A MelanieM Review:For The Win (#lovehim #2.5) by S.M. James

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

He’s been stood up.

It stings more than it should, considering it wasn’t actually a date. But being stranded at a holiday party alone, is one of the most terrifying things Brooks can imagine.

Then he meets the larger than life Darien. He’s cool, fun, and saves Brooks from a night of lurking awkwardly in the corner.

But before Darien can get too flirty, Brooks lays down the law. They’re hanging out as friends. Just friends.

Because Brooks doesn’t date. Ever.

Even though Darien is gorgeous.

Even though he sees through Brooks’s bullshit.

Even though everything about him screams ‘take a chance’.

Brooks made his choice.

This isn’t a date.

Well, if you’ve been following my reviews of this incredible YA series, then you know that, unfortunately as is my wont, I did not read them in the order they were written.  Bad me.  Mea Culpa.  Because they are so much better that way.  If (insert duoh here) you read them as the author clearly intended,  you pick up on the nuances of each characters back history, their slow to develop relationship with the person they are meant to be with, as well as some of the other personalities that appear throughout the series and in their own stories. More on that below.

But I fell into the #lovehim series by way of that incredibly emotional story In Case You Missed It (#lovehim #3).  That would be the one that first introduced me to this author, series, and proceeded to put my heart through an entire gamut of emotions from heartbreak to hope while making me fall deeply in love with these characters and world the author was building.

For The Win (#lovehim #2.5) by S.M. James is a “beginning” story, the how they meet section of one of the main couples in the series.  It just so happens to be the story I should have read prior to In Case You MIssed It because all the clues, all the “damnit, really” indications are flowing here.  But so are the beautiful writing and relationship dynamics that occur between Brooks and Darien as they meet for the first time.  The dialog, the glances, it’s everything.

I think I might have mumbled something about the author giving enough information that you could read the other story as a stand alone.  After reading this, I was an idiot.  Don’t do that.  For The Win is the foundation that In Case You Missed It needs.  Just as I have come to realize that this is a pattern the author uses with her other couples.  We get a glimpse into their past lives and first meet or section taken from their relationship.  Then we get a story that will fast forward it to a “present day” to see where that relationship stands and how the young men are doing in their lives. And, folded in among the real life relationship drama of the current main couple, we get an idea of what our other couples are doing as well.

What can I say?  I love this series and characters!  It’s realistic in its situations, the characters have depth and remain true to their age and histories.  Where needed, and yes, it’s really needed with some of the people here, the author has done the research to make everything feel authentic and believable.  So easy to fall in love with all of them and I did.

I have listed all the stories below.  Only a couple left to review before I’m out and waiting for the May release.  I don’t think I want to be deprived of this series even for a month’s time.   So yes, I highly recommend this story and series.  Please start with the first one and work your way through.  It’s the only way to go.

I will be waiting for the next story to release!

Cover art:  Story Styling Cover Designs.   Cute, and the  tone, style fits and brands the series.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 40 pages
Published November 28th 2018 by May Books
ASINB07HFVVJSG
Series #lovehim #2.5

Series #lovehim

That Feeling When (Archie and Landon)

No Big Deal
To Be Continued(3,5) Digi and Gram
In Real Life(4.5)  Archie and Landon  coming soon, hopefully.

A Kai Release Day Review: Kissing Lessons (Before… and After #2) by Susan Laine

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Merry and Boone have been best friends since kindergarten. Even though they were always together, they have differents personality. Boone was the experienced one and Merry was the socially awkward and inexperienced.In the end of the high school senior year, Merry had never been kissed and since he was going to the prom, he intended to kiss his prom date. The problem was: he didn’t know how to kiss and didn’t want to make a fool of himself. So it was better training it first, right? And who better than Boone to teach him how to kiss?
Although being surprised at first, Boone agreed to show Merry how to be a good kisser. They explored many styles of kisses and things became a little too good for them. What should be just a make-out lesson turned into something more intense and they just couldn’t forget about. A week later they decided to confront it and both admitted to wanting one more kissing lesson to see where it would take them. It turned out that how more they kissed more they realized what were there all along: They had feelings for each other.

Well, guys, I’m always up for a good and adorable male-male-young-adult, but this one was a disappointed to me. I couldn’t connect with the story. It was so limited and not developed. The main characters were the only character in the book. No one else really appeared and it bothered me that I couldn’t see them interacting with other people in other situations. We are talking about teenagers here; we should at least see a parent or a school interaction with friends, teachers or whatever.  The events in the entire book were almost the same and there was not a development at all.

Despite the sweetness, I had problems with the kissing lessons too. Actually, it was a bittersweet feeling. I mean, the beginner was really cute and adorable and I loved it, but then Boone needed to classify everything. Even when they were so carried away in the kiss, he would stop to classify it. I was bored after a while with this.

The only occasion they went out of Boone’s room, seems like they were alone even if they were at a prom. And even at the event, no one asked them anything. I mean, in a perfect place it wouldn’t be a surprise to see two guys together, but it was high school. It wouldn’t be strange to have, at least, a curious teenager asking about them or even just looking. After all, they were there as an out couple for the first time. Boone asked one little thing to one random girl and it was it: all the interaction with other people. And after that, it was like they were alone in the world. Felt so unrealistic.

Although I liked what I could see about the character’s personality, it wasn’t sufficiently developed to really connect and like them. There was no time or events in the story for it, unluckily.

The cover art by AngstyG is something I approved about this book. It’s a romantic and pretty cover with the two character represented in such a sweet moment. I really like it.

Sales Links

Book Details:

Kindle edition, 81 pages
Publication: April 26th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Series: Before… and After: Book Two

Characters
Merry, Boone