Love’s Truth – C.A. Popovich

Rating: 3 out of 5.
I was really excited about the premise of this book, the idea of someone running away from a cult and trying to assimilate back into everyday life fascinated me and as I hadn’t read any Popovich before I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try a new author for me.

Barb is on holiday. She very rarely takes a vacation and has finally given in to the idea that she needs an extended vacation, choosing a resort that will give her the opportunity to be by the water and explore nature at the same time.

Lynette escaped from a cult in her early twenties after having been there for 12 years. She’s still trying to heal, get through her everyday life and try not to be found and taken back to the cult. Not only that, but she hasn’t had good experiences from her past relationships, so the last thing she’s looking for is a vacationer to catch her eye.

I did really enjoy the storyline itself, in that I could see why the two fell for each other, what they would bring to each other in a relationship and why they would want to pursue that, but because of the setting and the time period, the story became very repetitive very quickly.

Lynette works in the hotel dining area, so this means a significant amount of the book revolves around their interactions in this dining area, or in Barb’s hotel room. I found it a little challenging at times to keep track of the timeline, as we within the interactions the characters are often worried about Lynette being late back for work, so we get glimpses into their conversations, but then all of a sudden she needs to be back, making things feel jolted at times.

I found the relationship to be believable, I just wish it had the opportunity to grow further within the storyline, though I do understand what Popovich was aiming for. The details within the book are interesting and I found the fact that the characters communicate a breath of fresh air.

I definitely wouldn’t rule out another Popovich book, and I’d be interested in reading more about this topic too if it appears in other sapphic books.

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

Love’s Falling Star – B.D. Grayson

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I’m not completely sure what it is about this book that made me like it so much, there are some new author flaws and it has difficulties due to a lot of the main characters getting to know each other “off-page” but essentially there was something about it that just had me smiling constantly for the first 70% of the book, so I consider it a success.

Lochlan Paige is a closeted country music superstar. One of the few things she has for herself is to write at libraries, in her own little bubble with rare peace and quiet. After her latest concert, she heads to the local College library, where she meets Vanessa, a pre-med student.

After they meet a lot of the getting to know each other takes place via text message and phone calls, which as readers we don’t get much information on, so there are quite a few time skips, which I did find disappointing, but it didn’t change my enjoyment of the story itself. I can understand why it may for some readers though so you may want to take this into consideration.

I enjoyed the fact that the narrative acknowledges who Lochlan is and the impact it has on their relationship. Vanessa has her fan moments but also approaches their relationship from a pretty logical place. The development of their time together, and how it panned out narrative-wise felt believable to me, though obviously it has some sensationalist moments for effect.

My review is probably impacted by how much I loved both of the characters, rather than the writing itself, but I’m often a character-driven reader, so this isn’t much of a surprise. The ending also worked really well for me, again sticking true to the characters.

I was impressed with Grayson’s first outing, romance fans should find something they’ll enjoy in this book and I’m definitely looking forward to Grayson’s next book.

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

What a Tangled Web – Melissa Brayden

Rating: 5 out of 5.
It was lovely to return to Tangle Valley for Madison’s story. I enjoyed this just as much as the previous two instalments, but in a very different way. This instalment felt quieter than the previous two books in the series, perhaps because the characters themselves are quieter than the previous couples, but perhaps also because it was written during the pandemic.

Madison is the head vintner at Tangle Valley. she’s the only single one amongst her group of friends, but isn’t particularly looking for love. Madison is more concerned with her grapes, the wine, data, logic and the opportunity to use her savings for a worthwhile local investment.

Clementine is the manager at the Biscuit, known throughout the town for her cooking and her pleasant ways behind the counter. An avid book lover she’s constantly aware of her past in the town, for the most part keeping herself to herself outside of work.

I really enjoyed the premise of the plot in this one. I could easily see this happening in real life and felt it fitted with both characters really well. I really liked both of them, I’ve enjoyed Madison in past books, some of her previous behaviour in Two to Tangle aside, but it was really nice getting to know Clementine more. I also liked that Madison doesn’t shy away from her actions in Two to Tangle.

I was a little disappointed with the conflict, in that it involves lack of communication, however it doesn’t stem from miscommunication, rather from outside influences and whilst I felt that I could have predicted them much earlier in the book, the conflict felt like something that would have happened between these characters. I also appreciated that it came much earlier than the often found 90% conflict point and therefore Madison and Clementine had time to grow both individually and back together in an organic way that was very much in keeping with the rest of the book.

The additional storyline background story about Clementine was done really well and I also liked the way the Biddies were depicted in this compared to Two to Tangle.

As with most books that include animals, I have to give Clementine’s cat Toast a mention. I love the idea of him running around the kitchen chasing oranges!

I’m sad this series is coming to an end but I’m looking forward to seeing what Brayden has coming up next as she’s become one of my favourite authors. If you liked the other two books in this series you’ll enjoy this one, and if you haven’t read any of the series yet I’d recommend starting at Tangled.

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

A Far Better Thing – JD Wilburn

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I struggled to get into this book for a while, but I came to the conclusion in the end it was me, not the book, so whilst it took me a while to get into it, and therefore review it, I ended up actually quite liking this one, much to my surprise.

Bo Alexander is a detective for the Galveston PD. We first meet her on a stakeout trying to get information about the Voleurs – a well-known biker gang, who are up to something on the island – but she can’t work out what.

In the undertakings of her job, she encounters Cass Halliburton, the number two of the Voleurs, essentially her enemy and the person she needs to get the better of in order to make her operation work. The only problem is their attraction to each other.

To be honest, neither character is particularly likeable, yet somehow that seemed to be ok for me. Bo has issues, many of them, mainly related to her past. Cass has them too, from her past and choice of employment. I wouldn’t say I found either character redeemable, but I found them interesting. There was enough intrigue and subterfuge within the narrative to make me want to keep reading once I got past the first quarter of the book, though I wasn’t surprised by the eventual reveal.

The ending was a downer for me, but I’m hoping it means there will be another part to the series.

This is a good first-time novel for Wilburn and I will definitely be interested in their next book, whether that’s a follow-up to this or not. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re not into dark characters who screw up a lot.

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

The Devil Incarnate – Ali Vali

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I had every intention of reading all of the books in this series and had taken the upcoming release of this book as the opportunity to read the series, even go far as purchasing them all – then life got in the way. I didn’t want to wait to review the book, so this review comes with a disclaimer. I’m reviewing this, the somewhere between the 8th and 10th book of the series depending on how you count, without knowing anything that happened in any of the other books.

Despite the disclaimer I’m happy to say I loved it. It’s a solid 4.5 star book for me and I hope that I’ll be able to up that to a 5 once I’ve had the opportunity to go back and catch up on the past and how the characters got to where they are now.

Being a mobster, Cain isn’t necessarily supposed to be a likeable character, but I enjoyed her redeeming qualities nonetheless. I loved her relationship with Emma and their children, as well as her relationship with her friends and associates. Cain is a character with lots of depth and is extremely well written.

There were certainly some moments that were confusing for me, because the cast of characters is large and dependent on information I clearly didn’t have, however none of that stopped me enjoying how Vali threads together the narrative and the characters and how everything fits together.

Like most series the introduction of so many characters can mean that the characters you love the most don’t appear as much in the later books as you’d like and I found myself wanting more Cain and Emma – so I’m interested as to whether this will still be the same once I’ve read more.

I can only say I would imagine that if you’ve read the rest of this series, you’ll again enjoy this one, but as someone coming fresh to the series, I’d encourage you to give it a go (perhaps with the first book unlike me).

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