Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fight to Forgive by J. Leigh Bailey

Recent college grad Aaron Elliott is a pro when it comes to avoiding conflict. So when he hears his mother and stepfather plan to sell the family’s rambling summer retreat, it takes everything in him to object. The lake house is where he feels closest to his late father. It’s where he fell in love with his best friend…and it’s where he let family pressure decide his future rather than following his heart.

A combat injury has naval officer James “Freddie” Fredrick dry-docked, possibly for good. But the pain in his shoulder is nothing like the hurt he feels when he sees Aaron back in town. It’s been four years since the love of his life left without a word—and though Freddie would give anything to deny it, the heat between them hasn’t faded.

Once upon a time, Aaron let Freddie go without a fight. He won’t screw up their second chance to have a happy ending. But unless he makes peace with the past, Freddie won’t be able to face their future.

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Book 3
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Carina  Press

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This was my first read by this author. While I enjoyed her eye for detail, I felt this was an extremely slow beginning. It finally picked up towards the end, but I had a hard time staying focused up to that point.

Freddie and Aaron are friends to lovers, but Aaron walked away without a word to Freddie. Freddie never fought to find out why, he just joined the Navy. After an injury, he's back in town. A town that does nothing but bring back memories of Aaron.

Aaron's mother decides to sell the house his father left to him. Aaron is destroyed by this information when he planned to stay the summer there.

Freddie and Aaron finally come face to face after years apart. The sparks are there, but so is the past hanging over their heads. Something that could have been cleared up with an honest conversation drags on and isn't cleared up till the end. An end that was rushed. I'm not a super fan of epilogues, but this book could have definitely used one.

I wanted to like this read, but I feel I got bored before it really picked up and it was hard to be invested in the characters at that point. This one just wasn't for me.

This is the first book in the series that I have read, and I have added the others to my list – as this is an impressive read.

There are a number of subplots in this story which are all interesting in their own right, and tie in really well as the book progresses. Jamie (Freddie) is dealing with a possibly career ending injury, and facing the only man that ever injured his heart at the same time is a challenge. Aaron is facing a career starting/dream destroying decision at the end of his studies and then discovers the truth about his inheritance, just in time. As spectators, we can only hope that they will see what is clearly visible to the rest of the characters and ignoring all other factors, recognise their importance to each other. I loved the library, the dragon tattoo, and definitely some of the hot and steamy memories. In current time, even just the slightest touch is made to be so effective – it is a really clever build up...

Very enjoyable read.

Fight to Forgive was an enjoyable male/male new adult romance. While I read book one in the series, I did not read book two, but that didn’t matter as Bailey has written the series as standalones – in fact, I don’t think there’s any character crossover among the books. Because Aaron avoids confrontation at all costs, there is not as much angst as there could have been. This made for a sweeter romance, even if there was still plenty of tension to go around because it is by no means drama free.

Aaron’s reaction to confrontation may seem extreme to some people, but my sister was the same way until her late 20s, and because of this, I saw Aaron in a very sympathetic light. The lengths to which Aaron would go to in order to avoid confrontation are completely realistic if you know someone like him. The “Is it really worth it?” inner monologue often occurs as the non-confrontationalist picks and chooses their battles very carefully. Unfortunately, Aaron failed to pick the right battle four years earlier, choosing to run and hide, breaking Freddie’s heart at the same time. Even though we are well into the book before the author reveals what caused Aaron to feel betrayed and subsequently leave town, it wasn’t that difficult to figure out the issue. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Aaron was mistaken about events because nothing in Freddie’s behavior would suggest he would behave in such a way. However, I was absolutely flabbergasted as to why Aaron saw what he did and I wanted to reach in and throttle the everlovingheck out of his stepsister, Brianna. Fortunately for Aaron, Freddie’s protector personality meant that their paths kept crossing, even though they both vowed to avoid one another, and their repeated contact forced the confrontation that led to Freddie finally finding out why Aaron ran four years earlier without a word.

What I liked about Freddie and Aaron’s reconciliation was that they had to work at it. I appreciated that there wasn’t an immediate forgiving of past misjudgments because Aaron believing what he saw was a major show of mistrust and not something that Freddie could or should forgive easily. Besides, both of them had other things in their lives they were dealing with, so their entire focus was not and could not be on their relationship. I thought the decision that Aaron came to in regards to his father’s house made sense, even if I don’t believe Brianna should have benefited from it – but luckily for her, Aaron is a much better person than I am. Because Freddie and Aaron had so much to overcome and make up for, it made their eventual reconciliation that much better – and hotter. I thoroughly enjoyed Fight to Forgive and look forward to reading more of Bailey’s work.

j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of young-adult and new-adult LGBT romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of...well, everything...but some habits aren't worth breaking. She's been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She's a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.

She wrote her first story at seven, which was, unbeknownst to her at the time, a charming piece of fan fiction in which Superman battled (and defeated, of course) the nefarious X Luther. She was quite put out to be told, years later, that the character's name was actually Lex. Her second masterpiece should have been a bestseller, but the action-packed tale of rescuing her little brother from an alligator attack in the marshes of Florida collected dust for years under the bed instead of gaining critical acclaim.

Now she writes romance novels about boys traversing the crazy world of love, relationships and acceptance.

Connect with J. Leigh

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Fight to Forgive (Letting Go #3) by J. Leigh Bailey to read and review.

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