Review: Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A forbidden attraction grows even more complicated when the guy Lane Jamison has crushed on for years suddenly becomes her step-brother in this sexy and gorgeously written debut novel about the lines between love, desire, and obsession.

What happens when the boy you want most becomes the one person you can’t have?

Lane Jamison’s life is turned upside down the week before her senior year when her father introduces her to his new fiancée: mother of Grey McIntyre, Lane’s secret, longtime crush. Now with Grey living in Lane’s house, there’s only a thin wall separating their rooms, making it harder and harder to deny their growing mutual attraction—an attraction made all the more forbidden by Grey’s long-term girlfriend Sadie Hall, who also happens to be Lane’s friend.

Torn between her feelings for Grey and her friendship with Sadie—not to mention her desire to keep the peace at home—Lane befriends Sadie’s older brother, Connor, the black sheep of the strict, evangelical Hall family. Connor, a metal working artist who is all sharp edges, challenges Lane in ways no one else ever has. As the two become closer and start to open up about the traumas in their respective pasts, Lane begins to question her conviction that Connor is just a distraction.

Tensions come to a head after a tragic incident at a party, forcing Lane to untangle her feelings for both boys and face the truth of what—and who—she wants, in this gripping and stunningly romantic debut novel.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Together We Caught Fire will be available February 4, 2020

I was in the mood for a little angst and, oh boy, did I get that with Together We Caught Fire.

The story ended up being a little different than I thought it would be, based on the synopsis. There was still angst for days, but it wasn’t all romantic, love-triangle stuff. Lane is a complete mess and had issues in every single aspect of her life, mostly stemming from discovering her mother’s suicide when she was five years old. She has nightmares every night, severe trust issues, intimacy issues, family issues, depression, the list goes on. When Grey becomes her step-brother she starts hanging out with him, his girlfriend Sadie, and Sadie’s brother, Connor. Each one of them have their own myriad of issues and dysfunction and it could all be a little too much at times. However, it was one very addicting read.

It’s kind of hard to describe any of these characters as “likable”, but I was pretty invested in them. I wanted to see them work out their issues and heal and we do see a little bit of that by the time the book ends. Out of all of them, I did like Connor the best. It’s arguable that he had the most tragic backstory, but he was still the most well-adjusted, despite his issues. I liked how he was with Lane and I definitely shipped them. I had a hard time really understanding Lane’s “feelings” for Grey. He had moments where he could be sweet, but for most of the story he acted like a jerk and he had some definite anger issues. He and Lane had a few charged moments of longing glances, but I could never really get on board with the idea of them getting together. I liked them much more as step-siblings than as romantic interests.

While religion didn’t play a huge part in the story, the two ends of the spectrum were represented here. On one end was Sadie’s Fundamentalist Christian church, which her father pastors (who are, of course, the villains of the story as hateful bigots), and on the other end is Grey, the Wiccan. Lane is firmly in agnostic land, but partakes in her family’s pagan rituals. I have to say that even though these aren’t huge points in the story, it kind of brought my overall reading experience down. It always annoys me when the Christians are portrayed so poorly (even if they are fundamentalists and not your average Christian church) and I also was a little uncomfortable with the whole paganism thing. There’s even a point in the story where Lane’s father sits her down to talk to her about her relationship with Connor because he’s so afraid he’s going to “convert” her and then he’s overjoyed to find out Connor is an atheist. I mean, honestly, my main recurring thought while reading this whole book was, “These people need Jesus.” I did like, however, how it portrayed that no matter what your faith is, we all have our issues and brokenness we have to work through.

Overall, I did enjoy Together We Caught Fire. I don’t think it would be for everyone, but if you think you can handle the angst, buckle up and clear your schedule for this addictive debut. Even though the writing was a little more flowery and used a lot more imagery than I generally care for, it is super addictive and I could hardly put the book down. I’m definitely interested in seeing what Gibson does next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 2019

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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His Royal Highness by R.S. Grey. Read November 22-December 1. 3.5 Stars. 

It took awhile to get into this, but I did end up enjoying it overall. I had a hard time with Whitney for about the first half of the book, but I did ship grown up Whitney and Derek together and I liked the theme park setting.

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Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey. Read December 1. 4 Stars. 

I love a good Friends-to-More story and this was pretty cute. Sam was a little over dramatic, but other than that I found her likable enough and I liked Ian a lot. Though there were a few things I had issues with here and there, this is the first book in a long time that has really caught my interest and didn’t let go. I read it in a day, so it’s getting 4 stars from me.

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The Allure of Julian LeFray by R.S. Grey. Read December 1-3. 4 Stars. 

I enjoyed this. The characters were likable and I thought they went really well together. I honestly expected a lot more angst in their relationship than there was and I liked that. The one thing that brought it down for me was the whole “janitor gets put in a high fashion runway show” thing. Just a little too unbelievable. I also would’ve liked more of an epilogue for the relationship between Julian and Jo. I know that they’ll show up in the next book, but I’m a little hesitant to read it because of how much I disliked Lily in this book. I’m not sure I can take a whole book of her.

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Enemies by Tijan. Read December 6-7. 3.5 Stars

My first Tijan book. It took me a bit to click with her writing style, but I enjoyed the book, overall. Dusty was super frustrating, but she made some progress throughout the story. I thought the portrayal of depression and anxiety was really well done. And while I had issues with their relationship at times, I did ship Dusty and Stone.

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Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd. Read December 7-10. 4 Stars. 

I enjoyed this a lot. There was some great banter and plenty of cute moments. I thought Olivia and Asher were really good together and they gave me some The Hating Game vibes, which I loved. It did feel a little unfocused at times, though, and I could have done with Olivia being a less less pervy sometimes. Overall, though, it was cute and definitely one I recommend.

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Girl in Luv (In Luv Duet #1) by Jay Crownover and Rebecca Yarros. Read December 10-12. 3.5 Stars. 

First off, I absolutely love the cover for this so much. I thought the main characters were likable and enjoyed their fake relationship. I expected this to be really angsty, but it wasn’t and I liked that. I was kind of bored for large parts of it, though. There really wasn’t much to it, but it was an easy read. I do plan on reading the next book.

I do have one little rant, though. This series is on Kindle Unlimited right now, but apparently you originally had to pre-order a book from one of the authors to get it as a bonus and to get the second book in the series you had to pre-order a book from the other author. I don’t like that at all. What if you loved this story, but had zero interest in the book you had to pre-order to get the second half of this story? It just seems wrong to me.

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Inside Out by Demi Moore. Read December 16-17. 4 Stars. 

I’ve never been a huge Demi Moore fan, but I was still really looking forward to reading this book. She definitely has led a crazy life and has overcome a lot of dysfunction. I appreciated that she was willing to really lay everything out in the open. She did take responsibility for a lot of things she did wrong, but there were a few times where she really painted herself as the victim, much like her mother did, and didn’t seem to recognize that. (There were also many, many times where she was definitely a victim of an atrocity and I am not talking about those instances in her youth here.) Overall, I enjoyed this book and learning more about Demi.

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Boy in Luv (In Luv Duet #2) by Jay Crownover and Rebecca Yarros. Read December 18-19. 3 Stars. 

Pretty slow-paced and not a lot happened. It wasn’t bad, but this isn’t a series I would pick up again.

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The Boss Who Stole Christmas (Reindeer Falls #1) by Jana Aston. Read December 21. 3 Stars. 

This had some cute moments and for the most part I liked the relationship between the main characters. It’s a short book, though, and while that has it’s merits, I don’t feel like I got enough time to really get invested in them. There was also a sex scene in a church I found a little offensive. I don’t see myself continuing the series, but this wasn’t bad for a KU pick.

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The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen. Read December 22-23. 4 Stars. 

This author’s usual Romance books aren’t really for me, but Deanna suggested this YA book to me awhile ago and I finally gave it a try and I really loved it! It totally broke me out of my book slump. Very addictive writing with just the right amount of angst. There were plenty of frustrating moments – like the fact that Rachel and her father, Fredrick, don’t have an actual real discussion about why it took almost 18 years for him to meet her until after the 90% mark – but there were lots of cute and sweet moments that helped make up for it. I loved Jake a lot, especially his e-mails from the beginning. One thing I was missing, though, was the emotion from Rachel losing her mother. Maybe it’s because the story starts out after she has already passed, but I felt it should have been a lot more emotional than it was. For me, though, the emotional connection didn’t come until much later as she worked through her relationship with her father. Overall, this was a very different book than I expected it to be, but I really enjoyed it and am sorry I waited so long to read it.

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Kissmas Eve by M.E. Carter and Sara Ney. Read December 25-26. 2.5 Stars.

This was a short Christmas-Office-Romance. There were some funny moments, but overall I thought it was kind of cheesy and rushed and I didn’t really buy the romance.

*****Back on the TBR*****

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Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen. I really thought this would be right up my alley, but I had a hard time getting into it and only read two chapters. I do hope to give it another try some day, though.

*****DNF*****

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The Guy on the Right by Kate Stewart. DNF at 6%. Maybe if I wasn’t in such a mood I would give this one more of a chance, but I couldn’t even make myself finish the first chapter of this.

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The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan. DNF @ 4%. I thought there was a good probability I would DNF this book, but I didn’t guess it would be for political reasons. Too much of that in real life, I don’t want it in my books.

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Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson. DNF @ 8%. I read one chapter and kind of hated everything about it. I was going to try to read at least one more chapter, but now my library loan has expired and I know I’m never going to request this one again.

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The Allure of Dean Harper by R.S. Grey. DNF @ 14%. Yeah, no. I tried, but I can’t do this one. A couple chapters in where Dean goes on and on about how he only hires attractive people to work in his restaurants and even says it goes looks first and then experience when it comes to the hiring process just came off as so disgusting to me. And then there’s Lily. I thought I was going to have problems with her based on the previous book and I was right. Anybody who has ever worked in the service industry knows that you are going to have to deal with a lot of horrible customers and that you have to suck it up and do your job, no matter how much of a jerk they are. And while Dean was deliberately trying to fluster her, I think he was 100% in his right to fire her for her behavior and it REALLY annoyed me that he came off as the bad guy in that scenario (and it was just before that that I decided he was disgusting and didn’t like him, so that really says something that I feel the need to defend him).

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A Billion Times No by Kenzie Reed. DNF @ 33%. I thought this sounded kind of cute, but it’s just really not for me. I don’t really care for any of the characters and there’s some major cheesiness going on.

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Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. DNF @ 19%. I thought this sounded cute and I have heard good things about it, but the main character is just driving me absolutely nuts.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson – 3.5 Stars

The Better Liar by Tanen Jones – 2 Stars