I definitely did not mean to hoard my reviews for these three books but I did so here’s a surprise three ARC reviews for books you can pick up already! Yay! A Thorn in the Saddle by Rebekah Weatherspoon is a great contemporary romance out from Avon and I would also recommend the audiobook. The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller is one of my favorites of the year (spoiler alert) and is a brilliant historical romance out from St. Martin’s Press. And finally, Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie is a historical fiction piece set in the music industry and it is like Daisy Jones, but didn’t captivate me in the same way Daisy Jones did. Anyway, read on if you’d like more of my thoughts!
A Thorn in the Saddle by Rebekah Weatherspoon
A Thorn in the Saddle not only delivered the Jesse content I think we’ve all been waiting for (and made me feel a little guilty about how badly I wanted it!) but also gave us a heroine I truly fell in love with. Lily Grace is such a fantastic strong and outspoken character. Her journey was one I really loved getting to experience alongside her and watching her give Jesse a hard time was certainly a lot of fun.
Essentially, Jesse finds his grandma and Lily Grace’s dad locked in a… heated embrace shall we say and sort of loses his temper. (Don’t worry, he also goes to therapy!) He gets told a lot that he has anger issues, which, honestly, would likely shorten my fuse too. Anyway, Lily Grace, who is home because her job in tech sort of… became a place she didn’t want to be (content warning for sexual harassment) and her boyfriend was sort of (a lot) disappointing in response, has a lot to say to Jesse about losing his temper on her dad like that. And then we’re basically off to the races.
The tentative steps toward friendship and more, the sex lessons, the sexual tension, the romantic gestures… I mean, this book delivers in a lot of ways. I felt like it sort of lost momentum for me in the third quarter of the book, which is where it faltered for me, but overall, I enjoyed this one and am grateful for the chance to have read it!
The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller
I was eagerly anticipating The Brightest Star in Paris and despite my delay in reading it, I can absolutely say it did not disappoint. It was beautifully written, which comes as no surprise given the gorgeous prose of The Widow of Rose House, but it also felt so well-paced. It’s very much a slow burn with a lot of character development, which is something I am coming to appreciate so much lately. The cameo of Alva and Sam? Brilliant, fantastic, I loved it. But honestly, the way Biller brought Paris to light, the way she dealt with the trauma of living through something so horrific… It was just absolutely stunning. And Amelie? I mean. My heart. St. Amie. Her characterization was just gorgeously done.
I don’t really know how to talk about this book without just repeating myself over and over, but it honestly was just so beautifully written! Benedict was just as much of a sweetheart as Sam, but in his own unique way. And I loved all of the secondary characters we got to meet, even the villainous ones. I had a lot of thoughts, honestly, reading this book and it made me so interested in learning more about the history of France. So… tl;dr, I loved this one and highly, highly recommend!!
Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie
I picked up Songs in Ursa Major because someone (I think Emily Henry?) compared it to Daisy Jones & The Six, aka my favorite book of all time. I can certainly understand the comparison and I think I should have loved this book more than I did, honestly, because the comparison feels solid. But the thing is, there’s actually no reason I should love Daisy Jones. It’s not a Jenica book, so I shouldn’t really be surprised that Songs in Ursa Major didn’t really compel me the whole way through. I mean, I took a two month break in the reading of this book. Just sat it down and didn’t come back to it for two months. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it fine when I was reading it, just that it wasn’t as compelling as I would have liked for it to have been.
Basically, if what you liked about Daisy Jones was seeing the behind the scenes of things and some of the band drama and you want a little more romance, without caring if there’s an HEA at the end of it, and you’re okay with an exploration of mental health and addiction… Well, there’s a good chance you’ll like this book. The characters are interesting and engaging, but they didn’t quite manage to come alive for me the same way Daisy Jones and The Six did. I feel like I’m doing this book a disservice by just comparing it to my favorite book, but here we are.