Book Review of The Sweet Gum Tree

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The Sweet Gum Tree

By Katherine Allred

SYNOPSIS:

Sweet tea, corn bread and soup beans; everyday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his back, an act that changes both their lives forever. Through childhood disasters and teenage woes they cling together as friendship turns to love. The future looks rosy until the fateful night when Frank Anderson, Nick’s abusive father, is shot to death in his filthy trailer.

Suddenly, Nick is gone, leaving Alix alone, confused and pregnant. For the next fifteen years she wrestles with the pain of Nick’s abandonment, a bad marriage, her family and friends. But finally, she’s starting to get her life back together. Her divorce is almost final, her business is booming, and she’s content if not happy—until the day she looks up and sees Nick standing across the counter. He’s back, and he’s not alone. Once again Alix is plunged into turmoil and pain as Nick tries to win her love, something she resists with all her strength. Only one thing might break the protective wall she’s built around her emotions—the truth about Frank Anderson’s death. But when that truth comes out and those walls crumble, neither Alix nor Nick is prepared for the emotional explosion that could destroy as well as heal.

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I finished this book last night, and I was completely wrecked, but I did have a smile on my face. The angstometer is high with this one, but again, it was well worth it.

 

Alix French and Nick Anderson were just kids when they first met, only 8/10 years old.  Alix is from a highly respected family, and Nick was the son of the nasty town drunk.   From the very beginning, there was a connection between the two.  A connection that would last decades with twists and turns that will break your heart apart.

 

I adored both Alix and Nick.  Alix was a spitfire of a girl who approached Nick and made him her friend.  They grew up to love each other, but sometimes, love isn’t enough.  There was just so much Alix could take, so when Nick left, she did the best (or so she thought) she could for herself.    Years later, when Nick comes back to town, secrets are revealed.   Alix’s heart is shattered with all the lies and time that has gone by.    Nick is still in love with Alix, but he is also devastated by all that has happened.   Can these two soulmates find their way back to each other?

 

I have had this book on my kindle for years, and if it wasn’t for the TPAM Pick for Me Challenge, I can honestly say, I probably wouldn’t get to it any time soon.  So a big thank you to Judy for pushing me to read this book!

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Reviewed by Diana Murphy ~ a great friend and administrator at Turning Pages at Midnight Reader Group ~ Goodreads ~  https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/125752-turning-pages-at-midnight-book-blog

 

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🏳️‍🌈Review: By The Currawong’s Call

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Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Mn6FlS

SYNOPSIS: A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

Victoria, Australia, 1891

Anglican priest Matthew Ottenshaw receives his first posting in tiny Dinbratten, two days’ ride from his Melbourne home. Determined to honour his calling as best he can, he throws himself into the footy mad, two-pub town, navigating the dusty streets, learning the gossip, and striking up a friendship with Jonah Parks, the resident police sergeant and local bona fide hero.

A police officer and a priest often find themselves needed at the same place, and Jonah and Matthew’s friendship deepens quickly, as they set about their business of protecting the bodies and souls of Dinbratten’s residents. When a bushfire threatens the town, and Matthew’s inexperience with fire endangers the church buildings, Jonah comes to the rescue, and a reckless kiss in the midst of the chaos takes their friendship to forbidden.

Neither Matthew nor Jonah can go back to the way things were before, but continuing their relationship puts everything at risk: their jobs, their friends, even their lives. In the outback town of Dinbratten where everyone knows everything about everyone else, how can they ever expect to keep a secret this explosive?

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img_8499I have to say By The Currawong’s Call is one of the best books that I’ve EVER read.
This story is set in rural Victoria, Australia, in the late 1800s. A handsome
young Anglican priest, Matthew Ottenshaw, takes up residence in the tiny town of Dinbratten and is pleasantly accepted by everyone in town, especially the ladies (much to his disinterest).
Father Matthew makes it his mission to get to know all the townsfolk, including Sergeant Jonah Parks, one of the two coppers in town.

Jonah Parks is a legend and a hero to everyone around him. He is personable, brave, well-respected and, on top of it all, quite handsome and sought after by the local lasses as well. These two strike up a friendship that is, just that—a friendship. Jonah and Matthew become the dynamic duo it seems, leaving the town of Dinbratten in the best of hands. Fighting crime and saving souls, one would be surprised as to how closely their jobs become entwined.

And then one night, they become entwined. It’s frightening and confusing, especially for Father Matthew. There is so much at stake—no, let me make it clear: there is EVERYTHING at stake for these two pillars of this small town to continue their clandestine affair because homosexual relationships in the late 1800s in Australia are against the law. They’re gravely at risk carrying on in such a small town.

The author does an outstanding job giving the reader a full picture of life in this time period. Instantly, I was transported into the pages, my mind’s eye so clearly watching the footy games, the brushfire behind the church, the trotting of horses, the dust and grime of the dry season, the sounds and cheers in the pubs, and most importantly, I could feel the love and angst between Matthew and Jonah so deep within my soul.

Once the first page of this treasure is turned, I’d feel certain that anyone would have trouble putting it down. I couldn’t. By The Currawong’s Call is perfectly written and the editing is flawless. The chapters flow like a warm breeze. Jonah and Matthew become part of your soul. It’s about history. It’s about cherishing everything that is right in this world and the grieving and the sadness of what isn’t. How could loving someone, no matter their gender, be so wrong? Jonah and Matthew are my heroes.

I would implore everyone who loves M/M romance and finding and fighting for true love to read this work of art. Five stars just aren’t enough.

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Reviewed by Lisa Cullinan Bourbon, Bikes, and Books

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🏳️‍🌈Review of Rend by Roan Parrish

30697638-C41D-4103-B655-9552B54C8543Rend (Riven #2) 

by Roan Parrish

Amazon: http://a.co/d/7cffljT

SYNOPSIS:

After a whirlwind romance, a man with a painful past learns to trust the musician who makes him believe in happy endings.

 

Matt Argento knows what it feels like to be alone. After a childhood of abandonment, he never imagined someone might love him—much less someone like Rhys Nyland, who has the voice of an angel, the looks of a god, and the worship of his fans.

Matt and Rhys come from different worlds, but when they meet, their chemistry is incendiary. Their romance is unexpected, intense, and forever—at least, that’s what their vows promise. Suddenly, Matt finds himself living a life he never thought possible: safe and secure in the arms of a man who feels like home. But when Rhys leaves to go on tour for his new album, Matt finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his past.

When Rhys returns, he finds Matt twisted by doubt. But Rhys loves Matt fiercely, and he’ll go to hell and back to triumph over Matt’s fears. After secrets are revealed and desires are confessed, Rhys and Matt must learn to trust each other if they’re going to make it. That means they have to fall in love all over again—and this time, it really will be forever.

Roan Parrish’s pitch-perfect Riven novels can be read together or separately:

RIVEN | REND

 

 

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I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that Rend was not about Theo and Caleb, the couple from Riven, but it is about Caleb’s oldest friend, Rhys.  We already know Rhys is married to Matt, and Rend is their story.

The first half of the book is, well, rather boring.  It tells of Matt’s day to day life, and I just felt like it was almost void of any emotion from Matt.  Rhys is full of life and is madly in love with Matt, but Matt is struggling.  The second half of the book, you learn more about Matt’s heartbreaking past, and it had me wondering if the author made the first half emotionally boring to make the reader feel so much in the second half, because the emotions hit you hard. Matt started questioning if he was good enough for Rhys, even feeling unworthy of being loved.  His childhood is full of heartache and hurt, and you begin to understand why Matt is so afraid, but Rhys will fight for him.

Yes, Theo and Caleb are in this book, quite a lot, actually.  I enjoyed catching up with them and seeing such a strong bond between Caleb and Rhys.

Once again, the author’s writing will hit you with all the feels, and I have a feeling this story will be with me for a long time.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Thanks for the great review by fellow blogger and good friend, Diana Murphy, of Turning Pages at Midnight Book Blog ~ Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/125752-turning-pages-at-midnight-book-blog

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Cover Reveal/Pre-Order/Giveaway

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Title: Third Strike
Series: Chances #3
Interconnected Standalone – Final Book in Series
Author: BJ Harvey
Genre: Angsty Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 9, 2018
Cover Design: BJ Harvey and Najla Qamber Designs
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Falling for your best friend’s sister has never felt so bad yet so damn right.
 
From USA Today Bestselling author BJ Harvey comes the third and final standalone in the Chance series, this time it’s the much anticipated story of Drew and Ashley.
 
***
 
I have a long history of acting first and thinking it through later. In fact, I’m the definition of a screw up.
 
Case in point – I’m having a baby with a woman I can’t stand, my ex is now my best friend’s wife, and I’m in love with a woman I can never have.
 
My biggest secret is falling for my best friend’s sister twelve years ago.
 
My biggest mistake is thinking I could live without her.
 
And now my biggest regret is the look on her face the moment I tell everyone I’m already married to the woman they hate most.
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I cross back to the VIP booth to tell Millen I’m calling it a night. He quirks a brow at my announcement but thankfully, the petite blonde draped over his side distracts him before he can question me and I have to lie to him again.
Waiting in the lobby, I call for the penthouse elevator as soon as Ash arrives. Her hands are grasped in front of her as she wrings her fingers together.
I reach out and snake my arm around the small of her back, pulling her sideways and around. Her front is pressed into mine as I walk her in and press the button for our floor. She braces her hands on my chest and looks up at me.
Cupping her jaw, I reach out and rest my other hand on her hip, making sure I have her complete attention. “This is your night, Ash. You call the shots. You say how much and how far we go, and in no way . . .” I flex my fingers to accentuate my point, “. . . absolutely no way am I going to pressure you to do anything you’re not ready for.”
“But you’ve done this before. You’re so experienced . . .”
I shake my head. “I’m not experienced at this: wanting someone so damn much that it’s a struggle to keep myself in check. I’m scared I’m the one not ready when there’s nothing I want more.”
Her eyes widen. “How can you be scared?”
I smile as her hands start exploring my chest, her shock seemingly gone, her curiosity taking over. My cock—already halfway there—goes hard as fucking stone, pulsing when she tentatively rolls her hips against mine. “Everybody remembers losing their virginity. I’ve never been someone’s first, so let’s just say there could be a little performance anxiety at play here.”
She pushes her hips forward again, this time not so shy, and gifts me with a mischievous smile. “Doesn’t feel like there are any problems in that department, but I look forward to finding out for myself.”
I kiss her, hard, fast, and dirty, filled with the promise of everything that’s to come. “What am I going to do with you?” I whisper against her jaw when we pull apart.
The final ding of the elevator signals the end of our ride.
Stepping back, she holds her hand out. With a racing heart and a warring conscience, I lace my fingers with hers and follow her into her suite.

 

“Let’s go, and you can show me.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

BJ Harvey is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Bliss Series. She regards herself as a smut peddler, suspense conjurer, and a funny romance thinker upper. An avid music fan, you will always find her singing some hit song badly and loving every minute of it. She’s a wife, a mom to two beautiful girls, and hails from what she considers as the best country in the world—New Zealand—although she currently lives in Perth, Australia.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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