3.75 stars — After listening to and LOVING The Foxe and the Hound, which is sort of a sequel to this book in that it follows Lucas’s sister (and Daisy’s best friend) Madeleine, I just couldn’t help myself and NEEDED to hear Lucas and Daisy’s story…even if I was a bit wary.
Can I just start off and say that the existence of two narrators is a bit misleading? I thought this would be a dual POV story, and it really wasn’t. When I was 9 chapters in and still hadn’t had a Lucas chapter, I was starting to get confused. Lucas doesn’t really have a POV in this story. He gets maybe 3 mini chapters which are just unsent emails from him, and I ADORED them (and actually really loved Joshua Kumler’s narration, will be looking for more from him), but I would have enjoyed even more from his perspective. It was like a tease. 😛 So essentially, look at this story as a single POV and avoid getting disappointed if you’re a dual fan (as I am). That being said, I thought Ms. Roelle’s narration was pretty fantastic. I loved the different voices she did for different characters, I couldn’t believe how unique she made them. Honestly, the only part where I was less than enthusiastic was occasionally when Daisy got a bit crazy and it got crazy even in the narration…this was totally purposeful, and I get it. But it made scenes where I was already cringing because of the antics even more cringeworthy…like double the cringe. That being said, I won’t hesitate to check out more books narrated by Kimberly Roelle!
So this is a MEGA enemies to lovers story, and if I’m being perfectly honest, that’s not my favourite trope. I think the problem for me is that often times for people to be honest to goodness enemies, it usually involves characters behaving badly…it just kind of goes hand in hand. And that always makes me cringe. Not always, mind you, but it is a common theme. I just have way too much sympathetic embarrassment, and so it takes a special book to win over my heart. This book almost didn’t. Daisy is…hard to like sometimes. She is just as neurotic as so many of Ms. Grey’s heroines, but in her case it’s wrapped up in hatred and competition and I just had a hard time sympathizing with her, you know? The funny thing is, the part that made my opinion turn the corner was in the fact that Daisy’s behavior didn’t get excused away. She didn’t get let off the hook. It wasn’t a case of “oh, well, Lucas did this…” Daisy truly feels the effects of her blindness. I really appreciated that. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more of an understanding of why she was so blind…was it being raised in a single parent family? Or just a quirk of her personality? But I was still really happy with the way the book turned that final corner and wrapped up.
Lucas also helped to really sell the story for me. I think if I’d had more of his POV, I wouldn’t have struggled so much. I had inklings of what was going on with him, but each email chapter scrap I devoured eagerly. My heart just ached for him and his hidden affections. And again, while it was mostly blind Daisy, I appreciated that Lucas got a bit of flak for not speaking up. But OMG, those videos. I freaking CRIED you guys.
The story was rounded out with some pretty solid chemistry (even as it took forever to get there, and I kept worrying about Daisy ruining it), some hilarious moments, and great secondary characters. Not my fave read by Ms. Grey, but a lot of that is due to my taste in trope. But the winning moments made me grin hard enough to make all the cringing worth it....more
4.5 stars — This book was completely unlike what I was expecting…or rather, my initial expectations, b/c I did read a review that mentioned it was not as gut-wrenching as they were expecting, and hence why I was convinced to give it a try. I don’t mind the feels, but I like a balance. And this book had the perfect balance of feelz and lightness.
This is my first book by this author, and it definitely won’t be the last. I was intrigued by both Mila and Ames right from the start. Mila was such a different heroine from what I was expecting. She was so light and sunny and positive, even when struggling with dark things. It wasn’t an all the time thing, but more just who she was at her core. I loved how thoughtful she was about the struggles of life and grief, and how intrinsic it was to her personality to truly care for others and try to understand them. She wasn’t perfect, by any means, but I really loved her regardless. Her battle with her parents was different, and showed a different side of her…I enjoyed the fact that that wasn’t magically resolved, it just was what it was.
I struggled with Ames at the very beginning…he was just so gruff and rude, and I *almost* found his turnaround a bit hard to buy. But the funny thing is that I just didn’t care by that point, b/c I loved the new Ames we were getting to meet. His heart was so big, and I loved watching him make room in it for Mila. And just like her, he was definitely not perfect…he had great intentions with his family, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t being a blind idiot a lot of times. I really appreciated that at the end he didn’t let himself off the hook for his bad behavior. He truly felt that regret.
And the romance between Mila and Ames was just so freaking sweet and sexy…I definitely felt the chemistry, but more often than not I spent most of my time swooning. I also loved the interesting conversations they had about their pasts, love, grief, and all that good stuff.
This book had a really interesting cast of secondary characters as well, and I loved the relationships that our MC’s had with them. From Mila’s relationship with her twin, Jude (which made me look and confirm that he has his own set of books); to the friendship she develops with Lotte; to Ames’ friendship with Samson; to the wisdom passed down by Ames’ FIL Asher. I really appreciated how these relationships gave more insight into Mila and Ames. Obviously I’m wishlisting Lotte and Samson’s story…gotta see what happens there!
I will admit that closer to the end I found my attention wandering. It’s the reason I’m rounding down instead of up. It could have been just me and my mood, or it could have been that I was getting bored. But either way it was fairly brief and so really didn’t affect my overall enjoyment that greatly.
So yeah. I love it when you get a book as a recommendation from a fave author and it works out. Will definitely be looking to read more from this author in the future....more
4 stars — Brittany Pressley, the narrator for this one, did a pretty solid job. I liked most of the voices she did, but I wasn’t thrilled with the way she voiced James…though I can’t pinpoint why…I guess it just didn’t live up to the voice I had in my head for him. It grew on me as the story went on and I got used to it though.
I enjoyed the writing, as I have with all the other R.S. Grey books I’ve read/listened to recently. But I struggled with Brooke. I realize I’m supposed to in some ways…but I just really had a hard time with her choices and how she saw things happening. I guess I just had a hard time connecting with her character, b/c I didn’t always understand her damage, and how her past affected her, you know? Like I get that her Mom abandoning her had a profound effect on how she saw her future and what she wanted, but I still couldn’t connect for some reason. I liked her, don’t get me wrong…but I was dismayed with her on more than one occasion. She would behave badly, regret it, then not understand when James wasn’t immediately ready to forgive. It was hard on my heart.
She also came across very young, but I don’t always mind that. Sometimes I still feel that young at 38, so not everyone matures at the same rate…or rather, maturity doesn’t look the same on everyone.
And as a single POV book, it was hard to understand James that well. I feel like I missed out on so much of who he was, what made him him, all that good stuff. I missed out on the chance to really connect with him. I enjoyed most of what I saw though, he really did have a soft heart. But I couldn’t help but wonder about his past — where was his family?
As for their romance…it was fraught with such tension, that it was hard to get invested. Even many of their steamy encounters were preceded by fights, and so occasionally I was uncomfortable with the aggression of James. But yet I liked them together too, and I was rooting for them…honestly, it was confusing. I was super duper torn.
I enjoyed a lot of the side characters. Her sister Ellie was hilarious…I enjoyed that they were both close and yet still acted like siblings too. I enjoyed the side story with Brooke learning to accept Martha, and reconciling with her Mom a bit. And I thought her time with Nicholas, Diego, Olive and Luciana was adorable. While I struggled with the initial decisions before this, I did appreciate how it helped settle Brooke a bit…maybe clear up her life.
Basically, this was another solid romance from Ms. Grey. I can definitely see her being a must-read author in the future....more
4 stars — I really enjoyed this one!! It was a bit rough, starting the book with our main characters being split up, but I enjoyed getting glimpses of the past and seeing them work through their problems. It’s funny, b/c in another situation I could see this not working for me, so I’m not sure why I was immediately connected to both Blake and Nate. I guess I could feel their connection, I could feel their loneliness and despair, I could feel their regret… I LOVED getting those tastes of how they went from friends to lovers in the past, because it helped me to want to root for them. And hoo boy did they have chemistry!! I was seriously tummy tingly all over for them!!
I was worried about how I would feel about Nate in this situation, because of what happened on New Year’s. But I could really feel how regretful he was… There’s a part of me that wishes for something more in that resolution, but I’m not sure what, you know? It’s kind of a strange story, b/c we don’t get to see that part play out…and we don’t get to see much of who Blake and Nate were for the majority of their relationship. We end up meeting them at a very inopportune moment. Seriously, I’m totally baffled for why that didn’t bug me, but instead sucked me in.
I think part of it is that both boys were easy to connect with. They both felt very real, and could be funny, and adorable, but were also very clearly flawed. They both made bad choices. But by the end of the story, they were both trying very hard.
I’m torn about the novella length. In some ways I felt like the pace was fantastic, and it worked very well. In other ways I would have liked a full novel about these two. I have a feeling there was a lot more I could have learned from them…and a lot more I could have understood about their past.
I appreciated that there was a light delving into depression…I think that’s another area that in a full novel could have been explored in greater detail. But we got to see Blake suffering under depression’s lies (being a burden, dealing with it on our own), and I appreciated how Nate supported him once he found out.
This story definitely made me want to read about Elliott and Carsen too…totally putting that on my wishlist. I’ve read an earlier work by this author, and found it only OK…so I can tell that her writing has improved, and I was excited by how much this story captured me. Yay!!! I love it when that happens!...more
4-stars — Huh, the book went in slightly different directions than I was expecting! I really didn’t expect the time travel-ish aspect to the story! No, that’s a lie. I knew there had to be something b/c of the hints at the end of the previous book. But I didn’t expect it to take up so much space in the narrative I guess. Or maybe I just didn’t expect the way everything would play out. I grew increasingly concerned as the book went on about how it was going to end. You guys have no idea how hard it was to resist skipping to the end to find out…SO HARD. I’m glad I didn’t though, b/c it added to the reading experience to feel that stress and concern. And all in all I was happy with the ending, though I wanted a bit more epilogue…it felt a bit fast and I needed more wrap up I think.
The book was still written in third person omniscient, but it didn’t bother me as much b/c I was anticipating it. I was able to settle into the style.
I still loved both Maggie and Johnny, though they go through some pretty crazy trials in this one…the universe really did try to mess with them. I felt for Maggie when faced with the suddenly alive Johnny. And I felt for Johnny’s utter confusion and devastation. I don’t want to get into it and give away spoilers, but as much as I was frustrated by their emotions/attitudes sometimes, I also truly understood them.
And I truly loved some of their great romance scenes. Both prom nights were swoony for me, I truly loved them.
I also really loved getting to meet some new secondary characters, especially Lizzie. She was hilarious. I enjoyed seeing some of the little side plots that spun out of their time machinations. I will admit that I was a bit bummed that we got basically no resolution with Shad, and only little bits with Gus.
As I said above, I wanted a better wrap up for the ending. Not just the happiness stuff, but I felt like the whole Rodger plot was left unresolved…particularly the shadow stuff. I NEED ANSWERS!!!
So yeah. This is a very sporadic and odd review for me. For some reason I had a harder time figuring out what I wanted to say, but I’ve decided not to stress it! I definitely enjoyed this conclusion to Maggie and Johnny’s story, I just wanted a bit more at the end....more
4.5 stars — I’m honestly still processing. I was so worried about this book, b/c Kjell was really hard to like in The Bird and the Sword…which is not to say I didn’t like him, but I almost liked him reluctantly if that makes sense. I knew this story was going to be a hard one, b/c Kjell had so much growing to do, and accepting the changes around him and the truth about himself. And he was still the gruff, grumpy, quick to anger guy that we knew. But of course Ms. Harmon managed to get him to dig inside my heart and make a place for himself there. I don’t even really know how…but despite his stubbornness and his rudeness, you could totally feel his vulnerability and just how LOST he was. Lost and damaged by his upbringing, and the betrayal of people he cared about. I found his story to be compelling, beautiful, and emotional. So despite Kjell not being the kind of hero I tend to gravitate towards, I still fell for him…even as I wanted to smack him.
This story is told almost entirely from Kjell’s POV, which is interesting in and of itself. What’s more interesting, is that while there was a part of me that wanted to see inside Sasha’s mind, it wasn’t as strong as I was expecting. Something about the way the story laid out from Kjell’s perspective was apparently enough to satisfy me. That rarely happens people. I am a hardcore dual POV lover. But I felt like the story we got was complete and left me satisfied. And I felt like I got to know Sasha and her motivations just from the way she interacted with Kjell and all the secondary characters. She was earnest, thoughtful, loyal, smart, and could be strong and stubborn when she needed to be, which made her a perfect match for Kjell. She was also amazingly compassionate, and I fell for that trait most of all. I loved the way she forced her way into the group, and didn’t allow anyone to stop her from doing what she thought was right. My heart broke for the experiences she had in the past, and how she had learned to cope with her gift and how people reacted to it.
I loved that Kjell and Sasha just fit so well together. Their strengths complemented one another, and made them so strong as a couple. She tempered Kjell and showed him love and patience, and in return he cherished her and showed her the compassion that she so freely gave others. His steadfast love for her truly made me swoon, even as my heart ached.
I was sucked into the story right from the start, and I loved that the plot completely threw me at parts. I was wondering what was going to happen, and then Ms. Harmon would throw a wrench into the situation. I was so excited to return to this magical world, and I loved learning different things about it. I loved all the little side plots, and even hearing Sasha’s storytelling.
I ADORED so many of the side characters. The King’s Guard, particularly Jerick and Isak, just made my heart happy. I loved the way Jerick interacted with Kjell, he needed that kind of friendship. I also loved seeing characters from the previous book, particularly seeing Tiras and Kjell together.
Yup. Definitely a success. Made me giggle, definitely made me cry and made my heart hurt. And truly made me wish for more stories in this universe....more
4.5 stars — Yup, it’s official. I am in love with both R.S. Grey as an author and Luci Christian as a narrator. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Joe Arden as a narrator is fantastic too. But there is just something about the way Ms. Christian makes Ms. Grey’s hilarious heroines come alive that just works for me. I laughed and laughed through this one, and even got verklemped at times. I didn’t want to put it down, even when I should have been reading other books.
Madeleine was the definition of a hot mess. I’m sure not everyone will appreciate her, but I felt for her struggle with “adulting” and having her life together. Normally I might be turned off by the “woe is me” attitude, but I have been known to suffer from that myself at times, and so I understand how you can get wrapped up in how things are not going right in your life. I loved how hard she tried…how every time she almost got sucked into the blues, she would give herself a pep talk and earnestly try again. I loved having a heroine that enjoyed her job, but whose job wasn’t everything she was…cause you know what? Not everyone has a dream job. And yet she still found fulfillment in life. I guess I just love an insecure woman who still shows up…I can vibe with that.
As with many other books by Ms. Grey, I found it harder to get a feel for Adam. I loved what I saw, but I still kind of wanted more — what were his feelings after his breakup with Olivia? What was he feeling about Madeleine? I don’t know. We’d find out in a roundabout way, but I guess I wouldn’t have minded a bit more time in his head learning about *him*. I was put off by him at first with his temper and his quick rush to judgement…but he was genuinely apologetic, and tried to stop this bad habit. Honestly, a lot of what I loved about him relates to his relationship with Madeleine, and his feelings for her.
The two of them together were hilarious and adorable. They had lots of ups and downs, fights and reconciliations. And I held on, because I wanted them to succeed. And I liked that any misunderstandings didn’t play out too long, and there wasn’t *too* much coyness about feelings.
And the secondary characters were fantastic. Adam’s meddling mom made me laugh with her evil shenanigans, and Madeleine’s friendship with Daisy was hilarious and perfect. Now I really want to read Daisy and Lucas’s book! I loved the little side plot with Mr. Bogs and how that all turned out. And of course the star was Mouse. That dog was hilarious, I could totally picture him.
So yeah, unsurprisingly, another hit from Ms. Grey. I can’t wait to read more, they’re just the kind of lightness I like to sprinkle in when I need a good laugh....more
5 stars — This is the first time I have listened to an audiobook where I haven’t read the book before, because I have the attention span of a fruit fly…wait, do fruit flies have low attention spans? Anyways, I was always concerned that I would get easily distracted and miss part of the book, and truthfully that did happen a bit. So prior to this book I’ve only listened to stories I already knew and loved so I could stress less. But in anticipation of meeting Ms. Grey at Book Bonanza, and trying my darnedest to get as many books in as possible before then, I decided to try listening to a new to me book and I COULDN’T have picked a better one. I listened to this one during my morning walks, so I was less likely to be distracted, and I found myself LAUGHING AND LAUGHING out loud so many times, I’m sure if people had been nearby they would have thought me crazy. I think I now understand the value a good narrator can bring to a story…because this story on its own was probably 4.5 stars rounded up. But the narrators made this one a full 5 stars for me. Especially Luci Christian — she made Lauren COME ALIVE. I couldn’t imagine a better narrator for our neurotic heroine.
I remember reading the blurb and cringing at the concept of their age gap in the past. But after reading a few of Ms. Grey’s stories, I decided I wanted to see what she would do. And I’m not sure if it will work for everyone, but I thought she did an excellent job of showing a connection, but not making it creepy. Sure, I suffered terrible bouts of secondhand embarrassment at the hands of teenaged Lauren and her massive crush…but she was just so freaking lovable, I couldn’t help but fall in love with her crazy self.
And that’s the thing that made this book full 5 stars — LAUREN. I have the biggest book girl crush on her imaginable. She was sweet, and sassy, and hilarious, and ridiculously neurotic. I want her to be real. I’m not saying she was perfect, but I just loved her and felt all for all her vulnerable moments. I felt like her teenaged self was authentic and real and relatable. And I loved that she didn’t lose that spark as an adult. She was a very young 27 year old, but it worked for her. I saw myself in her — how you’re an adult, but you don’t really feel that different and you still feel like you don’t know anything.
My only real complaint about the book is that I wish we’d gotten more chapters from Beau. I felt like I didn’t really know him as well, we didn’t get to dive into his head and really understand his hopes and dreams and what attracted him to Lauren. What I saw (heard) I loved. He was sort of closed off at times, but you could feel that underneath he was just reserved and cautious in his love. I just wanted more. Obviously, not enough to lower my star rating, but it was still a desire I had by the end of the book. It felt like this could have been a single POV book and I wouldn’t have lost too much.
I LOVED their interactions with one another though. They were delightful, and charming, and hilarious, and snarky, and just…heart melting at times. I LOVED them together. They were like book couple gold.
I also LOVED both of their mothers. I mean, a lot of the secondary cast was fantastic, but their mothers in particular stole the show. You could feel how much love they each had for their children and vice versa. And they kept it real…they made me laugh at their teasing.
So yeah. I actually ended this one with a few happy tears, and cheeks that ached from grinning. I absolutely LOVE when a book just works for you, you know? This one was tailor made for me, and Lauren is now on my top book girl list. Highly recommend listening to this one if you get the chance, it totally enhanced the experience for me....more
3.5 stars — I’ve enjoyed a few of these Kpop Romances by Ms. Bennett, and they are always a fun, light, quick read! This one was no exception. There were so many cute moments between Chansol and Talitha, moments that totally made me smile and gave me butterflies. Unfortunately, there were also some cringey moments for me, b/c I suffer from terrible secondhand embarrassment. This won’t happen for everyone, it’s just a personal thing.
I’m not a Kpop or Kdrama fan, and I can honestly say that I don’t understand this level of fangirling…and so despite suspending my disbelief, I still had a hard time connecting with Talitha in this one. She would have moments where I really loved her, those moments where we got to see her normal everyday self. And I enjoyed some of her fandom, it was kind of adorable. But there were moments where it just started making me feel uncomfortable. I totally understand that many people feel this way about all sorts of celebrities, it’s just funny that I happen to be a bit opposite. I tend to feel bad for celebrities, b/c they’re put on a pedestal, and seen as above the rest of us mere mortals. Talitha wasn’t always like that, but it would come out every now and then and every time I cringed. Honestly, she was a bit back and forth about this — some moments she would see Chansol as the guy he is behind the celebrity, and then in her thoughts she’d be back to calling him an idol. I will admit that bummed me out a bit. The celebrity stories I’m most attracted to are ones where the non-celeb sees the celebrity without all that artifice. I kept waiting for that aha moment, and I didn’t get it in this one. *shrugs*
And since we only had Talitha’s POV, I really didn’t get a chance to know Chansol that well. He seemed pretty adorable from what I could tell though. I was happy that at the end we got to understand why he was enchanted by her. I had my own theories, and they were close, but I loved the parts I didn’t guess.
Sam was an intriguing friend character. Sometimes she came across more cold or insensitive, and I was worried that her character would have a bad twist. But instead we got a good twist, and I’m happy with how her part played out.
So yeah. Still light, clean fun, with a good dose of adorableness. But if you’re like me and celebrity hero worship makes you a bit squeamish, this may not be the best one to start with by Ms. Bennett. Try Undercover Fan instead....more