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.

Let the Beat Drop – Cheri Ritz

Rating: 3 out of 5.
This was my first novel by Ritz and I found it to be an easy, enjoyable read that passed the time quickly. As soon as I read the blurb I knew I would want to read this, as I often find musician based romances enjoyable, however whilst it had its moments it didn’t quite meet my expectations.

At its heart the book is a romance between Sadie and Jess after both return to their home town for the summer, but it takes a long time for the couple to actually get together, giving the book plenty of time to focus on the secondary storyline of a band of middle-aged women and the third storyline – a mystery that seemingly threads the narrative together and keeps you turning the page, both with anticipation and trepidation as to the eventual reveal.

All three storylines are done well, and I didn’t feel that the book was dragging on. Both Sadie and Jess frustrated me at times and whilst they both face turmoil for different reasons, something that normally bonds me with a character, I didn’t feel particularly connected to either MC, which stopped this being more than a high three star book for me and kept it in that easy read category.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a quick easy relatively sweet romance to read. My feelings could easily be different to someone else’s – and it did leave me smiling at the end.

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

Last Resort – Angie Williams

Rating: 4 out of 5.
You can’t always get what you think you want – sometimes you get what you need (paraphrasing The Rolling Stones here), pretty much sums up the storyline here for me. The story is mainly set at a singles resort designed to find people their perfect partner. It’s lesbian week and both Katie and Rhys have been convinced to attend by their families. Rhys can’t find the person she’s looking for, whilst Katie believes she isn’t looking for anyone, but agrees to go to the resort so her family will leave her alone.

I don’t want to give away any major particulars of the storyline, but I will say I was surprised as to how they met. However I’m really glad it was done this way as I enjoyed them getting to know each other. I was worried this kind of narrative would have an instant love kind of vibe, but it actually almost feels like a slow burn even though the main part of the book only covers approximately 10 days or so.

I really enjoyed the way the dates were used to illustrate the wider groups of people that may find themselves at this type of event and I really appreciated the way Williams used the dates to have discussions on asexuality, family reactions to coming out and moving on from past loved ones (either from loss or breakups). I would have appreciated more diversity though. The dates also serve as a quick introduction to north California geography.

The ending is just right and I would happily recommend this to anyone who enjoys wlw romance books.

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

Out on the Ice – Kelly Farmer

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Like many I was attracted to this book by the cover and I’m glad I decided to chance it. Farmer as a first time author does a good job of bringing something enjoyable to the genre. Caro is a retired professional ice hockey player, now running a hockey centre for girls in Chicago. She brings Amy, a current pro player, to coach at the centre for the summer.

Sports crossed with lesbian romance is one of my favourite genres so I was really looking forward to this book. It’s a bit different to many of these types I’ve books I’ve read recently, in that no real sporting action actually happens. Any time spent on the ice is minor with a focus on the coaching when it does happen. When Amy is with her professional team the on ice action is alluded to but not ‘seen’. In that respect this book is about relationships, and not just the romantic kind, so even if you’re not a hockey fan, or even a sports fan you can appreciate the narrative.

I found one of the most significant parts of the narrative to be the character growth of both MCs. The development of the relationship between Amy and Caro was strong and I liked the development of Caro throughout the book. I also appreciated the discussions about bisexual erasure and internalised homophobia.

The beginning started off a bit samey for me. I felt like I was going through many similar filler type scenes and I was wondering when it was really going to get started. However once it does it moves along at a nice pace. The secondary characters are for the most part are interesting and worthwhile in the storyline – and there’s even one that would make a great character for a sequel should Farmer feel inclined.

I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of wlw romances or sports romances in general.

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

Sparks Like Ours (Seven Shores #3) – Melissa Brayden

Rating: 4 out of 5.
It was really nice to go back to reading something light-hearted and pretty fun for a change of pace. I enjoyed this one more than the second instalment in the series, even though this is pretty predictable in it’s direction. I enjoyed catching up with the Seven Shores characters and thought this did a good job of covering the other characters lives as well as the MCs.

I’ve always enjoyed Gia’s character throughout the series – so it was nice to get her part of the story. Whilst I felt the direction of the book was predictable – it was at least interesting that the love story takes place between two major rivals. You don’t need to know or understand surfing to read this – there is barely any surfing terminology and any surfing scenes are brief – it concentrates far more on the characters. Elle’s journey is also written really well.

All in all this is a nice edition to the series, with the usual minor angst in places.