Above All Things by Roslyn Sinclair

Above All Things
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Published: 5/11/22

Jules Moretti is embarking on a new career, no longer the assistant to fashion editor, Vivian Carlisle. She still sees her former boss but now in a far more intimate role, as Vivian’s girlfriend. Jules is hopelessly in love with the emotionally walled up editor. Vivian has walls at high as the one in China but Jules and the love she shows breaks them down gradually. As Vivian’s pregnancy progresses, the two women have to deal with the many obstacles threatening to tear them apart.

I enjoyed the first book in the series, Truth and Measure but I absolutely loved this one. Roslyn Sinclair has given us another unforgettable ice queen in Vivian. Most live in fear of her and don’t bother trying to see the woman behind the frostiness. Jules has been there for her like no one in her life before and she allows Jules to see the real Vivian. She knows Jules is worthy of that trust and I love the way their relationship progressed. What began as a crush for Jules was for Vivian a dependence brought about by her shock and fear at discovering she was pregnant. The two women’s feelings evolved into an undeniable attraction and ultimately love.

This book is crazy hot. I am at an age where hot flashes occur occasionally but during the reading of this book, I had a perpetual flush that kept me reading this away from the eyes of my partner and kids. The emotional connection between these two characters heightens the physical and that makes for a great love story. I haven’t read Roslyn Sinclair’s fanfic but I now clearly understand the anticipation that accompanied the arrival of these two books.

An ARC was received from Ylva Publishing for an honest review.

Truth & Measure by Roslyn Sinclair

Truth & Measure
Publisher:
Published: 4/20/22
Truth and Measure is the first part of a two-book series. This slow-burn office romance is a steamy story of fashion, passion, and the power of the unexpected.

Jules Moretti is a very good assistant. She anticipates what fashion editor Vivian Carlisle needs before she says it. She has to or she would be unceremoniously fired like so many before her. When Vivian finds herself unexpected expecting, Jules finds herself become far more involved in her bosses life than she ever anticipated.

This is one of the most eagerly anticipated books of the year and it was well worth the wait. Roslyn Sinclair has adapted her Devil Wears Prade fanfic into two books.  The second, Above All Things will be released in May. In Jules we get the overachieving girl next door, trying to make a go of her writing career while working for the iciest of fashion editors. Jules has a bit of hero worship for her boss and who can blame her. Vivian takes no shit, she’s ridiculously hot and has power that most people can only dream about. That hero worship turns into something more when Vivian allows Jules to see her vulnerability.

Roslyn Sinclair is an incredibly gifted author. I really loved The X Ingredient and The Lily and the Crown. I liked this book and am looking forward to the second book, Above All Things. She excels at writing the ice queen. The only way the ice queen trope works is if the sweet character manages to thaw the queen. In this instance Vivian is thawed as much by the shocking situation she finds herself in as by her interaction with Jules. This makes for a very effective character arc. Her vulnerability comes through so beautifully I couldn’t help but falling for her as well. Sinclair is also incredibly gifted at writing scenes that nearly set my Kindle ablaze. When things heat up, they heat up quickly and there is no turning back for either of them.

My only complaint is that I wish the romance would have been developed a bit more but I’m hoping we get more romance in book two. The book ends with a bit of a cliff hanger so I can’t wait to dive into the second book and see what Roslyn Sinclair has in store for us. I am fairly certain it’s going to be hot, emotional and with some twists I won’t be anticipating and what more could we ask for.

An ARC was received from Ylva Publishing for an honest review.

 

 

 

Chasing Dreams by A.L. Brooks

Chasing Dreams
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Published: 3/16/22

Claire Pressley needs a change. She’s tired of her demanding job as a venture capitalist and trying to make her parents happy. She buys a homestead in Eagle Cove, Oregon and is set to fulfill her dream of having a guesthouse. Ruby Jordan is the sweetheart of Eagle Cove. She works at the town library and cares for animals in her spare time. Her dream is to buy the Pruitt homestead and turn it into an animal sanctuary. The same homestead that Claire saunters into town and buys. Needless to say, in the beginning Ruby is not team Claire, and she certainly doesn’t feel any sparks, nope, not at all.

A new book from A.L. Brooks is always cause for celebration. With Chasing Dreams, she has once again given us a wonderfully written book with characters who are relatable and have sizzling chemistry. I like both of these women a lot. I love a small-town girl meets big city girl story where both women try to ignore the pull, but just can’t seem to avoid the inevitable. Chasing Dreams deviates from that trope, however, because even though Claire moves to Eagle Cove from New York, the big city mentality doesn’t come with her. She quickly adapts to the small-town life, surprising herself by how much she wants to be a part of this close-knit community. She’s tired of the city, the noise and the pretentious overachievers that have been a part of her life for so long.

The supporting characters are delightful. Katie is Ruby’s friend and runs the local bar and senses Claire may be the perfect woman for her relationship averse friend. Rudy’s grandfather, Ned is dealing with the limits his advanced age is bringing about but provides Ruby with love and support at every turn. And Wayne, Ruby’s brother, who takes a job renovating the homestead for Claire and helps Ruby navigate Ned’s health issues.

This is touted as a feel-good book and it certainly lives up to that. There isn’t a lot of angst, which is something I think we all deserve after the last few years. It’s a story of women who act their age, communicate and find the right person at the right time. A.L. Brooks is one of my favorite authors. She always writes characters whose happiness I become invested in and Claire and Ruby have now joined the list of wonderful couples she has created. We are all Chasing Dreams in some form or another and you will be happy you joined Claire and Ruby as they chase theirs.

An ARC was received from Ylva Publishing for an honest review.

 

 

The Awkward Truth by Lee Winter

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Published: 11/24/21

The Brutal Truth is one of my absolute favorite books and Felicity Simmons one of my favorite supporting characters. In The Awkward Truth, Felicity is front and center, as she was always mean to be and I couldn’t be happier that Lee Winter has given us this gift.

Felicity is in training to take over as COO for Bartell Corp once her boss and mentor moves permanently to Sydney to helm her fashion magazine. Felicity is thrilled all of her hard work has paid off but is still clueless as to the other reason Elena is moving to Australia. Elena gives Felicity the assignment to investigate Living Ruff charity to determine how they could be in danger of closing, when the donation Elena made should have sustained them for quite some time.

Felicity isn’t thrilled to venture to the Bronx, The unsafe, unclean, not nice Bronx but when Elena speaks, Felicity jumps.  When Felicity arrives she encounters Dr. Sandy Cooper. Cooper, as she’s known, is a veterinarian who cares for the animals of the homeless. Felicity’s story is she needs to make sure the charity is above reproach because Bartell Corp is thinking of making a donation. Felicity at first thinks Cooper is a vagrant looking to steal drugs from the company van. Not the best first impression but it’s Felicity and tact has never really been her best attribute.

Once they move past the vagrant faux pas, Felicity shadows Cooper on her calls. Felicity’s interactions with the homeless at first are cringe-worthy. Even when she tries to be friendly, it backfires. Cooper really does think this woman can’t even pretend to be a real person and completely lacks empathy.  The more time they spend together, Cooper sees cracks in Felicity’s well constructed walls. She’s not the heartless woman she projects, she actually loves animals, has compassion that she has worked so hard to hide and is filled with insecurities.  And Felicity, who was attracted to the “Amazonian goddess” pretty much from the moment they met, finds herself even more drawn to Cooper for her kindness.

There is really no writer I love more than Lee Winter. She is the absolute best, not just at ice queens, but at witty banter. Felicity never means to be hilarious but when ones filter is removed you never know what will come out. Felicity so intrigued me when I read The Brutal Truth because you just know that someone with that much snark has to have some deep-seeded insecurities.  Lee Winter gives us insight into what made Felicity focus solely on career success and shut herself off from human interaction.  Her new position, this assignment and Cooper are all catalysts to the changes Felicity never knew she needed to make.

While this is definitely a romance with a mystery to solve, it’s also story of a woman finding her humanity and letting her vulnerability show. There’s nothing scarier for Felicity than to expose her feelings, whether that’s to another person or to a sweet, unassuming animal.  She’s so tightly wound but bring a woman with nice thighs and an even nicer heart around her and she’s a goner. Felicity is just a treasure and Cooper is her perfect match. A woman who works with animals and looks at the homeless and sees them, not past them, that’s a woman to fall in love with.

The conversations Felicity has with Elena are spectacular and I love seeing Elena not only mentor her professionally, but also help her to realize she needs to be more empathetic. Felicity still not clueing in to the nature of Elena’s relationship with Maddie just makes me laugh. And in the same way Maddie’s kindness helped to soften Elena, Cooper does the same for Felicity.

The Awkward Truth is fantastic but I would expect nothing less from Lee Winter. She’s brilliant, Felicity Simmons is a delight and you should read this book. We’re done!

ARC Provided by the author for an honest review.

 

 

The Music and the Mirror by Lola Keeley

The Music and the Mirror
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Published: 4/18/18

All I know about ballet is from childhood when Mikhail Baryshnikov was on tv with those too tight tights and I was grossed out. So my ballet knowledge is limited, but I know a fantastic story when I read one and Lola Keeley’s debut novel qualifies.

Anna Gales is the new ballerina at the Metropolitan Performing Arts Center in New York. She comes from Iowa to train with her idol, the greatest ballerina of them all, Victoria Ford.  Anna’s initial meeting with Victoria makes her feel her hero worship may be misguided. But it doesn’t take long for Victoria to see that Anna has that something special that makes a star. Victoria’s job is on the line and the best chance she has to save it is to make Anna the star of her season.

Victoria begins training Anna and the two become closer. Anna must deal with the jealousy of other dancers and Victoria’s former flame. But along the way, hero worship turns to something more and Victoria’s icy exterior is thawed by the girl next door Anna.

Victoria Ford is a wonderful character. A former ballerina whose career was cut short due to injury, who still feels pain everyday. Ballet is in her soul and she can never give it up. Her icy exterior is how she keeps people at a distance. She has mini flings but doesn’t open her heart up to anyone, until her heart makes the decision for her.

Victoria sees a kindred spirit in Anna, a much younger, but just as dedicated ballerina. She can’t help but gravitate to Anna, not just for her talent, but for her inherent goodness. Anna is just the sweetest. She has had a trauma in her life that could have broken her but made her all the more determined to fulfill her dream of being a ballerina. While Anna has a heart of gold she has a steely determination that Victoria admires.

Anna’s feelings for Victoria move from hero worship to disdain back to hero worship and finally to love. Lola Keeley takes her time to develop these characters and their relationship so I am fully invested. This is such a beautifully written book that I know I will reread many times. Victoria and Anna have captured my heart and I couldn’t recommend this book more.

Standout Moments: The curl of Victoria’s lip is cruel, and it’s clear that Anna is already beneath her contempt. This is intended as a final embarrassment, to make sure the only memory anyone may retain of Anna Gale is of stupidity. It’s every gym class that the new foster kid was laughed out of, every party she showed up to only to realize the invite has been a prank designed to make her the entertainment.

Victoria leans back against the leather of the seat and closes her eyes. As soon as she does, the first steps start to materialize, the scuff of leather against a wooden floor already forming beats only she can hear.

There’s something about this Anna, something Victoria hasn’t felt stirring in her gut for well over a decade. There’s something in the way the girl moves that makes Victoria’s own limbs stir once more, like a low voltage running just under her skin. There might never be another Victoria Ford, and she wouldn’t want there to be. She just might settle for unearthing the next best thing.

 

All The Little Moments by G Benson

All The Little Moments
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Published: 8/12/2015

G Benson is one of favorite writers. In 2015 her debut novel, All the Little Moments, was released. I just read it this year and I am awed that it’s a debut novel. It allows all of the emotions to come out, just like life’s little moments do.

Anna Foster is a successful anesthesiologist in Brisbane. She returns home to Melbourne after her brother Jake and his wife Sally are killed by a drunk driver. She is shocked when she learns that Jake and Sally named her the guardian to  their two children, fifteen month old Toby and six year old Ella. Anna doesn’t want kids. Her and her girlfriend of three years, Hayley, are both too focused on their careers and even if they weren’t, motherhood is something they both agree isn’t for them. But looking into the faces of her niece and nephew and seeing so much of Jake and Sally, she knows she has no other choice but to be there for them.

Hayley ends things with Anna not wanting to to the long distance thing and knowing she won’t compromise her career to move to Melbourne. Anna is barely keeping it together as she moves into her brother’s home to raise her niece and nephew. Things take a turn when Anna, literally, runs into a beautiful woman at the grocery store. She then sees that same woman at the new hospital she gets a job in. Lane is so wonderful. She just wants to spend time with Anna, at whatever speed she is comfortable. Anna also makes a good friend in Kym, they bond over shared grief and Kym becomes a part of Anna’s new little family.

Anna loved the kids as her niece and nephew but the little moments they share, make it so clear to her that her place is with them. The way Toby clings to her when she drops him at daycare and says “Na” over and over begging her not to leave him. The way Ella snuggles into her and tells her about her day at school. Sitting on the couch watching Disney movies as Kym and Ella dose off and she makes eyes at Lane. Watching how the kids greet her Mom and how her Mom’s eye light up even through her sadness over the death of her son. These little moments all bring Anna to a place of peace she never expected to feel after losing her brother. It doesn’t come easily but Anna has the love and support of so many and she is a strong woman who deserves happiness.

I can’t even begin to express how much I love G Benson’s writing in this book. These characters were so well developed and nuanced.  I love Anna and how she cared for Ella and Toby, even though she was scared and angry that her life was disrupted. Lane is the perfect partner for Anna. She understand that the kids come first and that Anna has a lot going on and she just wants to be there to support and care for her. Kym is the perfect best friend and having Anna and the kids come into her life helps her just as much as it helps Anna.  Anna’s mother, Sandra is shattered at the loss of her son but is there to help Anna with the grandchildren she loves so much. Anna’s father shuts down and locks himself away because he can’t handle the loss.  Sally’s mother is a horrible person!  I have nothing nice to say about her.

I read this book a few weeks after my brothers death. Probably not the best idea I’ve ever had. But it actually helped me to see that life does go on and that despite the sadness there are little moments that not only show us that we will survive but that’s it ok to smile and laugh. All the Little Moments is a beautiful book that will make you laugh, cry (a lot of crying from all of the feelings)  and say some curse words (Sally’s Mom, legit asshole). Even with all of the feelings that that brings to the surface, I consider this to be a simply fantastic book.

Memorable moments: She pushed the thought that Jake was dead to the back of her mind, buried it as deep as she could. But there were times when she was doing something completely mundane, that her chest would tighten and, for no apparent reason, it felt like she couldn’t breathe.

“Anna, I’m sorry. I wanted to try. I didn’t want to be the bitch that left you after your brother died and you got dumped with this… this huge responsibility but I just… I can’t do this. It’s not me. And the firm… I just got promoted.” I’m sorry. Kid- I can’t. I can’t I love you. But I can’t.”

“Mama.” He gave a nonsensical cry again and then, “Da.”. The sound almost broke her heart. She wondered how long until he’d forget, until he no longer cried for the parents who had once shown up without fail.

Fuck, she missed her brother. She missed talking to him, hearing his laugh. While accidentally calling him had ripped a new hole in her, she kind of wanted to do it again just to hear his voice, like a balm- the sound could wash over her and take her away for a minute.

“Okay. My brother and his wife died in a car accident, leaving behind two tiny children. My girlfriend of the time, Hayley, and I flew over for the funeral, and when they read the will, we found out he had name me guardian of the kids. I never wanted kids, ever. It was why Hayley and I worked; we wanted the same things. But I agreed to take them on and so Hayley left me. Now I live in my dead brother’s house and am attempting to raise his kids in a city that I hate.” Anna picked her glass back up. “No offense”  Kym leant back in her chair. “Whoa.” A playful smile crossed her lips. Wait, you’re gay.”

Lane had walked in wearing a clingy white dress that draped over every curve like it had been made just for her. It was cut low- low enough that Anna was concerned she wouldn’t be able to look anywhere else. The white set off Lane’s dark sin in a way that had Anna mesmerised. In that moment, she couldn’t remember a single reason why seeing Lane was a bad idea. “Oi, do you need a napkin to get that drool.” Anna turned around to find Kym and a nurse friend of her grinning.