Love Forged – Nicole Pyland

Rating: 5 out of 5.
If you read my reviews regularly you’ll know I’m a big Pyland fan, and to be honest I had thought the Sports series couldn’t be beaten, and then Love Forged was released. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve actually read a friends to lovers romance, so I can’t speak completely to it’s originality but it felt fresh and authentic to me.

Tate and Flynn are best friends. They grew up together, have done almost everything together in their lives, and are now embarking on their next journey together – med school. Unexpectedly Tate receives a letter out of the blue, that turns both of their lives upside down.

I don’t read the blurbs on Pyland books, I just look forward to them when they’re released, so this narrative came as a complete surprise to me. The title doesn’t give away much (though now I’ve read it, the title is perfect), and I definitely wasn’t expecting such a warm, thoughtful book. It was a pleasure to settle in for a few hours and get lost in this blossoming friends to lovers romance.

Whilst at its heart it’s a friends to lovers romance, it also deals with grief, loss, family and the characters finding themselves. Best of all for me, there was no crazy conflict between the two. Other than some initial communication breakdowns that felt very authentic in the world of trying to tell your best friend that you’re gay, the conflict in this purely relates to outside sources and provides a great narrative to show the couple growing together.

i’m deliberately keeping this review shorter than normal. I don’t want to give away anything else that happens and want people to be able to enjoy for themselves. If you haven’t read Pyland before, I would highly recommend starting here. If you have, you should definitely enjoy this one too.

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

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.

Path Forward (Celebrities #4) – Nicole Pyland

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Whilst I enjoyed the third instalment of the celebrities series – Midnight Tradition – I felt this was back to the best of the series we experienced with the first two books. The last two books of this series were published after the sports series and they are quite different. I found this to be more lighthearted than the sports series, but I did appreciate what felt like a little more depth in this one than Midnight Tradition.

Jessica is a model turned actress who is experiencing the first time a movie is going big for her. She made mistakes in her previously relationship that caused her to lose both her girlfriend and her friends. This books serves as Jessica’s attempt at redemption.

Venice Valentine – Val to her friends – isn’t famous like the rest of the group she has somehow found herself amongst. She works at a pack and ship store and strives to own her own business one day.

A chance meeting at Val’s work brings them both together. I loved how the relationship built organically but didn’t feel like a traditional slow burn either. There’s a lot of depth in how Jessica attempts to make amends with their friends, and her honesty in why her relationship didn’t work. At the same time Val exploring her feelings as to why she feels it wouldn’t work with Jessica and what she wants to do with her life is also done really well.

We previously met both Jessica and Val briefly in Midnight Tradition but you don’t technically need to have read it to read Path Forward. I’d suggest reading the whole series as the characters flow through the instalments, but it does still work as a standalone.

It was nice to have lots of involvement from all of the characters in the previous books. I especially liked that we got to see more growth from Maddox and more of her relationship with Avery. With Midnight Tradition only being set over a few days it was hard to have that growth so the follow up here made me very happy, especially in how it related to Jessica. The scenes with all of the friends made me smile and it was nice to think of them all in family situations.

If you’re a Pyland fan you’ll enjoy this – and if you’ve not read Pyland but are a fan of wlw romances you’ll definitely find this an enjoyable read.

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

Midnight Tradition (Celebrities #3) – Nicole Pyland

Rating: 4 out of 5.
3.75 stars.

I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the other Celebrity series books – but it was still an enjoyable read. I liked both main characters. Maddox is a photographer who appeared in the previous part of the series – No After You. She’s still recovering from previous break ups and ends up at Peyton & Dani’s New Years party after lots of international travel – meaning she doesn’t really want to be there.

Avery ends up at the party after being dragged along by her brother – she doesn’t know anyone there and would rather be at home, working on her app. I enjoyed Avery as a character, and I think that might be because of how her introduction as a non famous person into a series about celebrities forces you to look at the rest of the characters slightly differently.

I actually enjoyed that the majority of the book takes place over a few days. It does create a bit of an instalove feel to the romance, but I liked how the setting forced the characters to get to know each other in a different way.

My disappointment came in the way that things were kept interesting – which normally meant adding another character that wanted to date one or the other MCs. This really worked in the first instance, but felt a little contrived when it kept happening.

It was nice to return to the rest of the characters in the series and learn how their relationships have moved on, which in itself probably adds half a star. If you like Pyland you’ll enjoy this one, but if you’re new to this you should definitely start with the first part of the series – All the Love Songs.

Finding a Keeper (Sports Series #4) – Nicole Pyland

Rating: 5 out of 5.
It’s probably fair to say that soccer was my first love, so it’s perfectly possible that my five star rating partially relates to the fact that this a book full of all the feelings I experienced about sport and life at a certain period of my life. The club team I support gets a lot of mentions and I was also crazy enough to be a goalkeeper, so the way Pyland explained goalkeeping also made me very happy. However, it’s also because Pyland has again created a wonderful book, full of interesting characters in a different environment to any she has written before.

Marley is a junior. She’s the starting goalkeeper coming into the season where she’ll start to get noticed by scouts from the NWSL. Sloan joins the team as a striker, she’s lived in England for the past six years, playing in an English developmental league and is trying to settle in as a freshman after having experienced a more adult life in England. Marley’s gay – Sloan isn’t. They become fast friends. Marley suffers an injury and finds herself out for the season. As Sloan is a new face to the squad she’s drafted in to support in Marley’s absence and turns out to be good.

When I read other reviews that mentioned the age of the main characters I was slightly worried how I would feel about this book – but these feelings and emotions discussed fit so perfectly with college aged characters that any reluctance I had dissipated very quickly. I also really enjoyed the fact that Pyland didn’t rush this narrative. The book mainly takes place over the period of two years (barring the epilogue of course) so it could technically be described as a slow burn – but the friendship the two share and the move into a relationship for the two of them just works so well that I was never frustrated with them like I often am with slow burn romances.

The narrative covers difficult topics especially grief and loss in different ways. Religion and parental acceptance also plays a big part and I liked how Pyland introduced a slightly different narrative than one I often read and the parents in this storyline ended up surprising me. I also loved Emily and Alison – their roommates/friends and their secondary relationship in the storyline. I enjoyed how their relationship and characters brought out things in Marley and Sloan.

This is another book from Pyland with great characters, emotional depth and an interesting narrative. I’m sad this is the last of the sports series – but am happy to have spent time with some really great characters along the way.