Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston
Honey Badger Chronicles #4
August 31, 2021
Breaking Badger is the 4th in Shelly Laurenston’s Honey Badger series that I absolutely have loved. They’ve all been books that make me literally laugh out loud to the point that I can’t listen to these books in public because I always get awkward stares. Laurenston’s humor is definitely hit or miss, if you look up her reviews they are filled with either ‘what the hell is this’ or ‘omg this is the best book ever’. So YMMV with these books.
These books always have emphasized family, and in particular, found family, which is one of the things I love most about them. The honey badgers at the center of these books are Charlie, Max, and Stevie and they’re sisters but they’re kind of all over the place in terms of being related? And they just pick up others throughout the books and fold them into their family – which is just the best. However, in this book, I felt that was the main emphasis to the point that the romance was shoved to the side so much it was almost tertiary. Which is fine if that is what I was looking for, I just wish there was more of a balance between the two falling in love as there had been in the past books.
These books always have 893 things happening, which is really fun and a feature, not a bug, of this series. This one is no different, fast-paced and violent, but in a way that makes sense to this world. Everyone knows not to mess with the honey badgers because they take no shit and will not hesitate to mess you up. This book heavily features Max’s basketball squad, all of whom I enjoyed, but we focused so much on them the romance was next to nonexistent.
Content Notes: Violence
With You Forever by Chloe Liese
Bergman Brothers #4
September 14, 2021
With You Forever is book 4 in Chloe Liese’s Bergman Brothers series, I’ve read 3 out of 4 of these but I think these are easily read as standalone books. As always with series, if you read the previous books in the series it adds some context and nuance, but it mainly adds those layers to the secondary characters.
Rooney Sullivan is…floundering in her life at the moment. She’s taking a leave of absence of sorts from law school because she needs a break for her health. She has Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that impacts every aspect of her life. Rooney’d had it under control for quite a while but recently it had crept up and made her life hell so she was relieved to be able to use her friend’s cabin and recover – all the while keeping her IBD a secret from everyone in her life. But for romance novel reasons her BFF’s brother Axel (and secret crush) is, of course, also there and she is horrified at the idea of having to keep her IBD under wraps this entire time.
Of course, Axel and Rooney are both in love with each other and keeping it from the other one. And of course, this is a marriage of convenience trope. To be honest, all of that worked for me. Axel is trying to keep his family from discovering how he’s trying to keep their family home from falling apart, he’s also autistic and tends to think that others don’t want him around, even though that is far from true. I really loved how well the two of them complement each other, they slowly become more open with time, and it just melted my heart to watch.
My absolute favorite thing about Chloe Liese’s writing is how effortlessly she incorporates disability into her stories. Rooney is more than her IBD, she’s going to law school FFS, but of course, IBD has impacted and formed who she is. Anyone who has had a chronic illness or even a long-term one knows this to their core. There is a scene where Rooney and Axel discuss her disability and how it impacts them being together, them being intimate, and just how she feels about being in a relationship. And that’s a scene that is so incredibly rarely seen in romance, it was really beautifully done and made me feel seen as it reminded me so much of early conversations I had with my husband when we were dating. Representation is a beautiful thing and we could use more disability rep in romance! I’m so glad to have Chloe Liese writing disability so realistically and showing that everyone deserves their HEA.
“Tomorrow I’ll be brave. Tonight I need to be safe.”
Content Notes: Ableism