Zero Chill – Carolyn Elizabeth

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I read both Dirt Nap and Zero Chill one after the other, and I have to say it was great to immerse myself in the world of Corey and Thayer for a while.

They’re are now living together in Thayer’s lake house, trying to live a more peaceful life than their first six months together has given them so far. I liked that Elizabeth didn’t choose to move the time forward significantly, that we get to experience them healing and moving on from previous events.

As with all Elizabeth books, the characters are really well written, and the plot moves along at a nice pace. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Thayer’s Nana, but this is true for all three books. The new character additions add humour and richness to the storyline, adding a slightly different but nonetheless interesting focus.

Zero Chill comes with lots of intrigue and mystery, but not as much peril as Dirt Nap – something which works really well for this narrative. Elizabeth mentions that this is her pandemic book in the acknowledgements and I felt like this was deliberately less intense than previous instalments.

It gives lots more time to explore the relationship between Corey and Thayer, and for the quiet moments where they get to really explore what it means to them to still be together after the events of Gallows Humor and Dirt Nap. Reading this made me realise why I love it when we’re gifted with a series about a great couple – it isn’t just about the meet cute and the whirlwind romance, it’s about how they stick with it and grow together.

This wasn’t my favourite of the three books, but I’m genuinely hoping this isn’t it for the series. I want more Corey and Thayer, but I also want to see where things go for Rachel and Nora.

I would highly recommend this, but make sure you read the other two books in the series first.

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

The Other Side of Forestlands Lake – Carolyn Elizabeth

Rating: 5 out of 5.
I have to say this wasn’t what I was expecting. I really enjoy Carolyn Elizabeth’s Curtis and Reynolds series – but I enjoyed this in a completely different way. Whilst the book is a little bit spooky – and I really shouldn’t have insisted on reading it past midnight – it’s essentially at heart quite a sweet book.

Starting with a prologue and approximately 25% of the book set 25 years ago, we meet Lee and Willa as teenagers, where they are staying at Forestlands Lake for the summer with their parents. They get up to the usual things teenagers do, but it’s the sweet exploration of what their friendship means to each other, and whether it is possibly anything more that really stands out at this point. Tragedy strikes and they are split apart.

25 years later we meet the two again, back at Forestlands Lake in very different circumstances. Lee now runs the summer camp – though it’s a very different one to the one they encountered in the past. She also has a daughter, Maggie. Willa has a her half-sister Nicole in tow and is returning to the lake for the first time since the tragedy.

This part of the book deals with Lee and Willa picking up where they left off – which might feel a little instant love to some – but I actually liked. It also deals with the difficulties of Willa’s return. Nicole and Maggie really shine as characters here as well.

I found I actually enjoyed the paranormal aspects of the story, which I thought would be a sticking point for me. I love the way it’s discussed through Willa’s books, Maggie and Nicole, rather than it all being about some phantom camp gossip and whispers. It made it more real and understandable to me.

Early death and how it impacts those left behind is never an easy topic, but I thought Elizabeth did a great job of covering the thoughts and feelings of all of the characters, whilst still giving both the paranormal aspects and romance parts equal footing.

I’d recommend this to romance fans and paranormal fans. It’s convinced me to read a paranormal book by one of my favourite authors that I’ve left to one side as I was convinced I’d hate it because of the paranormal – so I’d say Elizabeth is definitely onto a winner.

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