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REVIEW:  Back to You by Robin Kaye

REVIEW: Back to You by Robin Kaye

Dear Ms. Kaye:

I should have stopped reading when I realized that the two protagonists were named Storm and Breezy. Nothing good can come of this level of twee but instead of listening to my instincts, I read on.

Robin Kaye Back to YouBreanna aka Breezy Collins has loved Storm Decker forever. He’s been off sailing his yacht, winning sailing cups, and building boats while his adopted father, Pete has kept the home fires warm. Pete suffers a heart attack and is slow to recover. Storm is the only one of three adopted brothers who can return home and assist his father.  Despite the fact that Pete took in three angry and unhappy boys to give them a new life, the supposed deep love that Storm and his brothers isn’t very apparent as they essentially fight not to return home.

“What do you need explained exactly? Pop’s in the hospital, and one of us needs to help him until he’s back on his feet. I’m in the middle of a harvest, and Slater is doing an internship for school. You were elected.

These aren’t super devoted kids:

As much as I love the old man, I can’t stay in dry dock forever.”

“Okay, I guess we just have to hope Pop’s better. I’m in the middle of harvest, and it’s not something I can take care of from Red Hook.”

Storm has had the hots for Breezy but he felt she would unconsciously trap him into staying.  Storm went away and lothario’ed himself around the world and settled in New Zealand.  He’s not been back since Breezy got done with college.   To his surprise, Pop’s has adopted another girl, Nicki, and Breezy is taking care of the family bar.

Storm and Breezy’s reunion leads to physical arousal first.  Despite running out on her eleven years ago and avoiding her for over a decade, Storm goes from snarking with Breezy to attacking her on his second day back declaring that he “wants a hell of a lot from her.”  Breezy and I are both baffled by this change in Storm.  There was virtually no emotional build up to this nor any thoughtfulness.  If Storm wants to return back to his Auckland empire, why would he screw around with this girl he hurt so badly eleven years ago.  Storm hasn’t grown much. He thought of himself first eleven years ago and he was thinking of himself first again. Too bad learning lessons about selfishness wasn’t his character arc.

Bree isn’t much better though.  She declares at one point that “The only way I’d ever sleep with you now is if there is absolutely no way I’d be able to keep you. You’ll make sure of that, because if there is one thing I’ve learned about you, Storm, it’s that you’ll never settle down.” How about just NOT sleeping with Storm, Breezy?

The romance is underdeveloped to the point of being non existent. It relies primarily on the sexual desires of their bodies to show them that whatever feelings they had in the past are not dead.  Storm’s penis is like an emotional drowsing rod, I suppose.

There was a strange affectation for nicknames.  Storm, of course, enjoys calling the heroine Breezy.  He also refers to an old high school nemesis as “Frankie ‘the Bruiser’ DeBruscio” twice. Maybe the second reference was a copy editing error.  There were additional points of view from Pete and Breezy’s friend Rocki who was a musician (and clearly sequel bait) who saw Breezy and Storm as rife for potential lyrics.

An underlying mystery about Nicki’s parentage  is brought up from time to time and a number of secondary characters such as Pop, Nicki, Storm, the other brothers, and townspeople  are used to prop up the flagging storyline.  The one other thing that bothered me is that this book is set in  Red Hook, Brooklyn but the setting and characters were so bland, it could have been any place along the East Coast.  Even though Bree is working on a city revitalization project, the setting was still colored in faint pencil sketches rather than the bold strokes of such a vibrant community.  The underutilized setting only served to emphasis the overall dullness of the story.

This is standard fare.  Bad boy returns to hated hometown, finds life has moved on without him, rekindles romance with old flame. Cue HEA.  This story was more about other characters than it was about Storm and Breezy. What romance there was came off cliched and confusing.  I couldn’t generate much interest in hoping the two worked it out. C-

Best regards


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REVIEW:  Collide by Juliana Stone

REVIEW: Collide by Juliana Stone

Dear Ms. Stone:

I tried to read, but did not finish, the first book in the Barker Triplet’s trilogy.  When the second book came along, I wanted to give this self published series another chance.  “Collide” is a re-united lover story.  The primary problem I had is that it felt melodramatic and the characters acted more like they were teenagers than adults.

Collide by Juliana StoneBobbi-Jo Barker and Shane Gallagher were high school lovers with a tempestuous relationship.  They would fight, break up, reconcile and repeat their behaviors continuously until one fight involved too many hurtful actions and they split for good.  This led Shane into a downward spiral where he ultimately ended up spending his time in “jail” for three years (actually this should be prison, jail is short term confinement).

Five years later, Shane is trying to remake a life for himself in his hometown of New Waterford, Michigan, and Bobbi-Jo is struggling with the major upheavals in her own life.  The book started out on a sour note for me. Bobbi-Jo jilts her fiancé at the altar, doesn’t contact him and runs off to a bar where she finds Shane and Shane takes her home. Throughout the book fiance Gerald is mocked for being uptight and boring.  But being boring really doesn’t deserve to be humiliated in your hometown by a) being stood up at the altar and b) having the entire town know that your wife to be went home from a bar with her high school sweetheart.

As a result of the jilting, Bobbi-Jo is fired from her “junior clerk” position at the law firm where Gerald works.  So Bobbi Jo is out of a job, out of a fiance and discovering that she still has feelings for her high school boyfriend who broke her heart.  The most logical course of action for Bobbi Jo is to fall in bed with Shane again.  Shane shows some feelings of animosity toward Bobbi Jo in the beginning but those feelings are quickly tossed aside as Shane decides that he and Bobbi Jo belong together.  The problem that haunts their new beginning is Bobbi Jo’s refusal to come clean about a big secret.

While the book deals with second chances and growing up, I didn’t feel like Bobbi Jo had come very far from her high school days.  The change in the relationship dynamic comes primarily from Shane refusing to fall prey to the emotional rages that dominated him prior to prison. I wish Bobbi Jo had undergone the same emotional transformation.  I also though the reveal of her secret  came far too late in the story, particularly given what drove them apart in the first place.  The secret brought up an issue that resonated with the same core issues of their past and the text leading up to it didn’t give me confidence that this situation could be resolved as easily as the post secret text wanted me to believe.

Shane’s reformed bad boy is an appealing archetype but he didn’t bring anything new to the genre, either.  What I did like was the healing that took place amongst Bobbi Jo and Shane’s families.  Shane had a troubled upbringing and was at odds with his stepmother but through a concerted effort on all their parts, Shane began the process of reconciliation.  Bobbi Jo’s family reconciliation started with Book 1 and her sister’s, Billie, return to Michigan.  But the third triplet, Betty, is still causing worry for the Barker family.


Best regards,



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