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BEFORE I LET GO by Kennedy Ryan – double review!

Their love was supposed to last forever. But when life delivered blow after devastating blow, Yasmen and Josiah Wade found that love had its limits . . it couldn’t save their marriage.

Yasmen wasn’t prepared for how her life fell apart, but she’s finally starting to find joy again. She and Josiah have found a new rhythm: co-parenting their two kids and running a thriving business together. Yet, like magnets, they’re always drawn back to each other, and now they’re beginning to wonder if they’re truly ready to let go of everything they once had.

One stolen kiss leads to another . . . and then more. It’s hot. It’s illicit. It’s good – until it starts to hurt again. As old wounds reopen, Yasmen and Josiah wonder if it is too late for them to find forever.

Or could they be even better, the second time around?

Title : Before I Let Go
Author : Kennedy Ryan
Format : eARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 401
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus / Forever
Release Date : November 15, 2022

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

Micky’s 5 star review

Crazy investment
Feelings on overdrive
Married couple, second chances

First I just need to start off with the how stunning this cover is. This is hands down my favourite romance cover of the year. Now to the delectable inside…

Before I Let Go gave me the kind of heart on the page feelings I got from Ryan’s Grip series. In fact there was a slight similarity in one of the themes but it felt completely fresh in this story. This author has the unusual talent of being able to write romance amongst the worst kind hurt and still bring such palpable chemistry that you’re getting all warm under the collar.

Grief is a grind. It is the work of breathing and waking and rising and moving through a world that feels emptier.

I adore second chances done well and this second chance for Yasmen and Josiah was all consuming. The place these two started in and the journey they took was utterly mesmerising with angst and frustration, then possibility. I have to mention how I adored how Kennedy Ryan wrote Yasmen’s body, a normal woman’s body, appreciatively, sexily and that confidence oozed down the page to me the reader. Pretty powerful stuff! I also found Josiah to be such a man surpassing the average contemporary romance lead that he’s unforgettable.

I lived for this book over the couple of days I read it, it dominated my thoughts and had I not been distracted by family, I could have happily read from front to back. This book is one I’ll re-read, enjoy living the hurt and the triumphs. I remain a huge fan of this author’s talent.

There is only one letter of difference between love and lose, and somewhere along the way, for me they became synonymous.

There are content warnings and these are rightly in the opening pages, as they be raw issues for some.

Thank you to Piatkus books for the eARC.

Hollis’ 2.5 stars review

Ahem, sorry, just slipping this in under the radar for another #ChalkAndCheese moment because sadly I do not share my buddy’s effusive feelings. Though I can totally see why she had them.

I’m glad I finally read this one (though it took me ages to get through) but I’m bummed to be a bit of an outlier over it. I just didn’t love this the way I expected to — and certainly not the way everyone else did.

The dialogue around grief was well done, and this is also very therapy-positive, but honestly that’s as invested as I ever got. I didn’t fall for these characters, I only felt for their circumstances and their losses, and in that respect only really for Yasmen’s. Josiah was a character I struggled with from the outset and even as he came to terms with things, opened up, it never changed my feelings for him. In some respect, I think having his own POV actually made things worse as opposed to better for the telling of this story.

I am happy for their HEA but this one isn’t going to stick with me.

STILL by Kennedy Ryan 🎧

I’ll be there.
Through thick and thin.
Ride or die.
You can count on me.

The promises people make.
The vows we take.
Assumptions of the heart.
Emotion tells us how we feel, but life…life has a way of plunging us in boiling water, burning away our illusions, testing our faith, trying our convictions.
Love floating is a butterfly, but love tested is an anchor.

For Grip and Bristol,
Love started at the top of the world
On a Ferris wheel under the stars
But when that love is tested, will they fly or fall?

Title : Still
Author : Kennedy Ryan
Narrators : Jakobi Diem, Maxine Mitchell
Series : Grip #2
Format : Audiobook
Length : 13 hours, 12 minutes
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Tantor Audio
Release Date : September 18, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 5 star review

What a boom! of a completion to this series, which I think is my personal Kennedy favourite so far. My love for this series stems from the decency that is Grip. He’s no saint but he’s good guy born and bred. My second love of this series is the flawedness and loyal Bristol. She has been a growth of love on my part and growth in character on Kennedy Ryan’s part.

The strength of this tale, this instalment, lies in the timeline. There is no rushing, it jumps and then it focuses in on hours and days and I cannot tell you how well that worked for me. Taking this approach just enhanced my connection to these characters and their lives, I felt like family.

There were some difficult storylines but when things were basically peachy at 70%, I smelled a rat and knew that I was about to take a dive off a cliff with these two. What I didn’t expect until I saw it coming, was that this would go into my work -life expertise. I cringe and worry when a story delves into writing these topics because I’ve seen it butchered. Yet, I remain conflicted because I want to see these topics make the cut in books. Kennedy Ryan narrated this emotive topic with sensitivity, research and excellence. There was some medical detail that was spot on but on the whole, she concentrated on the emotional narrative that had this person with a PhD in the subject with waterfalls down her face. You rocked this, Kennedy and I am beyond impressed.

I waited to experience this book by audio, having loved Grip this way. The narration brought this story and the emotions to life. These narrators epitomised Grip and Bristol.

Fiction is just that but excellent fiction takes reality and carves a life story. Kennedy Ryan wowed me from the first to the last page and I love that I was able to get this series signed in London recently. Read this series and feel from your heart to your soul, I did.

GRIP by Kennedy Ryan 🎧

Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out. I know. I’ve been doing it for years. 

I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary. And Marlon James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary. 

Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key. All that’s left is friendship and work. 

He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true. I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart. 

It’s wild, reckless, disobedient. And it remembers all the things I want to forget.

Title : Grip
Author : Kennedy Ryan
Narrators : Maxine Mitchell & Jakobi Diem
Series : Grip #1
Format : Audible Audio
Hours : 14 hours 49 min
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Tantor Audio
Release Date : August 8, 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★

Well, it’s beens about two years since I read Flow (the prequel) but I remembered Bristol and Marlon’s connection well. Anyway, Grip (the book and the man) came into my life and kind of took over. This was a book that built and built into an explosion of intense feeling that was a brimming cup of emotion.

No matter how ‘hard angles’ Bristol came across as in this book, I admired her. She was a women who was driven but she cared deeply. She had all the high walls around her heart and I totally got why, but her loyalty blew my mind; I loved her, even when her reticence irritated me.

Grip was a man with his heart on his sleeve and he was all beautiful talent with a genuine personality. Despite his rising fame, Grip was a man who was grounded and he was grounded in Bristol. These two together were frustrating but all bubbling attraction and emotion.

I found the second half of this book so damn addictive and as the book built, my attachment to the characters grew. The second half was everything and Kennedy Ryan is the master of the sexual tension crescendo.

The narration for this audio was overall fabulous with dual POV and narration. At first, I was unsure of Maxine Mitchell as Bristol but she grew on me and her ability to translate male dialogue was superb. Jakobi Diem rocked the role of Grip. I need to read Still but I am totally waiting for the audio to drop in September because I need more of these two in audio format.