childhood nemesis

From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata Review!

  From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata 3 Stars!

If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

Review

I am always so excited when a new Mariana Zapata book comes out and this one with its deep dive into figure skating has arrived just in time of the Olympics.

We get a great deal of what we love about Zapata’s romances in this tale: slow burn, banter, excellence, friends to lovers (in this case after enemies).

Jasmine’s internal struggles to have a more balanced life as a professional athlete and the steady reveal of Ivan as a hero are wonderfully done as is the relationships with the larger cast.

We really see Jasmine fall in love though it seems our hero has been in love for a long time.

There are lots of great details from surprise pets, complex relationships with parents, a look at bullying that make this novel really good.

However, this is the kind of romance I read and think this was good but it could have been excellent.

I needed much more after the I love you. I needed to see Ivan talk openly about his feelings and where his head was at all these years because the book is told from Jasmine’s perspective.

There is a lot of talk about Jasmine’s body and think there needs to be a reckoning with the hero as body issues are so rampant in the sport. It felt false not to confront this aspect of the novel which is only skimmed here and hinted at there while the hero calls her Meatball. Now, the why of their “banter” is discussed but not at all to the complexity which would have made this a great book nor is the “one year only” aspect of the contact. These elements of the book felt sloppy. There is only one sex scene which I don’t mind but there is a moment in there where it hurts and she doesn’t tell him and then that again is the only erotic intimacy we get… so, yeah.

However!

I have a mad craving for James’ and Jonathan’s romance (please!) Tali’s should get one as well. And I would love to see how Ben and and Jas’s mom feel in love. This would make a great novella collection.

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.

Childhood Friends/Nemesis to Lovers in Contemporary Romance

There is a real joy in finding romantic love with a friends. The friends to lovers there has a special sparkle when the couple has know each other for a long time particularly as childern.  The leads must see each other as more complex than they every have before and that makes for a great love story.

Here are some of my favorite Contemporary Romance Novels that do this theme of childhood friends to lovers right.

 All for You (Paris Nights Book 1) by Laura Florand

Some crushes aren’t meant to be.

When her older brother’s best friend left to join the Foreign Legion, eighteen-year-old Célie moved on to make a life for herself as a Paris chocolatier. Now, five years later, the last thing she needs is another man to mess up her happiness.

Let alone the same man.

But five years in the Foreign Legion is a long time for a man to grow up, and a long time to be away from the woman he loves.

Especially when he did it all for her.

Half strangers, more than friends, and maybe, if Joss Castel has his way, a second chance…

 Rock Chick by Kristen Ashley

Indy Savage, cop’s daughter, rock chick and used bookstore owner, has been in love with Lee Nightingale, once bad boy, now the man behind Nightingale Investigations, since she was five years old. No matter what ingenious schemes Indy used to capture his attention, Lee never showed an interest and Indy finally gave up. Now Indy’s employee, Rosie, has lost a bag of diamonds and bad guys are shooting at him. When Indy gets involved, Lee is forced to help. Complicting matters, Lee has decided he’s interested, Indy’s decided she’s not. But she can’t seem to keep Lee out of her life when she’s repeatedly stun gunned, kidnapped and there are car bombs exploding (not to mention she’s finding dead bodies).

Indy’s best bet is to solve the mystery of the diamonds before Lee. Lee’s challenge is to keep Indy alive and, at the same time, win back her heart.

 

Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers Book 1) by Penny Reid

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!
Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why perpetually level-headed Jessica James has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…
But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks.
When Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?

Three Little Words (Fool’s Gold Book 13) by Susan Mallery

Isabel Beebe thinks she’s cursed in the romance department. Her teenage crush, Ford Hendrix, ignored all her letters. Her husband left her for another…man. So Isabel has come home to dust off her passion for fashion and run the family bridal shop until her parents are ready to sell it. Then she’ll pursue her real dreams. At least, that’s the plan, until sexy, charming Ford returns and leaves her feeling fourteen all over again…..

Seeing Isabel all grown-up hits bodyguard trainer Ford like a sucker punch. Back when heartbreak made him join the military, her sweet letters kept him sane. Now he can’t take his eyes—or his lips—off her. The man who gave up on love has a reason to stay in Fool’s Gold forever—if three little words can convince Isabel to do the same.

 

 

 Seducing Cinderella (A Fighting for Love Novel Book 1) by Gina Maxwell

Mixed martial arts fighter Reid Andrews’s chance to reclaim his title as light heavyweight champ is shattered when he’s injured only months before the rematch. To make sure he’s healed in time, his trainer sends him to recuperate under a professional’s care–Reid’s best friend’s little sister, all grown up.

Disorganized and bookish Lucie Miller needs some professional help of her own. She’d do anything to catch the eye of a doctor she’s crushed on for years, so when Reid offers seduction lessons in exchange for 24/7 conditioning for the biggest fight of his career, Lucie jumps at the chance.

Soon Reid finds himself in the fight of his life…winning Lucie’s heart before she gives it to someone else

 To Do List (Bettencourt Brothers Book 1) by Lauren Dane

Belle Taylor’s life, the one she’s worked for meticulously since before she’d even graduated high school had turned out exactly as she’d hoped. And it exhausted her in ways she’d never even known to expect.

She needs to re-evaluate her future, find a way to do what she loved but still have the time and energy for things other than work. So she heads home for the holidays, where she can rest and get her head together.

Rafe Bettencourt was most assuredly not an item on Belle’s to-do list and yet, when her older brother’s best friend kissed her under the mistletoe, Belle finds herself with another set of goals to balance what she’d thought she wanted.

Rafe has loved Belle from afar for years and when he runs into her the night she comes back to Davis, he realizes he’s done waiting around and it was time to make a move. He’s got to help her see she can have a life that includes more than just her job and that she could do it with him at her side.

 

Want more great Friends to Lovers Romance? Check out my Showcase of this theme: Best Friends to Lovers in Romance Novels. 

 

A Crown of Bitter Orange (La Vie en Roses #3) by Laura Florand 5 Star Review!

Review:

A Crown of Bitter Orange (La Vie en Roses Book 3) - Laura Florand

Childhood friends.
Tristan Rosier might have asked Malorie Monsard to marry him when he was five years old, but things had only gone downhill from there. She’d spent the rest of their lives ignoring him, abandoning him, and destroying his perfumes. Now she was back, to wreak who knew what havoc on his life.

Lifelong enemies.
Tristan might choose to dismiss the generations-long enmity between their two families, but Malorie didn’t have that privilege. Like all the other privileges wealthy, gorgeous Tristan took for granted that she couldn’t. But if she was going to restore her family company to glory, she might just need his help.

Or the perfect match?
They’d known each other all their lives. Could these childhood friends and lifelong enemies ever uncross their stars and find happily ever after?

 

Review

One of my best moments of the year is when Laura Florand published a new book.

Her world building combine with wholly realized and oh so human romantic leads that fall in love before my eyes can not be beat.

She has a gift for setting and seeding details of history, fairy tale, place, and skill. Her books are feasts for the emotional as well as physical senses.

This romance is so good. Taking place in France within the perfume industry in a the long history between two families in the shadow of World War II, we get an opposites attract romance with fun twists and turns. Each detail revealed about the hero builds the heroines love even through they have known and cared for each other their whole lives. The heroine is reseen through her and the heroes eyes.

It doesn’t matter what the plot is of the book, though it is a good one with a nice pace of before, during and after that so many love stories lack, you just want to be with this couple in this place and with the cast of characters.

The marriage proposal scene is the best I have ever read. The best. The tenderness, the embodiment of who they each are and so so sexy. It is the best scene I have read in a long time. I reread it. Alot. I want to go and reread it now.

A great book that I will be reading from comfort and joy for a long time to come.

I was given this book for my honest review. So, there you have it

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