hesitant on how it would all pull together, except I know that Alexis Hall has never dissapointed me before, and so I trusted that he would have it well in hand and that it would all come together. It did. It really, really did. I have been burned before on Historical romance and bad takes, but I never should have doubted. Hall creates characters that you are almost immediately invested in and from the jump I knew that Viola and Gracewood were endgame and it was just a matter of how they would get there.
Hall does something that I deeply appreciate with this book- Viola's gender is key to the story, and key to her growth as a person and key to her relationship with Gracewood. The fact that it was something that wasn't spoken about at that time in history is made clear, but, and this is where Hall nails it- Viola's gender is not treated as the big bad in the plot. It's a concern in so much as she is worried about how it will impact her closest relationships, but at the end of the day the people who love her, love her. Their hurt comes primarily from the fact that she felt that she couldn't tell them, that they had given her any reason to doubt their love and acceptance... but never for becoming who she was always meant to be. Hall weaves the internal worry that comes with the not knowing how people will react perfectly, and makes it clear that no matter what, you deserve love and acceptance.
And that message carries over to all the characters- Gracewood is suffering both mentally and physically from the things he encountered at Waterloo. He is grappling with the loss of his best friend and the loss of the man he thought he was supposed to become. At a time when he believes he needs to project strength, instead he feels hopeless and the injuries to his leg have left him feeling like he can never be the man he thinks he must. His sister Mira is also a bit lost. She knows what she is supposed to do and who she is supposed to be, knows that it is expected for her to find a husband and begin a family, but her wants and desires leave her a bit on the outside of traditional society. With both Gracewood and Mira, Hall again reminds us that it's okay to be who you are, it's okay to not meet the expectations of those around you (especially those who do not actually care for you), and it's okay to chase your dreams even if others don't understand them. That again, no matter what, you deserve love and acceptance.
I love historical fiction and I love a good romance. This one hits both notes perfectly and I'm hoping that Hall will allow us to keep visiting with these characters- I'd love to check back in with Viola and Gracewood and their family and I would especially love to join Mira on some adventures.
About a week late- but finally ready to post a reading wrap up for April. I managed to get through 10 books in April, a good chunk of them ARC's from Edelweiss, and again, all of them really good. The bnulk of them came out in April or the first part of May, so you can get your hands on the now! I did DNF one book this month, not neccessarily a bad book, but defintiely not a book for me. At any rate- lets get to it.
and yet... you want the best for them. They are allowed to be realistic teenagers and screw up, and also be totally worthy of good things. Gabi and Theo are a full disaster, and I love them for it.
increadibly relatable... they just happen to also be dealing with magic and high courts and ancient prophecies that might well end up with someone dead. On top of that the main characters Arek and Matt are instantly loveable. You know where the story is going, you know how you want it to end, and you hope Lukens is going to give it to you... the fun is following along as they bumble their way to the finish line.
immediately in love with it. I read the whole thing in one sitting. It hits all the right RomCom notes, there's an instant meet cute, a terrible ex, an accidental wedding, many (MANY) misunderstandings and a super adorable dog. Both Cara and Finn are great characters and its easy to get swept away in their nonsense and become invested in their future. What I really liked about this one is that by the end, I was happy with who both characters were on their own, and even though your always looking for that HEA in a RomCom, I also felt like if this was just a blip on their timeline I'd be okay with it. Ultimately it ends perfectly and I'm super glad I snagged this one on a whim.
orders in October/November and because of some supply chain issues the last of them just rolled in... so it's a bit like Christmas for me in that I dont' know which books are going to be in there until I open the box. So, yeah, I bought this one for the library and it arrived a few weeks ago and I immediately devoured it before checking it out to kids. This book is EXCELLENT. Reynolds is already a fan favorite here in the library, so I was excited to get this title in.
In Ain't Burned all the Bright Reynolds and Griffin look at the reality of living through the pandemic and how that impact is felt on a daily basis by a kid. What does it feel like to know a parent is sick in the next room, or when a sibling is withdrawing into their phone, or when watching the news is so repetative that it feels inescapable. The topics in the book are heavy and I was a little worried that it might be too soon, since we are very much still in it, but Reynolds prose combined with Griffin's art pull you right into the story and you remember first what those early days are like, and then that there is always hope. This book is a perfect addition to our shelves.
Full Wrap Up!
Those are some highlights from the last month- reviews of all my April reads are up on Goodreads and will be slow rolling out here as we hit the release dates.
complete chaos and make absolutely disasterous decisions and yet somehow they are entirely endearing and no matter how much you want to yell at them, you also, in equal measure want the absolute world for them. Cafe Con Lychee delivers in total messy glory.
I immediately loved both Gabi and Theo and I knew that although they would most likely find their way together in the end, that it would be a wild ride to get there. Both Gabi and Theo are trying their best- they have school, sports, their family businesses and their families expecatations to contend with and both are drowning a little bit. And then they are shoved together in a scheme to save their family restaurants and the enemies to lovers vibe is strong in this one, but the path isn't easy. Neither believes they deserve happiness so they find themselves fighting not only with outside influences, but with themselves as well.
I won't give the resolution away- but what's beautiful about what Lee does here is that e allows for both Gabi and Theo to make a mess of things and still find themselves worthy of forgiveness and love. It's something that they needed to learn and hear, it's something that readers need to learn and hear- that you can mess up, you can say hurtful things that you don't mean, sometimes when you are trying to do your best you might make really bad decisions... and you can still be a good person worth of respect and love.
This is exactly the kid of book I like to put on the library shelf- I can't wait for more readers to meet Gabi and Theo.
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