Lockset – Brenda Murphy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series for a number of different reasons, so it pains me to say that this one just didn’t really hit the spot for me.

It has so many great things going for it, number one being the diversity the series brings. I enjoy the fact that Murphy wraps in diversity in a number of different ways and I hope this continues throughout the series and sets examples to others as to how to do this well.

I also like a book that includes a pet heavily so Rudy the dog was a nice incorporation for me.

I liked the small element of mystery that was threaded through the storyline with regards to Eun’s father. It was a nice addition to the romance and helped solidify the feelings Eun had regarding her father and the situation she finds herself in.

I have to agree with the other reviews, towards the end I was missing any relationship development and felt it had just been replaced with unnecessary sex scenes. I wanted something else instead to show intimacy between the MCs. I also wasn’t completely sure why we were introduced to Morgan’s ex suddenly at this point of the narrative either, unless this was a setup for her inclusion in future instalments.

I want to discuss a couple of small spoilers so I’m putting these behind the spoiler tag.

***Spoiler Start***

I didn’t enjoy the number of times other characters seemed to want to put down the relationship between Morgan and Eun, mentioning a date Morgan had been on that clearly hadn’t meaner much to her. One mention to add tension would make sense, but it seemed to be a running theme.

I actually had a point where I had to put my Kindle down and wanted to yell at the MCs. Later in the book they say to each other that they have to keep up good communication – I just wanted to scream that they don’t communicate well!! This was a bit of a theme in the first book too so I’m hoping that the MCs in the third instalment don’t have the same issue.

***Spoiler Finished***

Whilst I’m disappointed, I’d say there is still lots about this book to enjoy and I’d definitely recommend people give this series a try. I’m really just hoping the third book is about Yvonne.

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

On the Square – Brenda Murphy

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I’d never read Murphy before this book but I found myself unable to put this down – reading the whole thing in one sitting. Mai, a TV chef, moves back to small town life after losing her show and hires Dale as a contractor to renovate her restaurant. They try to deny their feelings for each other for the sake of their business arrangement, so the majority of the book is about the MCs getting to know each other.

I really appreciated the different ways Murphy explored all of the contrasting elements of both MCs characteristics, through their jobs, their gender presentations, their families and in bed. The sex scenes are steamy and include some light BDSM in places. I really liked both characters and rarely for me I couldn’t choose a favourite between the two.

I especially enjoyed the family dynamics in this story, with both characters being in their 40s and the sons being older, it gave a new dimension to things I’ve been reading recently. As a step-parent of older children Mai’s interactions with the boys felt familiar from the getting to know each other stage – adding an authenticity to the story I really welcomed. There is also a secondary story in the book regarding one of Dale’s sons that comes across as enjoyably authentic.

Overall this is a good romance with enough compelling aspects to keep things interesting and make it a worthwhile read.

It should be noted the book does include some incidences of racism and homophobia.

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