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.

Against the Grain – Bryce Oakley

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
This is the first novella in a three part novella series written by different authors.

I’m a big Oakley fan and I did enjoy this quick and easy to read novella, but I think because it’s a novella it didn’t include some of the things I’ve come to love about Oakley’s writing.

I enjoyed the premise and the characters were interesting – I definitely appreciated that the story wasn’t one I’d encountered before and it did have some of Oakley’s trademark humour – I laughed so much in the first chapter I cried.

Due to it’s status as the first of the series I may find my opinion changes when I get the opportunity to read the others and I would definitely recommend romance fans giving this a go for a nice, easy, humourous read.

A Big Straight Wedding – Sienna Waters

Rating: 5 out of 5.
This might be my favourite Waters book so far. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the storyline from the blurb, but I trusted that it Waters would get it right and I’m happy to say she did. I haven’t read a book in one sitting for weeks – a relatively normal occurrence for me – but I couldn’t put this down today.

Nic lives with her best friend George. They’re both gay, don’t have a lot of money and spend the majority of their time either partying or working to make ends meet. When Nic finds out that George’s wealthy family actually has a trust fund set aside for him – on the condition that he marries a woman, she suggests a marriage of convenience for the two of them so he can get the money she feels should be rightfully his.

When it comes time to choose a wedding planner – they meet Klara, owner of a small but growing wedding planning business, who is surprised to be asked to bid for such a large society wedding, but desperately needs the work to keep her business afloat.

The problem for all of them is that the attraction between Nic and Klara is unmistakable. They all have something to lose in this arrangement and I love how Waters uses this to create the tension and some laughs throughout the book.

All of the best friends are fun, including George. They all have a reason to be there and their characterisations ring true in how they fit with Klara and Nic. Their side stories whilst brief are also nice to read. I liked both Nic and Klara as characters and the opposites attract element worked really well.

The book is well paced, especially as it’s for the most part only a month long. Somehow Waters manages to keep the urgency of the need for the wedding, whilst conveying that the burgeoning relationship isn’t moving along screamingly fast.

I especially liked that the ending and the epilogue didn’t suddenly change who the characters are, the narrative stays true to how the characters would have behaved and has a really good ending because of it. I’d love some kind of follow up to see where they all are in a few years.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a 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.

Live This Love – Jamey Moody

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I’m really struggling to read anything that isn’t light and feel good at the moment, so thought I’d take the opportunity to read Moody’s first book as I’ve enjoyed all of her others so far.

Happy to say I enjoyed this one too. It has some of the hallmarks of a new author that don’t appear in her later work, but the story is enjoyable and a good read.

I liked both Alex and Riley and their romance, I also enjoyed that any conflict that appears is caused by outside factors and not by some unnecessary conflict between either of them. It deals with a difficult topic in one of their pasts, and I thought it was done really well.

Would recommend to sapphic romance fans, and as it’s set in the Virgin Islands it has a real ‘get-away’ feeling to it as well.