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Miss Match
Fiona Riley
The Gravity Between Us
Kristen Zimmer

The Sum of These Things

The Sum of These Things - Emily O’Beirne The plot is not so original, as it follows the old romance pattern: love, split, love again.
But the story is engaging, emotionally compelling, full of witty dialogs, all-round described characters, even the secundary ones.
It's a well written YA romance about understanding ourselves and our place in life, growing up, overcoming personal insecurities, finding the courage to stand against all odds, expecially inside the family.
The two main characters, Claire and Mia are really lovable.
I liked this chapter more than the previous one, [b:A Story of Now|25019692|A Story of Now (A Story of Now, #1)|Emily O’Beirne|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1424898785s/25019692.jpg|44692870], because it's a little more complex, but it's really one story. I read it one after the other and I found no gap between the two.
I liked it and recommend it.

A Story of Now

A Story of Now - Emily O'Beirne This is a nice romance who deals with insecurity and inferiority complex.
Claire and Mia, the two lead characters are both really nice, but both have to grow up a little in order to find their way to happiness.

Claire is openly in a crisis state. She has relationship problems with her family, and she really doesn't know which direction to give her life. At the beginning of the novel we see her all grumpy and in a superiority complex mood masquerading an inferiority complex. So I agree whith what I read in other reviews: initially, Claire is an unpleasant bit of a jerk. We have to know her a little more in order to start to be sympathetic with her. Yet I came to love her, after a while.

Two considerations came in my mind here:
1) I found out that every superiority complex is always a form of inferiority complex. It's just a matter oh how deeply you look at it.
2) Frankly having a lead character in such a crisis is really refreshing. By now I have read tons of romances where every main lady is succesful in profession, career or just purpose. A succesful character is certainly charismatic, but sometimes is good to see (aside from just angst in relationships) someone who is struggling with work, and lacks ideas of what to do next. It makes Claire very human.

The other lead, Mia, seems to be calm and secure. She is beautiful and cool in Claire's eyes but... she behaves in a strange way.
That's because she is everything but secure. She's totally lost. About her newly discovered sexuality somehow, and above all about Claire.
Her kind of insecurity complex reminded me about... well... myself with girls when I was younger.
It's the attitude: "She is so above myself. She is so beatiful, so cool, so popular, I cannot hope to be with her".
That attitude is a paralyzing disaster in relationships, believe me.
I remember, when I finally overcame it, I was so surprised that girls were actually happy to accept dates with me. (!)
And so is Mia, paralyzed by her irrational fears. Until a woderful talk between her and Claire in the finale will help to overcome everything.

That's what makes Mia so endearing to me.

PS: I really didn't like the drinking issue. They drink too much alcohol in this book. I know it is a way of life index and so on, and I don't want to be rigid. But I found it dangerous rather than cool. I think it's not even fun.
Drinking to unconsciousness and awaking in a total stranger's bed is quite a disturbing thought for me.

The Blind Side of Love

The Blind Side of Love - Ingrid Díaz This is just beautiful. It's fully enitled to be in my all times favorites.

The story is quite similar to Notting Hill playing on the social class gap between the two lead characters, the bohemian artist and the Hollywood star, but there is much more and it's originally reinvented.

It's psychologically and emotionally intense. The leads are both young and full of life, and the plot is fresh, full of humour and feelings.
Julianne is unconsciously a total charm. And Kris... I really like her as well.
Both are so full of insecurities and all vulnerable, and this make them sweethearts.
They both carry burdens from their past, and they gradually find the courage to be themselves, to define what they really want and who they are.

Secundary characters are nice and provide much fun in a well defined New York City stage.

Everything combines in a sound, romantic comedy, well balanced between trepidation and feeling.
The rythm is slow. Becoming aware of the other person and of herself and falling in love is described in details. Important themes comes in to play: outing to the family, discovering a different sexuality.
I think this version is still lacking something about what will happen when Kris will finally out to her family. I'd like to see how badly they'll react and how Kris is going to cope.

I'm really happy I have found this author.
Not only this book, but her blog as well. She's witty and positive in so many ways an I found "food for thought" in many things that she wrote. I think she has a lot to say.

I already bought her published novel, and I hope to see this one published soon in its definitive release. I'll be happy to buy it and re-read it.

Full 5 stars.

Projection

Projection - Fletcher DeLancey Just 8 pages, but coherent with Chronicles of Alsea and... sexy.

After Mrs Hamilton

After Mrs Hamilton - Clare  Ashton Achingly beautiful.
I was nailed, riveted in reading. I felt as I need to embrace the characters to protect them from all that suffering. Expecially Clo. Not only her, but expecially her, so sweet, so frail and yet so disperately wanting to live again.
Laura and Susan. I saw what was coming. I hoped not, but I knew it.
But I liked the conclusion. I loved that Clo has been the key to their understanding. Actually even my understanding. I didn't understand Susan's reaction until Clo explained it to me.

Wow, I'm quite tired. It has been quite a powerful experience!

All the Little Moments

All the Little Moments - G. Benson Single, young aunt who, all of a sudden, must learn to look after her brother/sister's children is an old, sweet and endearing theme.
I have seen in cinema this nice Garry Marshall's movie , starring Kate Hudson, which displays contents very similar to those in this book.
Also, for other aspects, this novel reminds me this Christmas season TV movie, with Carla Gugino, performing the aunt.
If you liked this book, as I did, I suggest to see these movies too.

Benson gives this novel a dramatic slant, moderate by deep, good feelings. Death is very present in the story for every characters. But so are friendship and love, in every aspect. The play is of vivid contrast which makes the story intense. Even if it encompass many subjects aside from romance, let me say I don't agree at all with those who state that in this book, romance is a minor.
On the contrary, Lane proves to be really brave and sympathetic with Anna, and she's fundamental in helping her in her battles. Love is difficult for her, and hence has worth.

I loved this book.

The Temple at Landfall

The Temple at Landfall - Jane Fletcher It's been a surprising book. A wonderful construction of a world and an enthralling reading.

Unfortunately there isn't much to say about it without touching a major spoiler the one which has to do with the origin of human life on this planet and the only female gender prospect of evolution.
Indeed just stating that this book is a sci-fi genre one and not a fantasy one, is a big spoiler.
This surprise is the key to read all the book with totally different eyes, and it makes this story so original.
, for there is a wonderful twist of the plot.

I really liked the characters, the adventure cut, the fantastic creatures, and the plot.
I'm not giving five stars because I feel the romance between Lynn and Kim is lacking depth. They both are nice, but there's a bit of superficiality, as they don't really get to know each other well, and they don't talk enough.

Just a quick consideration: a society without men is described as very very similar to our one. Just a bit of male pride, maybe, but it would be interesting to see more differences, a different balance, or unbalance, I don't know.

Firework

Firework - Melissa Brayden I give five stars just for affection.
I liked Lucy Danaher from [b:Heart Block|13587052|Heart Block|Melissa Brayden|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344719896s/13587052.jpg|19174404] and I was happy to see her again as a protagonist in a novella.
Also, I loved to see again Emory, Sarah and Grace.
I had to struggle a bit with Kristin. I didn't like her a lot in the beginning, but at the end she was nice and hot...
...and the rest is Brayden!

Without a Front - The Warrior's Challenge

Without a Front - The Warrior's Challenge - Fletcher DeLancey I have been in love with Andira Tal from the moment I started to read The Caphenon, till the last page of Without a Front. And now I'm in love with Salomen Opah too.

This story is mainly about feelings and heroism, love and family.
There is this great love story between Tal and Salomen and everything rotates around this nucleus. We have insight of both the characters, their admirable strenght, their frailties (which contradiction is so endearing!) and we are lead to see how they can overcome together even the obstacles they can't overcome alone.
Their love sublimes in the supernatural and reaches the heights of a spiritual dimension, but there are also some good sex scenes. Most often it's touching and delicate.
We also are drawn in their families and dear ones personal stories to give us a complete picture of their feelings.

Aside from the love story there is a mistery part. A multifaced trap is set up to threaten Tal's political power and her life itself. We have answers to everything that have been set up in the first chapter. The enemies will have a face, eventually. And there is some good action, too.

I found this latter part just a little bit disappointing. It's entertaining , but maybe he plot is simpler than I had expected, the rhythm is not tight, if not for a few chapters, and everything was solved a little bit too quickly.
From just the adventure point of view, The Caphenon was better, I think.

But as always, we have to consider the author's purpose. She wanted to put the characters under a severe test. Her attention was to show us how they reacted emotionally under this menace, how strong they become helping each other, more than just entertaining us in a thriller mode. And this is masterfully accomplished. We can say this side of the book is somehow aimed to the love story.
The real value of the book is that I have been totally involved in the feelings: I suffered with them, I found relief when they won their battles and rejoiced in their happiness.

Reading all the three books has been indeed a long, satisfying ride!

This second chapter merges perfectly into the first one. As a reader I didn't appreciate the splitting of the novel in two books, even if it's understandable from the publisher's side to split an almost 800 pages story of their new (and I hope very prolific) author.

By the way do you realize that the dangerous assassin Periso is still out there, don't you?

Ready or Not

Ready or Not - Melissa Brayden I read it, but I rushed a bit, so I read it again.
This made me think about the right way to read a Melissa Brayden's.
The first time I was hungry because I wanted to see what was going to happen and, as a result, I didn't like the book so much.
But the second time I read it slowly, I tasted every detail, and this time I loved it.
I researched every peculiarity that came up through the reading. For example I head to translate "burgundy" (Mallory's matching underwear was black and burgundy) to discover it was the english tranlsation of Bourgogne wine.
I believe these Brayden books have to be "meditated" as a good glass of red burgundy to be really appreciated. Sipped, not gulped down.
I also "googled" every place of NY and there are many which I want to see sooner or later.
Above all, I took time to consider every feelings and emotions this story "elicited" both in the lead characaters and in myself. The result, as always with this author, is delicious.

I loved each and every character in this series, but my favourite ones are Hunter and Mallory, because of the contrast between strenght and vulnerability. I found it really charming.

Without A Front - The Producer's Challenge

Without A Front - The Producer's Challenge - Fletcher DeLancey This novel is indeed the lull before the storm!

It's not even an entire book; it's just a half. 1176 pages of the free version are challenging, but still I'm quite tempted to download it to go on with the story immediately! How on earth am I supposed to survive six weeks leaving everything in such a trouble? This splitting is cruel!

I've read this novel immediately after the first one of the series, the Caphenon, and to give you an idea of how much I am involved in the world of Alsea, one morning last week I catched myself exclaiming: "Fahla! I'm late!"
(Fahla is Alsea's deity...)

After the happenings of the Caphenon the planet Alsea has a sudden mood swing. No longer facing an alien invasion, it's now going through moral and economic crises, the previously acquired unity of intent forgotten, and the castes on the verge of political war both internally and one against the other.
There is much Earth in this Alsea.

Standing between the downfalling alseans and the ruin we find one woman: the Lancer (world leader) Andira Tal, whose intelligence, empathy and morality are serving for what is good and right.
But even Andira Tal is exhausted by the previous fight for the planet and also personally tried by the loss of a love.

Until, after a while, her life is wonderfully upset by the most delightful, determined and headstrong young lady of the producer caste. After an initial conflict, Andira Tal is challanged to share her life and home for a while. And a great love begins to unfold, so powerful to be supernatural, and yet truly gradual, nice and delicate.

Meanwhile, a mysterious, powerful and dangerous enemy is plotting a deathly trap to destroy Andira Tal politically and personally.

I really shouldn't give five stars for a half of a book. I'm still giving them because I'm so involved by this story, by the most wonderful leading characters and by their powerful, intense (and difficult) love story.
But at the end of this book the lull is finished and the storm arrived, violent.

The Caphenon

The Caphenon - Fletcher DeLancey I love Andira Tal.

The main theme of the story is that the most technologically advanced civilization is not necessarily the best civilization.
This idea is not shown as explicitly black-or-white as, for example, in Avatar, yet we found in the planet Alsea a highly moral society, while the Protectorate, the confederation of "high evolved" planets in charge of the order of the galaxy falls short of expecations because of its tendency to judge, to protect its own privileges and to serve its own profits.

The alsean population is very rich of traditions, religious and spiritual beliefs, it's technologically very advanced, expecially in medical field and in nanotechnolgy.
Also it's a free society and, because of their peculiar empathic powers, higly respectful of their neighbor's feelings. The community is subdivided in an ordered system of castes, based on the natural tendencies of individuals, like global corporations. Not too perfect, but still a good place where to live.

The story begins when the Caphenon, a Protecotrate startreklike starship guided by Captain Serrado, crashes on the planet while defending it from a malevolent, conquest-aimed, alien population.
We follow three strong women, three heroines: Ekatya Serrado, captain of the Caphenon, Lhyn Rivers, genial scientist of the Protectorate, and Andira Tal, the Lancer, or world leader, of Alsea.

On one side there are Ekatya, Lhyn (who is also scretely Ekatya's lover and mate) and the remaining crew of the Caphenon, on the other Lancer Andira Tal and the Alseans she leads.
The adventure then is a pinwheel of happenings while the two groups of heroes learn at first to know each other and gradually come to mutual respect and like, they work together, face a great danger together, and eventually come to love each other in true friendship.

The book is so complex and yet the reading is so flowing, enjoyable and easy. That, for me, is a proof of its high quality.

Now, is this book really a lesfic?
For a very large part it is a wonderful adventure where two of the leads just happen to be lesbian.
But in the last section, Ekatya and Lhyn learn something really important and beautiful about their love and there is an important turn toward the romance.
And also Andira Tal... but I don't want to spoil.

Last but not least, the book is really about the wonderful character of Andira Tal, so noble, sacrificing, generous, emotionally rich, the true heroine and symbol of her planet.
She is strong like a thunder as a front line warrior, an intelligent, smart politician and yet, secretly, a total sweetheart. Such a lovely contrast, all in one person.
Did I already say that I love Andira Tal?

The Crush

The Crush - Susan X. Meagher Research and italian stuff
Being italian and having relatives in Tuscany, I must say the author made a wonderful, wonderful research job on this book.
In particular, names are very tuscan. For example "Riccarda", Chiara's mother is a name you can find probably only in Tuscany.
Places, customes, jokes, language expressions are all exactly correct. But let me say, also the spirit of the italian life style is correct in the novel. And this is not taken for granted at all, because we see so many american works about Italy which are merely stereotypes!
Also, I'd like to mention the sound farm life description. I'm not an expert in this case, but again, Meagher describe realistically a life which is hard and challenging, not a mere bucolic dream.

Romance and story
The two main characters are both very nice. They are both strong, but each one with their frailities, and this makes them so complex and interesting, expecially as female characters.
Another original point here is about having somehow less angst between the two women. They are so in love with each other that at almost exactly half the book they are a couple no longer up for discussion. The story then revolves about saving the life they choose to live, but not about being a couple, which is already achieved. I found it heartwarming, even if it's not the usual romance cliché.
I think a minor flaw in the story is about Aldo, Nic's father. His behaviour toward his daughter is really too much. That if the author's intention was to describe a good man with some issues, made up at the end. But I found him to be indeed a bad father. No trust in her daugher, no listening at all. Of course that adds drive to the tale, but also ruined all my sympathy for the character.

Siena and the Palio
I'll go now a little OT and I'm going to describe my experience of Siena and the Palio, which is so significative in this story.
I regard Siena as one of the most beautiful italian cities, and that's something, consent me to say. A wonderfully preserved medieval burg, immersed in the most lovable country, Siena is really a jewel of Tuscany and Italy as a whole. Life there is relaxed, people open and likeable.
I have never been there for the Palio race, but I have been there the day before, and I tell you, it's impossible to leave the city unaffected. It's quite an experience indeed.
As a latin proverb says: semel in anno licet insanire (once in a year it's allowed to become mad).
The city literally burst with life. Colours of the contrade attire the whole city. Long rows of tables occupy the narrow streets in every corner of the city for night banquets and parties. And you hear drums and girls' choruses and chants everywhere: "To-to-torre!!!", "O-o-onda!!!", "Chio-chio-chiocciola!!!" and so on. And then all to the magnificent Campo place to see the trials with horses.
For the readers of The Crush, the book was published in 2013, and in that year the contrada dell'Onda or, more precisely, the "supreme" contrada dell'Onda, as it is called, won the Palio in August.

Does She Love You?

Does She Love You? - Rachel Spangler Now, this was not all cozy and fluffy reading, this has been quite tough.
It is a novel about betrayal, it's about what betrayal is, what there is behind it, in terms of causes and effects. The final effect of cheating, in its core, is simple. It destroys trust, and when trust is lost, love follows. But dealing with so much loss is everything but easy, it touches the inner cords, upsets every balance. It is indeed hard.
So here we have all the main characters facing this difficult, ugly situation, the hit and the consequences. And not only we see that from the point of view of Annabelle, the betrayed wife, or of Davis, the unaware mistress who falls in love, but (and here Rachel Spangler proves to be a hell of a writer) even from the point of view of Nic, the cheater.
The story could have been much more superficial, seen only by Annabelle and Davis, a description of fall and rebirth. Nic could just have been the baddy, the contextual catalyst of the events.
On the contrary, Spangler shows us how the treachery is conceived by her, the psychological flaws that made it possible, her hopes and feelings (even guilt) during the process. It's all so believable.
While the other two women, from a basis of a clear conscience, gradually start to overcome the blow, grow into better individuals and open again to love, Nic falls in a personal hell of guilt, loneliness and neglect. The consequences for her are much heavier. I felt for her, reading.
Overall, the book is wonderfully rich, psichologically intense and coherent, the love story and the romance is sweet and original and Nic's odissey is a rare gem.
A full five star, for me.

Under a Falling Star

Under a Falling Star - Jae This has really been a fun reading.
Somehow the romance is similar to Gill McKnight Ambereye, but of course without any supernatural or werewolf. However it's the story of a stern, grumpy workaholic boss, Dee, who becomes a total sweetie when love touches her life. An interior journey, the miracle of love in resurrecting our life from a difficult family and a terrible environment.
The plot isn't really anything original, but the atmosphere is charming and the characters both very nice, so you side with them and the reading is absorbing (compelling, in my case, as I had to read through a couple of nights until morning!)
A good point is that the main characters are really good, moral persons, avoiding any unnecessary fuss that sometimes trouble this kind of books. Dee expecially, starting from more delicate situation, has exemplary reactions throughout the story, never falls short of Austen, and comes to be a really positive character.
Quality is in details.

That Certain Something

That Certain Something - Clare  Ashton A refreshing, fun romance about love at first sight and soul mates.
Despite a very difficult and embarassing situation, the feelings and the emotions are so powerful that cannot be ignored and will find their way to express.

The storytelling is seen from the eyes of Pia, a determined, sensitive, stubborn, adorable gay photographer with her established set of moral principles, but a little (and sometimes more than a little) closeminded about what falls outside them.
The target of her love is beautiful, rich and mysterious Cate, which the reader comes to discover gradually along the story, together with Pia. Without spoilering to much, she'll be quite great at the end.

An important line of the play is the class contrast between the two main characters which results only in superficial difference, not really a fundamental one in the inner reality.
As a minor character points out to Pia "you two are more similar than you think, and what is different is spice".

The story is not perfect, it has its flaws, sometimes you'd like to say: "Come on, Pia, that's too much! Relent a little!"
But as a whole you heartily feel for the two girls, becasue they are both really very nice and you just want for them the much awaited happy ending.
And, by the way, you're compelled to read to the early hours until it happens!