I've been away for a couple of months on an unscheduled hiatus due to more changes taking place in my life, good ones this time. In September, I gave notice at my old job and that triggered a super busy time for me since I had clean-up to do before leaving, causing other concerns and stress factors. Then, at the beginning of October, my new job began at a new law firm and that has thrown my whole schedule off kilter. I am adjusting, but it all takes a bit of time. Additionally, October was a month of personal anniversaries that I needed to get through. I did just that with help from family and friends.
READING UPDATE: My August reading was prolific compared to other months in 2015. My favorite books were Ru by Kim Thúy and Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. In September my reading took a dip again but I still managed to read more than a few books, with From the Ashes and Bloodlines (Boystown #6 & #7) by Marshall Thornton making it to the top of my list. And, as expected, October was not a great reading month. I read 2.5 books during the last days of the month with Persuasion by Jane Austen, a highly enjoyable reread, as the sure favorite.
I am going to begin again by posting short reviews for two books I read in August. I will continue by posting reviews of my latest reads and impressions of selected books read within the past few months.
Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family #4) by Lisa Kleypas
Avery carries baggage affecting her as an adult. In her case, its neglectful parents and a traumatic experience with an ex-fiance. Add those negative experiences and the result is a woman who no longer believes in love and has zero interest in developing relationships with men. Avery is a woman in hiding. She hides her curves behind unfashionably large clothing and avoids men by turning them down flat. No problem, right? Well, not when it comes to Joe Travis.
Avery runs a successful wedding-planning business and meets Joe Travis at a wedding for wealthy clients. Outwardly, Joe seems to be an easygoing man whose purpose is to live a "normal" happy life without the excess the inherited Travis fortune affords him. Whatever it is about Avery that strikes Joe's fancy, whether it is her physical appearance or personality (we don't really know), Joe is relentless in his pursuit. Joe is understated in his pursuit, but it is understood that he is used to getting what he wants. Avery plays a game of dodge until they end up having an affair. Joe does not seem conflicted about his feelings, however, while Avery begins to fall for Joe, her reluctance to commit to a serious relationship becomes the main conflict between them.
I read Brown-Eyed Girl when it first released and enjoyed reading it. As a light contemporary romance, the book works, and as such I recommend it. I was able to understand Avery's cautious stand to a certain degree, while liking Joe for his easy going, loving understanding, and subtle but relentless pursuit. The secondary romance, involving Avery's half-sister and business partner Sophia, is definitely a plus to this contemporary romance as it provides tension and some lovely romantic drama.
Unfortunately, as part of the Travis family series, Brown-Eyed Girl is a much lighter read. It lacks the impact, emotional depth, and memorable characterization Kleypas achieved with Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil.
Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
Wes and Jamie met as boys at hockey camp and became best friends. A homosexual encounter during their last summer at camp results in estrangement and hurt feelings. They meet again as college seniors as opponents on the ice. The rest is one of those unforgettable "friends to lovers" romances filled with memorable characters, amusing situations, plausible conflicts, and sexual tension along with sexy and romantic moments.
Bowen and Kennedy collaborated to create this New Adult gay romance and, in my opinion, created two beautiful characters. However, because there are two writers involved format and dialog must be considered. In Him, the alternating chapter format works, as it avoids that confusing head hopping style I so dislike. As a result, the characters' voices and personalities are distinctive, and thoughts and emotions are clearly conveyed to the reader. Wes and Jamie are portrayed as neither too young nor too old for their age. Culturally, they fit right in with young men within their age group. The secondary characters make a positive impact, however, because this romance is written from the first point of view perspective of the two main characters, the focus is firmly maintained on Wes and Jamie, as well as on the emotional changes taking place in the friends to lovers relationship. Highly recommended.