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A BRUSH WITH LOVE by Mazey Eddings – double review!

Harper is anxiously awaiting placement into a top oral surgery residency program when she crashes (literally) into Dan. Harper would rather endure a Novocaine-free root canal than face any distractions, even one this adorable. 

A first-year dental student with a family legacy to contend with, Dan doesn’t have the same passion for pulling teeth that Harper does. Though he finds himself falling for her, he is willing to play by Harper’s rules.

So with the greatest of intentions and the poorest of follow-throughs, the two set out to be “just friends.” But as they get to know each other better, Harper fears that trading fillings for feelings may make her lose control and can’t risk her carefully ordered life coming undone, no matter how drool-worthy Dan is.

Blood, gore, and extra-long roots? No problem. The idea of falling in love? Torture. 


Title : A Brush With Love
Author : Mazey Eddings
Format : eARC/audio
Page Count : 336/10 hours, 30 minutes
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : St. Martin’s Griffin/Macmillan Audio
Release Date : March 1, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5/★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Oof, I don’t know if this was a situation of expectations just being too high — and for a debut, no less — but maybe my expectations were just too high. Even after all this time, I haven’t learned.

I don’t want to downplay all the good within these pages, the conversations around how grief changes you, the shocking way anxiety can control your life and how debilitating it is, even with coping and control methods, the importance and positivity around therapy.. and like, I did find the main characters cute.

But this book just didn’t take over my mind or my thoughts. I obviously reached for it way early, because I was keen, but I wasn’t bowled over by this. It’s good, sometimes very good, sometimes very sweet, but overall? I don’t think I’ll remember it in a week.

I did like that this centered around dentists, I don’t think I’ve ever read (or, now that I think about it, watched..) a story with this as the career or back drop and it was interesting to have that change in scenery.

I feel like a heel; I’m bummed to have read this so early (hi from June 2021! does 2022 suck less? please say yes..) and now won’t be screaming and shouting and pushing this on everyone and anyone I know. I still think if you were interested, you should absolutely give it a shot. I think it’s very possible I’m just the human embodiment of a wet blanket these days so this could totally just be a me thing. That said, I would read this author again, for sure.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Easy listening romance
Work-place connections
Teeth, anxiety disorder and drilling

This was an easy romance debut to get into and somehow, the author made the world of dentistry school, cavities and maxillo-facial surgery an entertaining environment. Daniel and Harper were opposities and their first meeting had me engaged with their story.

What Eddings weaves into this story is a building understanding of Harper’s anxiety disorder, it seemed mild at first, but she’d made an art out of hiding her distress. How this rolled out through the story and into the budgeoning relationship was well written and a core strength of this story.

Daniel was such a nice guy, a character I could really like. I enjoyed his flaws, how he navigated family burdens and trauma. While Harper was a really complex character with a lot going on, I could help but be endeared by her.

The dual POV story and dual narration played into the audio of the book so well. Overall, a satisfying and fun listen. I’d definitely look out for this author’s next book.

3.75 stars rounded up

Thank you Macmillan Audio and LibroFM for the review copy.

COURT by Tracy Wolff

No one survived the last battle unscathed. Flint is angry at the world, Jaxon is turning into something I don’t recognize, and Hudson has put up a wall I’m not sure I’ll ever break through.

Now war is coming, and we’re not ready. We’re going to need an army to have any hope of winning. But first, there are questions about my ancestors that need answers. Answers that might just reveal who the real monster is among us.

And that’s saying something in a world filled with bloodthirsty vampires, immortal gargoyles, and an ancient battle between two gods.

There’s no guarantee that anyone will be left standing when the dust settles, but if we want to save this world, I have no choice. I’ll have to embrace every part of me…even the parts I fear the most.


Title : Court
Author : Tracy Wolff
Series : Crave #4
Format : Physical
Page Count : 704
Genre : Fantasy YA
Publisher : Entangled Publishing
Release Date : February 1, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Why so much detail…
Hud-ace or Gra-son 4 eva
Wild, convoluted plot

So, here we are again, I’m expressing some of the same things about this series but I’m still here and intending to read on. This series has incredible detail to a fault, the books are mostly about 700 pages and there’s a lot of padding we don’t need. Most of that padding is inner monologue and plot detail to the highest degree. However, I have come to be invested in the characters, especially Grace, Hudson but also Jaxon and Flint. I can’t seem to walk away quite yet, even though the reading experience is annoying at times.

I buddy read this with Bethany which really helped and although Bethany is perhaps a bigger fan of this series than me, she felt the same issues on reading. Things I enjoyed about this book were the trials (but less detail), Grace and Hudson’s connection, the Jaxon/Flint suggestion and the reveals regarding Grace’s family tree. I loved the unkillable beast. I’m not overly invested in Remy or Macy and I hated Cyrus.

There’s a full cast of characters in this series if you like that kind of set-up, with many paranormal creatures. I do love Grace’s gargoyle context.

For me, this has been a case of 3 to 4 star ratings for this series. I think I have one read for this series left in me!

BAD JUDGMENT by Sidney Bell

Embry Ford was a quiet, ordinary guy—until tragedy ripped his life apart. Now he’s living under the radar, desperate to hide his identity and determined to learn the truth behind what happened. Even if that means working for—and bedding—a man he loathes.

As a bodyguard to a shadowy arms dealer, Brogan Smith knows distractions can kill as easily as a bullet. But when he sets his eyes on his client’s sexy assistant, he can’t get him out of his mind. Even more unnerving: the closer he gets to Embry, the more Brogan starts to suspect he might be protecting the wrong man.

Embry was sure nothing but vengeance would satisfy him—until Brogan offers him something far more tempting. Now Embry must choose: punish the people who nearly destroyed him or fight for a future with the man who has become his entire world. 


Title : Bad Judgment
Author : Sidney Bell
Format : eBook
Page Count : 359
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance / suspense
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 19, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Okay, so, I am once again cheating by stealing big chunks of an old review for this review as I just did a reread of this with two buddies (hi buddies!) and honestly.. other than some in-the-moment-specific commentary, my feelings of this — even five years later! — have not changed. I did downgrade it from a full five to half a point less but honestly that’s just semantics that this point. This book is still fantastic and I’m still pretty trash for this author. Which is a sad thing to say because I have no idea if she has any plans to release any more books. So I must, instead, sit here and hope.. and pine.

I’m sorry, you’re going to have to say that again, because I heard that with the ear that only catches stupid sentences.

But anyway.

Brogan, why the hell are you sending dirty texts to Ford? On MY phone. My mother could have read this! Do you want to get fired? Why did you turn off autocorrect? What is wrong with you?

This book has everything. An OTP that will wreck you in every possible and wonderful way. Seriously hilarious dialogue and banter that is at times silly and ridiculous but so charming and adorable. Such sass oh my god the sass. Mystery, tragic backstory, violence, abuse, thrilling corporate espionage, murder.. yes, it’s all in there to keep you on the edge of your seat, but the friendships, the connections, are what make this story so spectacular and wonderful.

Do you remember the good old days when straight men were too macho and insecure to talk about gay sex? I do. They were nice days.

I’m not saying it isn’t without it’s less awesome moments. There’s definitely elements the reader isn’t supposed to like, and man did I not like them (see above RE abuse), but Bell packs so much into this story to outweigh those little bits, even when they are integral to the plot.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve wanted something badly enough to feel it with my whole body, Mario. I’m not saying it’s not a mistake. I’m saying it might be a mistake worth making. Sometimes mistakes lead to the best moments of your whole existence.

It’s not often that some of the events that occur in darker contemporary reads that feature m/f pairings are echoed in m/m stories and I love how Bell treated the genre equally. I mean, those events aren’t really something to cheer for but the inclusion makes it realistic. I loved the emotion, the pain, the rage, the love, the forgiveness, the impossible to resist heat.. everything was described and shown so beautifully. All these years later I’m still amazed this was the author’s debut because it’s so so strong. The chemistry between these two was just.. and the characters themselves.. ugh, I’m just a mess.

He was utterly, wildly, madly furious with Brogan for making him into this divided creature with hopes and feelings and thoughts of a future.

I really don’t want to give much about the plot away. But the story, using only google-esque search keywords, involves : bodyguards, weapons manufacturing, illicit activities, espionage, looooove, shitty bosses, dog farts, handcuffs, vengeance, pirate pyjamas, and whistleblowing. And a whole lot more than that. 

I don’t have time to deal with whatever is going on with you right now, but later, we’re going to talk about why you’re lying to me. Then we’ll have a separate talk about why you’re such an awful liar, because it’s embarrassing.

If you’ve yet to read this, or yet to read this author at all, I highly suggest you take some corrective action. Her books are almost exclusively a little on the darker end of things, definitely less contemporary romance and more suspense or action romance (I don’t know, there’s probably a specific , but it’s absolutely got enough of everything to always feel balanced and something about her writing.. it just works for me. So much so that after revisiting this world, I want to revisit her other series, like, now. And I think that really says it all.

STEALING HOME by Sherryl Woods

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods returns readers to her world of strong friendships and heartfelt emotions in this classic Sweet Magnolias novel

Maddie Townsend might live in a town called Serenity, but there’s been nothing calm or peaceful about her life since her marriage broke up. This stay-at-home mom has no job skills, an out-of-control sixteen-year-old son, a talkative fourteen-year-old who’s suddenly gone silent, a six-year-old daughter whose heart is broken, an ex-husband whose younger girlfriend is expecting their baby and two best friends who think she’s somehow qualified to help them open a fitness spa for women.

But if Maddie is a tad on edge with all that on her plate, it’s nothing compared to the chaos that ensues when she discovers that her son’s baseball coach has feelings for her and the whole town disapproves. Maddie’s faced a lot of challenges lately with strength and resolve, but Cal Maddox may turn out to be more than she can handle.

Then again, he could just be the one man in all of South Carolina who can help her find serenity.


Title : Stealing Home
Author : Sherryl Woods
Series : The Sweet Magnolias #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 377
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Mills & Boon
Release Date : November 1, 2011

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
The netflix series is better
Cal and Maddie are sweet
Less sisterhood than I expected.

I’m going to do a pros/cons review here, pitching the book versus the TV series. I know no-one asked for this, but that’s what you’re getting! Let me just say firstly, that I enjoy the TV series immensely, its easy and cheesy but I’m so drawn to the three women who feature.

The book
Maddie is at the helm and she’s an amazing MC but Dana Sue and Helen are not that prominent and I love them hard. I’m hoping the series pans out to include them more. Bill was (shocker) a little more self aware in the book, sometimes contrite but still hella frustrating and annoying. Noreen was similar. I was pleased the dialogue didn’t have the constant God-cheese.

I loved Cal and Maddie’s build until it turned into a sprint and towards the end everything just developed too fast for me, especially that surprise at the end, which was a no-no. Family vibes were strong throughout the book and I do feel all soft-spotted over the kids in this book.

The TV series
In contrast, the TV series decided not to rush Maddie and Cal which was the best decision ever. Bill and Noreen are like splinters all over your body, riling the watcher every moment. I have to say the book found more balance for that aspect.

The sisterhood in the TV series is strong and for me, that’s one of the greatest pulls. I love more detail on Helen and Dana-Sue. The biggest drawback of the TV series is the constant Christian platitudes, they make my teeth hurt.

Overall, this series is worth your time. Whether you want to read first or binge TV is your choice. At the moment the TV series is winning for me, but the book also compliments nicely.

ECHO by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

It’s One Thing to Lose Your Life
It’s Another to Lose Your Soul

When climber Nick Grevers is brought down from the mountains after a terrible accident he has lost his looks, his hopes and his climbing companion. His account of what happened on the forbidden peak of the Maudit is garbled, almost hallucinogenic. Soon it becomes apparent more than his shattered body has returned: those that treat his disfigured face begin experiencing extraordinary and disturbing psychic events that suggest that Nick has unleashed some ancient and primal menace on his ill-fated expedition.

Nick’s partner Sam Avery has a terrible choice to make. He fell in love with Nick’s youth, vitality and beauty. Now these are gone and all that is left is a haunted mummy-worse, a glimpse beneath the bandages can literally send a person insane.

Sam must decide: either to flee to America, or to take Nick on a journey back to the mountains, the very source of the curse, the little Alpine Village of Grimnetz, its soul-possesed Birds of Death and it legends of human sacrifice and, ultimately, its haunted mountain, the Maudit.


Title : Echo
Author : Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Format : Physical
Page Count : 416
Genre : Horror
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : February 3, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Just get past the prologue
Shivers, fear and birds
This couple were goals, strange ones, but still goals

I am a no-time horror reader but the climbing element of this book made me sign up. I read the prologue and quite frankly, I was petrified. It plunged the reader into a kind of relatable nightmare but I can say that post-prologue it relented on that level of adrenaline scare. The plot of this story was exceptional in my opinion. The sinister feels, the unthinkable being real had the ability to really capture my attention.

What you get with Echo is a consistent feeling of tension, a background of looking over your shoulder (was that something in your side vision?) and strange happenings following one of the protagonists around. Nick had been involved in a climbing accident that had caused a major injury and his partner Sam found himself plunged into a test of the strength of their relationship.

I really admired Sam, this story was a representation of how we might behave if we found our partner changed by injury. Sam was definitely not sure if he could be up to the task but he tried really hard. I loved how Sam believed Nick, even if he wasn’t sure if this was delusion, psychosis or something more sinister. Nick was difficult to fathom as a person after the Maudit, but he was such an interesting character. I was cheering for them, even though I didn’t have much hope.

I have to make a serious nod to the author for the authenticity of the climbing in this book. An amateur climber myself and as someone who has devoured endless climbing expedition non-fiction, the detail and accuracy made this read something extra. Non-climbers might have to look up some technical words occasionally but google is your friend.

As I look at the Maudit, I realize this mountain’s soul is old and dangerous. I see it as an evil, dark blot. A cancer spreading over the valley. I suddenly become dead scared.

Overall, I will sleep tonight after finishing, which is more than I did after reading that prologue but please do remember I am a 10 on the wuss-scale so this was a read out of my comfort zone. I enjoyed this so much that I might dip my toe into another of Heuvelt’s books, which is something when I never seek out horror.

Thank you to Hodder Books and Pride Book Tours for the review copy.

WHERE WE LEFT OFF by Roan Parrish

Leo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants. And what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova… and then was gone just as quickly.

For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny… though Will certainly tries.

But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairytale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.


Title : Where We Left Off
Author : Roan Parrish
Series : Middle of Somewhere (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 260
Genre : LGBQTIAP+ romance
Publisher : Dreamspinner
Release Date : September 26, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

On the one hand, though we did not go out with a win, this book — unlike the second — did not give me any déjà vu feelings. So that’s nice.

On the other hand, however, the author made an interesting choice with how this story shook out. In this series finale, we are reunited with secondary characters we met in book one. Leo, a young queer boy living in Holiday, and Will, an older man who has since relocated to New York, and, oh, is Rex’s ex. They had a bit of a flirty dynamic in book one but it was well established nothing would happen due to the age different and how young Leo was. But now, a few years later, Leo is in New York for university and, also, for Will; a man he hasn’t been able to forget.

I skimmed some reviews after finishing this book because I wanted to see why the rating for this one was so much lower than the rest (not that it means anything to me, seeing as I’ve rated all three the same), and wow, readers did not hold back on this one! I’m not spoiling anything, you can go take a look if you’re really interested, but again I’ll just reiterate : Parrish made some interesting choices. I’m not against it or for it, I feel pretty middling, but I completely understand the frustration.

What was a nice change, however, was that for the first time in this series, it wasn’t our POV that I had the hardest time with. I actually did like Leo a lot and really appreciated how the author tracked his coming of age progress. But nor did I hate Will. I could understand his motivations well enough.. to a point. I think there did come a point for things didn’t quite make as much sense as they did in the early stages but.. yeah. Also, the whole thing with his looks, I don’t know, that was strange at times, too.

As an aside, I’m starting to wonder if the author’s current obsessions found their way into the each book; the middle instalment was very preoccupied on Supernatural for a few chapters and this one had a lot of page time dedicated to Felicity. A little weird. Oh well.

If nothing else, I’ve knocked the first series off my Five Series to Finish list and, yeah, to that end, in general, I’m glad to have completed one more series that I started so long ago. They can’t all be winners.

OUT OF NOWHERE by Roan Parrish

The only thing in Colin Mulligan’s life that makes sense is taking cars apart and putting them back together. In the auto shop where he works with his father and brothers, he tries to get through the day without having a panic attack or flying into a rage. Drinking helps. So do running and lifting weights until he can hardly stand. But none of it can change the fact that he’s gay, a secret he has kept from everyone.

Rafael Guerrera has found ways to live with the past he’s ashamed of. He’s dedicated his life to social justice work and to helping youth who, like him, had very little growing up. He has no time for love. Hell, he barely has time for himself. Somehow, everything about miserable, self-destructive Colin cries out to him. But down that path lie the troubles Rafe has worked so hard to leave behind. And as their relationship intensifies, Rafe and Colin are forced to dredge up secrets that both men would prefer stay buried.


Title : Out of Nowhere
Author : Roan Parrish
Series : Middle of Somewhere (book two)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 274
Genre : LGBQTIAP+ romance
Publisher : Dreamspinner
Release Date : February 26, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

You know that feeling you get when you’re convinced you’ve read something before? But know you actually haven’t read the specific thing you’re reading? That was my experience with Out of Nowhere. This was so familiar and likely means I’ve read something very similar somewhere along the way (not a surprise, hardly anything is unique).

This book takes place parallel to the timeline of book one but focusing in on Colin, one of Daniel’s brothers, back in Philly. If you’ve read book In The Middle of Somewhere, you know Colin is something of a pseudo villain. I say pseudo because he’s got Reasons for why he’s an asshole and we get to spend the entire book waiting for the author to convince us that those Reasons are enough to redeem him.

I’ll admit I preferred the plot and plot elements of this story more than book one but once again I was left feeling a lot less positive feelings about the main character and feeling many positives about the love interest. Which sort’ve makes me dread book three because one time is a fluke but twice is a potential trend.

Colin is a self-loathing closet case who self-harms, in a variety of ways, and twists himself into knots to please his undeserving father. He lives the same day over and over again without consciously realizing he has no expectations for his future because he’s always living a lie. Rafael, meanwhile, has a sordid past he is committed to leaving behind and, with his second chance, he wants to do good. While I could only root so hard for a relationship when I liked only half of the pair, I’ll admit I always enjoyed the interactions between the two men when Rafe was helping Colin figure little things out. Once again, these Mulligan men are finding love with people who are probably too good for them. But that’s the fantasy, right?

Like in book one, I enjoyed the supporting cast of characters, this time the colourful group of queer kids at the youth group where Rafe, and then Colin, work and volunteer. They were a delight. The whole tangent around Supernatural went a little too long but everything else? Great.

The epilogue was probably the worst part of the whole book, though. There was a group interaction between a bunch of couples that was just so painfully awkward and shoehorned in for the sake of tying up some loose ends while also setting up book three. And speaking of which.. I’ll be diving right in and hoping to end this series on a high note!

THE DEEPEST OF SECRETS by Kelley Armstrong

It’s not always easy to live in the hidden town of Rockton, something Detective Casey Duncan knows firsthand. Tucked away in the Yukon wilderness, the community survives―and thrives―because the residents’ many secrets stay just that―secret.

But what happens when these secrets start to come out? Overnight, no one is safe. It’s not a question of if your secret will come out―but when

Casey and her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, need to find the culprit while protecting those who have been thrust into the spotlight. For a place built on privacy and new beginnings, Rockton isn’t handling these revelations very well. People are turning on one another, and when one of the loudest complainers turns up barely alive, it’s clear that their trickster is actually a murderer. 


Title : The Deepest of Secrets
Author : Kelley Armstrong
Series : Rockton (book seven)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : mystery/thriller
Publisher : Minotaur Books
Release Date : February 15, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

This wasn’t at all how I thought this series would wrap. I mean, in some ways, yes, because we’ve known the end of Rockton was literally nigh for these characters but.. between the somewhat meandering mystery and cases to solve and how it does, actually, end? Rather disappointing.

What makes it extra sad is that book six had felt like a resurgence in a series that hadn’t been satisfying me like the early instalments had. So my hope had been restored we would go out with a bang. Instead it was a bit of a whimper, both with the villain(s) of the week and any kind of romance element. There just wasn’t much here.

This is still such an interesting series overall, with a great and exciting and challenging concept, and if you’re looking for something different amongst all the various procedural mysteries, this is definitely one to try. I just had much higher hopes for how we would say goodbye to these characters and what their futures would look like.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE by Roan Parrish

Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in. 

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people. 

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything. 


Title : In the Middle of Somewhere
Author : Roan Parrish
Series : Middle of Somewhere (book one)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 416
Genre : LGBQTIAP+ romance
Publisher : Dreamspinner
Release Date : July 10, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

Having just demolished a long (loooong) fantasy series, I decided to switch gears with a queer romance. And seeing as this particular series is on my Five Series to Finish list for 2022, and book one would be a reread (and thus would only require half the usual brainpower), it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ll admit I’m going to be stealing a lot of the content from my first review (yes, I had a review for this one!) as though my rating has changed, the majority of my feelings have not.

Even back in 2016, when I was far newer to queer romance, I wasn’t as in love with this one as I might have otherwise expected.

In The Middle of Somewhere wasn’t bad but it was a little disappointing.  

The romance features a fairly typical match up; Daniel, the brainy mile-a-minute professional, fish out of water, and Rex, the burly, shy, protective, caretaker (as in, he takes care of those around him) who lives a rather isolated life in the woods. I think I probably was less bothered by Daniel all those years ago, though he was far from my favourite at the time, but I’ve come to realize that Daniel is one of my least favourite kind of leads. Switching from intensely vulnerable and uncertain to preppy and sophisticated to scrappy and cussing often in the same breath. And, oof, wow did his crazy rambles make my eyes glaze over. And as this is told from his POV, and his POV only, that resulted in a bit of frustration. Though he, too, was something of a typical archetype, I did really like Rex, Daniel’s love interest; but it’s also hard not to because for all his issues he’s pretty much perfect. Ginger, Daniel’s best friend, was good fun in that quirky female bestie kind of way.

This series opener did seem a little drama/’everything in my life was or is awful’ heavy but I think that’s natural in a book where the plot is very emotionally driven — even if I wasn’t terribly emotionally moved by it all. However, that may be because I did find this to be a very long book (and, I mean, it is long, over four hundred pages). Other than two major events, the one that brings Daniel to Holiday and another which I won’t spoil, not a lot happens. And what does seem to occur in the day to day wasn’t super interesting (Daniel is an english professor and a lot of time is spent focusing on his classes and his own schooling while also revealing how he’s mostly useless at life). I felt the story got rather bogged down in the middle and, for some reason, seemed repetitive with information; and those rambles. See aforementioned eyes glazing over. I’m not afraid to admit I skimmed certain passages that I knew were not critical to the story. And hey, they weren’t! I didn’t miss a thing.

My original review went on to say the romance between these leads was sweet and I don’t really disagree but all these years later.. it isn’t memorable or any kind of a standout. But it’s comfortable and did what it set out to do. And past me was right! This did not find it’s way onto my list of must-reads. In fact, after this reread, I’m sorta regretting prioritizing this series. Oh well. Onto book two!

JADE LEGACY by Fonda Lee

Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now known and coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same.

The Kauls have been battered by war and tragedy. They are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference that could destroy the Green Bone way of life altogether. As a new generation arises, the clan’s growing empire is in danger of coming apart.

The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices… but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect.


Title : Jade Legacy
Author : Fonda Lee
Series : Green Bone Saga (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 713
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : November 30, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I think, in some ways, this might have been my favourite of the series. Mostly because it made me cry (twice!) but also because even though it’s the longest, and a bit drawn out at times, and it was sometimes hard to gauge the fact that the story spanned two decades, I did really appreciate certain characters the most in this instalment.

This book, Jade Legacy, might have been the most aptly titled and I think was a perfect name for the finale. This series was about many things but the legacy of this family, of the clans, of Kekon, was what it was all about.

Hilo, the man who eventually became the Kaul patriarch and leader of the No Peak clan, was a character I liked right from book one. But his journey over the course of the series was so interesting because in many ways he did not change. But there were subtle differences, as he aged, as he had a family to think of, as he saddled the weight of years of losses, that showed his progression as a person despite all the other factors at play. Shae, Hilo’s sister and right hand man, was a character I was always a bit perplexed about. She was so strong and independent, and rarely swayed by her brother and often outright challenging him when she shouldn’t, and I don’t think I ever liked her. But I absolutely appreciated her role and how she made space for Wen, Hilo’s wife, who could not be a Green Bone. The two shouldn’t be compared but I loved how their strengths came out to play in different ways and despite those differences they were both forces to be reckoned with. Anden, the aforementioned characters’ nephew, was another favourite — mostly. I loved that Lee put him on the journey she did because it was not remotely what was expected of him and where he ended up was so different from where he began. But it was very needed. I think his particular path, and POV, was maybe one of the most lackluster in a lot of ways but he was still integral.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

With a series that spanned over twenty years, with the amount of POVs we got, there’s no way to touch on everything. At the same time I do think, as characters grew older, and more were introduced, it was harder for those new faces to make as much of an impact. There was definitely some overshadowing. But I think maybe that was also intentional? And it’s also how it sometimes feels, growing up in the shadow of legends, being part of a new and more modern, or sometimes just different, generation. Nothing stays the same forever and that was beautifully touched on, too. Having said that, the plotting was plodding sometimes and the action occasionally felt really spaced out because of how much time the story spanned, but when it was good? It was good. When it hurt, it hurt. Lee pulled no punches even if the wind up could take hundreds of pages.

Strangely, considering I do think I enjoyed this most, this was also the one I had to push myself to get through as I did find myself frequently pulled out or distracted and I put it down a lot. But it also made me cry so maybe that’s a fair trade off. I’m sure there are things that, if I were more invested, or if I were to reread (which I don’t think I ever will), I might feel didn’t get explained as well, or weren’t resolved to enough satisfaction, but as it is? I am satisfied.

This was an immensely ambitious project with so many moving parts, so much history, and Lee gets massive amounts of credit for that. I had read her before and enjoyed her and after having read this series, even though it’s far from a favourite, I will definitely pick her up again.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **