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Only You by Addison Fox

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 25th November 2017
Only You by Addison FoxOnly You by Addison Fox
Series: The Brooklyn Brotherhood #4
Published by Swerve on December 12th 2017
Pages: 304
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three-stars

Meet the Brooklyn Brotherhood: three brothers who escaped rough childhoods in Park Heights, Brooklyn who grew into fiercely loyal, sexy men – and who find love when they’re least expecting it.

Fender Blackstone has kept the world at arm’s length, with the exception of his adoptive brothers and Mama Lou, the woman who saved him. Fender is willing to do everything he can to support Lou, but he finds himself drawn to Harlow Reynolds: the daughter of the woman who could destroy everything Lou has worked for.

Even without the emotional turmoil between their families, why would a woman from the highest echelons of Manhattan society ever look twice at a kid from Brooklyn? As forbidden sparks flare between them, Fender and Harlow realize there’s something real forming between them. When Fender’s past resurfaces and threatens the life he’s built, can his love for Harlow survive the aftermath?

After reading ‘Forever Yours’ which was a complete bust for me, ‘Only You’ was in contrast, heart-felt and emotionally nuanced which made the story an even bigger draw as Fender Blackstone (whose story I’ve been wanting) finally finds someone who is his opposite in every way.

‘Only You’ works as a standalone, but there is some history and a backstory to catch up on by the time we get to Fender’s story, all of which which are explained in the previous books and have been mentioned here. But I liked ‘Only You’ primarily because of the ‘adulting’ that’s mostly present in there: both Fender and Harlow acted their ages as they navigated the complicated waters of their relationship and the pages of dialogues and inner monologues did show that. Consequently, it was easy to like Fender for the solidness, and the self-awareness and perception that he displayed about his growing feelings for Harlow mostly—which I find sometimes blindingly lacking in heroes—as it was easy to like Harlow for her wanting to fight for the both of them and her way of doing so. Yet for all their communication, it got frustrating when I’d assumed Fender would come to his senses after spending most of the book being rather wishy-washy about wanting what he and Harlow had, including thinking about and eventually pushing her away—which was only unsatisfactorily resolved by a conflict in the closing pages of the book that made his mind up for him.

I thought the pacing lagged quite a bit in the middle, and I was able to put it down and pick it up numerous times (though without much difficulty) as both Harlow and Fender worked through the circumstances—not just the history between their parents but also a big issue in Fender’s past that he had to confront—that made being together very difficult. That said, there’s a neat HEA for all the characters involved of course, though I was left wishing I’d felt more for the series than I did.

three-stars

Forever Yours by Addison Fox

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 24th May 2017
Forever Yours by Addison FoxForever Yours by Addison Fox
Series: The Brooklyn Brotherhood #3
Published by Swerve on June 13th 2017
Pages: 85
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one-star

Detective Cade Rossi has spent the majority of his life oblivious to Jasmine Shane. She’s always been his little sister’s best friend, but after coming to her rescue one night, Cade is starting to see the woman behind the lawyerly suits.
Since childhood, Jasmine has harbored an embarrassing crush on Cade. She’s seen him work his way through nearly every eligible bachelorette in Park Heights, Brooklyn, and Jasmine’s given up hope of them ever having a chance together.
But summer is the perfect time for a fling, and as Cade and Jasmine grow closer, what starts out as an innocent flirtation could turn into so much more…

One party pining for another (20 years in Jasmine’s case!) is always a trope that I’m uncomfortable with, only if it’s because I’ve my doubts about reciprocity. Would the “crushee” being able to live up to the expectations that the “crusher” has inadvertently placed on him/her? More importantly, can that depth of feeling ever be returned? I’m admittedly also sceptical about one party suddenly “seeing” the other person as a date rather than a familial relation, because, what really, has caused this switch to flip when it never has before? Many times, I’ve had the displeasure of reading about a female protagonist caving in too easily when the hero in question flashes a glance in her direction, “seeing” her as a woman only when she finally tells him how long she’s pined after him without him actively seeking her out. And often, the reality is that she does deserve better than him.

I come into ‘Forever Yours’ with those above-mentioned issues about unrequited love, more so if the ‘hero’ in question is a lothario who’s a player cowardly enough *not* to examine why he feels differently about a heroine despite these shifting feelings. And that Cade knew exactly his behaviour wasn’t decent (yet continued it) made me want to throw it in, yet Jasmine does exactly what so many heroines do—putting the crush to bed, literally, in order to move on. Only until both parties find that they fit and Cade, somehow magically, finds that it’s with Jasmine that he doesn’t feel suffocated at all. Bed-hopping from woman to woman is given a new spin or an excuse that I can’t excuse from Cade: that he simply hadn’t been with the “right” woman all along even though Jasmine was always in front of him. Suddenly with her, his urge to run isn’t there and instead of helping me to think that Jasmine is special, all I could conclude was that Cade is merely an arse who, unforgivably doesn’t know how treat other women better. There are some lines, that once crossed, can’t be uncrossed and I hate to say that Cade went past all of them.

The insertion of a criminal breaking parole and going after Jasmine means that that Cade gets to play hero and his actions certainly go a way into convincing Jasmine that they can be good together. The biggest surprise that came however, was his sudden declaration of love that had me wondering if that happened because it was a prelude to the coming sex scene and an easy wrap-up to end of the novella.

My rating reflects my personal prejudices clearly, but that aside, Addison Fox’s writing is more than decent. It’s primarily the reason why I chose to read this ARC in fact, because Fox’s style is confident and persuasively compelling, with enough sass that I would have appreciated had the context been different—which I’d hoped could have been different, that Cade was just misunderstood. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case and ended up being one of those reads that rubbed me the wrong way entirely as I struggled even to reach for their HEA.

one-star

Just Once by Addison Fox

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 9th January 2017
Just Once by Addison FoxJust Once by Addison Fox
Published by Swerve on February 7th 2017
Pages: 229
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two-stars

Detective Daphne Rossi needs to figure out a way to get her career out from under her family s overbearing shadow, and she may have just found her solution in genius computer whiz Landon McGee . . .
In exchange for looking deeper into a robbery at Landon s software firm, Daphne asks for a deal of her own: she needs him to play her boyfriend. A couple months of hand-holding around her family to get them off her back, and both Daphne and Landon walk away with what they want.
Just as their fake relationship starts heating up for real, a family secret shakes Landon to the core. As Landon struggles to find what is real in his life, and come to terms with the people he thought he knew, can he find solace in the one woman he thought he didn't know at all?

I thought ‘Just Once’ started quite well, though the pace and the plot went somewhat awry after the first quarter. The blurb however, doesn’t quite describe what the story really is: an attraction that blooms the moment Detective Daphne Rossi begins to investigate a break-in at an upcoming tech maven’s firm (which neither really denies), though it didn’t seem as though Daphne was asking Landon to play the boyfriend (now, wouldn’t that be unethical?) at all. Instead, the book reads like a simple case of an office break-in, but to get to the bottom of it apparently is a long, winding journey that cracks open family history and pulls every other secondary character in the periphery into the mix of things.

But it’s difficult to recommend a story when I’ve got a huge number of mixed feelings about it. I liked Landon and Daphne mostly, though their individual blow-ups at times felt a tad bit dramatic for me and the progress of their relationship itself isn’t too unpredictable though most of how they got on as filled with, well, filler.

Perhaps what got to me most were the multiple POVs and the introduction of so many strings—that weren’t tied up—which made the story all the more frustrating because the roundabout route it took for Daphne and Landon to get to their HEA felt like a plot-device deliberately intended to complicate rather than resolve. There’s some kind of short-lived investigation into the psyches of other potential relationships that were setup but left hanging, the continuing story of some weird revenge-plot for a quarter-century-old affair and the fact that every character seemed to vie for attention whether intentionally or not.

By the end of it, I was only marginally interested in the rest of the hanging strings (which, presumably and hopefully, will be tied up in the next installment of the series), though weary to the bone because I just didn’t know what my attention was supposed to be focused on for most of the book.

two-stars

At Last by Addison Fox

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 8th October 2016
At Last by Addison FoxAt Last by Addison Fox
Published by Swerve on November 1st 2016
Pages: 248
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two-stars

After a year of turmoil, Emma Vandenburg Bradley returned home to Park Heights to run her family’s business – a Brooklyn institution – Unity brewery. Still trying to get her feet back under her, she definitely doesn’t want to be on the spectacularly bad date that ends with getting caught in a bar fight and her high school crush coming to her rescue.
Nick Kelley’s career in the NFL was cut short, but now he has a successful bar in Brooklyn and his dream of buying the Unity brewery is about to come true. Until he realizes that the mystery woman he saved—and shared a steamy kiss with—is none other than his high school chemistry partner, Emma...who happens to be a part owner of Unity. And she’s not interested in selling her family’s legacy. When Emma and Nick find themselves on opposing sides, both are willing to do anything to win. But as their connection grows deeper, they become torn: Can they choose between their love for Unity and their plans for the future—and for each other?

Nick Kelley’s days may have been cut short on the football field, but he’d poured that concentration and intensity into becoming a business owner of a very successful bar, poised to expand his business to a brewery…until he realises it’s an old school friend who stands in his way. But as the attraction grows, the deal that he and Emma Vandenburg made seems to overshadow what they both want but can’t get.

Taut and very confidently handled, Addison Fox brings together a cast of very diverse backgrounds and makes the very strong case for bonds that go beyond blood ties. More than the romance however, I liked the unusual but solid relationship between three (unrelated) boys who’d made good with their foster mother and called themselves a family and ‘At Last’ is as much as a burgeoning romance between old school friends as much as it is about family and social relationships in a gentrified area of Brooklyn.

However, I find myself torn between great writing and a plot/characters which I didn’t exactly like and my rating simply reflects this conflict. There were several aspects of the book that I couldn’t get into, namely the multiple POVs present, the sluggish pacing with the secondary love stories and the loose threads that seemed to go nowhere by the end of the book.

Fox’s writing is stellar really; it’s only the leads whom I couldn’t quite connect with as well, particularly Emma, whom I found less than a sympathetic character, taking her own insecurities and past hurts on others around her and on the very classy Nick…who truly deserved better than what she could give. And while Fox did more than a credible job unravelling the lead characters’ motivations and inner angst, ‘At Last’ didn’t pack as much of an emotional pack as I expected, even with a resolution that should satisfactorily appease most readers.

two-stars
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