My Review of Absolution

Absolution
Absolution

I found Absolution by Amanda Dick to be emotional and intense. This is a story about pain, guilt, moving forward, and seeking absolution. I connected with the characters. It was told well, and I appreciated seeing each character grow in emotional maturity. Ally, the heroine of the story, becomes disabled, and I FEEL her struggles and her ability to overcome them.

At times the action moved slow for me, but I never considered abandoning it. I loved the plot and I was drawn into the story. There was a sufficient amount of angst and suspense for my liking.

This is not a romance to me; the romance is really a small part. I kept waiting for the passion and heat to start, and it didn’t. I also found the characters drinking an excessive amount of coffee; there was always a pot brewing!

Overall, this was an inspirational story with strong characters. 4 Hearts

Within These WallsWithin These Walls has struck within my heart! This is an incredibly heartwarming story by J. L. Berg that I will not soon forget. Lailah Buchanan suffers from congestive heart failure. Her condition and her mother’s anxiety have literally kept her confined between home and hospital. Jude Cavanaugh suffers a devastating loss that has his path crossing with Lailah’s at the same hospital. The two find hope in each other and a bond too strong to be denied.

J. L. Berg does a great job describing Lailah’s emotional and physical confinement. To be physical challenged is to understand Lailah’s concern with her parent’s anxiety and her desire to “break free”.

My mother had been here every day, and her company meant the world to me, but the desire and need to interact with someone my own age was overwhelming. I just wanted someone who hadn’t helped me go to the bathroom or didn’t watch my every move with anxiety, afraid my next breath might land me back in the hospital…

Do you know what it’s like to be taken care of like a child when you’re a grown adult? It’s maddening.”

The type of challenges faced by Lailah are evidenced by the following:

Longevity wasn’t a guarantee for me. It was a reality I had come to terms with long ago, far younger than any person should, but it was my reality and mine alone.

Her physical limitation keeps her innocent at a level others would not understand, making a relationship with Jude an emotional challenge:

Each time he had come into my room, I’d wanted to talk to him—ask him something, anything—just to hear him speak again, but I’d never really spoken to people my age.

Her limitations, experience and prognosis have her hesitant to enter a relationship with Jude:

Even if in some alternate universe, he could possibly see me as someone more than a patient, I couldn’t go down that road—ever. My life was too stressful and emotionally turbulent to share with someone else. Asking someone to step into my world would be like asking him to sign away his own life to take care of mine. I could never do that.

In the end, she puts aside her fears and falls in love with Jude. Their relationship is strong and endearing. At every page, I was expecting a setback where Jude decided that Lailah’s prognosis was not worth the emotional investment into someone else that he might lose, and he didn’t. The strength he showed in the relationship made this a true romance for me in every sense. I wish I could find my own Jude to be on my side.

This is a standalone novel. It probably should be classified as new adult, but there are some adult situations that lead me to label it more as contemporary.

I rate this 5 Hearts!

Some more man love (blush) – Touch Me: An Erotic Romance by Chris Scully

I have no recollection of how this book came to be on my TBR list. Touch Me: An Erotic Romance by Chris Scully is rather steamy as the 23171277genre implies. I loved the concept and wished it was longer! Massage therapist Erik Morgan offers a very special after-hours service to a handful of select clients. Because of the length of the novel, we only meet two of his clients, and I craved more. Erik helps his clients work through intimacy concerns. The story of stroke victim Allen is heart wrenching and real. The sessions are graphic but the intent behind them got to me, especially the fact that Erik’s compassion is derived from his personal situation with his partner who has ALS. I want to give this 5 Hearts and I can’t because I selfishly would have liked one more client, and I don’t think Erik should have kissed clients on the mouth to keep sessions professional. I give this 4 Hearts.

Book Review – Broken (Redemption #1) by Lauren Layne

21408690I blush a little when I get caught enjoying a young adult novel at my age. Yet even I can appreciate this endearing love story. Olivia Middleton is a college student who decides to take a hiatus from education to gain some life experience caring for an injured war veteran. Olivia is looking at this employment opportunity a chance to escape her problems and a to redeem herself. While her past actions are far from admirable, they were not as dreadful as I expected by the weight that she gave them. Regardless, I enjoyed watching the maturity and determination for which she approaches her new role. The following excerpt provides an insight into her personality.

Your social life is no longer dropped into your lap by virtue of shared classes and extracurricular activities. Relationships, whether with friends, family, or romantic partners—from here on out, they’re going to take a lot more work. No more built-in friends at the sorority, or hollering down the stairs when I need my mom. It’s certainly not going to be as easy to meet guys now that I’m done with school. It’s not like I can just chat up the cute guy in econ class anymore.

Paul Langdon Is challenged with being physically disfigured as a result of his injuries.  Rehabilitation feels overwhelming to overcome. We come to learn that Olivia’s primary purpose is to be on suicide watch as she is challenged with bringing him out of his depression.  He is certainly a challenging case, but little by little he starts to come alive again and to recognize the value in Olivia.

I’m not proud of myself, Olivia. Not even a little bit. Do I wish I’d never let you go? Obviously. Do I wish I’d come to my senses sooner? Of course. And maybe if it had taken me only a day or two to clear my head, then yeah, I would have called. But when you fuck up as badly as I fucked up, for that long, you don’t call. You don’t text. You don’t email. You go to your girl and beg.

This has become one of my favorites! I laughed out loud and I swooned over the touching scenes.  I appreciated each of the characters. The relationship between Olivia and Paul was heartwarming and inspirational.

5 Stars

Book Review – The Wright Brother by Marie Hall

I appreciate stories with physically challenged characters because of a vested interest. The relationship between Elisa and Julian is beautiful and emotional. I get goosebumps thinking of them signing on each other’s skin. That’s where my enjoyment ended.

This was geared towards the younger side of new adult, too young for my reading pleasure. I understand that a small age difference of roughly two years is a big deal before the age of 18, but the storyline made it feel like the age difference was 7 or more years and Elisa couldn’t outgrow that thinking until the last two pages. Her feelings of guilt became redundant. It gets to be tiresome by the end. I also lost interest with her two silly infatuations with other men while waiting for Julian to grow up.

If not for the erotic scenes, this would be for a younger audience. I can only give it …

2 stars.

Book Review – Remy by Katy Evans

I am a huge fan of the REAL series, which consists of Real and Mine. If you have not read it yet, I give fair warning of possible spoilers. The first two books of the series were told from the perspective of Brooke Dumas. As the name implies, in book three we receive the story from Remington Tate’s point of view.

Remy is a MMA Fighter who struggles with bipolar disorder. He and Brooke form this instant sexual attraction during one of his fights. Remy promptly researches Brooke and hires her as part of his personal training team. I adore the dependent relationship between Brooke and Remington. There is such a true, heartfelt connection between them. And while bipolar disorder can be trying on all parties involved, I find it precious how much Brooke benefits from the alpha character nature of Remy and his undying devotion to her.

I usually approach series finales told from the opposite perspective with apprehension. I held off reading this book for a long time. I really wanted to be able to give it at least four stars. It was told with as much intensity and heat as the first two stories. I still love Remy as one of my favorite book boyfriends. I also saw Brooke in a new and refreshing light from the first two books, and in a positive way.

The book fell short for me on the length of text dedicated to the beginning of their relationship. Obviously, telling the story from the perspective of someone that is manic would be truly difficult, especially for the periods when there is blackout. However, I was looking forward to this story to hear Remy’s firsthand account of his feelings when his parents show up at the farmhouse. I also wanted to hear his apprehensions with becoming a father and fearing the possibility that a child could inherit his disorder. Both of these elements were missing and I felt that the story was rushed at the end.

While I do enjoy a good and steamy story, and the first two books are some of the best material, by the end of this book I was almost as uncomfortable with the intimate scenes as the first 50 Shades of Grey, and skipping them. I was getting a little grossed out by the frequency of Brooke and Remy literally licking and scenting each other like dogs. This was still an entertaining read, and I look forward to continuing the series with other characters, but I have to give this book…

3 Stars

Book Review – Making Faces by Amy Harmon

This is a wonderfully told story that is truly one of my favorites. A truly heartwarming story, the relationship between the central characters is strongly felt and remained with me several days after reading. The main story is the budding romance between Fern and Ambrose. We see Fern develop from sensitive and awkward teenage years into a well-rounded, blossomed young woman. Ambrose is a soldier returned home injured. At the same time, we witness a friendship between Fern and her cousin, Bailey, who is afflicted with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Fern is the glue that holds the trio’s friendship together. She helps bring the strength out of both men.

I wrote Ms. Harmon thank you note for writing this story. I had several friends pass away after high school from DMD. Visiting with Bailey was like revisiting with my high school pals and helped me remember just how much I miss them and what influence they had on my life. I was pleased to receive a personal and thoughtful response from Ms. Harmon to my note.

This story had me laughing and crying, and rereading it ASAP.

5 Stars