Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Chloe Liese - Only and Forever

Viggo Bergman, hopeless romantic, is thoroughly weary of waiting for his happily ever after. But between opening a romance bookstore, running a romance book club, coaching kids' soccer, and adopting a household of pets—just maybe, he’s overcommitted himself?—Viggo’s chaotic life has made finding his forever love seem downright improbable.
Enter Tallulah Clarke, chilly cynic with a massive case of writer’s block. Tallulah needs help with her thriller’s romantic subplot. Viggo needs another pair of hands to keep his store afloat. So they agree to swap skills and cohabitate for convenience—his romance expertise to revive her book, her organizational prowess to salvage his store. They hardly get along, and they couldn’t be more different, but who says roommate-coworkers need to be friends?
As they share a home and life, Tallulah and Viggo discover a connection that challenges everything they believe about love, and reveals the plot twist they never saw happily ever after is here already, right under their roof.

Comment: This is the latest (and last) installment in the Bergman Brothers series by Chloe Liese. I have buddy read these books with a friend and we have enjoyed them tremendously, but I will say that a few details weren't always as engaging. This time, for the last book, I had great expectations but I fear it ended up being my least favorite.

Viggo is the last single sibling and he is just now finished with deciding what he wants to do. It's no surprise he wants to be in the world of romance novels, considering how much he likes them, and that is why his dream is to open up a bookstore, which is is close to do. As for his love life, he believes his met cute will happen at any moment, although he can't forget Tallulah Clarke, whom he met at college and never forgot. Conveniently, she is the sister of Charlie, a good friend of his own sister Ziggy and due to Charlie's upcoming wedding, Tallulah enters his life again. Although she sees herself as cynical and unsuited for love, she and Viggo still decide to work together; she will help him at the bookstore and he will help her with writers's block, but they agree no more than that will exist between them. Or will it?

I liked this book, let it be said right away. However, it is also true that I wasn't as engaged with this story as I was with the others. I will sound unfair, but the author does a good work in terms of trying to represent specific situations in the most correct way possible, but sometimes it felt the story could have been better focused on the romance or in their interactions instead of in the "message" of presenting things in a correct way, one which can be seen as politically correct by all.

Of course this is important and it's a huge step in contrast to when boundaries or limits were not taken into consideration in romance, but sometimes it feels as if the goal is this and not as much the fictional aspects, which turns them into something less "organic". Or, perhaps, I'm the one being picky...

Viggo and Tallulah had known each other in college, both liked the other but had personal issues (a self conscience notion of themselves) which prevented them from believing the other person could want to be with them. Now they reconnect, even if slightly reluctantly on Tallulah's side, and slowly become closer. It's quite convenient that both have jobs dealing with books, which is another reason why they are "meant to be" but while I tend to love stories about or with bookstores and writers, somehow the conjunction of factors here didn't seem to be as cute as I would have liked.

I think that the main issue for me is that Tallulah as a heroine was likable enough but not exceptional. I can certainly relate to her more cynical view of life and I can commiserate with how her parents' complicated relationship affected her and her siblings. I also liked that she was a writer and that she didn't want to do things just because. There is actually enough about her personality to make her someone I should like more, but even taking that into consideration, somehow all the elements together were not enough for me to like reading about her romance with Viggo.

Yes, Viggo is part of the equation but perhaps the fact he had interacted with his siblings before in their books makes him more clear in my head. At the same time I must agree with the readers who said he is a bit too perfect most of the time, and what is supposed to be his flaws (some lack of confidence and ADHD) were not made to look as if they truly mattered. I do think he has a lot on his plate and perhaps the conjunction of all the elements and the romance made for a  busy plot and sometimes I felt there was too much going on for me to really connect with them.

I suppose I can say I expected more from a story which has so many elements I tend to like in romances... but somehow the result was not as addictive to me as I hoped. I found myself distracted easily and unlike my experience with a few of the other books in the series, if I had to put the book down, it wasn't done reluctantly. I wanted more romantic scenes but not in a way that I felt like I was given an explanation for what was happening, as it felt like while reading the main characters' thoughts. I wanted more chemistry and helplessness in falling in love if they were so clearly the right person for each other but because this was all so correct and proper, it seemed to lack spontaneity. Again, perhaps I'm not expressing myself well.

This is the final story and I feel bad about how I see it ending, but I can only suppose if there were to be more stories after this one, I have the same opinion. This way I can still think about my favorite stories in the series fondly instead.
Grade: 6/10


  1. I find it interesting how some readers talk about political correctness interfering with their enjoyment, making the romance less believable. I see where they're coming from, but I blame the execution, rather than the social progress the authors aim to incorporate in their work.

    1. Hi! Yes, very true. I suppose some authors might want to express that idea clearly, and sometimes it's too obvious, making it difficult to NOT see it.

    2. "sometimes it's too obvious, making it difficult NOT to see it."

      Yes, exactly; the whole point should be to make it so seamless, the reader absorbs it without noticing.