Thursday, October 7, 2021

Chloe Liese - With You Forever

Rooney Sullivan is sunshine incarnate. Warm, bright, always smiling, she’s everything I’m not and the last person I have any business desiring. Desperate to hide a hopeless attraction, I’ve done everything possible to keep my distance...until a charades game gone wrong brought that to a grinding halt.
Since then, steering clear of Rooney has been impossible. In a matter of months, she’s kissed me speechless, commandeered my art career, and infiltrated not only my dreams but my home. The woman who was once avoidable has become the last thing I needed: temptingly within reach.
Axel Bergman is a gorgeous grump who doesn’t have the time of day for me. Thankfully, I’ve kept my crush under wraps...well, until I kissed him. Charades got away from me, okay? It was an accident! I haven’t seen him since, which is for the best. My life is a mess, and the last thing I need is to embarrass myself further with the man who avoids me like that’s his job rather than painting modern masterpieces.
It seems the universe, however, has a different plan. When Axel and I unexpectedly find our paths—and problems—converging, a marriage of convenience proves the perfect solution. At least, until I’m facing my most serious problem yet: a once-loveless marriage of convenience that’s inconveniently become a love match, after all.

Comment: This is the 4th installment in the Bergman Brothers series by Chloe Liese. I have liked the previous stories and, upon another agreement to buddy read this one with a friend, here are some of my final thoughts on it. 

In this story we focus on Axel, the oldest male sibling, someone we can characterize as introverted. Axel likes to do his own thing and apart from his family, he doesn't seem to want to deal with many people. He isn't a hermit but he does like to spend time alone, painting and do the things he likes. however, his muse currently seems to be Rooney, the young woman his family has accepted when they also welcomed the girlfriend of one of his brothers. Knowing he needs to get out of this fixation, he decides to secretly fix the house his family usually escapes to when they can but he finds out it will be a lot more costly than what he anticipated but a clause in an uncle's will might help, if only he could find someone to marry...
Rooney has medical issues and she doesn't want to bother or cause worry to her friend Willa, and she took a leave from law school. Since resting would help, Willa tells her the Bergman house in the mountain is the perfect spot, and there goes Rooney, unaware Axel was there. After they sort out the confusion, they can't help but spend time together... could this be the opportunity to finally accept they like one another?

I like this author's work, in general. I can't complain about the style nor about the pace but there is definitely something I can't fully pinpoint, which stops me from loving the story completely. I have thought about it and I think perhaps the first person narrator could be it, but I have liked other romance novels told in first person, so that can't be it...perhaps the lack of romantic situations at the right moments...I don't know but despite enjoying the books, something about them is missing...

I liked both protagonists. Axel is described as grumpy and anti social but although that can be perceived in a way, it really depends on the perspective because he is friendly and helpful when dealing with close friends and family. Nevertheless, I liked how his personality would allow for some situations to happen, such as the fact he is often alone and that helps in how his relationship with Rooney develops. He is also an artist but has been having issues disconnecting from his fixation on Rooney, which isn't too good, as he has specific work to be done. I think this was a nice detail but not fully used, almost as if an afer thought on his issues. I can't say i truly minded but it did seem there was some highlight of things which weren't truly important in the big scheme of things.

For instance, the marriage of convenience trope. It was certainly a cute idea to force Rooney and Axel together for a while and so on, but it didn't have to happen, if one thinks about the overall plot. I think without that, the author could have found a way to let them be in close quarters anyway, and even the house renovation issue could have worked out around this as well. I mean, I don't mind it as a step to a stronger connection between Rooney and Axel but yes, it wasn't truly necessary.

Rooney was a more interesting character, simply because her health issues aren't one often seen in romance novels. Real life can certainly be a lot trickier than what is described Rooney goes through, after all we only have her POV on those things, but it was nice the author has included this in the story. As for her personality, Rooney is more of a bubbly kind of person, although often that is a mask too, and she is energetic, likes sports and is very smart. I liked her as a character and as a partner in a romantic relationship.

The romance had its moments and the exchanges they had, mostly the emotional ones, seemed to give strength to an attraction we saw some glimpses of in the previous books. However, the fact we know they are attracted and that they will end up together didn't feel enough for me to love it without question. I kind of wanted more scenes with them demonstrating the attraction or the pining or the longing... it felt as if the marriage trope could twist this into something both funny and poignant and, although some scenes seem like it, I still feel this aspect could have been worked out a little more.

One of my favorite elements in the books has been the family connections, the sibling's relationships... in this case, that was also good to see, especially because the siblings making an appearance were the young brothers and we got to learn a little more about each one, Viggo is much more mature than his behavior seems to indicate and Oliver is facing some kind of problem. His book is next and I can't wait for it!

All in all, this was a good story, strong enough elements to make me interested in reading. Yes, I'd like to see a few things different, more to my taste, but it really offers all a romance reader might want.
Grade: 8/10

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