Heart and Hand by Rebel Carter

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3 Out of 5 Stars

Summary

It doesn’t take long for Julie Baptiste to realize she yearns for more than the non-stop engagements and niceties dictated by New York high society. So, she decides to do something bold and answers an advertisement for a mail-order bride in Gold Sky, Montana.

Ex-Union soldiers Forrest Wickes and William Barnes have been inseparable since the War. They share everything, including the desire to find a wife. A woman who is willing to marry them both and provide the isolated town with a much needed teacher.

When Julie arrives in Montana the three of them must figure out how to navigate the boundaries of their new lives. Can Forrest and Will come together to provide what Julie needs and protect the heart of the woman who’s made her way intimately into theirs?

And how will a debutante-turned-teacher manage frontier life with two husbands?

Review

I received this book in a LGBTQ+ themed advent book box from The Ripped Boddice (WHICH I FREAKING LOVED and I hope they do it again this year). I debated about reviewing Heart and Hand on here, as there isn’t much explored within the relationship of the two men featured, but there were undertones of a M/M relationship even though it wasn’t explicitly written out. 

I’m a fan of the mail-order bride trope, there’s something so satisfying to see a relationship blossom into friendship and then into romantic love. That’s kind of what you get here with Julie, Forrest, and Will. 

Forrest and Will, although it is never expressly written, have a lovers bond. That’s how I interpreted. They needed someone to balance them out and Julie was the perfect addition to their lives. She’s spirited, sexy, and full of energy. Forrest and Will? Whoo, those fellas, they definitely had the rugged cowboy, law officer persona down pat. 

Julie’s jealousy, there was something about it that made me just as jealous as she was. There were times I wanted Julie smash a pie in someone’s face, but Julie is obviously more well-behaved than I am. Not only could I feel her irritation, but I could feel Forrest and Will’s frustration. 

Romance wise, it’s on the lighter side of the steam factor. There was a lot of buildup but not enough oomph, at least for me. 

This one left me wanting and I felt a little let down that it was marketed as a MMF novel. Was it a decent read? Yes, I enjoyed reading it. I love a good historical fiction featuring cowboys and a socialite. 

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Waiting for Liz by Angela C. Kelly

Waiting for Liz by [Angela C. Kelly]

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Angela is twenty-nine and living what looks like a comfortable life in a Midwestern college town: she has a home with her adoring long-time partner, a circle of good friends, a recently acquired degree, and a job that uses it. But everything isn’t as lovely as it looks.

Slowly a soul-level unravelling is occurring within Angela, without her knowledge or consent. Each destructive self-sabotaging choice brings her closer to the kind of destruction that ultimately makes room for new growth in a person’s heart.

Enter Elizabeth. Though Angela claims to have paid little attention when they are first introduced, Elizabeth — Liz — eventually consumes her every thought, much like the drugs she and her wife have begun to use to mask the growing rift in their relationship. When Angela decides to call her partner’s bluff and invite this new “hot young plaything” to help them patch things up, a decades-long story of pursuit, addiction, love, and growth begins.

Angela’s story winds through her past, each tale about her relationship with Liz opening up a window to times even farther past that have shaped how she connects with other people, especially those she loves. Woven through it all are threads of addiction, abandonment, shame, perseverance, joy, and love. Has she come to terms with her past? With Elizabeth herself?

The Review

Angela seems to have it all. A comfortable life with her partner and great friends. Her life has become a comfortable routine. It’s easy. She hangs on to all these things, even though her happiness has been dwindling.

In a self-destructive attempt to address the issues between Angela and her partner, they begin to experiment with drugs. Angela also finds herself enraptured with Liz. Everything she does starts to revolve around Liz and the possibility of what if?

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I felt so many negative emotions while reading. Sadness, anger, frustration with what Angela was experiencing. And then on the other, we were given such a hard dose of reality as we followed Angela’s life.

If you have difficultly reading about drug use, this is going to be a tough one for you to read. I’ve got a bit of complicated relationship with addiction, so it was difficult to read. But, there are people who go towards drugs in the hopes that it will strengthen a relationship. The reliance that Angela developed hurt my heart.

As Angela poorly navigated so many different relationships, she steadily began to find herself and understand who she was and is as an individual. It an experience of personal growth that takes years.

Her careless and selfish nature made me so angry, but at the same time I could see she was doing whatever she could to hold on to life as she knew it to be.

Reading this? It felt like a sucker punch.

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Open: A Tale of Love, Mermaids, Bassists, & Creepy Dudes by Emilie Nantel

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary:

Amy Evans. Bisexual. Millenial. Montrealer.

Amy and David are in an open relationship and it’s going great. She navigates the ups – dating gorgeous people – and downs – trying to avoid creeps – of the dating scene, when she meets a hot bassist and falls in love.

This was not part of the plan.

Amy must figure out how to deal with these unexpected feelings without neglecting her primary relationship, even as she keeps meeting new potential hook-ups.

Surrounded by her quirky group of queer friends and the support of her boyfriend, she might find there’s a simple answer: polyamory.

Well, not so simple. But y’know

The Review

Amy Evans is bisexual and in an open relationship with her long-time boyfriend, David. They have rules and as time progresses, their relationship must evolve to keep up with each of their wants and needs.  Amy is sexually empowered and pursues adventures with whoever strikes her fancy. I loved that she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about it. Like, fist bumps to her, because she was herself one hundred percent.

What I enjoyed was the diversity featured with the characters, main and secondary. Ethnicities and orientation wise. There was a character for every reader to relate to. I felt like I was able to learn a lot about the community that I didn’t know. I also like how polyamory and open relationships were represented throughout this book. It was honest and fresh. Anyone Amy approached, she informed them of her relationship status and moved forward or didn’t from there. There was no trickery, which I was so glad to see, but as a con there were so many relationships both long and short term for Amy. It got difficult to keep track of.

When I really enjoyed Amy’s story, was when Emma walked into her and David’s life. I was so excited for their relationship. Sure, it was the biggest coincidence ever, but I was ALL about it! They balanced each other out in a way only a triad relationship could have. I liked getting to see them navigate wedding invites, meeting the parents and deciding on their home life. It was sweet.

While there was a lot going on, I did enjoy reading this novel. It was fun, at times funny, and honest. Give this one a try, you might like it more than you thought you originally thought.

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