Review: Smoldering, by Tiffany Aleman

SmolderingSmoldering by Tiffany Aleman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had this audiobook sitting on my Audible shelf for a long time. Finally, I decided to give it a shot as a way to recuperate from the book hangover I was suffering from after finishing K. A. Linde’s ‘Avoiding’ series. ‘Smoldering’ ended up being a good choice for that purpose.

The heroine, Kelsey, is a young lady from a very wealthy family. The daughter of a prominent politician, she is little more than a prop for her parents’ social image. Always yearning to please them, she has allowed herself to be controlled by her parents.

On the day of her wedding, she finally has a long overdue epiphany. She’s standing at the altar, in the midst of marrying a man that she hates, when she realizes that her parents will never truly love her. Trying to please them or make them proud is a pointless endeavor.

For once, she decides to make a decision based upon her happiness. Knowing the fallout will be tremendous, she musters up the courage to take a stand. She leaves her groom standing at the altar and doesn’t look back.

Despite being disowned by her parents, she knows that she has done the right thing. Cut off completely, she moves with her best friend and makes ends meet by working as a waitress. Her life is a far cry from the opulence of her past, but she is happy for the first time in her life.

When she meets Riley Jackson, a local military man, things are finally going right for her. The two have a whirlwind romance and fall in love quickly. Theirs was definitely a case of insta-love.

Just as their relationship begins to get more serious, Kelsey’s past and present collide. What ensues is a clusterf*ck of epic proportions. Betrayal. Hurt. More betrayal. It gets really ugly, really quick.

While I love angst and usually live for the emotional pain a great story can evoke, this story left me feeling a little irritated. With the way Riley was so quick to dismiss Kelsey, and the way he acted almost immediately afterwards, I just couldn’t believe that he really cared all that much for her in the first place. I just didn’t buy it.

Then, after all of Riley’s insensitive actions, he barely even mutters an apology before Kelsey takes him back. Seriously? To make matters worse, she actually assumes a large part of the blame because she had never told him about her ex…even though she didn’t lie and it never really came up.

I absolutely hate it when the heroine turns into some sort of weak, pushover that takes on the blame for the hero’s bad behavior. Ugh! Kelsey needed to grow a damn spine and send Riley packing for good. He didn’t even grovel. Nope. I was not happy at all.

Overall, it ended up being just an “okay” book for me. It started out strong, but then everything hit the fan and there was no coming back for me. Once everything was kind of “resolved” and the characters got their HEA, it seemed to drag on and on also. Maybe I was just irritated because their HEA was not a HEA for me…but the last 45 minutes of this audiobook seemed unnecessary to me.

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Review: A Lover’s Lament, by K. L. Grayson

A Lover's LamentA Lover’s Lament by K.L. Grayson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Second-Chance Standalone Romance

I don’t read a lot of military-themed romances, so ‘A Lover’s Lament’ was a bit of a change from the norm for me. Usually, the military themed stories end up being a little over-the-top for me. What can I say? Rambo just isn’t my thing. Nonetheless, I thought that this was a great book.

Armed forces may not be my thing, but a second-chance romance certainly is! I’m a sucker for angst and emotional pain, followed by groveling. I also have this hang-up where I almost always want the “first” or “original” couple to end up together. I don’t switch teams very easily. So, it was a given that I’d be on-board with this one.

Devin and Katie are high school sweethearts and each other’s first loves. Katie thinks that she’ll spend her life with Devin, but after she gives him her virginity, he moves away without a word. Katie doesn’t hear from Devin again.

Years later, Katie has pieced her life back together and seems happy on the surface. When tragedy strikes, Katie withdraws from everyone and sinks into a depression. At the guidance of her therapist, she participates in a military pen pal program. By chance, Devin is on the list of soldiers that Katie is given to choose from. Needless to say, Katie chooses Devin and their relationship is rekindled.

Despite feeling a little slow-moving at times, I enjoyed Devin and Katie’s story. Hearing about the life events that had molded each of them over the years, as they recounted their life experiences to one another, had my rapt attention. Each of them had to overcome some pretty significant obstacles to get to where they were.

Their story also highlighted how a single well-intentioned act from one person can wreak havoc on another person’s life. Devin thought he was doing what was best for Katie by making a clean break all of those years ago. He thought she’d be heartbroken for a short period of time, but that she’d move on to greener pastures quickly.

Instead, Katie never really got over the heartache and betrayal. She went through the motions, but lived a shallower life without passion. As a result she ended up hurting her fiancé, a man she loved, but wasn’t ever really in love with.

Throughout the story, there was plenty of action. Toward the end, it did get a little “Rambo” for me. However, the action and danger did add to the story. For a short while, it was quite an emotional roller coaster ride.

In the end, I was quite content. This book is a standalone with a HEA. If you’re looking for a heartfelt, emotional story, then this is a great choice!

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