Are these a completely random mixture of books with varying release dates and all of them are already out for you? Yes. But they are all contemporary romances and I also really enjoyed all of them and… I think I might have cried during each of them too. Oh and another thing they all have in common is that I had an e-ARC of each and I read zero e-ARCs. I purchased a physical copy of Georgie, All Along, the audiobook of Before I Let Go, and borrowed the audiobook for Relentless from Hoopla. But shout out to Netgalley because I really am grateful for the early access I didn’t take advantage of! So, let’s finally get to the reviews, shall we?
Relentless by Katie Golding
This review is obnoxiously late (the book released in August) and it was one of my most anticipated books of Summer, so why did it take me so long to read? Great question. The answer is that I have been struggling to read anything that is not an audiobook for months (though I think I’m maybe starting to slowly come out of that??). And it took ages for Sourcebooks to get us an audiobook of this one. In fact, I think it was a Tantor audiobook. Regardless, if you have also been waiting for the audiobook of Relentless, I am thrilled to tell you that it is out! So, I guess I may as well tell you about the narration first. I wish that there had been a female narrator who was as deeply committed to the Italian accent as Massimo’s narrator in book two, but aside from that I enjoyed the narration!
So moving on to the book. Chiara and Mason are so interesting together. On the one hand, I really enjoyed them together and liked that a lot of this angst was coming from a really internal sort of place. But then, when the explosion happens, it’s entirely external and I was really disappointed in other characters I had come to love. I don’t know how to really express my feelings about this book without spoiling it a little bit, so I guess I’ll just say, in book two, you get a sense for Chiara and Massimo’s relationship. And in Relentless, that relationship really gets… examined. And the way that it is explored was not really what I wanted.
All that said, I really do think that this book delivers on the sexual tension, the sports aspect, and delivers Golding’s deeply emotional relationship aspect even while balancing that out with the sexual tension, the fun, and the sports. It’s well-balanced, just not necessarily exactly what I was looking for. But it did make me cry, so what can you do?
Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
Speaking of Most Anticipated Books I put off reading for so long, Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan would definitely fit in that category, but the why is a lot more simple: I was not ready to be broken. Kennedy Ryan writes the most emotional books and I have to really be in an okay headspace before I can read them and sometimes I struggle to find that space. But I finally did. Or, more honestly, I forced myself to just get over it and listen to Before I Let Go and ultimately, I adored it. It also didn’t shatter me as much as I was expecting, but I would definitely advise caution if you are a person who has ever lost a child to miscarriage or stillbirth or really anything.
But the way that this book talks about depression? It was incredible. The way this book explores mental health and healing and how who you are when you’re suffering from depression is you, but it’s a you listening to all the worst lies about yourself. The way this book talks about self-compassion in a way that seems completely sensible and like, “Of course we should forgive ourselves!” I just… Magical. Kennedy Ryan is so good at writing about some of the most sensitive subjects with deftness and intense relatability even when you haven’t experienced the exact same things she’s writing about. (There’s a reason she is always on my Taylor Swift + Romance Novels posts.)
And the romance? Y’all. These two people BELONG together, okay? And the way she writes that!!!! There’s honestly not a single Kennedy Ryan book I’ve read where I haven’t gone, “Yep, soulmates.” Which, let’s talk about the fact that I don’t even believe in soulmates really, but KR has me convinced of the fatedness every single time in her CONTEMPORARY romances.
And the friendships?? Magical. I cannot wait for the next two books in this series. I’m so thrilled to have more Kennedy Ryan in my life and I hope she continues writing forever.
Georgie, All Along
by Kate Clayborn
Speaking of people capable of breaking me, Kate Clayborn almost always manages to make me cry. In Georgie, All Along, my annotations are out of control because the way Kate Claybron wrote about Georgie being a mess and having this blankness inside of her that she didn’t know how to fill or what to fill it with? Yeah, I get that. Sometimes you take stock of your life and you’re just like, “Um, what exactly do I want?” because you’ve been just living your life one step at a time without taking the time to really figure out who you are and what you want.
Clayborn is always great at characterization, but I really feel like she went off on a limb with Georgie and her messiness. I’m so grateful. And Levi and his family stuff was so interesting. I really loved that this was a homecoming novel because it was so fascinating to see how these characters returning to where they grew up really threw a lot of this into focus.
Also, once again, the friendship in this book was absolutely everything. I love the way Clayborn does friendship. And the bit at the end?? Yeah, I love Bel. She’s great. I would like a marriage in trouble book about her and her husband even though I think their marriage is actually solid. I would just like to read more about her. But also, I would be really happy to read about Levi’s siblings finding their own love too.
The one thing I didn’t absolutely adore was the third act conflict. It felt… Well, I just didn’t quite feel like it fit, though I understood it at the same time. I did like how it was resolved though. And the epilogue was great! So, all in all, highly recommend! And I’m super proud of myself for reading a PRINT book! Look at me go!
Bonus DNF Review:
When Life Gives You Vampires
by Gloria Duke
Thank you so much to Netgalley and the publisher for the audio ARC, but wow, this book immediately turned out to not be for me. I know it’s for some people though, so let me take this moment to spotlight it!
Essentially Lily wakes up and thinks she’s hungover, but actually it turns out that she’s accidentally been made a vampire. Lily is not skinny and she’s struggling with her body image and her mom is sort of awful about it. If you want a feel good about your body (by the end of it) and some chick lit with a vampire romance, then I think this book could be perfect for you! Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me at all.
After reading and enjoying three books off my Highly Anticipated Lists, I think I need to finally go back and finish off the rest of my lists from last year! So don’t be surprised if you see another similar title here soon. What are some of your anticipated reads you put off for a long time, but still lived up to your excitement when you finally got to them? Also, have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think?