Thursday, September 10, 2015

Unsurprisingly Complicated by Claudia Burgoa

     This is book two from Claudia's Unexpected series. If you haven't read book one, Unlike Any Other, then I highly suggest you do that before moving forward with this one. Unsurprisingly Complicated can be read as a stand alone but you will appreciate it a lot more if you read Unlike Any Other first.

     After finishing the first book in this series, I had to dive right into Unsurprisingly Complicated.  This is Mason’s story but AJ is definitely present (no surprise there). While AJ is pulling herself together and learning to cope with her grief and loss to become a very strong and still loving woman, Mason is struggling. We learn more about his issues with commitment. Can he move past them to find his own love unlike any other?

     Even though I understood Mason’s issues, there were times his behavior felt more like unnecessary drama than him trying to move past a trauma. I loved him as a best friend but I didn’t care for him much as a romantic partner. I do think that was the point, though. I can definitely appreciate the fact that he needed to learn to let himself love that way but it was frustrating because he had no problems committing to friendships and his loyalty in that area was always without question. While there times I actually growled, moaned and even cussed at Mason – I don’t hold that against the book. The fact that I felt enough for the characters to get frustrated or angry with them means that the author made me feel and those are the best stories to read. If I can become emotionally connected to the characters and their story, the writer has won me over for life. Even so, this book didn't blow me away the way the first did. Maybe it is just me. Maybe the love story told in Unlike Any Other is just impossible to beat. That said, I did enjoy Unsurprisingly Complicated and I look forward to the next book in this series.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Unlike Any Other by Claudia Burgoa

      When I read the synopsis, it went straight to my Amazon Wish List but sat there for weeks. After reading it, I am kicking myself for not buying it and reading it when I first found it. It is not my usual cup of tea. It so much better and it opened doors I had intentionally kept closed. This book isn’t just a romance. This book is an EPIC love story of self-discovery, love, loss, holding tight and letting go…all rolled into one complicated story that really is unlike any other I have ever read.

      Unlike Any Other is told from the perspective of a father (Gabe) and his daughter (AJ). It goes back and forth between the past and the present as the main characters share their story with each other in the hopes of repairing their relationship with each other, themselves and their loved ones. Readers are immediately tossed into the middle of a family crisis and it is easy to get confused during the first half of the book. I often found myself backtracking because I was sure I missed something. It can be frustrating but I think that is the point. To tell the story any other way would take away from the emotional impact.

      With the rise of Indie authors, it is easier than ever to find a good book for little to no money. It is easy to find a romance novel that will entertain me for a couple of hours before moving on to the next. Avid readers can binge read the same way some people binge on television thanks to DVRs and Netflix. The thing is, it is not easy to find that magical book that makes you think and feel deeply. You know, that book that is so well written, you can feel every emotion of each character as though their experience is yours. I laughed, cried, feared, fell in love, grieved great loss and began the long journey of healing right along with AJ and her family…and when I read the last word, I immediately had to download the next book in this series because I had to know more about this unique and amazing family. But before opening the next novel, I had to sit back and digest everything because it was profound and I didn’t want to forget what I had read. It is also hard to find a full length novel that inspires me to read the entire book in one sitting. This book did just that. It was part love story, part mystery and I couldn’t stop reading until I had all the answers. While reading, I found myself trying to figure it all out. I managed to figure out bits and pieces but even with the trail of breadcrumbs left for me, I was so caught up in the story that I didn’t put the puzzle together in time for the grand reveal and I thoroughly enjoyed the surprise. The mystery, once solved, took me to a place I have never been and wasn’t sure I was ready to go there but I am so very glad that I took the journey.

      This book left me with that ever elusive “book hangover” avid readers long to experience. It now has a place on my “Best Books I’ve Ever Read” list so when I need a cathartic release and an epic story, it will be there for me to enjoy again and again.

Have you read Unlike Any Other? If so, were you surprised when the mystery was solved?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Priest by Sierra Simone

        There is so much hype floating around social media regarding Priest. Between the raving reviews and the scorching negative reviews, I had trouble deciding. Then, I remembered the rule of reviews. The truth is usually in the middle. The synopsis fascinated me and I found the temptation too strong to resist, especially after reading the spoilers in negative reviews. Nothing tempts me more than a review trashing a book by calling it vulgar, distasteful and/or obscene. Upset that that the main characters have foul mouths? Shouts of blasphemy and sacrilege? I am buying that book!

     Father Bell is tortured by his past but he believes in his work as a priest. He loves the church and refuses to give up on his efforts to right wrongs within the organization.  I could feel his pain over his loss, his hope for healing his flock and reforming the Church. I ached for him when his guilt got the best of him and yes, I cheered when he caved to temptation. I also changed my panties.  His struggles felt genuine and the time he took to come to his decisions felt right. His waffling, while frustrating, was necessary due to the consequences either choice would bring.

     Poppy was another matter. I couldn’t connect with her. I am sorry to say that all I felt for her was disdain over her Poor Little Rich Girl pity party. She claims she felt awful for tempting Father Bell but her actions make it impossible to believe.  Maybe it would have been easier to connect with her if we had been giving just a little insight into her thoughts and actions. We were told many things about her but we weren’t shown anything to back up the telling. We are assured several times that she is a brilliant woman in terms of scholarship and profession but none of that transferred to her personal life. Honestly, I was never convinced that she was worthy of the naughty but knightly priest and oh, my screaming O's...he was naughty!

     Overall, the book was good but not great. While I couldn’t put down the book when Father Bell was giving in to temptation or feeling anguish over his past and guilt, I had no trouble putting it down when he started praising Poppy for her good deeds. I felt the priest’s lust (intensely) but I never understood his love.  If you like taboo tales with explicit content and a side of love, this will do the job and do it well. If you want something insanely hot, it doesn't get much hotter than this. The sex scenes in this book had me considering a visit to the nearest Catholic church to find my own Father Bell. If you are looking for something sweet, innocent, chaste or just tame, skip this one.