The Do-Over by Georgia Beers

Georgia Beers is one of my favorites. She has a beautiful writing style that captures both the imagination and the heart. You can count on Beers to give you a quality well-paced book each and every time. Pretty amazing, right?

Easton Evans is coming off a divorce. Not a messy one, but one of mutual respect, positive interactions and co-parenting their seven year-old daughter. Easton married her high-school sweetheart and after years of marriage finally admitted to herself, her husband and close friends that she was a lesbian. When we meet Easton she is working through her guilt of a failed marriage, parenting an unruly adolescent and grappling with a corporate merger that has left her the bad guy to her new sales staff. When the company bigwigs ask her and the other managers to attend conflict resolution, Easton has no choice but to attend.

Bella Hunt is the therapist that will be running the six-week course that Easton and her co-workers will attend. Bella knows Easton from high-school and is dreading working with her former classmate. Bella had a nightmare experience in school and struggled to endure and escape that time period. The memories of the bullying she faced are more than enough. While Bella is a well-rounded accomplished adult, you cannot help but notice that her youth left a few forever scars. When Bella realizes that Easton doesn’t remember her she decides to keep their past a secret. Why go back through those emotions is she can just endure a six-week class? One major problem, she cannot help be drawn to grown-up Easton Evans.

From the beginning, the story has flashbacks of the characters when they were in high school. You become invested in their past as much as their present. You ache for the young girls that were dealing with insecurities, one in the popular crowd, the other the object of their bullying. The chemistry The Do-Over is absolutely amazing and the high school flashbacks are perfectly written so as not to distract or confuse but to add to the plot. They brought depth to the story and gave you more insight into the present day leading ladies. This is another fabulous book from Georgia Beers.

4 out of 5 stars
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The Art of Us by K.L. Hughes

When you pick up this book be prepared for your heart to be ripped out of your chest. This book knocked me flat out more than a time or two. You can literally feel your heartbreak right along with the main characters. A fantastic emotional ride that is chock-full of angst and emotion.

Charlee and Alex meet early on in college. There is an instant connection, and they spend the next years blissfully in love, head over heels. When school ends Alex is offered an amazing career opportunity on the opposite coast. They thought they could overcome the distance, make it through this intersnship, but instead, it broke them.

Five years later Alex has returned to NYC. she thought she could handle being back but the emotions and loss of Charlee are overwhelming. Everywhere she goes brings back a flood of memories of better times. The book flashes back between Charlee and Alex’s romance to current day. When Alex and her lost love meet back up the chemistry pops right off the page. Tension, angst, romance this book is deliciously full of it all. I’m not kidding when I say this book pulls at your emotions. A felt my heartbreak with them, I felt their joy, their pain. KL Hughes takes you on one hell of a ride. So good!

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

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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Getting Back by Cindy Rizzo

Cindy Rizzo’s newest novel “Getting Back” is an angst filled romance novel set in 2008, with flashbacks of a love affair in the late 1970’s. I personally like a story filled with the two main characters feeling some distress on the future of their love. “Getting Back” did not let me down.

Elizabeth Morrison is a high powered CEO of her family’s business, Morrison Publishing. Queen Elizabeth, as she sometimes refers to herself is all work, all the time. Her life revolves around running the successful publishing house. Elizabeth is guarded and commanding, letting very few into her personal life. She lives her life longing for a love that was destroyed over 30 years ago. It is through her eyes and memories that this story is told.

Ruth Abramson is the other protagonist in “Getting Back”. Ruth came to the United States with her parents in the height of the Cold War. The Abramson family risked everything to escape oppression for being Jewish in the Soviet Union. Her mother and father’s courage and strife in escaping their homeland maps the landscape of Ruth’s life.

Rizzo, takes the reader into the present, 2008, and entrenches you in the life and pain of Elizabeth. While unbelievably successful career wise, she was stunted by losing her college sweetheart Ruth. She doesn’t wallow or pull the poor me card, quite the opposite. She works hard, doesn’t enter into series of causal hookups, she goes on with her life always knowing she had lost that special person that made living special. Her life peaked in college when she had Ruth. Ruth, unfortunately chose to bend to her parents dreams, and ended their relationship 3 year relationship to marry a man.

The story is set going back and forth from the late 1970’s to 2000’s. It was fascinatingly told, and being pulled into the two time periods wasn’t confusing, it was poignant to letting you really understand the guarded Elizabeth, and the hurdles she could not overcome to attain happiness. Do not fear, this is not all angst. There is a love store here as well.

After 30 years apart, Ruth makes contact with Elizabeth at their 30th college reunion. The connection between the two is immediate, but it is a slow process of gaining trust again. I loved the journey these two take as they come back together.

There were times in the story that I felt like Rizzo got off on a tangent that was unnecessary. I felt as if I was reading one of those math word equations in elementary school that has that one extra sentence to throw you off. This was the case in “Getting Back”. These elements usually involving the sub-characters that were kind off strange. Fortunately it did not take away to much from her overall body of work. “Getting Back” was an interesting read.

3 stars out of 5

Getting Back
by Cindy Rizzo
Link: http://amzn.com/B01678SJL0