eARC Review – Chef’s Kiss by T.J. Alexander

Title: Chef’s Kiss

Author: T.J. Alexander

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication date: May 3rd, 2022

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A high-strung pastry chef’s professional goals are interrupted by an unexpected career transition and the introduction of her wildly attractive nonbinary kitchen manager in this deliciously fresh and witty queer rom-com.

Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.

To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray.

Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart).

Review

The opposite’s attract adage fits well for this book, Chef’s Kiss stars a very type A, meticulous pastry chef and a perky, optimistic, expressive new kitchen manager. I wouldn’t exactly call this grumpy/sunshine – Simone isn’t so much grumpy as she is set in her ways and liking control in all things. Ray enters the scene and successfully shakes up Simone’s orderly, routine life. Plus changes to her job description, like starring in cooking YouTube videos when all she wants to do is cook and bake.

Ray is a non-binary character, and there is a story line regarding their coming out at work and the affect it had on their relationships and work life. Simone is also queer, but this isn’t known to Ray for much of the book. This definitely classifies as a slow burn, the two don’t get together until close to the end of the book after having some intense moments over the course of the plot.

Overall I found this book to be enjoyable as well as educational on the greater conversations around gender identity discrimination in the workplace and how non-binary folx are treated when they come out and ask to be referred to by different pronouns.

Also, maybe try not to read this one an empty stomach, there are a lot of food descriptions in here as they cook and bake for their work!

Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Say You’ll Be My Lady by Kate Pembrooke

Title: Say You’ll Be My Lady (The Unconventional Ladies of Mayfair #2)

Author: Kate Pembrooke

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: February 22nd, 2022

334 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Opposites attract in this irresistible Regency romance, where a proper gentleman who lives by the ton‘s rules and a lady who lives to break them try to resist one another—perfect for fans of Netflix’s Bridgerton series.

Lady Serena Wynter doesn’t mind flirting with a bit of scandal—she’s determined to ignore society’s strictures and live life on her own fiercely independent terms. These days, she chooses to pour her passions into charitable causes with the vibrant group of ladies in her Wednesday Afternoon Social Club. But there is one man who stirs Serena’s deepest emotions, one who’s irresistibly handsome, infuriatingly circumspect, and too honorable for his own good…

Charles Townshend, former boxer and consummate gentleman, worries Serena’s reckless nature will earn her the ton’s scorn…or put her in serious danger. Though Charles isn’t immune to the attraction between them, a shocking family secret prevents him from ever acting on his desires. But it seems Lady Serena doesn’t intend to let his penchant for propriety stand in the way of a mutually satisfying dalliance.

Review

Serena and Charles definitely caught my eye when I was reading Not the Kind of Earl You Marry – so I was gleeful to see the next book would follow their love story. You could just tell these two were kindred souls who felt they didn’t deserve a happy ever after no matter what they wanted. Reading their love story was beautiful and a lesson in second chances and deserving good things in life no matter your past.

Serena and Charles have such a contentious friendship, where Charles just wants to protect her and gets upset when she puts herself at risk – whereas Serena just wants to be her own person outside the confines of the ton. This causes a few dustups, but after a few run-ins they start to see those passionate feelings are good for them and could be an interesting arrangement.

However they both are harboring secrets in their pasts, one’s that stand to change everything for them. Serena’s past broke my heart but her second chance at love was so very beautiful. And the child they adopted was just adorable and completely stole the show.

Very excited for the third book in this series, and will definitely continue to read Pembrooke’s regencies.

Thank you to Forever and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

Title: Maggie Moves On

Author: Lucy Score

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: June 21st, 2022

416 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Can these opposites turn up the heat… without burning down the house?

House-flipping sensation and YouTube star Maggie Nichols can’t wait to dig into her next challenge. Arriving in tiny Kinship, Idaho, with only a cot and a coffeemaker, Maggie is prepared to restore a crumbling Victorian mansion in four months or less. She has her to-do lists, her blueprints, and her team. What she doesn’t have is time for sexy, laid-back landscaper Silas Wright.

The man takes flirtation to a whole new level. And he does it shirtless…sometimes pants-less. He and his service school-dropout dog are impressively persistent. But she’s not interested in putting down roots. Not when fans tune in to watch her travel the country turning dilapidated houses into dream homes. A short-term fling on the other hand could fit nicely into her calendar. After all, Maggie remembers what fun is like. Vaguely.

As their summer gets downright steamy, Silas manages to demolish the emotional walls she’s spent years building, sending Maggie into a panic. He’s the wrench in her carefully constructed plans. With the end of the project looming, she has a decision to make. But how can she stay when her entire career is built on moving on?

Review

House flipping isn’t something that holds a lot of interest for me, and neither do YouTube shows or insta-love. Maggie Moves On has 3/3 – but I absolutely loved it and will spend the rest of the review raving about it.

First off, the insta-love was very different from the usual. Our hero, Silas, is immediately attracted to Maggie and has no qualms about sharing it, in joking statements about falling in love and being together forever on the first day they meet. It just FIT with his personality instead of screaming gross like it normally does to me. It definitely helps that it is dual POV so you can get Silas’ perspective – it’s really just that every little fact he learns about Maggie seems perfectly formed to call to him and he is just so easy-going. And Maggie handles it so well, giving it back to him just as much.

So Maggie is in Idaho to flip a big, old, historic house for her YouTube show before she moves onto the next project, as she’s been for ages now. But this house feels different, it quickly starts to feel like home. Especially when she grows more and more fond of Silas, makes friends, and basically adopts a wayward teenager to make sure he does his math homework and doesn’t fall in with the wrong crowd. Outside of her trauma and insecurities, she’s basically perfect and frankly I would date her.

Maggie Moves on has everything, a stellar romance (with some spice), a plot line that includes a treasure hunt, historical investigations, and house flipping, a secondary romance between two side characters that is utterly sweet and very gay, and amazing friendship and parenting. It’s about finding exactly what you’re looking for in the places you least expect and making your own type of family. It was amazing and I hope everyone loves it.

Thank you to Forever and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – As Seen on TV by Meredith Schorr

Title: As Seen on TV

Author: Meredith Schorr

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: June 7th, 2022

352 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Fans of the Hallmark Channel and Gilmore Girls will adore this delightful rom‑com about a city girl who goes in search of small-town happiness, only to discover life—and love—are nothing like the TV movies.

Emerging journalist Adina Gellar is done with dating in New York City. If she’s learned anything from made-for-TV romance movies, it’s that she’ll find love in a small town—the kind with harvest festivals, delightful but quirky characters, and scores of delectable single dudes. So when a big-city real estate magnate targets tiny Pleasant Hollow for development, Adi knows she’s found the perfect story—one that will earn her a position at a coveted online magazine, so she can finally start adulting for real . . . and maybe even find her dream man in the process. 

Only Pleasant Hollow isn’t exactly “pleasant.” There’s no charming bakery, no quaint seasonal festivals, and the residents are more ambivalent than welcoming. The only upside is Finn Adams, who’s more mouthwatering than the homemade cherry pie Adi can’t seem to find—even if he does work for the company she’d hoped to bring down. Suddenly Adi has to wonder if maybe TV got it all wrong after all. But will following her heart mean losing her chance to break into the big time?

Review

As Seen on TV is a Hallmark style romance where the main character visits a small town in an attempt to take down the large real estate company buying up land to build on, and also to maybe find love. Adina needs a win, she needs to write a story to solidify a permanent job with the magazine she is working for. But when she gets to Pleasant Hollow, it has none of the aspects of a stereotypical Hallmark movie. Most people aren’t friendly, the stores are not cute or quaint, and there’s no pie to be found. And the only eligible man is the developer she’s come to take down – but she can’t seem to stay away.

Maybe I would’ve had more fun with this one if I was a fan of Hallmark movies – but the whole concept seemed very contrived and Adina just refused to be flexible and she tried to force this town into being something it isn’t. And she wasn’t always very nice about it. I did appreciate the Jewish representation and the idea that not every small town is this idyllic place made of rainbows and unicorns but that doesn’t mean the town isn’t fine just the way it is.

Trigger warning for alcoholism and verbal abuse in parts of the book. The hero is dealing with some demons and is the typical “I can only do casual because I’m too broken for a relationship” and Adina is the typical “I can’t do casual but will because I hope you will change”. Because that ALWAYS works out well?? I don’t know, it seemed way too trope-y even for me and I just didn’t have a great time with it.

However, if Hallmark movies are your jam – definitely check out this book. Just because it wasn’t for me doesn’t mean it won’t be great for someone else.

Thank you to Forever and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

May Wrap Up – 2022 Edition

Happy June, and more importantly – Pride Month! It is my first Pride since coming out as bisexual and it is really meaningful for me to participate in the celebration this month. I’m not 100% sure what that will look like for me yet, but figuring it out is half the fun! June is also the halfway mark on the year, which is absolutely insane to me – considering COVID is still hanging around and it has officially be more than 2 years of life that has been stolen by this virus. But, May also included my first wedding anniversary with hubs and we took a nice, relaxing vacation to Charleston, South Carolina to celebrate.

I read so much romance this month. It’s really all I want to read at this point – the one deviation being Summer’s Edge, which was a YA thriller/mystery with fantastical elements. Honestly if I wasn’t a part of the blog tour for it in May I probably wouldn’t have picked it up when I did. I’m working on being better with mood reading and allowing myself to read for my happiness and not for numbers or dates or publishers.

So below are the books I read in May, check back tomorrow for the absolute loosest TBR you can imagine for June!

  1. Blame it on the Brontes, Annie Sereno – 3/5 stars
  2. Bet on It, Jodie Slaughter – 4/5 stars
  3. Long Story Short, Serena Kaylor – 5/5 stars
  4. Lucy Checks In, Dee Ernst – 4/5 stars
  5. The Stand-In, Lily Chu – 5/5 stars
  6. Electric Idol (Dark Olympus #2), Katee Robert – 5/5 stars
  7. Fake It Till You Bake It, Jamie Wesley – 4/5 stars
  8. Lease on Love, Falon Ballard – 5/5 stars
  9. Omens (The Triad #3), Dana Isaly – 2/5 stars
  10. The Unplanned Life of Josie Hale, Stephanie Eding – 3/5 stars
  11. In Trouble, Hannah Haze – 3/5 stars
  12. Circling Back to You, Julie Tieu – 3/5 stars
  13. Always Running, Calliope Stewart – 3/5 stars
  14. Throttled (Dirty Air #1), Lauren Asher – 4/5 stars
  15. The Stopover (The Miles High Club #1), T. L. Swan – 4/5 stars
  16. A Show for Two, Tashie Bhuiyan – 5/5 stars
  17. A Brush with Love, Mazey Eddings – 5/5 stars
  18. The Mistake (Off-Campus #2), Elle Kennedy – 4/5 stars
  19. Eyes on Me (Salacious Players Club #2), Sara Cate – 4/5 stars
  20. Long Shot (Hoops #1), Kennedy Ryan – 4/5 stars
  21. Never Rescue a Rogue (The Merriwell Sisters), Virginia Heath – 4/5 stars
  22. Summer’s Edge, Dana Mele – 5/5 stars
  23. The Takeover (The Miles High Club #2), T. L. Swan – 5/5 stars
  24. For You & No One Else (Say Everything #3), Roni Loren – 4/5 stars
  25. To Love Jason Thorn, Ella Maise – 5/5 stars
  26. Collided (Dirty Air #2), Lauren Asher – 4/5 stars
  27. Faking with Benefits, Lily Gold – 4/5 stars
  28. A Line in the Sand, Teri Wilson – 4/5 stars
  29. Three Swedish Mountain Men, Lily Gold – 4/5 stars

Happy reading, folks!

BLOG TOUR – Summer’s Edge by Dana Mele

Title: Summer’s Edge

Author: Dana Mele

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Publication date: May 31st, 2022

pages

stars

Goodreads Synopsis

I Know What You Did Last Summer meets  The Haunting of Hill House  in this atmospheric, eerie teen thriller following an estranged group of friends being haunted by their friend who died last summer.

Emily Joiner was once part of an inseparable group—she was a sister, a best friend, a lover, and a rival. Summers without Emily were unthinkable. Until the fire burned the lake house to ashes with her inside.

A year later, it’s in Emily’s honor that Chelsea and her four friends decide to return. The house awaits them, meticulously rebuilt. Only, Chelsea is haunted by ghostly visions. Loner Ryan stirs up old hurts and forces golden boy Chase to play peacemaker. Which has perfect hostess Kennedy on edge as eerie events culminate in a stunning accusation: Emily’s death wasn’t an accident. And all the clues needed to find the person responsible are right here.

As old betrayals rise to the surface, Chelsea and her friends have one night to unravel a mystery spanning three summers before a killer among them exacts their revenge.

Review

This book is delightfully creepy and honestly might keep me up tonight and even though it’s a YA it has the thriller power of a full adult book like Riley Sager. I was bamboozled by the plot line from the very first page, and isn’t that exactly what you want from a thriller/mystery?

Chelsea and her friends keep real serious secrets from each other, and a year since Emily died they are finally reunited by a mysterious force that wants a reckoning for her death. Who killed Emily? There are too many questions and not enough answers for these kids – but someone out there knows the truth and will stop at nothing to see it come out.

Loved the characters, loved the plot line, loved the setting – who doesn’t love a creepy house by a lake where dark events have transpired? It’s iconic!

And just look at this cover??? Magnificent. Creeptastic.

Seriously go pick this one up if you fall in the category of mystery lovers or just someone who doesnt want to sleep at night for some reason? I don’t know, I’m not here to judge

**Thank you to Turn the Page Tours and Simon and Schuster for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Happy reading, folks!

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer based in the Catskills. A graduate of Wellesley College, Dana holds degrees in theatre, education, and law. Dana’s debut, PEOPLE LIKE US, was published in 2018 and shortlisted for the 2019 ITW Thriller Award for Best Young Adult Novel. A second YA thriller, SUMMER’S EDGE, is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster in Spring 2022, followed by TRAGIC, a graphic novel retelling of Hamlet from Legendary Comics.

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There is one (1) copy of Summer’s Edge available!

April Wrap Up – 2022 Edition

Happy May! It’s currently raining here so the weather hasn’t gotten the memo that the showers were supposed to stay in April and it should only be flowers today. but I’ll give it a pass since it’s only the first day. But no more! This month Is my first wedding anniversary and I’m so stoked. My husband and I are traveling to Charleston for 5 days to celebrate and I’m very excited for a vacation.

I read so many books this month that when looking back it’s hard to imagine the early ones were just from 30 days ago. It feels like I read them forever ago. I don’t imagine I will ever read this many books in one month again, but work is still slow so May might also have a higher number than normal. However, I am not planning a TBR for May so tomorrow’s post will just be a review. I have so many arcs to read, but I’ve been really into mood reading so I’m just going on my kindle and reading whatever speaks to me, no matter when the publication date is, at least for the first 2 weeks of May. I want to see how many arcs I can get through before maybe picking up a TBR again for June.

Of course there are several books I have planned on my radar because they are speaking to me, but I don’t feel like making a whole post for a few titles, just doesn’t seem to be worth it to me. So below are the books I read in April, and I’m currently reading Blame it on the Brontes by Annie Sereno which pubs on May 3rd!

  1. A Forgery of Roses, Jessica S. Olson – 4/5 stars
  2. Praise (Salacious Player’s Club #1), Sara Cate – 4/5 stars
  3. Royal Holiday (The Wedding Date #4), Jasmine Guillory – 4/5 stars
  4. Heat Haven (Heat Haven Omegaverse #1), Sarah Blue – 4/5 stars
  5. Vera and the Vegas V: Part One (The Vegas Omegaverse #1), Sarah Blue – 4/5 stars
  6. Vera and the Vegas V: Part Two (The Vegas Omegaverse #2), Sarah Blue – 4/5 stars
  7. Becca’s Bonded Christmas, Sarah Blue – 3/5 stars
  8. To Marry and to Meddle (The Regency Vows #3), Martha Waters – 5/5 stars
  9. Reputation, Lex Croucher – 4/5 stars
  10. The Matchbreaker Summer, Annie Rains – 3/5 stars
  11. Boss Witch (Fix-It Witches #2), Ann Aguirre – 4/5 stars
  12. I Think Knot (Knot Yours Omegaverse #1), Sinclair Kelly – 5/5 stars
  13. The Deal (Off Campus #1), Elle Kennedy – 4/5 stars
  14. Always Only You (Bergman Brothers #2), Chloe Liese – 5/5 stars
  15. Dirty First Dates: Halloween Haunt, Harley Laroux – 2/5 stars
  16. Shattered Vows, Shain Rose – 2/5 stars
  17. Pack Origin (A Blissful Omegaverse #1), Kate King – 3/5 stars
  18. Ever After Always (Bergman Brothers #3), Chloe Liese – 5/5 stars
  19. The Sign For Home, Blair Fell – 4/5 stars
  20. The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix – 1/5 stars *DNF*
  21. Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words (Chai Masala Club #1), Annika Sharma – 3/5 stars
  22. This May End Badly, Samantha Markum – 4/5 stars
  23. With You Forever (Bergman Brothers #4), Chloe Liese – 5/5 stars
  24. Not the Kind of Early You Marry (The Unconventional Ladies of Mayfair #1), Kate Pembrooke – 4/5 stars
  25. Delilah Green Doesn’t Care (Bright Falls #1), Ashley Herring Blake – 4/5 stars
  26. Say You’ll Be My Lady (The Unconventional Ladies of Mayfair #2), Kate Pembrooke – 4/5 stars
  27. Book Lovers, Emily Henry – 5/5 stars
  28. The Rockstar’s Omega (The Alpha Rock Stars #1), Hannah Haze – 3/5 stars
  29. Lilacs and Leather (Pack Saint Clair #1), Thora Woods – 5/5 stars
  30. The Italian Job, Kathryn Freeman – 4/5 stars
  31. In Deep, Hannah Haze – 4/5 stars
  32. Lavender and Lightning (Pack Saint Clair #2), Thora Woods – 5/5 stars
  33. Built to Last, Erin Hahn – 4/5 stars
  34. Something Wilder, Christina Lauren – 4/5 stars
  35. Pack Bound (A Blissful Omegaverse #2), Kate King – 4/5 stars
  36. Always Waiting (The San Francisco Omegas #1), Calliope Stewart – 4/5 stars
  37. Omega’s Obsession (Heat Haven Omegaverse #2), Sarah Blue – 4/5 stars
  38. Starry-Eyed Love (Spark House #2), Helena Hunting – 5/5 stars
  39. The Meet Cute Method, Portia MacIntosh – 4/5 stars

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – This May End Badly by Samantha Markum

Title: This May End Badly

Author: Samantha Markum

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: April 12, 2022

384 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.

To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.

As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.

This May End Badly is a story about friendship, falling in love, and crossing pretty much every line presented to you—and how to atone when you do.

Review

I love YA boarding school books. Doesn’t even matter what genre, but I love it. Add in a rival boys school, prank wars with the other school, fake dating, and forced proximity – we have ourselves a book that is specifically targeted for me. And I loved it.

Doe and her friends are starting their senior year at Weston and continuing to prank the Winfield boys school, led by Three – a legacy and one of the five ‘founding family’ types of Winfield. They’ve been at war since freshman year but this year is different – the schools have announced they will be merging for the next academic year. Doe will do anything to stop the merger from happening, she loves the school as it is and takes it upon herself to keep up the pranks. But, she has to get under Three’s skin as well – and fake dating his cousin Wells is the perfect irritant. But, can this fake relationship turn into a real connection before the pranks get away from them?

My only issue with this book was the immaturity that Doe displayed with with her friends and the pranks. I know this was the point – but it was almost too much for me. And then the ending took this book from light-hearted to very serious, it was a bit jarring. It had a great message and I fully support the point behind it, but I wish it had been a bit easier of a transition. I did love Doe and Wells together, and was really glad there wasn’t a hint of a love triangle with Three. I was really worried it would go that way which would upset me – but phew.

Very solid YA contemporary read. Recommend.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Not the Kind of Earl You Marry by Kate Pembrooke

Title: Not the Kind of Earl You Marry (The Unconventional Ladies of Mayfair #1)

Author: Kate Pembrooke

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: July 27th, 2021

349 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Fans of Netflix’s Bridgerton series will adore this stunning historical romance debut, where a wary wallflower enters a fake engagement with one of London’s most eligible bachelors.

The one woman in London who doesn’t want to marry him is now his fiancée.

William Atherton, Earl of Norwood, is as shocked as the rest of London to discover his betrothal via an announcement in the morning paper. Furious at what appears to be a shrewd marriage trap, William tracks down his alleged fiancée before her plans can affect his campaign for a coveted political post. But then William realizes an engagement, however fake, may benefit them both…

Miss Charlotte Hurst may be a wallflower, but she’s no shrinking violet. She would never attempt such an underhanded scheme, especially not with a man as haughty or sought-after as Norwood. Yet his suggestion to play along with the betrothal has its merits… and the longer they pretend, the more undeniably real their feelings become. But when the true culprit behind their engagement is revealed, can their newfound happiness survive the scandal?

Review

Forever was fantastic and sent me a bunch of historical romances to read and review – so I’ve been on a bit of a regency kick and I’ve been absolutely loving it. Not the Kind of Early You Marry is a fake engagement romance between the Earl of Northwood and Lady Charlotte, which they both found out about by the daily paper. The two had never met before but decide to continue the fake betrothal for mutual gain. But forced proximity tends to make the heart grow stronger and the romance quickly blossoms.

It was a joy reading William fall in love with Charlotte. He went from incredibly angry with her to doting on her every need and proving that their unconventional match could work for real, instead of just for looks. Charlotte is understandably wary given her position in society but can’t help herself either. The draw of the romance and passion between the two is evident in the writing and they bantered back and forth so lovingly. These are my favorite kind of romances, where you can joke and laugh with your partner and argue for sport.

The background characters were also very interesting, and I can tell Serena and Charles will be the next couple to get the novel treatment. I appreciate that the ladies are devoted to charitable acts and aren’t the women who only care about society and balls (one of my main issues with historicals at times). I don’t know if Pembrooke is planning to give Charlotte’s brother a book, but he really stuck out to me with his anxiety and full support of Charlotte’s less than usual society lady self. I would love to read him find a lady.

Looking forward to reading the next, Say You’ll Be My Lady.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Sign for Home by Blair Fell

Title: The Sign for Home

Author: Blair Fell

Publisher: Atria

Publication date: April 5th, 2022

416 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When Arlo Dilly learns the girl he thought was lost forever might still be out there, he takes it as a sign and embarks on a life-changing journey to find his great love—and his freedom.

Arlo Dilly is young, handsome and eager to meet the right girl. He also happens to be DeafBlind, a Jehovah’s Witness, and under the strict guardianship of his controlling uncle. His chances of finding someone to love seem slim to none.

And yet, it happened once before: many years ago, at a boarding school for the Deaf, Arlo met the love of his life—a mysterious girl with onyx eyes and beautifully expressive hands which told him the most amazing stories. But tragedy struck, and their love was lost forever.

Or so Arlo thought.

After years trying to heal his broken heart, Arlo is assigned a college writing assignment which unlocks buried memories of his past. Soon he wonders if the hearing people he was supposed to trust have been lying to him all along, and if his lost love might be found again.

No longer willing to accept what others tell him, Arlo convinces a small band of misfit friends to set off on a journey to learn the truth. After all, who better to bring on this quest than his gay interpreter and wildly inappropriate Belgian best friend? Despite the many forces working against him, Arlo will stop at nothing to find the girl who got away and experience all of life’s joyful possibilities.

Review

The Sign For Home is a special book that allows a very marginalized and underrepresented community the limelight and a voice. DeafBlind is not a community I have any familiarity with outside of Helen Keller, and I didn’t even know Tactile Sign Language existed. Blair Fell created a dual POV story featuring Arlo, a 23 year DeafBlind Jehovah’s Witness with a traumatic past and Cyril, his older, gay interpreter that was hired to assist with a college class.

The more you learn about Arlo’s story, the more your heart breaks. Not just in terms of being DeafBlind, but the rhetoric the JW community led him to believe and the restrictions he faced when he trusted family and friends. I have no opinion on the JW faith as a whole – this isn’t a forum for that. But, I think everyone who reads this can see that the JW community depicted is neglectful, abusive, and untrustworthy. You see Cyril giving Arlo a look into the world outside of what he has been fed by his caretakers, and it’s beautiful to see even if it’s sad.

The writing style is very unique as well. Arlo’s chapters are written in ASL translated to English, so the grammar and word choice is very different than you would normally see in written English. It’s also a look into how different the language is and the issues those who are Deaf and DeafBlind have when they don’t have the opportunity to learn English. The world really is set up for hearing-sighted.

I could continue to go on but I really just want to highlight the importance of this book not just for entertainment purposes but education and awareness. I left this book learning something about a community that I haven’t been exposed to and that’s a beautiful thing.

Thank you to Atria and Edelweiss for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!