What Happened After… Celebrities Series Finale (Celebrities #5) – Nicole Pyland

Rating: 4 out of 5.
A really great ending to the celebrities series. I’ve always loved how Pyland finishes each series with a What Happened After… collection, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Usually a WHA normally includes a story for each of the couples we meet in the series, Pyland mixed it up slightly this time, doing two slightly longer stories, each mainly focussing on two of the couples, but involving all four in some way or another.

Both of the stories are seriously steamy and very enjoyable. If you enjoyed the celebrities series you’ll enjoy this. If you haven’t started the series yet, don’t start here, it contains way too many spoilers!

I received an e-ARC directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Live This Love – Jamey Moody

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I’m really struggling to read anything that isn’t light and feel good at the moment, so thought I’d take the opportunity to read Moody’s first book as I’ve enjoyed all of her others so far.

Happy to say I enjoyed this one too. It has some of the hallmarks of a new author that don’t appear in her later work, but the story is enjoyable and a good read.

I liked both Alex and Riley and their romance, I also enjoyed that any conflict that appears is caused by outside factors and not by some unnecessary conflict between either of them. It deals with a difficult topic in one of their pasts, and I thought it was done really well.

Would recommend to sapphic romance fans, and as it’s set in the Virgin Islands it has a real ‘get-away’ feeling to it as well.

Ice Queen – Gun Brooke

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I have to admit that until the release of this I hadn’t been aware of Brooke’s romances, only her sci-fi work and therefore hadn’t taken the opportunity to read her work. I was pleasantly surprised by the book and enjoyed how it introduced important topics outside the main romance itself.

Aislin is a school guidance counsellor. She spends her spare time hitting the town with her friends. Susanna is a CEO of a fashion conglomerate and finds herself with very little time for relationships of any kind, including the time to build a good relationship with her daughter. They find themselves pushed together at a club when Susanna is entertaining some clients that just want to have fun.

Unbeknownst to Aislin, the friendship she’s struck up with a teenager in a coffee shop brings her back to Susanna in a professional capacity.

The development of the romance worked really well for me. It was always there, but both characters prioritised Cynt, Susanna’s daughter and her situation at first. This gave appropriate time for a bit of a slow burn. I also enjoyed the development of Aislin’s relationship with Cynt, there were some things I thought might be added to this to create drama later on in the storyline but I’m really glad to say that didn’t happen.

The bullying storyline was dealt with well. I think there were some elements I’d have preferred to have been closed off more fully as I felt neither Aislin or Susanna would have let it slide, but I can understand why Brooke chose to focus on the relationship rather than more explicitly discussing more of the reasons behind Cynt’s unhappiness.

As an ice queen character I really like Susanna. I found that she was in touch with how she came across to the world and I appreciated that. Both characters might have been a little bit slow at communicating with each other, but they did communicate and that was refreshing too.

I will definitely want to read about the characters that appear in this from the Coffee Sonata universe and explore Brooke’s romances further. I would recommend this to romance fans and those that are fond of ice queens.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Who’d Have Thought – G Benson

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Benson is rapidly becoming my favourite author. I love that when I pick up one of her books I’m going to get an extremely well written book, with a narrative that explores all the different aspects of being queer and falling for someone. This one is my favourite read of Benson’s so far, but I suspect I’ll probably end up saying that about each one I read!

Hayden is an ER nurse. She works long hours but is struggling to make ends meet. Sam is a neurosurgeon at the same hospital. She has a reputation as a typical surgeon with no bedside manner. Hayden spends a lot of her time bemoaning Sam – Dr. Thomson – to her best friend and fellow ER nurse, Luce.

When Hayden discovers she’s yet again broke before the end of the month, she finds her responding to an advert looking for someone to enter into a fake marriage for a year. It amuses her to find that the advert has been placed by none other than Sam. She really needs the money, but can she be with Sam for the required year.

The period where they negotiate the “dating”, telling friends and getting married is amusing, stopping it from becoming perfunctory as they navigate each other whilst trying not to offend or cause one of the other to walk away, each for their own reasons.

I loved getting to experience Hayden and Sam really falling for each other as they got to know each other. I enjoyed how Benson used the new realities of their life together, such as them living together, and Frank the cat loving Sam to show each other their real selves, and therefore see past their arrangement.

For me, underneath all of the romance, was a real exploration of what marriage really is. We all have our different reasons for getting married, or not as the case may be, and I really enjoyed this exploration of the reasons why it was necessary for Hayden and Sam to enter into their fake marriage, what it meant to both of them and how it changed into something else. The external reinforcements, whether positive or negative, from those around them also served to support this.

As always you get the opportunity to spend time with a range of queer characters, and I loved both Jon, Sam’s brother and Luce, Hayden’s best friend. The discussion of Luce being non-binary and how it impacts their decisions to enter into relationships and their acceptance by others was dealt with really well.

I don’t want to give away any spoiler, but I’m always amazed at how much Benson manages to pack into a book, without losing power from any of the stories and the two secondary storylines in this book are heartbreaking. The way Hayden and Sam deal with them together really cements their relationship and gives you as the reader the opportunity to see different aspects of their characters.

I would highly recommend you read this one if you haven’t already. All romance fans will love this one. Word of warning, it’s on the long side, but is very hard to put down – I kept sneaking five minutes here and there when I supposed to be working!

I received an e-ARC directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.