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friends to lovers romance

Book Recommendations

Forget the Star by Kelsey Kingsley

Forget the Stars Book ReviewWith Forget the Stars, Kelsey Kingsley delivers a friend to lovers romance filled with strong, memorable characters and a slow burn.

Chad and Molly have been best friends since before they could crawl. They remain best friends until high school, when social pressures and different classes split them up.

Molly is the quiet girl and she struggles a bit with her weight. Chad, in her eyes, was always meant to be the star. He was the popular guy in school and destined to be in a band.

When Chad turns thirty though, his life isn’t where he thought it would be. His girlfriend of eight years doesn’t want to live with him or get married. His health is anything but ideal as he’s always in pain from his “bad gut.”

Meanwhile, Molly’s life is actually pretty good. She’s come out of shell a bit, she’s found a diet and exercise regime that works for her, and she sings at a local restaurant a few nights a week.  When Chad’s band needs an opening act to go on tour, Chad turns to Molly.

The Highlights

The book is filled with strong secondary characters, but by far my favorite is Sebastian, one of Chad’s bandmates. He comes close to stealing the show, er book.

The mothers border annoying. At times, they are sweet. But, when Molly and Chad have their first date and they come out into the backyard at 1am, I wanted to scream at them, “They are thirty years old. Leave them the f*ck alone if you want them to get together.”

The southern accents are strong in this book. I’m from the south, and I’m sensitive to a misuse of southern accents. But, Kingsley carries it off. The accents work to build out their personalities and solidly place them in their small hometown.

The Chad deals with IBD and his eventual stay in the hospital is eye-opening and real. When random fans criticize him for his illness, it’s infuriating. One wants to believe no one would ever actually be so cruel, but unfortunately, we all know it’s too true. When fans pick at Molly for her weight, there too, we know that sadly, it’s all too real.

Kingsley  artfully shows both sides. Through the story we see that behind a mean person, there is often a person who is hurting or dealing with a lot of pain in his own world.

Molly could be a star on her own merit. After opening for Chad’s band, she has the opportunity. But, it’s not what she loves and she recognizes she doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. At thirty, she’s wise for her years.

Overall, it’s a sweet love story about a friendship that ebbs and flows through the years. A love destined in the stars as their mommas liked to say. When Chad finally opens his eyes to Molly, he has no doubt that she’s the one he’ll be with and there’s a sweetness to their love that’s heartwarming and endearing.

The Upshot

 

Book Recommendations

Love on the Hudson by K.D. Fisher

Love on the Hudson Book ReviewLove Is Love Is Love. David and Nick’s poignant and heartfelt love story reminds of this in KD Fisher’s touching debut novel.

The two are neighbors, childhood friends and high school lovers. David has a supportive family and he’s openly gay. Nick’s father represents the worst of humanity, a judgemental hateful bigot, and therefore Nick remains closeted. He attempts a heterosexual marriage. Interestingly, he foregoes college to appease his father, and he had a football scholarship. This piece surprises me, because the stereotypical bigot would pump his chest at having a college football player son.

David moves away to Chicago and only comes home when his father has a stroke. In Love on the Hudson, we see the two fall in love as adults and watch Nick struggle with the difficult and emotional decision to come out to his family and face his father’s hate. As a parent, I can’t imagine turning away from one’s child over a choice he has made. But, in truth, even when Nick was endeavoring to be the perfect son, his father was a horrid parent.

This story is the love story of two men. And let me just say, my lady parts tingled. KD Fisher does MM right. The sexual tension and energy between these two vibrates the pages.

There is a deeper story within these pages. It speaks to the divisiveness of the world we live in. How, even in a progressive state, provincial small-minded views exist and thrive. And for what reason? To make weak individuals feel stronger and better about themselves? Is that really what it comes down to? Because an open-minded, intelligent and rational being doesn’t feel the emotional need to force his beliefs on others or to openly foster hate for those that don’t act in a preferred manner.

Love is Love. Hate is Hate. Love strengthens our soul and gives our life meaning. Hate corrupts and takes so much away from us all. May Love always win.

The Upshot

Book Review

Book Recommendations

Broken Knight by LJ Shen

Book ReviewA beautiful story with many layers. It’s rare that the love stories of secondary characters take a central role in a book. In Broken Knight, the love story that had my eyes welling up with tears was not of the hero and heroine, the football player and wallflower, but Knight’s adoptive mother and father.

Rosie, Knight’s adoptive mother, battles cystic fibrosis. Knight struggles, along with his family, as she bravely fights and eventually succumbs to the disease. Some of the most heartfelt and poignant chapters in the book are written from Rosie and Dean’s perspective. Dean is Rosie’s husband, and Knight’s adoptive father.

Knight and his childhood best friend Luna share a motto for life – Ride or Die. Dean and Rosie impart heartfelt meaning to the motto inscribed on the treehouse trunk. If I ever need to plan a funeral, I’m hunting LJ Shen down because girlfriend does it right. One of my favorite lines from the book: “She wanted you to remember that she had a good life and that she expects nothing less from you.”

Knight and Luna

Both Knight and Luna suffer emotional pain from their birth mothers not wanting them. Luna remembers her mother walking away, and I believe that would pack it’s own brand of pain. But both Luna and Knight found loving, supportive, amazing adoptive mothers. Nevertheless, they both struggle with a void.

I do recommend this book, and I did enjoy it. However, some aspects of Knight and Luna’s love story I found to be a stretch. For example, I can buy maybe one or two girls lying about a guy sleeping with them when he didn’t. But fifteen or twenty? That’s not highschool girl behavior. And at some point, some girl is gonna be honest with her BFF and at the very least, there would be some suspicion on campus regarding his claims. And why lie to Luna and throw it in her face? I had trouble understanding his logic if he really was holding out for her.

In general, I’m not a huge fan of teenagers falling in love for always, and that might be part of my skepticism. I think the case could be made these two grew a lot in the book, but still would benefit from a lot more growing. But, I guess if these two can buy a place in Venice Beach where they can hear the ocean when they’re both UCLA students……well, the world is their oyster.

I do love how Luna stands strong and forces Knight to face his alcohol and drug issues. The fact she was strong enough to stand up to him and to leave him if needed, well, that’s enough to make it believable these two will share a forever love as strong as Dean and Rosie’s.

The UPSHOT

Book Review

Book Recommendations

Teardrop Shot by Tijan

Teardrop Shot Teardrop Shot threw my emotions for a deep arch and delivered a satisfying swoosh of the net at the end. I originally picked this book as it seemed like a light-hearted friends to lovers sports rom com. Teardrop Shot is so much more than that.

I’ll be honest – I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this book at first. Charlie has this annoying habit of asking random questions when nervous or anxious.  So, she says things like, “Why do we set the toilet paper vertical instead of horizontal?”.

In real life, I’m the bitch who would probably walk away making a mental note to avoid ending up at a bar with this weird chick.   And I almost closed this book. But, I didn’t.  And I’m so glad. In this book, she has friends – warm, funny friends from “camp” – who help us see she has some endearing qualities.

And then she meets Reese Forster, who is an NBA player she has a massive crush on. Which of course triggers all kinds of anxiety. I love the way Tijan handles the celebrity crush and his reaction to her and her evolution from seeing him as a star to a guy to her everything. He’s a dream guy.  He’s the only character in the book to answer her questions.  He gets her.

Watching their friendship unfold and listening as they begin to share their pain makes their love feel real.  He has an alcoholic brother and parents who couldn’t cope.  She has an ex fiance who she took care of for five years before his dementia became so severe she had to walk away.  Tijan does an incredible job of letting us feel and understand the pain from their past.

This is the first Tijan book I’ve read, and I’ll definitely be reading more.

The Upshot

Book Review