Cheers, everyone! And welcome to a look at the books that rocked our socks in the month of July. As always, there’s a chance to win a couple of the titles we loved, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.
And now, here they are, our July Books of the Month!
Jules – Into the Blue by Pene Henson – “Friends-to-lovers is one of my absolute favorite tropes, so I’m always thrilled when I find one that’s done as well as this one was. From the beginning of the story, it’s obvious how deep Tai and Ollie’s friendship runs. Meeting as kids and quickly bonding over their shared love of surfing, they soon became an irreplaceable part of each other’s lives. Now in their early twenties, they live on the beach with Ollie’s little brother Jaime, Sunny, who they also grew up with, and Hannah. They are a ‘stitched together little family’. The guys might still surf every day, but the responsibility of taking care of Jaime, and their commitment to the girls, has so far kept them from their dream of chasing the best surf breaks in the world together. That is, until Ollie makes it into the Pipe Masters surfing competition, and gets another shot at fulfilling his dream of becoming a pro surfer. A dream he can only see coming true if Tai is with him.”
Taz – Poppy’s Secret by Andrew Grey – “What a read!
Poppy’s Secret by Andrew Grey was an emotional journey filled with real-life problems, presented through the raw and believable lives of the characters. If I were to grasp onto a theme for this book, I think of forgiveness, second chances, or chasing one’s dreams. All fit and are beautifully portrayed through a storyline that progresses smoothly. No words are wasted as the tale unfolds in a natural and, at times, nail-biting way. But you’ll have to read to the end for me to tell you the real theme that emerged as the strongest.”
Mike – Pent Up by Damon Suede – “Things start to get dangerous for Ruben and his emotions. Andy meets up with his pursuers, and the whole situation explodes into a fast-paced collision of emotion, sex, and payback that becomes amazing fun for the listener. There is also the slow reveal into the mystery of who is after Andy, and that payoff is worth the wait as well. As usual, Damon Suede delivers a complete story, and the slow burn to its conclusion is worth the wait and the ride.
Buy this book because it’s Damon Suede and you know it will be an amazing ride with fully developed characters, but buy the audio for the complete immersion into Ruben and Andy’s world. You will not be sorry.”
Maryann – Burning Boundaries by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham – “Before I started reading this book, I re-read the first book, Breathing Betrayal. I had forgotten how good it is, and Burning Boundaries is even better. The authors really draw you into the use of the elemental powers, and it’s just right, not overdone. They take Mari and Jake one step further with more detail and in the usage of the different elemental powers. There’s tension filled suspense, action and danger, and I want to warn readers that there is spanking scene, usage of a belt and a form of sexual abuse. I got sort of panicky about Mari and his wanting to be dominated, which wasn’t reflected in the first novel, so the change took me by surprise. But, he still deals with dyspareunia. I felt for Jake, he doesn’t ever want to hurt Mari, but Mari makes it clear he never wants sympathy. There are a lot of deep feelings expressed by both characters in what their needs are. I also like that the authors gave a more detailed look at Jake’s background and family, being Native American and Irish.”
Kim – Back to You by Chris Scully – “It’s been awhile since a book I was reading kept me up past my bedtime. And that’s exactly what Back to You did. If I didn’t have to go to work the next day, I would have finished this one in one sitting.
First, I want to say that I enjoyed Back to You. It’s well written and has more plot than romance. I felt the mystery was well done, because it kept me guessing until the very end! Alex was easy to connect to since it’s from his POV that one learns about his character and his past relationship with Benji.”
Carrie – Saving Sebastian by Luna David – “Sebastian broke my heart. The strength that David put into this character is astounding. We learn about all the facets of Sebastian’s illness and what he has done to cope with it, all without it spiraling into a depressive state. The care that David took in creating Sebastian’s character comes through in the writing. He knows that he isn’t a long-term bet. As a rule, he keeps people at a distance. He has learned to exist within a carefully constructed world; it’s how he copes with his issues. He loves his job as a police sketch artist, but his part-time passion of tattooing over other people’s scars feeds his soul. As a submissive, he joined an exclusive club, and while it isn’t ideal, and no one has ever wanted him for anything more than a scene, that’s ok with him. Getting attached to people isn’t his forte, anyway. Oh, but the way that Gideon wraps him in his ropes makes Sebastian feel safe in a way that hasn’t ever happened before, and it makes him long for things he has long felt just weren’t for him.”
Sammy – Waiting for Walker by Robin Reardon – “Honestly, I am a bit overwhelmed even at the thought of writing the review for this amazing piece of fiction. Waiting for Walker by Robin Reardon is perhaps one of the most sensitive and compelling stories I have read, to this day, about intersex and gay youth. We get both an amazing education about what it means and feels to be intersex, and also walk away from this story with a keen awareness of what it looks like when teenagers confront their own doubts about their sexuality. We watch as two boys grapple with first love and what that means realistically and we are schooled on how our insensitivity and, yes, fears about physical differences have a devastating affect on those who live their lives, every day, dealing with a body that is both male and female, and how confusing that can be for them. However, beyond all that, we are given a rich and beautiful story about two teens who simply want to discover if they can love and be loved, and it is done so very well—written so brilliantly!”
Lisa – The Layover by Roe Horvat – “Roe Horvat’s The Layover is a rather simple story, when it comes right down to it. What makes it so lovely, however, is very much that simplicity. It’s an intimate story, told in the first person by a man whose cynicism is anything but subtle. At thirty years old, Ondro is plenty jaded about life and relationships. He sees seduction as a challenge, sex the payoff, no strings attached. And it’s worked for him—to a certain extent—until a flight cancellation in Switzerland becomes the catalyst for the upheaval of his life.
The Layover is not only a beautifully crafted love story, it’s also an impressive debut and ensures I’ll be on the lookout for Horvat’s future work. Could it have been longer? Of course. Did it need to be longer? Absolutely not. This is a complete and character driven story that succeeds because of its characters. Ondro and Jamie’s romance is based in need and longing, thanks to an unplanned delay which caused their worlds to collide, but it’s the author’s skillful storytelling that convinces readers there are no two people who belong together more than they do. Gorgeous and emotionally gratifying in every way a romance should be.”
And that does it for this month. Until next month, happy reading!
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