Angst

Review: Bend Towards the Sun by Jen Devon

02:30

Title: Bend Towards the Sun
Author: Jen Devon
Date of publication: 9 Aug 2022
Genre: Contemporary romance 

Author's links:

Rating: 4 Stars



Blurb 

Two imperfect people. One year under the sun. A love story you won't ever forget.

Rowan McKinnon doesn’t believe in love. With a botany PhD, two best friends who embrace her social quirkiness, and some occasional no-strings sex, she has everything she needs. But she hides deep wounds from the past—from a negligent mother, and a fiancĂ© who treated her like a pawn in a game. When an academic setback leads Rowan to take on the restoration of an abandoned vineyard, she relishes the opportunity to restore the grapes to their former glory.

She does not expect to meet a man like Harrison Brady.

An obstetrician profoundly struggling after losing a patient, Harry no longer believes he is capable of keeping people safe. Reeling, Harry leaves Los Angeles to emotionally recover at his parents’ new vineyard in Pennsylvania.

He does not expect to meet a woman like Rowan McKinnon.

As their combative banter gives way to a simmering tension, sunlight begins to crack through the darkness smothering Harry’s soul. He’s compelled to explore the undeniable pull between them. And after a lifetime of protecting herself from feeling anything, for anyone, Rowan tries to keep things casual.

But even she can’t ignore their explosive connection.

Review 

This is such a wonderful, somewhat old-school romance but with less misogyny and sexual harassment mistaken for lust. It offers top-level angst, great character development which I greatly enjoyed.  

I absolutely loved the coziness and comfort of the a tight-knit family that have each others back that is at the centre of this story. Rowan is basically an orphan heroine who gets adopted in the hero's family without even realizing it. 

This is exactly the kind of contemporary romance I love - strong internal conflict, no artificial drama, great character development. We really see the MCs on a journey towards each other. 

At the start of the book both Rowan and Harrison are at a rough spot, each of them dealing with their own trauma and hurt. While I liked both of them, I have to say we get slightly more insight into her background and why she is acts the way she does now and this made feel closer to her than to him. With him, it's different - there is a major traumatic event that happened recently and he is recovering from it but we do not get much about his childhood/other events besides that single one. It's only toward the very end that me get more insight into him and why his relations with the rest of the family are the way they are now.

The angst is exquisite and I loved every minute of it. A major plus for me in this romance is the fact that things happened slowly, over the course of a full year. Yes, the attraction between Rowan and Harrison is almost instant from the moment they meet and they do get together well before the year is through but their relationship grew over time. And they both needed that time together and away from each other. Harrison is at a really bad place both physically and emotionally when he met the heroine and we see him gradually heal, we see him getting control over of his depression and panic attacks. It's slow and painful but he get unreserved love and support from his family (and Rowan). 

Rowan melted my heart and I wanted to give her the squishiest hug, Her sense of loneliness and being on her own is so acute, it jumped from the pages straight to my heart. Her fear of making a potentially wrong decision with no safety net to back upon was almost palpable to me. And it really stood out in comparison with the care and support Harrison got from his family and he mostly took for granted. 

There is a third-act break up but it very much made sense in the overall plot. Rowan had to do the biggest grovel to win Harrison back and his family was right there for her and I loved that. 

Now, after all that praise, I admit there were some plot twists towards the end that didn't work for me and I felt they were unnecessary and over-the-top. The emotional intensity and conflict between the MCs were strong enough without these added complications. 

Still, the story is highly readable, flowing easily, great setting (a big close-knit family trying to revive a neglected vineyard they bought), awesome family and close friendships, love expressed with small gestures. 

I'm very much looking forward to more books in the series. I am excited to see a bunch of secondary characters get their HEAs 

CW: grief, parent neglect, ex-partner emotional abuse, loss of a patient, anxiety attacks (graphic, on page), depression

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Nalini Singh

Review: Storm Echo by Nalini Singh

02:30

Title: Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity #6)
Author: Nalini Singh
Date of publication: 26 July 2022
Genre: Paranormal romance, shifters

Author's links:

Rating: 4 Stars



Blurb 

Silence has fallen. The Psy are free to feel emotion. Free to love. But Silence was never a prison for Ivan Mercant. The biggest threat to his future lies dormant in his brain—a psychic monster that wants only to feed. And now, the brutal leash he’s kept on that monster is slipping. He prepared for this day, for the end of Ivan Mercant . . . but that was before he met Lei.
As primal as she is human, this wild changeling brings color into his life, laughter to his soul. Then the dream shatters in a rain of blood, in silent bodies in the snow. Lei is gone. Vanished without a trace . . . until he meets strangely familiar eyes across a busy San Francisco street.

Soleil Bijoux Garcia is a healer who has lost everything. She exists in a world of desolate aloneness . . . till the day she finds herself face-to-face with a lethal stranger. The animal who is her other half knows this man, but her memories are tattered fragments. Sorrow and a need for vengeance are all that drive her. Her mission? To kill the alpha of the DarkRiver leopard pack.

But fate has other plans. Soon, a deadly soldier who believes himself a monster and a broken healer might be all that stand between life and death for the entire Psy race. . .

Review 



This is another great installment in a favourite series. Psys getting together with changelings are my favourite couples, so much passion and restraint, funny first-time moments, pure joy to read.

Every new book in the series is like a homecoming - a familiar world with a complex overarching suspense plot. And every time Nalini Singh manages to surprise me, to make the romance feel fresh and new.

We get a bit of amnesia plot and while I am not a fan of it in general, I didn't mind it here. The twist was that because the mating has already taken place (unawares for both of them, mind you), the animal side of Lei remembered Ivan.

The suspense/mystery plot gets more and more complicated but we see a possibility for solution here which I liked and felt was the right place and time for it.

Like most stories in the series at this stage we get to catch up on a number of familiar characters. Many of the cats make an appearance - Lucas, Nate, Tamsyn and they are as good as ever.

I loved how to story offered the possibility for family, future, something Ivan had given up on.

Most often the Psy have no experience with feelings and intimacy but as highly logical beings they do proper research of the matter. There is even a guidebook circulated among friends that someone made in the previous books iirc. Ivan, though, didn't research sex/intimate relationships because he didn't think it will ever happen to him. When it came to physical intimacy, he let Lei lead him. His complete trust in her was a thing of beauty for me.

A central element in Ivan's story was drug abuse (not him directly) and its consequences. I found the descriptions to be really detailed and very jarring at times. Seeing it from a child's POV made it extra hard to read. The whole series does not shy away from darkness - abuse, both physical and mental is a common theme for many of the books. Still, the drug use here hit me extra hard and I wanted to mention it explicitly.

In the end we got the HEA for our couple, the overarching suspense plot moved a few steps towards resolution and we got a whole new possible plotline opened. That is all to say that I very much enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to the next in the series.

I find it difficult to list CWs for this series but what stood out for me in the book is: drug abuse, parent neglect, loss, car accident (in the past), attempted murder with grave injuries, psychic violence

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