I’ve been pretty busy for the past year or so. My Board obligations with the Golden Crown Literary Society have kept me hopping. Because of this, my time for reading books and reviewing them has been cut pretty substantially. But, I am determined to get back on track and caught up!
That said, I decided to start with the books I’ve neglected by Melissa Brayden – namely, the second and third installments of her Soho Loft Romance series. In order to do this, I went back to read the first book in the series, Kiss The Girl (see my review HERE). Ah, it was a lovely time, I must say. I was then ready to dive into Just Three Words (Bold Strokes Books).
Sometimes the one you want is the one you least suspect…
Accountant Samantha Ennis craves order and structure. As the bookkeeper at the boutique advertising agency she owns with her three best friends, it’s her job to apply logic to the chaos. When one of those best friends, laid back Hunter Blair, moves in to share her loft apartment, Sam’s carefully organized world is thrown wildly askew.
Hunter Blair’s been the coolest one in the room since elementary school. Until recently, her biggest worry in the world was which of the girls in her cell phone to call on a Saturday night. But it’s not long before Samantha sparks a fire in Hunter that has her questioning her old habits and longing for new ones.
Isn’t it a bad idea to fall for one of your best friends? Samantha and Hunter are about to find out.
In Just Three Words, Brayden takes us back to check in on the ladies at Soho Savvy – Hunter Blair, Brooklyn Campbell, Samantha Ennis, and Mallory Spencer. We learn that Brooklyn is still madly in love with her girlfriend, Jessica Lennox. So much so that she accepts the invitation to move in with Jessica, leaving Samantha without a roommate. Fortunately, Hunter is in need of new living arrangements and is able to fill the roommate void. And so we continue with the story.
Just Three Words is a fun, romantic story – precisely what I look for when I pick up a Brayden novel. Yes, there is conflict. Yes, I’ve been known to tear up a bit. But these are not angst-ridden stories that keep me on a twisting and turning emotional rollercoaster. Nope. No loop-the-loops here. They are balanced with just the right amount of “push and pull” to keep me engaged. And, to me, that’s perfect. If I want high angst, I’ll read War and Peace.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love the way Brayden writes dialogue. It’s fun and flirty. It’s deep and profound. It’s everything in between. She’s able to give each character a voice that distinguishes them from the rest. At the same time, there is a shared vocabulary among these friends that speaks of a long history and a deep friendship. I like that. I can hear these words being said by real people, not just characters in a book.
I also love that New York is an additional character in the Soho Loft series. I’ve only been to New York City once and, really, I did the “tourist thing” – 5th Avenue, Time Square, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, etc. – so I’m not familiar with the “real” city. But it’s very clear that Brayden is familiar with it and she uses that to her advantage. However, she doesn’t channel Frommer and try to put all things NYC into one book. Instead, she chooses very particular settings and goes with those. The Savvy offices, Samantha and Hunter’s apartment, their favorite table at their favorite bar – these are the focal points. Sure they go other places as well, but they always come back to their “home base,” as it were. These spaces become as familiar to the reader as they are to the characters in the novel.
Rather delightfully, the sex is HOT. Now, that’s not something I usually comment on in a review. Really, unless I’m reading something that is specifically labeled as Erotica, sexual activity is not a huge requirement for me in a romance novel. Oh, sure, it’s bound to be there. That goes without saying. But, it’s not the end-all-be-all for me. But I have to say that Brayden knows how to build up the sexual tension in a story and then follow that up with some really passionate scenes. And she earns bonus points because I don’t get pulled out of the scenes by trying to figure out if a human body is capable of doing the things that are described. Every make-out session, every bit of foreplay, and every sex scene is also pivotal to the story – they aren’t just there to be there. So, even more bonus points.
Overall, Just Three Words is a very nice follow up to Kiss The Girl.