Always Believe – Aimée

Rating: 3 out of 5.
After a bumpy start – mainly caused by my own feelings about organised religion, I found this to be better than I had anticipated from the initial chapters. My initial misgivings were due to the fact I either didn’t read the blurb properly, or I hadn’t anticipated so much discussion about God, but either way, the more I got into the story, the more I was able to just think about the characters and their feelings.

Greyson was an officer and doctor in the British army for a long time, before deciding to take a step away from the forces and follow her calling by becoming a vicar.

We first meet Angela at the funeral of her daughter. She’s the headteacher of a local school, and is reluctant to have anything to do with the church.

This is another one for me that’s difficult to review without giving too much away. I was uncomfortable with the discussions of the church, but I was also uncomfortable with the way that Greyson’s feelings about herself caused her to be deceptive to everyone else in her life in one way or another.

The book deals with a lot of really difficult topics, and for the most part I thought Aimée did that well, providing different viewpoints, and a book that I think is quite different from the usual fare, but this just wasn’t for me.

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

You Again – Aurora Rey

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I’ve only read one Rey book previously, but I really enjoyed it and was looking forward to the opportunity to read You Again. There were some aspects of this I really loved, especially Rey’s style of writing, but the conflict didn’t sit well with me, so I’m not giving it as high a rating as I thought I was going to be until for most of the book.

Sutton is returning to her home town after spending the last decade away, leaving for college and only returning the once. Her Dad is having knee replacement surgery and she’s convinced him to let her help, despite the fact she knows she’s going to have to see her ex.

Kate, the aforementioned ex, still lives in their hometown, with her daughter Harper and works in the family business.

I actually really liked both Sutton and Kate, and could even understand why Kate’s family were so against Sutton, if you take familial protectiveness into account.

Harper is a great kid character. She’s well written and has a really sparky personality. Many of the conversations she is involved in had me smiling. Kate’s brother Bryce is also worth a mention, as not only is Bryce a great character, but it was nice to have a trans man be included and have a genuine real place in the storyline, rather than it be tokenism.

It’s hard to review this one without giving away any spoilers as so much of this second chance romance is dependent on the how and why of why they broke up in the first place.

In general terms my issue with the conflict centres around the ownership of the issue, more than the issue itself. Much of the blame seems to be placed on one character, and I felt it should have been shared more equally, both the first time, and the time depicted in the last quarter of the book.

I really like Rey’s style of writing, and this certainly hasn’t changed my mind on that front. I’ll definitely be looking forward to her next book.

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

Twice Shy – Aurora Rey

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
This was my first book by Rey and I have to say I really enjoyed it. It’s over a four star but not quite a five star. I had no idea this book included characters from other Rey books, so I think that speaks as to the ability to read this book as a standalone and still enjoy it – but I’m definitely going to want to read The Last Place You Look and Built to Last now.

I really enjoyed the premise. Amanda is a bakery owner looking to expand her bakery into the shop unit next door. She hires Quinn, an architect, to help her make her vision a reality. It’s clear from their very first meeting that they have chemistry and the storyline revolves around their getting together. It’s a cute, sweet romance, with a satisfying HEA.

I liked both MCs a lot. I enjoyed the scenes of Amanda both at work and being a mother to two teenagers. I thought the balance of her life was expressed really well. I thought it was a shame that her ex had such a big part in the book and it actually caused me a bit of anxiety because I was really enjoying the relationship between Amanda and Quinn and hated the interjections of Mel – but I could understand why it was done this way as I’m sure there are many divorced couples where one or the other person wants to get back together.

I thought Quinn was great, and I really enjoyed her getting to know Amanda’s kids. As someone who has been the person inserted into a ready made family with older children, I thought the way Rey dealt with Quinn’s introduction into the family was done really well. I also enjoyed how the teenage characters were written, especially when it involved discussions on gender and the like.

All in all this book had me smiling a lot and I’d highly recommend it. It doesn’t stray wildly from the traditional romance tropes but it does bring some much needed levity and openness into the mix. I’d happily recommend to any wlw romance fans and I’m looking forward to exploring more Rey.

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