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TinaNoir

Tina's Reading Books

Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

Carolina Girl

Carolina Girl - Virginia Kantra

Lightning review:

- I liked the workplace drama with Meg and even though it played out very much as I predicted it was still well done.

- I liked Sam (the hero) more than Meg the heroine. I really enjoyed his character as well as his interactions with the other characters, especially his dad.

- The continuing story arc that began in the last book with Taylor (the 10 year old daughter of the youngest sibling Luke) remains one a big draw. Honestly it is better sequel bait than the promise of another romance.

- Looking forward to the family else finding out what the readers probably already guessed about Taylor.

Carolina Home

Carolina Home - Virginia Kantra

Lightning review:


- Engaging contemporary romance with a root worthy heroine and a somewhat prickly (yet not asshole-y) hero

- Nice sense of place. Usually small town romances are more miss than hit for me, but I like the Dare Island setting and how well the author painted a picture of the tourists, the locals and the fishing & tourism industry of the island

- Liked the family drama. In addition to the romance and the community, the family stuff gave the story a sense of fullness

- Very intrigued by the whole story surrounding Taylor. This is a trilogy and there are three siblings so it is a no brainer that each one gets a book. At the beginning of this book, Luke, the youngest sibling, is delivered of a ten year old girl (Taylor) on his doorstep who he finds out is his daughter. He is a soldier about to be deployed on another tour in the Middle East so he needs to leave her with his parents & siblings. She has problems that go beyond dealing with the death of her mother, the only parent she has ever known and being (seeimgly) abandoned by the father she just met. But Luke's book is the third in the series one we just scratch the surface of Taylor's story in this one so I am looking forward to see how that all pans out.

Study In Death

A Study in Death - Anna Lee Huber

I love this series.  Really.  I read this when it first came out in kindle ed. But really wanted to listen to it in audio.  The aduiobook came out a month or two after the kindle ed.  So I plan to listen to this in audio before reviewing.  So a review with be forthcoming...

The Crown Tower

The Crown Tower - Michael J. Sullivan

This is the first book of the Riyria Chronicles series which is a prequel to the most excellent Riyria Revelations series. In this first book we get the origin story of the epic bromance between Royce and Hadrian. There is also a nice bit of real estate given to Gwen's background. So we also get the origin story on how these two came to meet Gwen.

I listened to this in audio. Inhaled really. It was very good. And the narration was also really well done. Kinda reminded me of Jim Dale who narrates the Harry Potter audiobooks.

I was initially resistant to reading this, I liked the original series so much I didn't feel the need to go back. But a few things acted together to lure me into this:

1) I caught the blurb on the most recent Riyria Chronicles book The Death of Dulgath and it sounded like something right up my alley. But it is a third book and ...

2) I am a 'completionist' so I couldn't start there. I feel compelled to go back to the beginning and start with this one and...

3) Audible just threw $20.00 at me. For no reason. I had credits amassed, but I am stingy about my credits. But this is found money...

So there you have it. I got this one.

And I am glad I did. I am also very glad that I am reading the series in the order that I am. I read the 'Revelations' series first. Which comes chronologically after this book. In that series, the relationships between Royce/Hadrian/Gwen etc. have already been formed and I was introduced to them in their mature stage. Their easy, full of knowledge, and I-keep-your-secrets stage.

My first intro of Royce and Hadrian was of them doing a neat bit of thievery, full of banter and quips and comfort with each other. They have utter trust in each other. One of the things that sold them and tumbled me into love with that first book was that relationship.

That was not there in this book. As a matter of fact these two men were total strangers to me in this book. I don't think I would have liked this book as much as I did if I didn't already know what these two would become.

Hadrian felt too young, too trusting, too open while Royce felt too closed, too distant, too cynical. I honestly did not like this Royce and Hadrian that much. But I knew what they would become so I was interested in seeing how they transformed.

And to beyond the knowledge of who they would become with years of influence by the other, I admit I also enjoyed reading with foreknowledge of why some of the machinations were happening and what significance they would have for future events. Complete strangers Hadrian and Royce are forced to work together in what can only be described as an extreme 'trust fall' situation. They are tasked with stealing a book from a place that is incredibly difficult to steal from. Royce is already a thief and an assassin. He can get the thing all by himself. So why does Prof. Arcadius insist so stringently that Royce need Hadrian? Well for obvious reasons it is because Hadrian is kind of a gangsta with a blade. But there are other, non-obvious reasons that don't reveal themselves until the fifth book in the later series. See? i knew this and this made the reading that much richer for me.

Since I primarily went into this because of my love for Royce and Hadrian, I found myself incredibly surprised by how much I adored the Gwen chapters. I admit, I did not have quite the fondness for Gwen in the later series that I have for Royce and Hadrian. We know that she is important to them, she definitely is important to Royce -- they have a very complicated love life. But this book really gave her a depth that I appreciated. I liked seeing her triumph.

So this intro delivered.... good characters, good story and an exciting conclusion.

I could end here but I won't. I am hooked again and will most definitely use one of my stingily hoarded credits.

The Arrangement

The Arrangement - Thayer King

I take points away for what is essentially a set up that doesn't feel very credible. But overall this was a quick, fun read.

Ari and Ash are friends who have known each other forever but have Ari has kept firmly Ash in the friendzone despite Ash's broad hints he'd completely like to do her.

Ari's boyfriend dumped her for her scheming cousin and the two cheaters plan to announce their engagement at Ari's family's big ass family reunion.

Asher's father is running for Governor and Ash has a bit of a bad boy rep. He's basically a player.

Ari is not looking forward to being the recipient of pity looks at the reunion plus dealing with her cousin's smugface.

Ash needs some rep rehab ASAP!

Hey. let's get married! Temporarily! And, what the heck, let's have lots of sex too!

So they do.

What really saves this book for me is the ridiculous chemistry between Ari and Ash. And actually I liked Ash's not-so-hidden long-time devotion to Ari.

Ari loses a few of those points for being so blind and obstinate at times.

And Good lord, the amount of enabling Ari gives to her best friend Erika re: her crush of Ash is rather dumb. Erika is not only Ari's best friend but she is married to Ash's best friend. However she has always had a thing... supposedly nostalgic... for Ash. It is one thing to have a benign crush on a hot guy, even if you are married. But Erika's "crush" is a little more proactive than that -- she actually attempts to sabotage any hint of non-platonic relationship between Ari and Ash . Rather than being disturbed by this, the other three seem to be rather indulgent about her feels. Yeah, no. I'd be like 'Bitch, you're married. Deal with your inappropriate feelings in a more appropriate way."

At Blade's Edge

At Blade's Edge (Goddess With a Blade) - Lauren Dane

The second book Blade to the Keep - Lauren Dane  remains my favorite of the series so far, but this one is a great rebound after what I felt was a weaker third book.

In this one, we are in the aftermath of Rowan having killed the evil Vampire Witch Goddess Enyo who left Rowan for dead at the end on the second book. But in hunting down and eradicating Enyo ((in the 3rd book  Blade on the Hunt (Goddess With a Blade Book 3) - Lauren Dane) , Rowan has discovered a rot deep in the Hunter Corp, the company that has been like a family to her and that has held her loyalty for years. The corruption has bummed her to the point where she is seriously thinking about leaving the company.

Now she is married to Hot ( but stuffily British) Vampire Clive, is settled in London to meet his parents, and also gearing up to formally solemnify their union with her father as is required by the Vampire Nation. So she is at a bit of a crossroads. She wants to root out the corruption in the Hunter Corp, kill the traitors, and make a final decision on her future with the company.

This was fun and a little less frenetic than the previous book. I liked Rowan in this one. She is just realizing what it means to be married and is starting to adjust a bit into her new role as wife, while still remaining laser focused on her mission to expose and kill the conspirators in the Corp. But Rowan is still Rowan -- mouthy, snarky and ready to cut someone's throat in a quick minute just cuz she's cranky like that.

Clive, even though he is suave and awesome, is also shown to be trying to fit into his role as Rowan's husband and what that really means on a day-to-day basis now that it is a reality. Being who they are and what they represent is bigger than just a being in love with each other. Their union brings huge political baggage (and rewards) that affect Hunter, Humans and the Vampire Nation. On a shallow note, he reminds me of a supernatural, upperclass British, more reserved version of Roarke from JD Robb's In Death series.

We meet his parents and his mother is .... interesting. I won't say more because part of the enjoyment of the book is discovering his mother.

A new character is introduced who feels like she is going to take up permanent (or long term) residency in the series. I rather liked her.

David and Alice, Rowan and Clive's super-efficient assistants remain their normal bad ass selves.

The book deepens the overall story arc of some shadowy group trying to destabilize the treaty that has kept the peace between Hunters & Vamps that we first get a hint of with The BloodFront group and Enyo earlier. But whoever is involved is even more in the shadows and has raised the stakes for Rowan personally. The book ends on a very shocking , abrupt and rather brutal note.

Very much looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Playing Dead

Playing Dead - Billy London

Quick read. A PNR romance with a little gothic horror rolled in. I didn't quite buy the 'paranormal physics' (ok I just totally made that up but it is the concept I am going with) that made the ending possible, but I guess you kinda roll with it cuz, well, PNR

BirthControl

BirthControl (La Patron #2) - Sydney Addae

Welp, I will probably end up abandoning the series after this one.

I was hoping the lack of character development in the first book was just a symptom of it being a first book and we'd get some depth in this one. Nope. The characters are just as frustratingly surface in this one as they were in the first one.

There are a lot of characters in this book many of whom appear for small amounts of time, serve a specific plot purpose and are moved along.

In one case a new character was introduced, we learned she was the mate of one of Jasmine's sons within 20 pages and zoom she was immediately part of the inner circle and a member of the family. All we really know of her is her name because she barely spoke ten sentences.

Even more frustrating is that the main characters still are getting no real depth. They are running around reacting to stuff, fighting and just being moved like pieces on a chess board.


And poor Jasmine was stuck in a house the entire book. She never got to go anywhere "for her own protection". So she basically sat in the fortress of a house and developed the miraculous ability to mentally speak with people. And had lots of sex with the hero. I just felt it was an odd choice to put the heroine in just one space and give her no real agency whatsoever. And although she and the hero are supposed to be in love and mated I could not figure out for the life of me why they loved each other? The only time they spend together is to have sex and for him to remind her that he must protect her.

The plot which had great potential in the first book, was a muddy mess in this one. There is a climactic scene at the end that was so disjointed it was hard to visualize what was happening.


The conflict that was set up is the kind that affects all of wolf-kind and it really should have had more urgency and felt more politically explosive than it did. It really is a good conflict but the author simply didn't give it the complexity it deserved. For a hard ass Alpha, Silas is a bit of a wuss when it comes to killing his enemy. I mean, you have these antagonist characters who have demonstrated an ability where they can easily and completely compel your own wolves to do whatever they wants them to do up to and including utterly betraying you and all your secrets and you keep them locked up? or refuse to kill them? I couldn't help but thinking that Curran or Kate Daniels would have ripped that bitch's throat out in a nanosecond. And they would have done it with flair.

BirthRight

BirthRight - Sydney Addae

I have had this book forever and decided to finally read it.

The best thing about this book is the world-building and the basic plot set up. The author has some very interesting ideas and built a PNR system that feels a little different from many out there. She has also created an interesting and viable conflict between shifters and humans. There is also a sense of the conflict being serious with deep roots and something potentially threatening to the main characters. It is a very good conflict to hang a series on and has the potential to be nicely complex.

However, the thing that really sucks me in is character development and I am not really feeling that in this book. The book relies almost too heavily on plot. And as interesting as that is, it isn't enough and makes the book feel very incomplete to me -- like it is just skimming the surface and not allowing the reader to sink deep. There is also some character handwavium that works to serve plot more than character. For instance, Jasmine's isolation that has conveniently kept her specialness completely hidden is never very satisfactorily explored. She has no girlfriends? What kind of job does she have? Why did she never even suspect something about her sons?

There were some areas where I felt the writing was rough. Some odd transitions and awkward phrasing and some noticeable, but not egregious, typos and editing issues. I mean, the main character, Jasmine is visiting her son in a military hospital along with her sister. Her son is in serious condition as he actually coded on the field. One minute they are talking about her worry about him and the next she decided to finish an earlier conversation about her sex life and how she hasn't had sex in years and she totally wants to get it on with someone.

I do want to continue on to read the next book. I am looking forward to seeing how Silas meets the threat and how he deals with the shifter community. And hopefully the character development will catch up to the plotting.

RedHeaded Stranger

Redheaded Stranger: A Cowboy Love Story (Bluebonnet Texas Book 3) - Amie Stuart

My favorite character in this whole book was the baby.

My distant second favorite was Alex.

Everyone else could take a seat.

The wife, Keilana, was a controlling shrew. It was obvious her husband, Alex, had really deep issues with his family. Like really deep. And she decides to show up on their doorstep to force his hand in reconciling with his family. No, you don't ambush your husband in that way. I agree that his failure to introduce her or even inform his family that he is married with a wife is ten kinds of fucked up, but you deal with that with your husband. That is his issue, you deal with him on that. You don't go behind his back. It felt manipulative and wrong. And I won't even talk about her 'job changing plans' that spontaneously occurs at the end of the book. Again, no discussion with her husband... just upend their lives because that was she wants. I wanted to throat punch her.

Alex had his issues, sure. But I think the author did a good job of making his issues feel plausible for him. He was upset with his father for cheating on his mother and having a daughter as a result of that affair. He couldn't reconcile that in his head because he felt that it broke his family. He remembers years of them arguing which obviously had a profound effect on him as he was growing up. Fast forward to now the entire rest of the family seems to have forgiven the father and embraced the half-sister. But he hasn't been able to and allowed himself to be come estranged. This to me is a completely valid way for him to feel. And yet the entire book has people lining up to repeatedly tell him how completely invalid his feelings are. I scratch my head at how great a case the author makes for Alex's state of mind and feelings and yet allows the other characters to pile on as if he is in the wrong. And yes, that includes his trifling wife.

Alex's family as a whole were presented as nice, loving decent people. I suppose they were. But they also came off as a bit self righteous with a heaping help of 'let me tell you how you should feel'.

Outside of my dislike of his family there were a couple of things that niggled. The story works in alternating chapters, one from Keilana's POV and one from Alex's. Keilana's are told in first person. Alex's are told in third. I know that this is a narrative decision, but I tend to dislike the changing voices. Not sure why Alex's chapters couldn't also be in first person? This isn't a real knock on eh book, but more of a personal preference.

Also Keilana refers to Alex as 'Alex' and the family refers to him as 'Zander.' This is perfectly fine since that make total sense. But the third person narrative voice referred to him interchangeably as Alex and Zander sometimes in the same paragraph. It was a bit jarring.

The book ends super abruptly with no real conclusion. I gather this is part of some series but I am not interested in following up.

Star of Fortune

Stars of Fortune: Book One of the Guardians Trilogy - Nora Roberts

So if you've read any of Nora Roberts' paranormal trilogies....The Key Trilogy, The Circle Trilogy, The Sign of Seven Trilogy etc... then you already know the drill. A group of 6 people are given a supernatural task to save the world. They each have a role, at least one of them is Irish ... you get the gist.

This one is kinda fun because each one of the characters has a supernatural secret and it is cool when they get revealed. Sure there were some completely implausible things.. even in an apparently apocalyptic paranormal book... but you just roll with it. This is pure popcorn reading, full of sexy good looking people and banter

Jeweled Fire

Jeweled Fire (An Elemental Blessings Novel) - Sharon Shinn

I liked this one better than the previous book in the series, Royal Airs (An Elemental Blessings Novel) - Sharon Shinn   but the first book, Troubled Waters - Sharon Shinn   is still by far the best.

 

This one features the Princess Corene whom we last saw stowing away on a ship to go to the far land of Malinqua to run away from the disappointments of her life.  To be fair, poor Corene has had it a bit rough. 

 

Her mother Alys is probably one of the most scheming, poisonous characters in the series.  She is a woman who is completely ruled by her ambition for power and would use anything -- her status, her body, her daughter, her daughter's virtue -- to get it.  Corene had every expectation of being named heir to the throne after all her father had been the king, and one of his daughters needed to be chosen.  But a huge paternity scandal put a an end to that when it was discovered the King had been impotent and fathered none of his children.  Added to that Corene's awful stepfather tried to molest her.  And because of the way she was brought up, she has a reputation as being not very nice.  So yeah, Corene has seen better days.

 

In the first book Corene was a spoiled little snot.  But credit to the author for making it apparent in the course of the story that what we saw of Corene wasn't necessarily her own personality.  It was the effects of a young girl being brought up in a royal court with a mother like Alys.  There were flashes where Corene is shown to be vulnerable and more decent than first impressions.  This is further evidenced once Corene is brought under the influence of her stepmother Zoe (the heroine of the first book) and her biological father, the powerful Regent Darien.  Under their loving guidance, Corene blossoms, but she is still adrift.  What does a princess do when once can't really Princess?

 

Well she runs off to find a prince for one.  Just like in her own home kingdom of Welce, Empire of Malinqua's succession isn't a clear cut thing.  There are four pretenders to the throne, including a newly discovered secret heir.  And three other princesses who are there for the same reason as Corene: to marry the heir.

 

When Corene arrives in Malinqua she finds herself in familiar territory -- amidst court scheming, succession wars and surprisingly... murder.

 

I wasn't sure I was on board with reading a book with Corene as the center.  But like I said the author did lay the foundation for redeeming her in the previous book.  Most especially since in those books she was a very young girl and can be excused for being a bit selfish.  In this one she is now a grown up young woman and we see the pay off of being part of Zoe & Darien's life and away from her toxic mother.

 

But I love books full of court intrigue and this one had it in spades.  Actually this one kinda reminded me a bit of Summers at Castle Auburn - Sharon Shinn , especially with the younger set hanging out and being friends and bonding.  That was a cool part of this book, Corene and the other princesses all became good friends instead of catty rivals.  So much so that they make lifelong friend pacts and actually help out each other when things become really life or death in the palace.

 

This is also a bit of a murder mystery.  A whodunnit?  Who is slyly killing off people to affect the succession?

 

There is also a romance and I love that Corene and Foley end up together.  Foley had been Corene's sister's Josetta's indefatigable bodyguard and a quietly awesome character throughout the series.  I was a little bummed he didn't end up with Josetta in the previous book, but I can't be too mad at him.  By the time this book ends, Corene has become such a root-worthy heroine and she deserves the bad-ass Foley. Even if he isn't a Prince.

 

Looking forward to the next book in the series and hope we get some follow-up on what happens with Alette, Liramelli and Melissande (the other princesses) .

Beating Ruby

Beating Ruby (Spotless Series Book 2) - Camilla Monk

I had a great time reading this. Boo! to the fact that I was reading it during a time of year when my work-load is at its heaviest so I couldn't tear through it like I needed to, but I managed to grab moments to dive back in.

I love, love, loved the first book Spotless in this series. Mainly because it hit a sweet spot for me in reading I didn't even know I needed. It was funny, had a romance (even if I would not consider it a romance novel), had adventure, bad-ass characters, smart characters, great quotable lines, and some irreverence -- basically it hit my bent sense of humor in exactly the right place. But probably the best thing about it was that it felt fresh. it wasn't something I've read 1,000 times before.

This book continues in that vein. We get more of the geek-heroine Island who is a computer engineer. And we get more of the OCD but super sexy assassin March.

In this one they start off the book apart because at the end of the previous book, March has left Island alone for her own good. So she has moved on to a new boyfriend, Alex. I won't say anything about Alex because...spoilers... but I will say I was very suspicious of Alex from the jump. He felt too convenient. And, really, he just wasn't March.

The main plot if about a piece of security software that can do a lot of damage if it gets in the wrong hands and it pretty much does. Island decides to become a mini-sleuth and once she ends up in a air-shaft with a mouse eating her shoe... well lets just say things take off and don't look back.

Just like the previous book, this one globe trots, which is also fun. Unlike the previous book this one will cause one to rethink their relationships with various members of the animal kingdom including Sloths, Platypuses and baby Octopii (be free Krakky!).  Seriously, the scene at the Japanese restaurant where Island first meets the baby Octopus we come to know as Krakky is legit one of the funniest things I've read all year!

 

If you read this, read it for the fun dialogue and the adventure and the  throbbing undertone of romance between March and Island.  If you go in expecting a traditional romance trajectory then you might be disappointed because those two are not there yet.

Great series!

Received the ARC from the author.

Mind over Matter

Mind Over Matter (Loose Ends Book 3) - Kaia Bennett

The final book in the Loose ends series. I like Gabriel and Nicole as a couple and I always enjoy this author's writing. I wanted to see how their story ended so of course I had to read this.

This was actually a nice, sexy, intense love story. But I didn't think think there was enough plot to sustain the story over three volumes
.  The first book #1 Crush - Kaia Bennett  was a sexy, hot novella where we first meet Nikki and Gabe.  It was good little story that made sense to break them up.  The story could have easily concluded in the second book Closer (Loose Ends Book 2) - Kaia Bennett .  The decision to string it out ultimately led to what I felt was a weaker book and in turn led me to rate the story lower than I might have had it been a tighter narrative.

Mark of Noba

The Mark of Noba (The Sterling Wayfairer Series) (Volume 1) - G.L. Tomas

I will straight up say that YA is out of my lane. I barely read YA when I was YA, so there you go. And I get squiffy when I trawl through the YA shelves in bookstores looking for books for my kids because it is a challenge to find diversity in both characters and storyline. My 16 y.o son once said when I pointed out a book to him "Let me guess, the world is dystopian and the young people are re-enacting some version of Lord of the Flies again?" He is a cynic. I wipe a tear of pride.

But this book caught my eye because the cover. I make no bones about the fact that a POC on a cover is going to get me to give the book a second look and then a probably a look at the blurb and probably a read if the blurb is interesting. Even in a YA, which is not my thing.

I am glad I took the minute to read the blurb. I enjoyed this quite a bit. Here's what I liked:

1) The world building. It was well done and didn't appear in clumps but rather you understood the world as the story unfolded.

2) The pace. Well paced with just the right amount of suspense. I also liked that you were dropped in the middle of things and learned things right along with Sterling.

3) The characters. All of them were well done. Sterling was immediately relatable and I liked his sarcasm and his frustration and just his worldview. Even if it wasn't really ... correct.

4) Tetra. Great character. She was consistent and on a mission. I liked that she made hard decisions because she had to. I think the author did a great job of making her seem just the right kind of out-of-place. Not too much but enough so it felt realistic. I thought she was very well constructed. She made sense! And she didn't get watered down for plot purposes. .. Actually I have to say that for a lot of the characters that they didn't feel like they existed for plot but rather like characters who were caught up in events.

5) Sterling's parents. I liked the decision the author made on how to conceive them. It felt very smart and a little heartbreaking too.

6) Actually there were some real heartbreaking moments in this book, mostly with how some thing ended up and one of the reasons I didn't rate this higher. I loved Sterlings friends.

This was an enjoyable read that I think even my so-over-it 16 y.o would enjoy.

Cree

CREE - LaShawn Vasser, Melissa S. Harrison

This is a new-to-me author who, on the basis of this book, I will look for more of her work.

In this book the couple is already married and very much in love.  So where is the conflict?  Well distance for one.  Cree is at their hometown in a southern a small town working three jobs to help put Cam through school, while he is in New York pursuing medical school.  That sort of monetary stress is difficult enough but when you add in a long distance marriage, well it amplifies.

I also liked the other, more ephemeral stresses... over the years more than miles have distanced them.  Cam has assimilated into New York culture and seems to be moving forward in life while Cree is slowly coming to the dawning realization that life might be passing her by.  I thought there were a lot of nice character beats, especially from Cree's perspective.  She comes to several realizations about herself and her marriage which I thought were realized in a nicely organic way.  The author did a good job of making us feel Cree's insecurities and her disconnectedness from Cam.  It wasn't some big dramatic thing but rather cumulative thing.

Also, to the author's credit, she didn't pull any cheap stunts.  The conflicts to the marriage were internal mostly.  There were some external stresses but this was primarily a book about them as people.

Since the book is really mostly Cree's perspective it is very easy to sympathize with her.  There were one or two moments you wanted to smack Cam, but on the whole he was a decent guy who was devoted to his wife but she was sometimes as much of a stranger to him as he was to her.  The difference is Cree confronts it and Cam just wants everything to be ok and doesn't understand why it just isn't.

There is an incident that brings a lot of things to a head.  I felt very bad for both of the characters in the aftermath, but liked where the story went later.

If I had a criticism of the book I would say that I thought Cree negative feelings & misgivings about New York became a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy.  She was dead set against being there so she didn't even try to make a life there.  She realized that everything about her was too closely defined to her marriage, but if there was one place where you could potentially find something for yourself it is New York. I think the book would have been stronger if those scenes were expanded and maybe showed Cree getting more comfortable & starting to appreciate the opportunities available to her before the incident occurs that sends her back home.  I think the impact would have been greater.

Also I thought Cree & Cam's -- reconnection -- felt rushed.  I think it would have benefited from more page space.  The pacing of the book felt like we took time with Cree's realization that her relationship with Cam and with herself had changed, but the "fix" in the end felt too quick.

I thought the writing was strong and flowed easily.  I was very quickly immersed and invested in this relationship.