Monday, March 28, 2011

Minis: Karina Bliss and Sarah Mayberry

Here Comes the Groom by Karina Bliss

If Jocelyn Swann weren't so furious, she'd probably laugh. Her best friend, Dan Jansen, has launched a campaign worthy of his Special Forces training to arrange their wedding, from music and minister to flowers and food. What part of no does he not understand?

Their marriage "agreement" was a tipsy scrawl on the back of a coaster…three years ago! It's not a question of love. Of course she loves Dan. She's loved him all her life. If only she could get him to slow down a minute and listen—to be the friend she needs right now—she could convince him that marriage would ruin everything.
Here Comes the Groom is a good friends to lovers story with a bit more to it than just the romance. The male protagonist is suffering from mild PTSD and the female has a secret medical condition that she insists on keeping from her friend. After having lost his friends in Afghanistan, Dan wants to live "life" and decides that he's going to do so by marrying the one woman who has always been there for him, his best friend Jocelyn. She's not falling for it though... as he plans the wedding, sends out invitations, and tries to convince her at the same time.

There's quite a bit going on in this category romance and Bliss addresses the PTSD part of the story as well as Jocelyn's medical condition quite well. The friendship between Dan and Jocelyn is well drawn with lots of humor to lighten up the more serious parts of the story and enough emotion to capture the heart, although I thought that the trust factor in the relationship was a big miss for two people who were supposed to be so close.

The transition from friends to lovers was not the best in my opinion. Dan's motives are explained, but his final realization is an abrupt one and I never quite understood where Jocelyn's feelings changed toward him. There's definitely love between friends and later passion... but for me there was something missing in this story. Grade C

The Last Goodbye by Sarah Mayberry

Ally Bishop knows the settling kind when she sees one. And Tyler Adamson is definitely one. Ordinarily this never-in-one-place-long girl would stay far, far away. Maybe it's the way he looks in jeans, or the way he looks at her, but suddenly Ally is breaking her own rules with dizzying speed. All that Australian temptation right next door…well, there's only so much resistance one girl can have.
As she dives into a fling with Tyler, Ally assures herself she can maintain perspective. After all, he's only here long enough to care for his ailing father. That gives them a time limit, right? With each passing day, however, she falls for Tyler more. And soon she has the strongest urge to unpack her suitcase and stay a while.
The Last Goodbye is an interesting romance by Mayberry, where again she focuses on the romance but manages to dig deep into the male protagonist's past history of abuse to make him a fully developed character. The Last Goodbye refers to two different events in the story. Tyler's estranged father is dying and although there's a history of violence between them, Tyler decides to take care of him until the end. Ally is Tyler's father's next door neighbor. As Tyler finds himself needing and seeking emotional support from Ally, the two fall for each other and have a deeply passionate affair. However although Tyler wants a committed relationship, Ally is not made that way... she lives a nomadic life and only allows herself temporary sexual affairs. She agrees to stay only until Tyler's father dies.

Mayberry again delivers a meaty romance with this book. The characters must deal with conflicts from within and from without -- an abusive childhood in Tyler's case, and a neglected one in Ally's; plus Tyler's father's continued presence and impending death. All of these issues affect them as they are first attracted to each other and their attraction builds to passion and then love. Mayberry uses both sexual tension and her signature sensual scenes in this installment, so don't think that you'll miss out on that aspect of her writing.

My one problem with The Last Goodbye is that Tyler's character is better developed than Ally's and we know why he reacts the way he does every step of the way. On the other hand, the reasons given behind Ally's decisions didn't seem to be enough, and as a result her about face at the end of the story seemed too easily obtained and abrupt compared to the depth of emotions she exhibited while explaining her reluctance to stay. However, even with that one problem this was an enjoyable read for me. Grade B-


  1. Hmmmm, I guess the Bliss didn't work as well for you as it did for Holly ^_^; I can kind of see the transition between friends to lovers being a bit awkward...

    Seems the Mayberry is another good one :) Tyler sounds like a darling!

  2. Nath, I liked the friendship in the Bliss book, and it the whole wedding planning bit was really fun. I just don't know about that transition... ,like I said there was something missing for me. I hope you really enjoy it though.

    The Mayberry was definitely enjoyable. Tyler turned out to be a great character in this book.

  3. Mmm. I have Here Comes the Groom on my Pile... I think it's going to get bumped down.

    but thanks for the review :D

  4. Well, I have both of these on the tbr pile and while I was hoping for higher grades, they both still had something to recommend them. :)

  5. I have both of these books in my tbr pile. And I really enjoy both these authors. Good reviews, I want to read these soon now and see how I feel about them. :P

  6. Lovely reviews Hils - thank you. I so need to try both these authors :)

  7. Alex, I would say read it! You might like it more than I did. :D I would really want to know what you think of the Bliss.

    Leslie, I think you'll definitely enjoy both of these books. This was my first book by Karina Bliss and I will pick up the other ones I have on my TBR. The Mayberry is not a favorite for me, but it was a very good read for me too. She's consistent. :)

    Orannia, when you're back in the mood for categories, you should give them a try. Mayberry has a good backlist that I think you might enjoy. :D I'll be exploring Bliss.

  8. Ames, I missed your comment! I look forward to your reviews and can't wait to read your thoughts on these books. I hope you enjoy them.


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