Book Reviews

Daydreams

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I have been struggling a lot as of late. My husband got diagnosed with schizophrenia and hasn’t yet found out how to cope with this. He separated from me, and though he and I still live together, I feel a lot more alone a lot more of the time than I can really remember. This isn’t going to be a post whining about how life takes these hard turns, or even how to cope with them… What I really want to talk about today is how being in these places affects our minds and our ability to see without bias. When you are surrounded by ugliness, bleakness, overwhelming challenging pieces of life, it can be hard to see how things could ever be good again. Even though for me things are not where I’d prefer, I know I can still get wherever I want to go. Now isn’t forever. And this revelation is thanks to remembering something critical I forgot; I stopped dreaming. Never stop dreaming. That’s what I want to focus on.

I’ve always been a dreamer. A planner. A go getter. I didn’t always know the why, the who, the where, the how long, but I was always able to see what I wanted. It’s been a hobby of mine to expand these ideas and paint these pretty pictures of what life could be like in all kinds of different places, with different people, in love, in passion, in progression, in harmony, whatever. While I’ve been dealing with my husband’s issues the past few years, my dreams have become less important, and the scope of my brain’s focus has shrunk back to only what surrounds me. Slowly and steadily my outlook became more and more dark and rife with pessimism until eventually I woke up and felt like I had nothing to live for. That’s when the relationship fell apart. I know that that is what needed to happen for things to get right again, but it’s still a very challenging place to be. My husband is learning that, too, but that’s a topic for another day.

So I’ve realized that I stopped dreaming. I realize that the impact that had on me was pretty severe. I took some hits to my self esteem, that’s for sure. But also my career dreams suffered, too. I have never wanted anything more than to be a writer, and all the things that had been previously established as slices of my life that were for me got given away to someone else, to him, to roommates, to people who were suffering. And I can say that I did all of that to be noble or to be this or to be that or to achieve whatever the fuck, but what actually happened was I stopped wanting to look at myself because I knew that my life wasn’t under my control anymore. So I threw myself away. I threw myself into others. It was an easy escape strategy, and it worked for a little while while I was coping and running away from the truth.

But the other day I had a rather long sit down conversation with someone I have been spending a lot of time with recently, a new beau, about the importance of dreaming and reaching and goal setting. I always used to know that these things were important for me, and they were the way that I was able to gather the love, knowledge, and on a lesser level status and possessions I currently had. My new beau says to me that he thinks what I am trying to do for myself is really wonderful, and that he used to want things like that for himself, but that going through hard times made him stop dreaming about the objectives he previously sought. Slowly and steadily he thought less and less about them with a worse and worse attitude until eventually they disappeared from view. Bringing them back into focus has been a vivid wake-up call for him. For me, too.

When I write these strange word vomiting posts where I try to organize the shit show of my life in front of you all, I start out with the intention of writing about a specific topic, but I seem to get side-tracked by all the other things that pop up into my mind. But it is all important. I will wrap this up and as always promise to expand on it with specifics and well thought out ness another time, but I want to leave you all with a small bunch of important discoveries that might help you when you’re going through the rough stuff.

  • Pay attention to your attitude and outlook. Nothing will crush you faster than a negative one.
  • Don’t forget your dreams, especially when pause is unavoidable.
  • Don’t assume that you’re alone in your suffering no matter how alone you look, feel, or perceive. There is always someone else out there who has felt what you’re feeling, and there’s always going to be someone who can help you, even if it isn’t in the way that you’d expect. Stay strong.

Dreaming has always been the thing that’s gotten me what I wanted and needed, not just one or the other. It’s gotten me experiences I hope I will never take for granted. It’s gotten me all the love I have ever felt. It’s gotten me the physical things I want, and it’s given me the drive to keep chugging along in hopes of attaining more of what I need for the perfect pretty shiny ideal life we all have buried deep in the depths of our precious minds. I love dreams, and I am looking forward to making so many of them once again. Because now I know I’m not the only person out there who has forgotten them. And most of all I’ve remembered that it’s okay to start over again. That’s probably my favorite part. Thanks for reading. ❤

 

I’ve Split You Down the Middle…

I’m just thinking out loud here, guys, but feel free to listen in.

 

The more I pick apart all the choices I’ve made in life, the more I see the errs and the nuances to my chosen decision making model. And I can see where it may have been flawed. Because you see, I have a tendency to split the ones I love right down the middle. And that’s great for them…All the things I love about them go in the foreground, and everything else goes into a different category, one that I trudge through as many times as necessary awaiting the return of the qualities I hold dear. I’ve done it to everyone, and I’m starting to think that it’s time to stop. What’s the use here?

 

If I can see the good always, then I will be there as many times as someone, anyone needs. That’s going to help them succeed. I want to be the one who was there when no one else was. I want to be the reason that everything is okay for them. (I thought) I need that kind of fulfillment to believe I am a good person. It’s my charity and my clarity. It has become a part of who I am to behave this way… But a few months ago I fell down pretty hard, and there wasn’t anyone there to pick me up and help me onto my feet. I had never been that alone. I thought to myself about all the love I’ve thrown out to people over the years, endlessly and patiently, and how none of it came back to me. I told myself that that was okay, and that other people’s circumstances make it hard for them to give love all the time, and that’s just fine, but it leaves out a big piece that I never seem to appropriately take into account….

 

Well, what about me?

 

Selfish has always been a 4 letter word to me. I never wanted to be selfish. I dislike when others are constantly out for themselves without concern for the people they turn asunder in the process…And I have allowed this in my life. Gave it a home in spades. I’m beginning to wonder if they were all on to something all along and I’ve been the unlucky sucker with the untarnished soul…

 

But there has to be a balance.

 

I am aware that there is a difference between selfishness and self care, and finding that balance while still trying to maintain the levels of generosity I have allowed in the one-sided relationships in my life is proving to be impossible. It is going to keep being impossible as long as I keep splitting everyone in two. In three. There was a man I loved for a long time, nearly a decade I spent wanting, and I allowed him closer than anyone else for longer than anyone else. And he hasn’t done a thing for me except exist and take advantage for quite some time. He knows that I will be there no matter what he says and no matter what he does. That works out really well for him, especially when he is in a jam. And normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this kind of thing, but the climate of my life is changing. I want to talk about all of this vague garbage in greater detail at another time, but for now the question that keeps hanging in my mind is WHAT ABOUT ME? It isn’t a selfish thing. It’s a real question. What is it that I get out of the arrangement I am in if it isn’t providing me with soul food fulfillment any longer? When is it okay to say that?

 

People aren’t their good and their bad. They are just them. Humans are defined by their actions and nothing more. You can speculate endlessly on potential, but at the end of the day that is for you and no one else. Action is the definition. Someone I have a tough time placing told me that, and I vehemently rejected it because I didn’t want it to be so. But it is. We are what we do. That’s for us, and that’s for how we treat others. If you lie, you are a liar. If you give, you are a giver. If you love, you are a lover. Be you for you and be you for the universe.

 

I am a really big fan of this brand of personal uncertainty and all the word vomit that gives me the clarity necessary for mental growth spurts. I’ll never have all the answers, but at least I have more than I did yesterday. ❤

Sometimes Life Gets Messy

Life gets royally fucked up from time to time. That’s an unfortunate yet unavoidable certainty. Human beings make mistakes. We aren’t enlightened creatures who possess the answers to all of life’s trials, challenges, and tests. Humans are really good at fucking up even the simplest things. Love, for example. But that’s not really fair, is it? Love is just as easy as it is intrinsically complex. It is natural but muddy. Love is the central focus of my life, and I make just as many mistakes in love as anyone else does. Cleaning up the mess is humbling.

The only person living your life is you.

I married the wrong person. I tried to tell myself that was the right decision even as I knew in the back of my mind and in my heart that it was wrong. Some days I want to tell myself hindsight is 20 20 and other times I beat myself up for not taking action when I saw the signs of failure. When you’re in a situation, it’s a lot harder to see the outside no matter what your friends, family, and other loved ones think or feel. But at the end of the day, the only person living your life is you. So the next best thing to being an enlightened creature with all the answers is accepting your mistakes and cleaning up your fucked up messes. Breathe through the pain and start again. It doesn’t have to be so terrible. It doesn’t have to be endless pain, depression, anxiety, hurt, and an insurmountable trial that will tear you to shreds. It’s a lesson.

My husband was addicted to pornography, lacked focus, lacked emotion and empathy, and lacked direction. I attributed all of this to how he was raised, and maybe a bit to the stark contrast between us as people. If I could just show him how life could be with love and goals and meaningful interpersonal relationships, he would want it for himself. He always agreed with and went along with this sentiment, supplying his own excuses for why he behaved the way he did. My life experiences made me a bit ignorant to his. I didn’t understand why he wanted to be the way he was. He wanted an answer as much as I did, wanted things to be easy. We agreed to fight the battle together. We were as prepared as we could be for the battle. But the bottom line here is that I believed I could mend his shortcomings and make him into the person I wanted him to be. It’s a romantic notion to want to make someone else’s life better, but the truth of the matter is that that isn’t your life to control. And even if it was, sometimes problems run deeper than one person can see. Or in this case, the two of us.

Life can throw some fastball curveball death ball pitches, and no matter how good at the game you are, sometimes when you swing your hardest most focused swing you still miss. More often than not, in fact, that’s reality. Reality can be a real bitch. And I’ll get straight to the point here. Hubs and I informally separated after about 9 months of marriage, both of us too weak to overcome the issues that stood in our way. He couldn’t emote, he couldn’t remember the little things or the big things, I was rigid about what I needed from him. We stayed together in the same house, the same bed, but stopped doing things together. Sometimes we would have good times together and I would feel my hopes raise, but it was never long lived. But then we learned a new piece of information, vivid and damning. Hard truths always hit home.

My husband suffers with paranoid schizophrenia. The problems I wanted to fix with love and starry-eyed optimism ran much deeper than either of us realized. There was the reason he couldn’t emote. There was the reason he had such a hard time controlling himself. All the transgressions had a neat little category to go in, and when he said he was officially done trying to make things work with me, that he felt incapable of ever making me happy, I let him go. I didn’t want to fight against nature and the reality that neither of us were happy in this relationship. No one wants to fall into the stereotype and get married and divorced in their 20’s, but fighting in misery and hurt and hopelessness doesn’t work, either. It never will. As far as the end is concerned, it couldn’t have gone much better.

We are going to be best friends instead. I will help him with all the things I promised I would in marriage, and he will do the same for me. Passionate love isn’t for us, but the impact we have had on each other is invaluable. He has given me so much pain and hurt, he’s given me experiences I wouldn’t trade away for anything. So much good and so much bad in 5 short years of sharing our lives. I am grateful and humbled by the results of my actions and his, too. We have actions and consequences in this life, and when we pay attention and get lucky, we get lessons, too. I will always be learning. Always learning and growing in love. Love will always be everything in all its forms and shapes and applications.

When love ends, new love can begin.

I believe in my bones that that is for me as much as it is for my husband. Everything is going to be okay no matter how hard it is to start over again. But start over we shall.

 

Back at it for Round Two…

I’m informally welcoming myself back to the world of blogging, guys!

It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, and I know it. Life has been rattling along, and tons of things have changed. One thing hasn’t, though, and that’s the love of love I am privileged enough to experience every single day that I’m alive. I’m more than willing to share that with the universe, as well as divulging how the last year has affected my reality. Because dudes, a lot has happened.

It’s really true that you learn something every single day you are alive, but keeping up with the way you view the world seems to be the best way to slog through it all. There are ups and downs to say the least. You make mistakes, and if you’re really lucky you learn from them. I know I’ve been doing a lot of that.

So this time around, as with anything else, I am going to give it my best shot. Staying active and open and plugging away with the nose on the grindstone when it isn’t buried in a good book. What do you all think? I’m ready for this, and it feels really good to be back here. Welcome back to Love-Centric!

The Secret Lives of Daytime Divas by Sarah Mayberry: Harlequin Miniseries Review

I’d just like to start by saying I’m sorry,  Sarah Mayberry.

She is clearly a master in this genre and it’s taken me all the way until now to pick up any of her material, despite constantly seeing her name.  This miniseries consisting of Take On Me, All Over You, and Hot For Him was recently re-released by Harlequin Blaze, presumably to fill in the rest of the time until Blaze is discontinued and replaced by Dare, a hotter more explicit line. (I am trying to keep an open mind about this change, but Blaze is where I’ve turned for years for a quick hot little number, so I am still crying on the inside…)

Despite the fact that this miniseries was published a decade ago, it still felt relevant, hot, full of tension, and expertly crafted to give me the ultimate sitting on the edge of my seat emotional drama and an ultra-satisfying conclusion to each installment.  I will undoubtedly be picking up some of Ms. Mayberry’s backlist and devouring them over the coming months…

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Needless to say, this miniseries earns a 5/5 from me overall.  It’s been a long time since I’ve come across an author I can love and relate to this much, and as an aspiring romance writer myself, this is a lot like striking gold.  I am very excited to get down to business studying the masterful way Ms. Mayberry builds riveting sexual tension and delivers stunning emotionally satisfying conclusions.  As an added bonus for this miniseries, I even got to see the personality transformations of the characters from their individual stories into their friends love lives after finding their love and inner peace.  The only point I could possibly deduct was with Claudia’s story, Hot For Him. It felt just a little rushed.  There was perhaps one too many dramatic points to where I felt I was left with a few questions when the story ended.  But we’ll get there!  On to the book reviews!

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The first book to this series is called Take On Me.  It follows the story of Dylan Anderson and Sadie Post as they reunite in the workplace after having a strained animosity-filled relationship in high school.  This combines two of my favorite story types; enemies to lovers, and past flames.  Sadie had a crush on Dylan back then, tried to help him succeed where he struggled, and ended up mortified in front of the whole school by his hand. Dylan never understood that Sadie was trying to help him, and always felt she was trying to point out his flaws.  This is what drove him to embarrass her.  Obviously they were never able to talk about their feelings at that point, so they left school harboring their negativity.

Flash forward to the present in the story, and you’ll find Sadie freshly left at the altar.  She goes on her honeymoon vacation to the Caribbean alone, comes back to her job, the only thing in her life that isn’t in pieces, to find that it has been invaded by her old nemesis Dylan Anderson.  And she has to work directly with him as his immediate superior.

Of course they’re on fire for each other immediately…how could they not be?  Sadie had a helluva crush on Dylan the boy, and Dylan the man is even more potent.  He’s broader, taller, and in command.  And Sadie herself is dynamite, too, of course.  She has grown and matured, filled out, and gained the respect and adoration of everyone she works with as a story writer for Ocean Boulevard, a well rated daytime soap opera.  If Dylan could just see past her curt bitchiness to the woman he hurt…

Every twist and turn of their love affair kept me guessing as we hurdled toward the inevitable Happily Ever After.  Sarah Mayberry was able to keep the tension ever present even as the characters got to know each other, rectified their earlier trials, and had tons of hot sex.

Another point worth mentioning here is the sex itself.  It’s frequent without getting tired.  Ms. Mayberry kept the heat cranked up for the whole story.  Take On Me stands tall and proud on its own as a gorgeous taut romance.  It also served flawlessly as a springboard for me to get to know the other ladies doomed to fall in love in the coming series installations.  Sadie, Grace, and Claudia all worked together on the show, and they had no idea that love was coming for them.  5/5 definitely will read again.

This story was honestly perfect.  It’s worthy study material for me; the lowly girl honing her craft.  And after finally discovering it, I have been transformed into a loyal fan.  Let’s continue on to Grace Wellington’s story, All Over You.

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Grace and Mac’s story All Over You was admittedly my favorite of the series.  I particularly loved Grace Wellington.  She’s a hard-ass take no prisoners feminist with unbelievable vintage style, a quick wit, and emotional walls to rival the Great Wall of China.  Grace has ZERO interest in falling in love, and fights against it tooth and nail.  This makes it all the more satisfying when she falls super hard for the impossibly gorgeous Mac Harrison, star of Ocean Boulevard with a brain to boot.  As a bonus twist, Grace has a HUGE physical crush on Mac Harrison.  There were several occasions where she spent time with him while she was alone…if you catch my drift. Wink.

Mac Harrison is bored with his life, and after leaving Ocean Boulevard to get chewed up and spit out by Hollywood, he has resumed his role as Kirk.  Only now, he has ambition to get into directing.  There needs to be more to his life than being pretty in front of a camera.  What’s sexier than ambition?

Grace was Mac’s favorite writer for the show.  When she would do episodes, they always shone brighter with her wit and writing charisma.  He was excited to meet her.  Grace’s abrasive personality took him by surprise, and greatly disappointed him at first.  This disappointment quickly transformed into intrigue, however.  She makes a point of hitting him with as many condescending jabs as she possibly can.  Grace isn’t a man-hater…not quite, anyway.  She has been hurt before by lovers and family alike, and it takes her a long time to open up and heal.

Mac is determined to find out what’s twisted Grace up so tight that she can’t relax and fall in love with him.  She resists until it’s nearly too late, and figures out facing her demons just in time for romantic vindication.  She and Mac get to live Happily Ever After while Grace works to improve her inner peace.

Unfortunately for you, reader, this book was simply too good for me to ruin by giving you concrete details.  All I’ll tell you is that it was really worth the read, and just writing this review makes me want to go back and read it again.  And I just might.  5/5!  Now we just have Hot For Him, Claudia Dostis’ sordid love affair with her hottest rival.  Let’s dive in.

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Hot For Him was jam-packed with action, perhaps to a fault.  This is the final installment in the Secret Lives of Daytime Divas miniseries, and it was also my least favorite.  Claudia Dostis is the producer of Ocean Boulevard.  She’s an impossibly petite little firecracker of a woman.  She’s determined to prove she is every bit as capable as everyone else, and nothing, not even love, is going to stand in her way of kicking ass and taking names.

Claudia has more than a few problems to deal with throughout the story.  We start off with her winning an award for Ocean Boulevard on the soap opera equivalent of the Oscar’s.  She’s very excited to have beaten Heartlands, Leandro Mandalor’s soap.

Leandro Mandalor is the producer of Heartlands, the closest rival soap to Ocean Boulevard.  In the past, Leandro has been sneaky and cutthroat.  Claudia doesn’t trust him whatsoever, and really dislikes her attraction to him as he congratulates her on winning the award fair and square.

Talking about my gripes with this story without giving too much away will be tricky, so bear with me.  The first problem Claudia has to deal with involves cast from her show and cast from Leandro’s show getting themselves into a sticky predicament.  Dealing with this involves spending more time with Leandro than Claudia would prefer, but things heat up pretty quickly.  They have stupendous sex from which Claudia quickly withdraws.  She doesn’t want to jeopardize the safety of Ocean Boulevard, and who could blame her?  She just had sex with her rival.

Leandro worms his way into her good graces; he simply cannot stop himself from thinking about her despite his want for a wife and kids.  They form an impromptu relationship where Claudia is constantly guarded and Leandro is constantly pushing.  This is where some of the other problems arise. Meanwhile, we have completely and totally dropped the original issue.

We discover that Leandro has a wonderful close supportive family and Claudia has an estranged non-relationship with her parents.  This causes serious friction.  I felt implored to stand with Claudia as Leandro continued to push her when she began to break.  This is where my main issue with the story lay.  Leandro was a wonderful man, but he would not allow Claudia to open up to him at her own pace.  He became unreasonable with her dealing with big issues regarding her family.

The conclusion of this story didn’t leave me as satisfied as its predecessors, either.  Of course Claudia and Leandro get to live Happily Ever After, but I felt as though there were a lot of things left open ended that were poised to be given an answer.  For one, Claudia’s family relationships.  By the end of the book they are shown as improving, but this lacked detail.  Additionally, the original issue was brought back suddenly, then solved rather anti-climactically.  The suspense in this book was sordid, and I would find myself skimming a little bit, trying to get back to something that would hold my interest.

As the conclusion to it’s own story, it was fairly disappointing, but as the end of the miniseries it felt a lot more satisfying.  This book wouldn’t stand well alone, but works great with the two that come before it.  On it’s own I’d give it a 3/5, but as the end of the series it earns a 5/5.  It leaves me as the reader feeling happy that all the women I grew to adore throughout these books found the love they each needed to have to bring their lives up to the next level.  Everyone moves forward together.

Sarah Mayberry is a star, and she is clearly capable of writing for several audiences.  I am looking forward to digging into her repertoire of published works and soaking up everything I possibly can.  Thank you so much, Sarah!

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Winter Has Me Like…

Sad, guys.  Winter has got me like sad and unmotivated.  I know that’s not going to last forever, and I know the secret to pulling myself out of it, and today is the first day of Spring….but it’s still cold and dark and that is just the perfect formula for getting very little done and beginning to believe that you aren’t going to get where you want to go.  So instead of giving you all a rambling long post about how you can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it… I’ll just let you all know what I’ve been up to these past 2 weeks since I posted anything last.

For one…

Adam and I have been learning to make sushi!  I’ll be writing out a detailed post about all the romantic benefits of having sushi with your sweetie, but I’ll save that one for a rainy day.  Learning to make sushi at home has been really fun and challenging.  Have a little foodie tangent.  Have you ever gone out for dinner and been disappointed that things weren’t exactly the way you would prefer them?  Adam and I will go out for sushi and my picky, erm, particular self will be mostly satisfied with whatever I order.  I’ll always say to him ‘You know what would make this even better?’ and then talk about whatever I would do differently.  That isn’t exclusively for sushi, either.  It’s wherever we go and whatever we’re eating.  Learning at home is a way for me to put my money where my mouth is…in a matter of speaking.  And I do love to put it in my mouth.  I’ve only made about 4 different sushi rolls, but I am learning to get them more uniform and tighter and tastier.  It’s been a really fun experience, and it’s something that Adam and I can share together.  He is currently in culinary school, and he taught me how to tempura! (That led to us OBVIOUSLY needing to pick up a deep fryer.  Found one for $5 on a yard sale app.  Keep those things away from me or I’ll have all the deals.)  So we have been happily frying things, making sushi rolls, and exploring our curiosity for different flavor combos.  More, please.

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For another…

I have been focusing really hard on my personal organization.  I started my spring cleaning a little early, and have been going through my house reorganizing rooms, repositioning furniture, throwing away/donating/selling what we no longer use or need.  That’s also bled into my professional life.  I have been fully utilizing my reminders and calendar to get myself to an optimum level of organization.  I now have minimum amounts of words to write on my new novel ( which is around 8k words at the moment…) a minimum amount I need to edit my completed manuscript (kill me.) my designated gym time which I have really been enjoying, and meal planning.  All these things help to bring peace of mind into my life.  That helps me combat the awful voice in the back of my head that tells me I can’t do it.  Because at the end of the day… I know that I can.  Spring is going to be a whole new world of productivity!

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Stay tuned for that post about romantic food!  What have you guys been up to getting through the last leg of winter?  You know I’d love to know.  Thanks for listening.

Harlequin Book Review: In Her Best Friend’s Bed by J. Margot Critch

 

Since I finished my daily goal for my book outline early and I really want to keep blowing off the editing for the one I finished, I thought what better time to write one of those reviews I said I was getting to? I want to give you guys my opinion on In Her Best Friend’s Bed by J. Margot Critch.  It tells the tale of Abby Shaw and her good friend and boss Trevor Jones while they navigate a winding path from FWB to falling deeply in love.  I really enjoyed this one and had a hard time putting it down.  This book had great pace and a compelling and deeply satisfying conflict resolution.  The characters were very real and quite likable. J. Critch is a new writer for Halequin with only 2 books out, and I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out for her future work.  This book was a followup to In The Boss’s Bed released in June of 2016 which I read back then and quite enjoyed.  Their sex was nowhere near overdone, and neither was it dainty or glossed over.  I could really feel the attraction between these characters, and genuinely enjoyed J. Critch’s voice.  Definitely would recommend!

 

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I really loved this book and couldn’t find a lot of reason to deduct points…er…hearts.  So instead of telling you about the things that I felt could have been done better, I’ll tell you about 3 things I loved and why you should click those links and go read her stuff.  (I’ve got no attachments to Ms. Critch apart from maybe wishing I was her.)

First off, where I am ordinarily off-put by commitment phobic women in Harlequin romances, Abby was a very believable character.  She was sassy and focused heavily on her career.  She loved sex as much as the next person, and didn’t want to deal with the strings that go along with relationships.  Oftentimes, women being afraid of commitment gets overdone and beat into the reader’s head for pages and pages, like in the case of Her Holiday Fling by Jennifer Snow (review pending…just finished that bad boy last night.)  But for Abby, she was timid about falling in love but knew it when it was happening.  She initiated the friends with benefits arrangement with Trevor based off of a crush festering between them.  Trevor was the classic perfect man.  He’s in his element at work, he’s smart, he’s sexy, and he always wants to put Abby first.  He’s been attracted to her forever, and being with her is everything he has ever wanted; everything he ever needed to complete him.  Sigh!

Next, I want to talk about the pacing of this book and how excellent it was.  There are books out there that have their dragging moments.  Yes, fine.  Backstory is important.  But for books in the quick read speed category of 50k-55k words, there isn’t space for drawn out backstory or loads of internal conflict.  There can be no wandering the city in the rain, just thinking about life.  Nope.  None of that.  All the characters had plenty to do all the time.  What I mean is, there wasn’t really any non-action moments to this book.  Abby starts out as a college grad who has been having trouble landing a job in her desired field, and is working as a bartender with Trevor.  Not too far into the book, she finds the job she wants which pulls her away from Trevor and into extremely long demanding work hours she loves and is elated to have.  You think to yourself how strange it is that they had this amazing sex, and then they’ll never see each other thereafter.  They find a way, however unlikely.  It speaks to the strength of love they’ll find with each other later.  Really expertly crafted.  Trevor, too.  He has so much on his plate with managing a club, going to school for business, and also endeavoring to open his own bar.  He does all of this and finds time to see Abby all the time for hot sex-filled romps in bed.  He’s dreamy.  Through the heroine and hero’s jam-packed schedules, there is even enough room left over for a hint of jealousy to squeak in there.  Love it!

The last thing, and my favorite thing, is that this book had a very ‘real-life’ conflict theme and general plot line material.  For me, a 24 year old woman, I get what it’s like to not want to waste your time away at a job you aren’t passionate about.  I understand that there is true joy to be found when you are able to do for you and make your dreams a reality.  I also know how hard it can be to get said job post college days.  It works out great for some, and not so well for others.  Both Abby and Trevor are busting their asses working toward their dream lives.  Sure, they’re happy enough where they start, but they want more for themselves personally.  The conclusion of this book gives up a HEA(Happily Ever After) for Abby and Trevor’s love affair, AND it gives us a happily ever after for their personal goals.  Abby lands her dream job and that starts to pay off massively, and Trevor is able to finish his classes and get his own bar up and running.  Everyone is able to find a way to make this work, which is a concept often lost for my peers.  They talk of people in these situations being incapable of falling in love, and I refuse to believe that love isn’t always possible for those who want it.  Love is the center of my universe.  Love-Centric.  Yeah?  In Her Best Friend’s Bed is very modern-day love-centric.  Everyone gets to have it all.  Deeply moving.  Deeply satisfying. If those kids can make it, so can you.  Ms. Critch does a great job of hitting all the buttons.  For this point alone she was able to get a 5/5 from me.

Both In the Boss’s Bed and In Her Best Friend’s Bed are well worth the read if you are hungry for a little unlikely love on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Or in my case, on a lonely Friday night after my hubby goes to sleep.  Either way, J. Margot Critch has it going on.  She probably hits my top 5 favorite Harlequin authors list.  (That list exists in my head.)

Thanks for listening, and I hope you get a chance to give it a read!  If you’ve got questions, concerns, critiques, or if you’ve read any of the books, I’d love to know!  Leave it in the comments, doll!