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The Day He Came Back by Penelope Ward

Book ReviewTorn apart by Gavin’s snobby, aristocratic West Palm Beach Mom, these two star crossed lovers are reunited ten years later. This second chance, rich vs. poor romance plucks at the heart strings.

About half of The Day He Came Back is a flashback to the summer the two fell in love, when she’s twenty and he’s twenty one. Her mother discovers she has breast cancer that summer, and his mother decides she will control his life.

Ten years later, Gavin returns to West Palm Beach to visit his ailing father. He’s shocked to discover his father’s nurse is none other than the woman who ripped his heart to shreds. He’s home for a month. Over that time, his brother returns home, his fiance surprises him, and he learns the real reason Raven walked away so long ago.

Authors walk a fine line when second chance lovers are reunited and there is a current lover in the picture. Penelope Ward walks the line well. There is no physical cheating. Paige has been Gavin’s rock, and he loves her. She isn’t a bitch. We can’t hate her.

While Gavin loves her, his deepest love is Raven, and the only reason he has ever been with anyone else is because he’s believed Raven wasn’t available. He even says he’s glad he found Raven before he got married, because he’s not sure the outcome would’ve been any different. Meaning, he would have gotten a divorce. He understands that life is too short not to be with those you love the most. It’s a tad ironic, given his father refused to divorce his mother, a raving horrific bitch.

Weldon, his younger brother, has the biggest character evolution in the book. I’d really like to read his story. He starts out as a self-centered, spoiled adolescent. Then, we meet him as a defeated, lost alcoholic. But he sees the error of his ways and he finds a way to be close to Raven and Gavin, and to AA.

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Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Book ReviewFriends to lovers, best friends little sister romance that warms both your heart and girlie parts.

The illustrated cover threw me at first. I was halfway expecting another “clean” romance, a category some love for reasons that escape me. But, a good friend told me that Tessa Bailey does the sexy scenes better than any other, so I had to give it a try.  My conclusion? Indeed, she does them well.

In Fix It Up, Georgie is the youngest of three. She’s been the annoying kid sister, the forgotten child, the one who grew up having to act out and resorted to comedy to get any attention. Travis spent loads of time in Georgie’s home with his best friend, her big brother. He goes on to baseball stardom in the majors, but then an injury ends his career prematurely. He returns home depressed and lost. Enter Georgie, the girl who has harbored a secret crush almost her whole, to kick his ass back into the land of the living.

It’s not really clear why Georgie didn’t break out of her clown shell in college. It seems a vibrant, attractive girl would thrive in a college setting and that she’d definitely find some girlfriends to make her lose the salvation army store baggie clothes she’s worn her whole life. But, for some reason, she returns to her hometown of Port Jefferson after college, a stone’s throw away from Manhattan, the exact same insecure kid playing clown to garner attention.

The whole story shows how having someone in your corner can make all the difference. Georgie finds her way out of the thrift store clothes and into form fitting, flattering clothes. She gets serious about her party entertainment business. And Travis finds a new way to make a life in baseball.

It’s a small town HEA that feels more fitting in middle America than in the suburbs of Manhattan, but with a little reality suspension, you can accept the small town vision even though it’s on massively overpopulated Long Island, New York. And, I suppose, there are townships on Long Island that folks always seem to return to, after time away. If I had grown up in this idyllic town, I’d probably want to come back home too.

And Georgie and Travis’s sweet love story is one I’ll remember for a long time to come.

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On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

Book ReviewTouching, emotional, heartfelt journey with all the feels. Don’t let the cartoon cover fool you – this is an erotic romance that won’t leave you disappointed.

Joss loses her family at a young age, and then her BFF one year later. The sudden loss of those that matter most leave her putting up walls. Samantha Young paints a realistic portrait of a young woman crippled by tremendous, sudden loss.

Braden, her Scottish hero, might be too perfect for words, but he’s exactly what Joss deserves and needs.

The secondary characters in this book are well developed and lead you into the next books in this series. I read through all of them quickly, and when I finished the series, I was sad. It had that feel of saying goodbye to friends you’ve grown to love.

There’s actually a novella that follows up with On Dublin Street. It shows Braden and Joss years later, and I love it. Joss is a writer, and in this novella, she dreams up what life would have been like had she never met Braden. It’s a little version of sliding doors, but it also shows these two eons later into their marriage. Once you read On Dublin Street, I definitely recommend this novella because it’s a phenomenal epilogue.

On Dublin Street had me crying at the end. Don’t worry, it does pack a happily ever after. But this is one of those books where the plot has surprises and watching the relive painful experiences and grow hits home in unexpected ways.

Another little thing about this series that I love is that it takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh happens to be one of those cities I’d move to in a flash if I could get my head around visas. Samantha Young brings her hometown to life in this series.

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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.

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