Beach

Moving Maverick (Made Marian, #5) by Lucy Lennox Review

Review:

Moving Maverick: A Made Marian Novel (Volume 5) - Lucy Lennox

“Do you remember what you promised?”

Maverick: I haven’t been back to Rabbit Island, South Carolina, since my parents died and my grandmother, Mimi, rejected me. I’m only returning now to attend her funeral and sell an estate I never wanted. But the moment I step foot on the island and fall into Beau’s arms, I realize it might not be so easy to say goodbye after all.

Beau Talmadge was always the boy next door, but now he’s no longer a kid. The man is hot as hell and pushes all my buttons in the very best way. I’m supposed to leave in a week. Sell everything, close the door on my past, and walk away forever. So why am I letting myself fall for someone who lives thousands of miles away? And how the hell am I going to break it off when it’s time to go?

“That I’d come back.”

Beau: It took one short summer to fall in love with Maverick Mitchell and fifteen long years to forget him when he left. I’d never expected to see him again, but when he shows up at Mimi’s funeral looking lost and lonely I can’t resist doing anything I can to comfort him. Falling into bed with Maverick is easy and the nights we spend together are as hot and steamy as a South Carolina thunderstorm.

I know it’s not smart. I know it’s not what he planned. But dammit, Mav belongs in my arms, in my bed, and in my life. So how the hell do I get him to stay?

“Took you long enough.”

Fair warning: Moving Maverick is a 73k word gay romance novel featuring sweet tea vodka, fancy salt and pepper shakers, guys catching crabs (not that kind), Aunt Tilly with a knife, and multiple detailed instances of man parts touching.

 

Review

 

The setting is the real star of book and Beau and Mav are very cute together. There is a pile of sexy times and some fun with salt and pepper shakers. 

I like the romance here but the again the backstory (why Mav’s grandmother gave him up) and some other elements of conflict don’t really work well.

We get less of the whole family in this book but tons of couple time and a sweet romance.

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Far from Home (Belladonna Ink, #1) by Lorelie Brown 5 Star Review!

    Far From Home   by Lorelie Brown 5 Stars!

My name is Rachel. I’m straight . . . I think. I also have a mountain of student loans and a smart mouth. I wasn’t serious when I told Pari Sadashiv I’d marry her. It was only party banter! Except Pari needs a green card, and she’s willing to give me a breather from drowning in debt.

My off-the-cuff idea might not be so terrible. We get along as friends. She’s really romantically cautious, which I find heartbreaking. She deserves someone to laugh with. She’s kind. And calm. And gorgeous. A couple of years with her actually sounds pretty good. If some of Pari’s kindness and calm rubs off on me, that’d be a bonus, because I’m a mess—anorexia is not a pretty word—and my little ways of keeping control of myself, of the world, aren’t working anymore.

And if I slip up, Pari will see my cracks. Then I’ll crack. Which means I gotta get out, quick, before I fall in love with my wife.

Review

Hot Goddess Damn. This was such a great book. One of my best of the year, for sure!

It starts kind of the middle of things and we are pretty deep in Rachel’s head so it is a bit disorienting at first. However, this feeling passes quickly and it is easy to give myself over to the exquisiteness of Brown’s writing and her intricately built character driven romance.

Brown plays with one of my favorite theme’s the marriage of convenience. Pari needs a green card marriage to go into business for herself and Rachel needs help with bills to get out from under her student loan debt.

Pari has more power in many ways but she never ever belittles Rachel. I can’t tell you how hot that is. Well, maybe I can. It is volacnic lava hot. Pari is just plain burning sexy anyway as we see her through Rachel’s eyes but she isn’t perfect and that makes her all the more lovely.

Rachel struggle with an eating disorder in the novel. The love story is a detailing of living and loving in recovery and not always winning. This aspect of the book is powerful.

The romance is everything. I don’t want to give anything away but it is no way “gay for you” which makes me a little nuts as a queer person and as reader. I side eye those books hard even though I sometimes read them.

The cast of characters is great as is the SoCal setting. The inter culture aspects of the romance are well done as is a look at late twenties, early thirties living Being deep in Rachel’s POV, we don’t get as much from Prvi as I might like but I think this POV was the right choice for this story.. The plot is well paced, lush, painful, tender, and with a great realistic closing.

I want to reread it and I am thrilled this is a series and I will get to see this couple in other books as their friends have their own stories. I bought the next book and I read this on Overdrive from the library but I just bought my own copy because I know this will be a comfort reread.

So! Woo hoo! A Five Star Read! Happiness!

St. Nacho’s by Z.A. Maxfield Review

St. Nacho’s by Z.A. Maxfield  3 Stars

Cooper has spent the last three years running from a painful past. He’s currently moving from town to town, working in restaurant kitchens, and playing his violin for tips. As soon as he starts to feel comfortable anywhere–with anyone–he moves on. He’s aware that music may be the only human language he still knows. Ironically, the one man he’s wanted to communicate with in all that time is deaf.

Shawn is part of a deaf theater group at the nearby college. Shawn wants Cooper as soon as they meet and he begins a determined flirtation. Cooper is comfortable with down and dirty sex, just not people. As far as Shawn is concerned, dirty sex is win-win, but he wants Cooper to let him into the rest of his life as well.

Cooper needs time to heal and put his past away for good. Shawn needs to help Cooper forgive himself and accept that he can be loved. Both men find out that when it comes to the kind of healing love can bring, the sleepy beachside town of Santo Ignacio, “St. Nacho’s” as the locals call it, may just be the very best place to start.

Review

I loved the first section of this book. I would have liked it better if we had Sean’s pov as well as Copper. Sean is wonderful but I would have loved to know more about him. Cooper needs to ask but instead we get deep dipped into Connor’s awful past and he goes home.

The sections with his ex lover and his ex lovers connection to a church to help with his sobriety are teeth gritting in the level of angst and self punishment.

I think that Cooper needed to go through this fire but without Sean around for a portion of it and without Sean’s point of view (So he becomes St.Sean) this part of the plot is really hard to take.

We need much more after Cooper comes out the other side to make this a good romance for me.

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata Review

    Dear Aaron  by Mariana Zapata 3 Stars! 

Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.

What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

 

Review

There is a lot to like in this read and other parts are just rough.

Most of this book is in email and text form and for the most part that works well though there are pacing issues. The portion that is in person is pretty great but there needs to be much more of it, we get rushed to an epilogue and the epilogue is too short.

I like this couple. I like their story. I like the slow burn.

They could have talked more. Certain things don’t make sense. They would have exchanged photos and Skyped at a certain point or talked on the phone more.

I have only the vaguest idea what the heroine looks like. We get limited into the heroine’s point of view.

So, I liked it but it was frustrating

Ripped Bodice Bingo Row 5 Recs!

The Ripped Bodice (A Amazing Romance Bookstore) is have a Summer Read Along Bingo!

We can play!  We can win Prizes.  Check out the site for all the details.

Here are my recommendations for Row 5! 4 and 5 Star Reads!

Broke AF Hero: (Homeless)

CRASH by Pepper Pace This multicultural romance begins when a young man is brutalized and raped. He finds an ally in Sophie Baxter, a reclusive writer of interracial fiction. When Sophie initially meets Lucas she believes he is a young teen and takes him under her wing. By the time she realizes her mistake it’s too late—this polite and sweet kid has found a way into her heart.

Lucas wants Sophie to see that he is no child even though he has an innocent baby face. And Sophie thinks that anyone looking at them together would mistake the older black woman for being some young white boy’s care giver. She can’t fathom breaching that trust…not with her history.

Pepper Pace has woven a tale of unpredictable circumstances and unlikely characters. This sweet romance deals with a difficult subject matter but is not a story about rape but about self-discovery.

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer  On the eve of World War II, two people are brought together by fate and discover an unexpected passion Tall, dark and handsome Will Parker has served time for the killing of a Texas prostitute, but keeps losing jobs as his reputation becomes known. In the small town of Whitney, Ga., at the beginning of WW II, he answers the advertisement of a pregnant widow and mother of two, the abused and reclusive Eleanor Dinsmore, who is looking for a husband. Soon in love with ostensibly plain, bedraggled Ellie, Parker dotes on her two boys, and works to support the family. Fittingly for this sort of bucolic idyll, Will and Ellie, despite their rudimentary educations, love books and develop a special friendship with wise old Miss Beasley, the local librarian. Alas, brazen and rapacious Lula Peak, the town floozie, sets her sights on Will, waylaying him in the library; meantimes, Lula is blackmailing her lover, the cowardly Harley Overmire, who is no friend of Will. The clearly drawn characters fulfill their imperativesincluding Will, who becomes a war heroand all is neatly and pleasingly resolved.

Stuff  by  by Josephine Myles  Tobias “Mas” Maslin’s doesn’t need much. A place of his own, weekends spent clubbing, and a rich boyfriend for love and security. Pity his latest sugar daddy turns out to be married with kids. Mas wants to be special, not someone’s dirty little secret.

When he loses his job and his flat on the same day, Mas’s world starts unravelling… until he stumbles across a down-at-heel vintage clothes shop. Now he just needs to convince the delightfully shy owner he’s in need of a new salesman.

Perry Cavendish-Fiennes set up Cabbages and Kinks solely to annoy his controlling father. He’d much rather spend every spare moment on his true passion, art. That is until Mas comes flaming into his life, talking nineteen to the dozen and turning his world upside down.

Against his better judgment Perry offers Mas a job and a place to live, but it turns out he should have listened to his instincts. The shop is already financially on the brink, and Mas’s flirting makes him feel things he’s never felt for a man. Yet Mas seems convinced they can make a go of it—in the shop, and together. That is, until Mas’s past starts to catch up with him…

Character on the Run: 

Heart Fate  by Robin Owens  Wed to a wealthy older man when she was just a girl, Lahsin Yew runs away from her abusive home to find a new life. At seventeen, she?s about to enter her Second Passage, when her Flair?and perhaps her HeartMate?will be revealed.

Lahsin finds sanctuary in a secret garden, where she meets Tinne Holly. Though he is her HeartMate, he cannot tell her, and her troubled past prevents her from trusting any man. Pretending to find her by chance, Tinne helps her through her Second Passage. But when the truth is revealed, can she forgive his deception, and learn to trust in her destiny?

 

Night Magic by Karen Robards Romance writer Clara Winston dedicates her newest book to her cat, Puff, without knowing what havoc she is about to unloose on her placid (boring?) life. Because there’s a rogue CIA agent out there whose code name is Puff, and some very bad guys want to kill him. When the bad guys show up at mild-mannered Clara’s house, thinking that she can lead them to the man they’re hunting, she is rescued by that man, disgraced CIA agent Jack McClain. Jack is green-eyed, black-haired, infuriatingly macho—and every bit as sexy as the romantic heroes she’s always writing about. Clara hates him on sight, but if she wants to survive he is the only game in town. With Puff very reluctantly in tow, they go on the run for their lives, battling each other until the sizzling chemistry between them explodes into red-hot passion.

The Stolen Princess by Anne Gracie The younger son of an earl, Gabriel Fitzpaine earned glory and honor on the battlefield, but now, without purpose, he finds himself deliberately courting danger at every turn. Then one night he races his horse along a death-defying moonlit cliff-and stumbles upon a princess on the run.

Set on the Beach (Surfing)

Keeping Mr. Right Now by Robin Bielman Surfer Zane Hollander has always been lucky with the ladies. But if he’s to land a new sponsor, Zane needs to clean up his act, and fast. He might not have anything in common with brainy event planner Sophie Birch, but she’s sweet and respectable—exactly what he needs.

Sophie’s never set foot on a beach, let alone left her hometown…until now. What does a sex-on-a-surfboard celebrity like Zane see in a klutzy bookworm like her? Oh, right. Nothing. Their relationship is purely fictional. And Zane is supposed to be on his best behavior. Sigh.

But the more Sophie blossoms under the beachy sun, the more Zane fears he’ll just break her heart. And this time, he’s found a heart he isn’t willing to break…

Hot Island Nights by Sarah Mayberry Elizabeth Morgan didn’t intend to abandon her very proper life. But that’s the best way to find her true—and less proper—self. So here she is in Australia, standing in front of a man who’s clad only in a towel. Nathan Jones is so tempting he could be the ideal candidate to help this good girl be very bad!

Sure enough, thanks to Nathan’s talented hands, Elizabeth is living all her sensual fantasies. And while the sex is great, something more is developing. She trusts him, and wants to share her secrets with him, and… Suddenly this feels more like a real relationship than some fun in the sun. Luckily, there’s a cure for too much commitment—more wickedness!

Just Good Friends  by Rosalind James  Some bets were made to be lost.

Kate Lamonica isn’t Koti James’ type. Too small. Too dark. And heaps too much work. So it’s an easy bet that he can be her friend for six weeks without making a move on her, no matter what his mates would have said.

Kate can’t believe she’s made the bet at all. New Zealand had seemed like the perfect escape from the stalker who’d threatened first her peace of mind and then her life. She certainly doesn’t need any more trouble. Why on earth has she agreed to spend time with a Maori rugby player who’s far too handsome and charming for his own good – and knows it?

But there’s more than one game Koti’s good at playing.

Austen Retellings 

Definitely, Maybe in Love  by Ophelia London

Her theory of attraction is about to get a new angleSpring Honeycutt wants two things: to ace her sustainable living thesis and to save the environment. Both seem hopelessly unobtainable until her college professor suggests that with a new angle, her paper could be published. Spring swears she’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that happens.”Whatever it takes,” however, means forming a partnership with the very hot, very privileged, very conceited Henry Knightly.Henry is Spring’s only hope at publication, but he’s also the über-rich son of a land developer and cash-strapped Spring’s polar opposite—though she can’t help being attracted to the way he pushes her buttons, both politically and physically. Spring finds there’s more to Henry than his old money and argyle sweaters…but can she drop the loud-and-proud act long enough to let him in? Suddenly, choosing between what she wants and what she needs puts Spring at odds with everything she believes in.Definitely, Maybe in Love is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice that proves true love is worth risking a little pride.

Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs  by Paula Marantz Cohen  Anne Ehrlich is a dedicated guidance counselor steering her high-school charges through the perils of college admission. Thirteen years ago, when she was graduating from Columbia University, her wealthy family—especially her dear grandmother Winnie—persuaded her to give up the love of her life, Ben Cutler, a penniless boy from Queens College. Anne has never married and hasn’t seen Ben since—until his nephew turns up in her high school and starts applying to college.

Now Ben is a successful writer, a world traveler, and a soon-to-be married man; and Winnie’s health is beginning to fail. All of these changes have Anne beginning to wonder…Can old love be rekindled, or are past mistakes too painful to forget?

Between the Lines  by Tammara Webber  Reid Alexander is used to getting what he wants – and what he wants next is his newest costar, Emma Pierce. The universe is lining up nicely to grant his wish, until he’s confronted with two unexpected obstacles on location: a bitter ex-girlfriend and a rival for Emma’s affections.

Emma Pierce just got her big break after years of filming commercials and made-for-TV movies. Winning the lead role in a wide-release film – opposite the very hot Reid Alexander – should be a dream come true. But Emma’s heart is hiding a secret fantasy: she wants to be a normal girl.

An Anthology:

Daughters of a Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology by Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, Piper Huguley, and  Kianna Alexander

The fight for suffrage was long, hard, and carried out on many fronts.In Daughters of a Nation, a black suffragette historical romance anthology, Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, and Piper Huguley bring you four novellas full of spirit, hope, and, most importantly: LOVE.

IN THE MORNING SUN by Lena Hart

With the election of 1868 underway, Madeline Asher’s mission is clear: educate and enlist the freedmen of Nebraska to vote. But when Union veteran James Blakemore comes back into her life, Madeline must choose either him and the future they’ve always wanted–or the chance to shape a greater nation.

THE WASHERWOMAN’S WAR by Piper Huguley ​

1881: Mamie Harper, a new teacher at Atlanta Female Baptist Seminary, hears of mistreatment from her washerwomen students and tells them to strike. She re-encounters summer pastor Gabriel Harmon, who has other ideas to help the washerwomen. Will these combatants be able to win in the war of love?

A RADIANT SOUL by Kianna Alexander

In 1881, Sarah Webster returns home to Fayetteville, NC for her mother’s milestone birthday. Her suffrage work is unknown to her family. Carpenter Owen Markham is intrigued by Sarah, and her father is playing matchmaker. When Owen discovers Sarah’s suffrage work, he’s not sure a love match can be made.

LET US DREAM by Alyssa Cole

​Harlem – 1917. Cabaret owner Bertha Hines is focused on women winning the vote, but when ornery chef Amir Chowdhury shows up in her kitchen, he proves to be a delicious distraction. Sparks fly, but between the vice squad and unfair immigration laws, can they hold on to their growing love?
The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology by Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, Piper Huguley The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology, with a foreword by the inimitable Beverly Jenkins, brings you four novellas highlighting love, light, and hope set over a period of history that’s often left in the shadows.

Amazing Grace, by Lena Hart:
It’s the year 1866–the Civil War is over and slavery has ended. Life for 18-year-old Gracie Shaw takes an unexpected turn when she is “encouraged” to marry a man sight-unseen. Boarded on a train headed West–to lawless territory–she is faced with misfortune at every turn and must accept the help of former Confederate soldier, Logan Finley, while denying herself the one thing she wants most. Him.

Drifting to You, by Kianna Alexander:
During the sultry Carolina summer of 1875, baker Rosaline Rhodes boards a Juneteenth cruise down the Cape Fear River. She’s there to serve her famous cinnamon spice cake; shipbuilder Will Pruett is there for pleasure. They’ve denied their mutual attraction for months, but now the river won’t be the only thing ebbing and flowing.

A Sweet Way to Freedom, by Piper Huguley:
In 1910, schoolteacher Missouri Baxter refuses to return home with a big belly and no husband. She’s got nine months to teach juke joint owner Arlo Tucker–a most reluctant student–an important lesson about what marriage means to their people. With God on her side, she’ll show him “A Sweet Way to Freedom.”

Let It Shine, by Alyssa Cole:
Sofronia Wallis knows that proper Black women don’t court trouble by upending the status quo, and they most certainly don’t associate with roughneck Jewish boxers like Ivan Friedman. But it’s 1961 and the Civil Rights movement is in full swing. Change–and love–are coming whether Sofie is ready or not.

When He Was Bad by Shelly Laurenston and Cynthia Eden Miss Congeniality

I’m young, good looking, and one day I’ll be Alpha Male of my family’s Pack. But Professor Irene Conridge acts like I don’t even exist. Now she’s got enemies coming out of the woodwork and I have to protect her. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that while I work to secure her safety, she’ll be hanging out at my house–right where I want her.
Wicked Ways
When I hear my sexy new neighbor scream one night, the absolute last thing I expect to see is Miranda Shaw–star of my hottest fantasies–being attacked by a vampire. Too bad for him I’m a badass shifter ready to fight for my fantasies. And Miranda, well, she’s so busy watching out for him that she won’t see me closing in on her. . .

That is all the rows! Have fun!

Just like That by Nicola Rendell Review

Just Like That by Nicola Rendell 3 Stars! 

“I bet I can untangle you.”

At an airport baggage claim, Penny Darling looks up from her knotted mess of ear buds to find the sexiest hunk of man she’s ever seen. He’s got a military haircut, a scar through his eyebrow, and he’s rocking a pastel pink dress shirt like only a real man can. But Penny is on a man-free diet so she leaves the airport without succumbing to his delicious double-entendres…or his dreamy dimples.

PI Russ Macklin can’t take his eyes off Penny. As she sashays out of the airport with hips swaying and curls bouncing, he suspects they may share more than just sweltering chemistry. That suitcase she’s rolling along behind her? It looks a lot like his.

Because it is.

When he tracks her down, he holds her bag hostage in exchange for a date. Their night begins with margaritas and ends in urgent care, and Russ proves that Cosmo’s theory about a very particular type of orgasm was oh-so-wrong.

In Penny, Russ finds a small-town sweetheart with a very naughty side. For the first time ever, he’s thinking about picket fences. Penny finds in Russ a loving, caring man who understands the power of massaging showerheads.

But Russ is only in Port Flamingo for a week. They agree it’ll be a fling and nothing more. Because really, they can’t fall ass-over-teakettle in love just like that…

Can they?

Review

Overall, I liked this mad cap romantic comedy. This story really is about what happens when you get gobsmacked by love, when you find your perfect partner.

The heroine comes from a great colorful family with in a crazy coastal Florida town. There are lots of quirky characters around here including the heroine. Her dog is the very best. He might be my favorite characters.

The hero is too aggressive for me at times and sets my teeth on edge. He says things like he always gets what he wants…and he does. His interior talk is very sweet and adoring so it gets me through the parts I don’t like as well.

There is a lot of hot sweaty sex and a silly investigation save the town plot which I rather liked.

It is an over the top lot of fun on the whole.

Pansies (Spires Book 4) by Alexis Hall Review

 Pansies (Spires Book 4) by Alexis Hall 4 Stars!

Alfie Bell is . . . fine. He’s got a six-figure salary, a penthouse in Canary Wharf, the car he swore he’d buy when he was eighteen, and a bunch of fancy London friends.

It’s rough, though, going back to South Shields now that they all know he’s a fully paid-up pansy. It’s the last place he’s expecting to pull. But Fen’s gorgeous, with his pink-tipped hair and hipster glasses, full of the sort of courage Alfie’s never had. It should be a one-night thing, but Alfie hasn’t met anyone like Fen before.

Except he has. At school, when Alfie was everything he was supposed to be, and Fen was the stubborn little gay boy who wouldn’t keep his head down. And now it’s a proper mess: Fen might have slept with Alfie, but he’ll probably never forgive him, and Fen’s got all this other stuff going on anyway, with his mam and her flower shop and the life he left down south.

Alfie just wants to make it right. But how can he, when all they’ve got in common is the nowhere town they both ran away from.

Review

This is my first Alexis Hall book and I was impressed.

The writing is lyrical and such a pleasure to sink into. I love the detail of the North of England Contemporary setting geographically, historically, culturally and in the dialect.

The romance is compelling. I have a great discomfort with the falling in love with my former bully theme but Hall does a good job of dealing with all the layers though even more self reflection and therapy on both their parts would not have hurt.

The grief and depression of Fen’s character and yet solid internal adulthood paired with Alfie’s outward adulthood with the seeking of a full recognition of self and needs and wants make for a compelling love story.

They are both great wounded loving. people and the cast is wonderfully complex as well. They have friends and family and jobs. Those things all evolve as they fall in love and choose a life together.

The main thing that keeps this from being an smashing success of a romance for me is that Alfie’s character is given more light than Fen’s so that when Fen makes some decisions, we are left a little uncomfortable as to if that his best self because we need to see more of Fen’s healing than we do,

Overall, I highly recommend this book for a lush and engrossing romance.

Just Stop Me (Escape to New Zealand #9) by Rosalind James Review

4 Stars!

Lots of young women dream of being a princess. Nina Jones isn’t one of them. After escaping from her palace/prison by burying herself under sacks of fertilizer, she ends up in a beach cottage on New Zealand’s South Island. She’s meant to be looking after a cantankerous widower. Too bad she doesn’t know how to boil an egg.
Iain McCormick may be an All Black, a member of New Zealand’s elite rugby team, and a bona fide celebrity. During the offseason, though, he’s meant to be a regular Kiwi bloke. A good son, a good neighbor, and a good citizen. But civility comes harder when you’ve been dumped at the altar. He doesn’t need anybody he has to look out for. He definitely doesn’t need to fall in love.

Yeah, right.

Review

I had a lot of trouble getting into this book because I really hate the fake royalty theme. I was restless at first.

However, I went back after reading James’ Just Say Yes which is a 5 star read for me and really loved this one.

I will say it is a tear jerker in the secondary romance of the heroes parents and the grief of his grandfather. I loved this part of the book.

The hero is messed up from his wedding that didn’t happen and the heroine is messed up from being controlled by all the people in her life.

It is a lovely book of healing and sexy too.

The hero and heroine both really grow and it is wonderful to see. The heroine could have revealed her secret a bit earlier and there is another something that doesn’t get followed up on that happens to her but overall this is a very good romance.