was received from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

Exclusive by Melissa Brayden

Published: 3/15/22
A big break leads to an unexpected connection.

Skyler Ruiz has had enough of covering small town news After years of flailing, her big break finally comes in the form of a reporter position in San Diego. She gets to be close to family and friends and she will be working with her idol and crush, Caroline McNamara. Carrie isn’t exactly welcoming to the new reporter but when she realizes that Sky is more than just a pretty face, their relationship takes an unexpected turn.

My love affair with lesbian fiction started with Melissa Brayden. I devoured all of her books and haven’t looked back. Whether it’s the love I felt for Brooklyn and Jessica in Kiss the Girls or the empathy I felt for Isabelle Chase in Eyes Like Those, her characters always find a way into my heart. And I can now add Skyler and Carrie that list. I adore Skyler. She has such an intense drive to succeed but isn’t willing to compromise her ideals to make that happen. She is goodness personified and can’t understand Carrie’s aloofness when she first arrives at the station, considering how kind Carrie is to everyone else.

When Carrie starts opening up, Sky, couldn’t stop herself from falling if she tried. Carrie isn’t just her crush, she’s someone Sky admires professionally. This story is told from Skyler’s point of view, so we know a lot more of what she is feeling as the story progresses. I would have liked to have gotten more about Carrie’s backstory but through her interactions with Skyler, we are witness to her insecurities and vulnerability but also to how kind and compassionate she is. Carrie and Skyler are wonderful for each other and I really enjoyed their story.

I enjoyed Ty and Grace and Skyler’s aunt, who provides her the love her mother has always been too busy to give her. And what a treat it was to Emory and Sarah from Melissa’s book, Heart Block. Melissa Brayden’s books have always been a source of comfort, like seeing a friend you’ve lost touch with but can pick right up where you left off. They have always made my heart happy and this one does the same.

An ARC was received from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley for an honest review.


Marry Me by Melissa Brayden

Marry Me
Published: 11/16/21

When I really started getting into lesbian romance, Melissa Brayden was one of the first authors I latched onto. Her Soho and Seven Shores series are still two of my favorites. This wasn’t a bad read but it didn’t fully capture my interest.

Allison Hale has accepted her boyfriend, Brent’s marriage proposal, although she isn’t over the moon happy about it. Brent’s from a very wealthy family and Allison’s sister is thrilled that she’s going to marry into it and their parents have a deal to have their healthy bar put into Brent’s family’s grocery store chain. Allison is an elementary school teacher who is happy with Brent but there’s a spark missing that she hasn’t experienced with anyone.

Megan Kinkaid is the top wedding planner in Dallas and knows she will get the Carmichael wedding. But her excitement over securing the wedding of the year is halted by her immediate attraction to the sweet, unassuming bride. Allison is drawn to the confident wedding planner as well and it isn’t long before the wedding is on hold and Allison and Megan start exploring their feelings for each other. Will the connection be enough for Allison to put herself first or will she cave to pressure from her sister and Brent to marry into the Carmichael clan?

This isn’t really an insta-love book but it’s pretty darn close. Allison is a total sweetheart but she feels just another incarnation of Brooklyn Campbell or Hannah Shephard.  While I appreciated that she didn’t freak out when she realized her attraction for another woman, I would have liked for her to stay strong throughout the book and not have been so easily influenced by Brent. Allison wasn’t the only one to make some questionable decisions. Megan also did some things that caused me some irritation. There are some good supporting characters like Allison’s parents and her work lesbian guru. If you’re a Melissa Brayden fan you will probably enjoy this one. However, it wasn’t her best but did have some good moments.

ARC received from Bold Stroke Books via NetGalley for an honest review