Review: Elle Maxwell’s Us, Again

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I want to begin by thanking the author, Elle Maxwell, for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. When I saw the cover and read the synopsis, I couldn’t wait to read it, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to read an ARC edition.


Synopsis
One look at Graham Wyatt, the former love of Mackenzie’s life, and she almost forgets that for the last five years she’s vowed off love indefinitely. Five years ago, Graham broke both Mackenzie’s heart and her spirit, but she’s successfully built herself back up again. Although, Graham’s past is dark and complicated, his heart is still set on Mackenzie even after all this time. With the baggage that comes with past heartbreak, this second chance at love is more complicated than either Graham or Mackenzie realize.


Us, Again is for fans of:

  • second-chance romance
  • suspenseful elements in romance
  • books with complex, flawed, and deeply human characters
  • romance with an independent and strong heroine who continually advocates for her best interests

Spoiler Free Review
What I liked
:
Oh gosh there was so much to love in Us, Again. Y’all we’re going to have to break it down a bit. First, the writing to form the character’s personalities was impeccable. These characters were deeply flawed and deeply human. They had fears, desires, and hopes. And I’m not just talking about the two main characters (who are just…amazing) but also about the cast of secondary characters who not only held their own but surpassed my expectations.

Mackenzie’s character was my favorite though due to her originality and independence. I have never seen a character in the romance genre like her. She loved and cared for Graham so deeply, but more than that, she cared and loved herself. The message that Mackenzie sends to adult women is so important. There is a special scene between her and her mom where they discuss deal breakers in relationships and it almost broke me. I wanted to repeat this advice to my younger self.

The plot was also great. I would characterize this as suspenseful second-chance romance. There are great suspenseful scenes in Us, Again and especially so once it ramps up toward the end. However, my favorite aspect of the plot was the relationship between Mackenzie and Graham. Us, Again tackles important, fundamental issues and roadblocks that occur in every day relationships. It doesn’t sugarcoat what it means to love someone. It shows the gritty, dark underbelly of love — the place where it’s vulnerable and scary. Us, Again doesn’t shy away from the soul shattering aspects of love and it’s all the better for it.

Overall, I’m so happy and fortunate that I was able to read this book and go on this journey with the characters. There is a spinoff coming on one of the secondary characters and you can believe I will be lining up to read it! Us, Again gets a 5/5 from me.

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Ratings:
My overall: 5/5
Steam: 4/5
Romance: 5/5
Friendship: 5/5

Goodreads: 4.76/5


Get More Info: sign up for the author’s newsletter; connect with the author on Instagram; find Us, Again on Amazon

Us, Again is Elle Maxwell’s debut adult romance. It publishes on November 11, 2019, and is available for pre-order here.


About the author: Us, Again is author Elle Maxwell’s debut novel.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Laura Pavlov’s Beautifully Damaged

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Beautifully Damaged
tells the story of Peyton Kroft and Jackson Vance. Peyton and Jackson were soulmates. In love, the two vowed to stay together through it all. They were unbreakable, until an unthinkable tragedy occurs. Jackson walks out of Peyton’s life, seemingly for good. Nine years later, Jackson reappears and he’s ready to mend fences (and also Peyton’s broken heart). They both are forced to decide whether they will let the past continue to haunt them, or love each other through all their damage. 

You might like this book if:

  • you love second chance romance
  • you enjoy the friends to lovers trope or the childhood friends to lovers trope
  • you like reading dynamic characters with complex, emotional backstories

You might not like this book if:

  • you dislike reading flashback scenes
  • you don’t enjoy second chance romance
  • you don’t enjoy reading third person POV

There was a lot I enjoyed about Beautifully Damaged. I received it as an ARC from the author, who is so sweet and lovely. I was very excited to read this one as it was highly anticipated in my reader friend group. I don’t read many second chance romances, so I was excited to dive into this book all around.

My favorite thing about Beautifully Damaged was reading about our two main characters, Peyton and Jackson. Reading their friendship was amazing and you could truly feel as a reader the strong, emotional bond they had. You could feel the desperation, the angst, the longing, and the heartbreak. I thought the author did a beautiful job of not just telling us what the characters were feeling, but actually showing us. This, for me, is the marking of a talented author.

I also enjoyed the bit of danger/suspense element thrown in surrounding a situation that Peyton had to deal with. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m a sucker for a danger element in a romance.

I also loved the complex backstories for both our main leads. I love reading about strained, complicated family dynamics, because it mimics reality. I thought the author did a great job of introducing these dynamics without making them cookie cutter. These relationships aren’t magically solved or perfect by the end of the book. (Which is good, because in real life, relationships are hard and take work. There is no easy fix). I enjoyed how these strained relationships turned into a source of strength and familiarity between our two leads.

In terms of romance, it was really very sweet. You can tell that Peyton and Jackson are destined to be together from the very beginning. I myself am still with my childhood sweetheart (10 years later!!) so I could really relate to their childhood love morphing into a true, deep and emotional one.

As you all may know, I typically am not a fan of 1) flashback scenes and 2) third person POVs. This book has both. However, I honestly felt like it worked here. I almost think that flashback scenes are necessary for a second chance romance to help set the scene and explain the past. For me, I just like a linear storyline and this is a personal choice. However, I did not mind the flashback scenes here. Additionally, I just prefer to read first person POV, because it helps me connect better with the characters and what they are thinking. However, I found that I still was able to connect and bond with these characters even in a POV that isn’t my favorite, which I think is a testament to the strength of the author’s storytelling. These aren’t criticisms as much as they are my personal preferences.

All in all, I gave this one a 4.5/5. I enjoyed this sweet, second chance romance, and I’m excited to see what else this author has in store for the rest of the series.

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Ratings
Goodreads Rating: 4.23/5
My Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Steam: 2/5
Romance: 5/5
Friendship: 5/5
Suspense: 3/5

Get More Info: visit Laura Pavlov’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Facebook; find Beautifully Damaged on Amazon

Beautifully Damaged is new adult contemporary, and it published on July 24, 2017. It is the first book in the Shine Design series. It is available to purchase here.

About the Author: Laura Pavlov writes sweet and sexy contemporary romance that will make you both laugh and cry. She is happily married to her college sweetheart, mom to two awesome almost-grown kids, and dog-whisperer to a couple crazy yorkies. Laura resides in Las Vegas where she is living her own happily ever after. Be sure to sign up for updates on new releases. Laura loves to hear from readers!

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.