Eyes Like Those by Melissa Brayden

I have a handful of favorite authors who I will read anything they write. What is glaringly apparent to me and my biased little heart is nothing, nothing, comes close to a Melissa Brayden book. (Well, there is one other writer, but we will leave her nameless for dramatic effect). How is she this good? Each book captivates me, her characters, their dialogue, it gets me every single time in the best possible way. I mean really, how is the dialogue so good? It just reads so well! I would give up coffee on a cold winter morning for this lady’s books. They are just that amazing!

After the reading slump of all reading slumps, knowing that this was on the horizon gave me hope for an amazing story with protagonists I couldn’t help but love. Did she deliver? Oh hell yes! Goodness gracious that was fantastic. Do you know a moment when you’re reading along and your heart stops, and you start talking out loud trying to get the character to listen to you? You are so immersed in a story you can feel every emotion radiating off the page. This happened to me with this book! How great is that?

The story starts off with Isabel Chase losing yet another terrible job and fretting how she was gonna pay the bills. Being a waitress is not a fit for Isabel but she keeps doing the job to keep her cat fed and force herself to continue to write, her one true passion. As lady luck strikes just at the right moment, Isabel gets the chance of a lifetime and heads to Hollywood to interview for a staff writer position on a hit television family drama. This is her big break if only she can keep her fears and anxiety at bay.

Taylor Andrews is the executive producer for said TV show. At 32, Taylor has become the It Girl in TV. Her shows have high ratings and basically, everything she touches becomes a success. Shonda Rhimes, better watch out! With five years at the helm, the ratings have dipped just a bit and it’s time to shake things up to keep the show going.

I will say both characters are fabulous. They’re fun, they’re interesting and Brayden makes them so real, with flaws and all. You can’t help for rooting for their success and romance. Not, to mention she gives you a handful of other characters that you will be chomping at the bit to hear their stories as well. I’ll wrap up my gushing, with this book is delightful. Brayden brought the heat with this one and I loved every second with it. I cannot wait for the next in the series. If you are a Brayden fan grab this one and enjoy the ride! Good Lord, it was good!!!

5 out of 5 stars

Eyes Like Those

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Strawberry Summer by Melissa Brayden

Melissa Brayden is to me one of the very best writers in the lesbian romance genre. She has set a very high standard, you know like Mount Everest high. Each and every book a met or surpassed the quality and awesomeness of the previous book. That’s unbelievably difficult to achieve, to time and time again bring just the best of the very best. There is a but! With that being said Strawberry Summer is not my favorite of hers. Don’t get me wrong it’s good, totes is, it’s just not great.

Strawberry Summer spends a lot of the story in a flashback. When we meet the two main characters Courtney Carrington has just moved from Chicago to a small picturesque farming community just outside of Santa Barbara. The first day at her new high school, she meets and has her a-ha moment with Margaret Beringer. Margaret is kind of a loner, not unpopular, just keeps to her small group on the fray of popularity. She’s a strawberry farmer’s kid who spends her days hanging out with nature and reading Hemingway for fun. Courtney, a strikingly beautiful department store heiress is immediately smitten and doesn’t hold back her admiration. This is a story of first loves in a star-crossed lover kind of way. Time and distance keep pulling these two apart but they spend most of their late teens and early 20’s as a couple.

There inlays one big issue. You know as the reader a shoe is going to drop, you are waiting for it the whole time. This is a romance novel, they must break up to get back together, and they met as teens for God ’s sake. You know it’s going to happen! Right! So, there many stories that have done this exact same format and have done it very well. Poppy Jenkins is probably the biggest standout. To me, this particular book spends too much, like 75+% of the book in flashback mode. You just keep waiting for the younger days to be over and get to the now. Well, at least I did.

The other issues. It’s not fun! I know I can’t believe I wrote that, but it wasn’t. There just isn’t that great dialogue between the mains that you expect from a Brayden book. Up until know, you had amazing witty banter and wordplay. You just don’t see it in this one, maybe because Margaret is a more serious character and humor isn’t her go to language. I was missing it, I wanted it back! I also wanted that amazing tension Brayden is the queen of ratcheting up. Again, not there! I didn’t feel that the transitions were as seamless as previous books either, I kept thinking, another summer and they are still together, where are we headed, why is this not moving along at a faster pace. So much of the book was in the past, I just kept wishing more of it would have been focused on the present.

There are good moments too. Moments that are so sweet you smile and moments so tragic your heart breaks. Overall it is a good book, it really is. There are going to be people that adore this one, promise. To me, this one was somewhat, formula wise, reminiscent of Waiting in the Wings, but without the tension and amazing interchange between characters. Even the supporting cast was cute but lackluster. This feels harsh, and I don’t mean it to be. It is a good book, I totally promise. I liked you, Strawberry Summer, I do, but I don’t love you.

3.75 out of 5 stars

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First Position by Melissa Brayden

So you go about your days reading books, thinking oh yes this one is good, that one over there is so good, and then a Melissa Brayden comes along making everything else seem. . . well just less than. Dancing is an art form, one I was not blessed with. Don’t you snicker now, I have moves, as a matter a fact I can do the can do the Shopping Cart and the Lawnmower like a badass, but that isn’t going to land me on the big stage, there is always hope for America’s Funniest Videos though.  Dancing, real dancing, like in First Position is heart stopping beautiful, a vivacious combination of living breathing art and absolute athleticism. Now throw in a heart stopping, angsty, sexy romance with some pirouettes. What do you get, well I’ll tell you, in my opinion you have Melissa Brayden’s best one yet! Bold statement right?

Anastasia “Ana” Mikhelson is all business, all the time. Ballet, ballet and more ballet, there is nothing else in her life literally. She is the product of two famous Russian ballet superstars, her father arguably being the most famous danseur in the world. For Ana life is about living up to her father’s fame, finding his acceptance through her hard work and flawless technical ability. What she lacks and what is holding her from being the best, passion. Ana for the life of her cannot figure out how to capture that fire that she has been told that she is missing. This all changes when a cocky rival, Natalie Frederico shows up to dance with Ana’s company, the New York City Ballet.

Natalie Frederico was a ballet child prodigy. Out of nowhere she was accepted into one of the world’s most prestigious schools. The thing was ballet was too rigid for this free spirit, so she left and headed out to LA to find her own expression of her art. Barely making it, a chance opportunity arrives year’s later for her to dance as a soloist in a new production for the New York City Ballet. While her fire is there and passion exudes from her very pores as she dances, she needs help refining her technique. Who can she turn to for help? You guessed it, the Ice Queen Ana Mikhelson. Watch out for the sparks!

These two have banter, they are competitive as hell with each other, and the whole time you have that great push-pull that really holds your attention and grabs at those little heartstrings. So many times you just catch yourself smiling through the book, almost wanting to lose your page and start from the beginning all over again. It’s sexy, it’s hot, it’s funny, it’s witty, it’s angsty. . .it’s just damn good reading (I have more adjectives, but I stopped myself). This is arguably Melissa Brayden’s best work. Bold statement yes, but I’m sticking by it. Easily one of the top five books I have read this year, easily.

Eleventy billion stars out of 5

I was given this book by Bold Strokes Books in return for an honest review.

First Position
by Melissa Brayden
Link: https://amzn.com/1626396027

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Sweet Hearts: Romantic Novellas by Melissa Brayden, Rachel Spangler & Karis Walsh

Sweet Hearts: Romantic Novellas is just what it says it is SWEET. Insert “awe” here, and feel free to really draw it out like us Southerners do, AAAWWWWEEE. This is quick read, distinctively broken up into three well written, compelling novellas. All three authors are quite frankly amazing writers, and it shows time and time again in the works that they produce. This book is no different, even though each story is relatively short.

Normally when I review a book I will give a brief synopsis of who each of the main characters are and what’s the basic premise of the story. I’m going to skip this step this time, and tell you what you really want to know, is this book worth your time. I think yes, would be my resounding answer. Yes, this book is good. Sweet Hearts is fun, it’s cute, and it gets right to the point in each of the three stories. Do I wish each was longer, hell to the yes for two of them, and one of the stories I was glad it was the length that it was. My final point is that well let’s be honest, it has a Melissa Brayden story in it, that’s really all you had to say to sell me.

4 out of 5 stars

Sweet Hearts
by Melissa Brayden et al.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.com/B018A2PJJQ

Ready or Not by Melissa Brayden

POW! BOOM! SMASH! Melissa Brayden strikes again. The women is a superhero with a pen. She literally can write dialogue like no one else. “Ready or Not” was unbelievable. The final book in the Soho Series may actually be its best, and that says a lot.

Mallory Spencer, I could not be more excited to see her journey. In the past two novels she was a character that I always thought was fascinating. All business, high society and a heart of gold. Mallory puts the needs of her friends and the needs of Savvy above everything. She is very much the backbone of her the company.

Hope Sanders is the Hot Bartender. We were briefly introduced to her in “Just Three Words”, sending free cocktails Mallory’s way. Hope is the proprietor of Showplace, the Savvy ladies go to after hours bar. She has not had anything handed to her, and has to work her tail off for every one of her successes in life. Hope is nothing like Mallory, but everything she needs.

The chemistry is off the charts. The swoon factor is high. I promise you this book will make you smile. I had such high hopes for this book, and Melissa Brayden leapt right over them.

5 out of 5 stars

Ready or Not (Soho Loft Romances)
by Melissa Brayden
Link: http://amzn.com/B01784KM08

Just Three Words (Soho Loft Romance) by Melissa Brayden

This book is flat out amazing! This is book number two in the Soho Loft series by Melissa Brayden. Melissa Brayden hands down does romance better than anybody else. No joke, she is the Tim Duncan or romance! She draws you into her lovable characters, and she just eases you into an magnificent romantic tale. Her character development is on point!

The focus is on two returning characters, Sam And Hunter. Sam is the is the number crunching, red headed accountant. She’s a little bit of a neurotic, geeky, control freak. Hunter is the exotic, super hip graphic graphic designer for their advertising agency, Savvy.

Thanks to an increase in rent, and Brooklyn moving in with Jessica, Sam and Hunter become roomies. You can just see where this is going right! We have a love connection brewing. These two ladies have chemistry. Sizzle is the operative word. The banter is epic, and its just fun and sweet, which you can never have to much of. You cannot help but fall in love with Sam and Hunter’s epic tale of love. You root for them the whole way.

Just Three Words is like a really great bottle of wine. You love it from the first sip, and when its gone you miss it and wish you had more. Brayden has a slam dunk with this one! I cannot wait to see what she does with the third installment of the Soho Loft series. My bet it will be just a fabulous as its predecessors.

5 out of 5 stars

Just Three Words (Soho Loft Romances)
by Melissa Brayden
Link: http://amzn.com/B00UTPQSI4