Saturday 17 February 2024

Mayluna by Kelley McNeil | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

My rating: 5/5
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication date: 1st February 2024

In the 1990s, Carter Wills was the lead singer of the English alt-rock band Mayluna, securing his place among music legends. His tortured-heart lyrics struck a chord. And so did his secret connection to a woman whose love changed all their lives. Who was she?

Evie Waters’s two grown children discover an iconic photo in an old magazine of a “mystery girl” with Carter: their mother. It all started in a wistful time and place for Evie, her twenty-fifth summer. A young columnist forging her career. Backstage euphoria. A long-shot interview. And an almost cosmic connection with an enigmatic musician on the rise.

What happened between them is a hidden story no one, not even Evie’s family, knows. Until now. Worlds apart, Carter and Evie finally reveal the story—joyful, regretful, and unforgettable. It was a time when the stars aligned for a love so profound the whole world felt it. It was as if it would last forever.

At the time of writing this review, I have just finished the book, my eyes are full of tears and my heart is beating hard against my chest. This book is beautiful and heartbreaking.

Mayluna, a British alt-rock band are telling their story to a journalist on the way to their next gig in Rio. When questioned about a particular photo with a girl known simply as "mystery girl in studio", frontman Carter Wills finally shares who Cameron Leigh was.

Through alternating chapters, Evie Waters' husband Steve has just died and their adult children Lucas and Lainey are reminiscing through boxes in their childhood home. They discover a lot of magazines featuring Mayluna and upon landing on the same photo, they realise "mystery girl in studio" reminds them a lot of Lainey.

Evie finally recounts the story of her life before children to them and it feels like a completely different person in comparison to the mother they knew. How she went by a pen name and was trying to make a name for herself in the world of journalism. How she fell in a deep love with Mayluna's Carter Wills and the story right up until present day. It is sort of a "one that got away" tale but the love was never gone. 

Kelley McNeil writes in the most beautiful way, I have highlighted so many stunning lines. I absolutely fell in love with these characters and although some tough decisions were made, the exploration of them were handled very well. 

I was fully immersed in this world and felt every emotion. I got 92% into the book before my heart plummeted into my chest and I realised how it was going to end. The very last two chapters were absolutely perfect. Kelley McNeil, you have shattered my heart into a million pieces. 

Thursday 15 February 2024

Icebound by Meredith Trapp | Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received an eBook copy of the book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Title & Author: Icebound by Meredith Trapp 
My rating: 5/5
Publication date: 20th February 2024

Rhode Tremblay is Nashville’s Naughtiest Hockey Player—at least, that’s what everyone believes after the Tenerife Incident.

With a thigh tattoo that’s catnip for women and a wicked smirk that needs a warning label, everyone flocks to the NHL’s resident bad boy. Sure, Rhode accidentally set a yacht on fire while bringing a woman to the brink of ecstasy, but that happened over a decade ago. Now, at thirty-three, Rhode’s searching for something real. He’s ready to get down on one knee for the right person, but he has one rule—no dating anyone under thirty.

Philomena “Nina” Alstyne has sworn off men who look like fallen angels on skates.

The feisty art student is done molding herself to fit someone else’s life after her relationship fiasco. At twenty-two, Nina’s last semester of college is about her pottery dreams. Except, when one fateful accident forces Nina into a faux situationship with Nashville’s (Supposed) Naughtiest, all her curated plans crumble like a fragile sculpture.

Rhode falls first, and he falls hard.

There’s only one problem… Rhode thinks he’s fake dating a thirty-year-old doctor. As secrets get revealed, his biggest temptation quickly becomes off-limits, but Nina soon realizes the cross-stitching cat daddy is what the chaos in her soul craves—and Nina’s fiery passion might burn hot enough to melt Rhode’s icy boundaries.

Rhode Tremblay is the thirty-three-year-old ice hockey goalie for the Guardians. He'd done all his partying in his twenties and can feel his age and the fact that he has yet to settle down creeping up on him. He is adamant that it is time to stop with the meaningless relationships and only date someone in the same stage of life as him. He is ready for marriage and kids. Absolutely no one under the age of thirty. 

Enter Rhode's Uber driver, twenty-two-year-old art student Nina. Of course during their first encounter, she doesn't want to share her personal details so Rhode believes she is a thirty-year-old medical student. Until the truth comes out but he can't stop his attraction.

I've read quite a few hockey romances but this has to be up there as one of my favourites. It is an age-gap romance with plenty of spice but it is also so much more.

The characters of Rhode and Nina are perfectly developed, right down to their quirky personality traits. Humour jumps off the page but most importantly, the tougher subjects are handled fantastically. Nina suffers with anxiety and I have never read a more accurate depiction.

Communication was key and I loved how they were both so honest with what they wanted, always a must for any romance novel I read! 

Nina and her sister's relationship was interesting and a little sad at times but I especially adored the male friendship between Rhode and his teammates. It was very sweet when Nina started to slot in with them. A found family of sorts!

A beautiful read and perfect if you like:
• He falls first
• Fake dating
• Hockey romance
• Dual POV
• Age gap

A massive thank you to Love Notes PR for supplying me with an eARC of this book for review.