Listen by Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant did an outstanding job with this book. Her best work so far! Listen is so sweet and compelling you just cannot help but fall in love with the characters she has created.

Lily Croft is a 27-year-old hermit. She spends the majority of her time in her Chicago apartment with her rescued tomcat. Lily lives for math and she excels at her finance focused career. She does not interact with anyone other than basic conversations. With no friends or family, this amazingly talented woman has shut herself off from the world. Why? Lily is a child music prodigy. Leading symphonies by the time she was 11 years old. With that talent came unspeakable demands and abuse from her parents. Forced to play 24/7, Lily began to have mental health issues including social phobia. Therefore she cut everyone out of her life, including the music that she once loved so much.

Hope De’Marco is also a musician. Hope runs a grant-funded music therapy studio that focuses on children with disabilities and inner-city kids. Lily just happens to be sub-contracted to a company that is right by Hope’s studio. One evening on her way home Lily hears Hope playing and it sparks curiosity in her and draws her to the music. She continues to go by the studio to hear the pianist play again.

Hope and Lily have a charming romance. Its gentle pace has you rooting for Lily’s growth and cheering Hope’s gentleness. What Bryant really excels at with this story is letting the reader feel the emotions of Lily. You feel her anxiety rippling off the page. When she was in a social experience that sparked her anxiety you were right there with her feeling those heart-pounding emotions. You root for Lily’s growth, you are dazzled by Hope’s kindness and you are terrified for that inevitable shoe to drop. A great book that keeps you spellbound to the end. You leave this one with a massive smile on your face.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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Twice In A Lifetime by Clare Lydon

Twice in a Lifetime by Clare Lydon takes us on a journey of meeting up with the one that got away. Not just the one either, the first one. That sweet first love that was perfect in every way except for being too early and life came crashing in.

Sally McCall is returning to Chicago to visit her zany, eccentric aunt. Her aunt has a business proposal for her, and Sally being a starving artist cannot refuse anyone’s help even if that is exactly what she wants to do. At the airport baggage claim, something crazy happened, her bag disappears. Apparently, someone had the exact same bags as her, even down to the orange ribbon she had ties on the handle.

Harriet Locke’s life is her work. Her job, introducing artists to retailers has its benefits for sure but that is all her life is. Meetings, emails, and more meetings. After a long flight, deliriously tired Harriet grabs the wrong case. Unbeknownst to her, the case belongs to her first love, Sally. The girl she broke up with when the pressure of college became too much. The girl she regretted letting go for seventeen years.

The book has a mix of backstory and present day. Not too much flashback, though. The chemistry between the Harriet and Sally is fantastic, their dialogue and thoughts are fun and witty. Aunt Paula is a riot, as are all the supporting characters that are nicely incorporated into the story.

The quality of the book is high and I found the likeability of both main characters to be the overall appeal of the story. When I finished the book my thoughts were how adorable was that. Cute, fun, a light read when you just want to zone out and enjoy yourself. There is depth mixed with this happy ever after, don’t you worry. As always Clare Lydon gives you a solid read and leaves you with a smile on your face. I adore her writing!

4 out of 5 stars

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Twice in a Lifetime by Clare Lydon

Twice in a Lifetime by Clare Lydon takes us on a journey of meeting up with the one that got away. Not just the one either, the first one. That sweet first love that was perfect in every way except for being too early and life came crashing in.

Sally McCall is returning to Chicago to visit her zany, eccentric aunt. Her aunt has a business proposal for her, and Sally being a starving artist cannot refuse anyone’s help even if that is exactly what she wants to do. At the airport baggage claim, something crazy happened, her bag disappears. Apparently, someone had the exact same bags as her, even down to the orange ribbon she had ties on the handle.

Harriet Locke’s life is her work. Her job, introducing artists to retailers has its benefits for sure but that is all her life is. Meetings, emails, and more meetings. After a long flight, deliriously tired Harriet grabs the wrong case. Unbeknownst to her, the case belongs to her first love, Sally. The girl she broke up with when the pressure of college became too much. The girl she regretted letting go for seventeen years.

The book has a mix of backstory and present day. Not too much flashback, though. The chemistry between the Harriet and Sally is fantastic, their dialogue and thoughts are fun and witty. Aunt Paula is a riot, as are all the supporting characters that are nicely incorporated into the story.

The quality of the book is high and I found the likeability of both main characters to be the overall appeal of the story. When I finished the book my thoughts were how cute. Cute, fun a light read when you just want to zone out and enjoy yourself. There is depth mixed with this happy ever after, don’t you worry. As always Clare Lydon gives you a solid read and leaves you with a smile on your face. I adore her writing!

4 out of 5 stars

The Loudest Silence (Part One) by Olivia Janae

A great book to me usually has a few key elements. Dialogue is first and foremost the most important aspect. The dialogue in a story is absolutely crucial. Second, interesting characters. I want them to captivate me, I want to love them or loathe them, but please have them be amazing one way or the other. If I can get some tension and angst thrown in I will love you forever. So when you have it all wrapped into one delicious story, if you are me, your heart sings with happiness. The Loudest Silence has it all and sooooo much more. This book captivated me from the start and you couldn’t have pulled me away if you tried. I loved it!

Kate Flynn has just arrived in Chicago to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is a fill-in for a fellow cellist who had an unfortunate accident and will need an extensive recovery time. This is the first time in forever that Kate and her three-year-old son, Max will be able to put down some roots for longer than a handful of months. Kate is loveable, she’s down to Earth, an amazing mom and she doesn’t hold anything back. If something needs to be said, you can count on Kate to let you know exactly what she thinks.

Vivian Kensington is the ice queen of all ice queens. She is gorgeous, formidable, intimidating, abrasive, rich and above all else, she is the boss. Vivian, who lost her hearing is a young child, was raised by world-class musicians. Unable to go into playing music herself she went into the business side of the music world. You do not want to cross this woman, and of course, that is exactly what Kate does in their first interaction.

The ladies are opposites and it totally works. They butt heads until they realize neither is as bad as the other one has made her out to be. An unlikely friendship strikes up and the love of young Max solidifies this bond. Of course, nothing is easy and there is the not-so-sane, bass player Ash Campbell for their romance to deal with.

I know that this at one time was a SwanQueen fanfic. I know that I read it, but it doesn’t feel the same, and I mean this in the best possible way. I felt like I was getting a new story that was so fantastic just every once in a while I had an, oh yeah, I remember this moment. This book is wonderfully written and will grab your attention and keep it until the last page is turned. It is part of a series with a bit of an angsty ending. So, be prepared to start counting down the days till Olivia Janae releases the next one. I was glad this wasn’t over, I need more of this in my life.

5 out of 5 stars

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The Crush by Susan X. Meagher

The Crush by Susan X. Meagher made me want to drink wine. Oh no not it a bad way, in a very good way. This book is long in length but it is also chock full of depth and detail.

Nicola Bagnolesi is an advertising sales executive for her father’s advertising firm in Chicago. She is happy with her life. What more could she ask for her life revolves around partying with clients, make sales and hanging out with her girlfriend if she feels up to it. All of this changes when her father tells her she is being relocated to Italy. Aldo Bagnolesi has just inherited his family’s birthright, a winery in Tuscany. The catch is Aldo is not ready to retire just yet. He needs Nicola to be its caretaker until he can hand the company over to her brother Lorenzo.

Nicola has zero desire to babysit a winery for two years. She is very gently told that this is what her family needs her to do. This is her father’s dream and she needs to get on board. She reluctantly agrees, leaving the only place she has ever lived, breaks up with her girlfriend and boards a plane one way to Italy.

Pretty early on she figures out that this is a disaster all around. She is unprepared for this journey, and the family estate is in shambles. Cue despair!

Nicola has a chance encounter with a beautiful Italian woman name Chiara Bellini in a bar while visiting her aunt’s city of Florence. These two hit it off immediately and well things heat up to boiling pretty rapidly. The sexy time is hot, hot, hot!

A romance evolves from a one night stand, but don’t worry the push and pull of an established relationship does evolve. Our two leading ladies must work to prove that the can work together as well as be a couple. Add to the drama is Aldo is a giant a-hole and treats his daughter terribly while she works to launch his dream.

The setting and scenic descriptions are stunning.  I found it very easy to visualize where Nicola was and what she was experiencing. While I loved the setting, and the descriptions of wine making, I think my favorite thing about this book is the evolution of Nicola. She was a high flying party girl in Chicago, a little spoiled and a whole lot of coddled. She became strong, determined woman, who fought for what she believed in and backed it up with hard work and sheer determination. That transformation was stunning! She went toe to toe with her father, aunt and anyone that got in her way, all the while being tender and sweet to Chiara. Got to love that!

Really lovely book, that is lengthy and well researched.  You will not be disappointed if you don’t mind investing in the book (about twice the length of your average romance). You will have a lot to work with, but it is all worth it in the end.

4 out of 5 stars

The Crush
by Susan X Meagher
Link: http://amzn.com/B00D0DK630

Live and Love Again by Jan Gail

Live and Love Again by Jan Gail is fine. It’s not great, but it’s not bad either. This quick read is a story you’ve read before. Wounded woman meets hot rich executive. They hook up and fall desperately in love.

Sarah Jarrett is a widow. She lost the love of her life years ago and has not met anyone worth dating. That is until one day while boarding a plane to Chicago she meets Jessica Whitney. Jessica takes her breath away, and guess what, she is seated right next to Sarah. This is where the relationship takes off, literally.

Really there isn’t much else’s to say. The protagonists hookup and have rich girl, poor girl conversations ad nauseam. Neither character is really fleshed out, mostly what we learn about them is superficial and surface. Jessica is too nice and Sarah acts like a jerk way too much. She literally has hangups upon hangups.

This book is rather ordinary and doesn’t have much substance.

2.75 stars out of 5

Live and Love Again
by Jan Gayle
Link: http://amzn.com/B019G6CWIG