Sala welcomes readers back to the small town of Blessings, Georgia in her sixth installment with a second chance romance brimming with love, loss, and forgiveness. Two high school sweethearts are torn apart by tragedy only to discover years later that sometimes life gives you what you need when you least expect it. Sala’s small town inspirational saga continues to entertain with multiple subplots that almost flirt with melodrama while offering readers some homegrown truths about religious hypocrisy, double standards, and the ties that bind family. Though I normally enjoy this series, this one felt a little too contrived and overstuffed as Sala attempts to reunite a family, solve a mystery, and offer redemption across the board.
High school sweethearts Phoebe Ritter and Aidan Payne are forced apart when Phoebe’s father is killed in a fire and Aidan’s dad is falsely accused of the crime. Aidan’s family leaves town to never come back. 20 years later, Aidan returns to settle his grandfather’s estate and is shocked to discover he has a son. His anger fades to delight when he meets Lee and discovers he and Phoebe still carry a spark for one another. As they spend more time together, they discover that nothing that happened that fateful night was what it seemed and unless they can solve what happened in the past, they will never have a future. Grade: C+
Kara Thomas’ The Cheerleaders is a suspenseful and smart YA thriller about a resourceful teenager determined to figure out why her sister and four other cheerleaders died in a series of so-called accidents one fateful year. Told in the first person, our protagonist struggles with her own problems while peeling back the layers of a small town and exposing dangerous secrets about her family, her friends, and her sister. Wonderfully flawed and steeped in tragedy, Thomas gives voice to some dark themes and the complicated and often turbulent love shared by family. Leading readers down a rabbit hole of misdirection and dark twists, Thomas offers up an explosive ending that left this reader stunned.
Five years ago a series of tragedies rocked the small town of Sunnybrook, leaving five cheerleaders dead. Now the town wants to honor them in a memorial but one of the cheerleaders’ sister’s, Monica, wants to know what happened and why. With her own history of poor choices and a series of anonymous texts to fuel her investigation, Monica will soon learn that not everything is sunny in Sunnybrook. Grade: B
Delightfully charming and deliciously wicked, Singh outshines herself in her latest romance that examines the Indian tradition of arranged marriage and one couples’ determination to find a way to adhere to their culture without losing themselves in the process. Witty, bold and oh so sexy, Singh opens up for readers a colorful family-oriented culture rich in tradition as she introduces us to a hero and heroine for whom family is everything. Brimming with laughter and love, you can’t help but cheer for the stoic hero and his heroine who just want to be loved for who they are. Raj’s and Nayna’s families only serve to add more drama and laughter to the story as they go through their own personal upheavals from grandma stepping out and a wife wanting more of a partnership to a couple on the brink of divorce and one’s man’s taste of mortality. Rebel Hard is another winner in my book.
Nayna Sharma only agreed to her family’s offers of an arranged marriage in order to heal the cracks caused by her sister’s poor choices. In an attempt to regain control of her life, Nayna decides to be the bad girl for one night, she and a friend head to a party and she find her way into the arms of a ruggedly handsome stranger. Raj Sen agrees to allow his parents to arrange his marriage because he believes in tradition and rules. When he meets Nayna he is enchanted with her beauty but when he discovers she is his intended, he finds himself reluctantly falling in love with her maddening ways and lack of rules.
Neither is what the other one wants but sometimes what you want isn’t always what you need. Grade: B+