Bite Sized Books // Two Romance Books You Have To Read Together

14 June 2017

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This will be a joint book review. I was going to see if I could make the review for these two more individual but it’s difficult. The story in All The Lies We Tell very much continues in All The Secrets We Keep, although they each focus more on different characters. I will try to split the reviews into individual books but really if you’re gonna read one you need to read both. The second makes less sense without the first and the first will leave you dissatisfied with the loose threads.

All The Lies We Tell
Published: 1st May 2017

Source: Bought

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

My Rating:
Everyone knew Alicia Harrison’s marriage to Ilya Stern wouldn’t last. They’d grown up on a remote stretch of Quarry Street, where there were two houses, two sets of siblings, and eventually, a tangled mess of betrayal, longing, and loss. Tragedy catapulted Allie and Ilya together, but divorce—even as neighbours—has been relatively uncomplicated.

Then Ilya’s brother, Nikolai, comes home for their grandmother’s last days. He’s the guy who teased and fought with Allie, infuriated her, then fled town without a good-bye. Now Niko makes her feel something else entirely—a rush of connection and pure desire that she’s been trying to quench since one secret kiss years ago. Niko’s not sticking around. She’s not going to leave. And after all that’s happened between their families, this can’t be anything more than brief pleasure and a bad idea.

But the lies we tell ourselves can’t compete with the truths our hearts refuse to let go…
All The Lies We Tell is much more the story of Alicia and Niko. Alicia lives over the road from her ex-husband Ilya. She owns a company with him, she sees him every day. Their lives are very much entwined even if they are no longer married or sleeping together. The two have lived across the road from one another their entire lives and although they married for the wrong reasons they are both still close. So when Ilya’s grandmother takes a turn for the worse Alicia is obviously there with Ilya and the entire Stern family. It’s a bit of a shock coming face to face once more with Niko, Ilya’s younger brother. She grew up with him as well, she was part of a small friendship group, which included her sister Jenni as well as Ilya and Niko’s former stepsister, Theresa.

I think I knew immediately that the interaction between Alicia and Niko was going to be brilliant. Niko said some harsh things when he’d heard his brother and Alicia had eloped together and I can’t blame him as he was totally right. He obviously had a thing for Alicia (even if she’d been too blind as a teen to notice) and the spark was still there when they see each other in that room in the care home.

This is an angsty read as the Stern family deal with losing a family member and Ilya deals with both his brother and his mother moving into his home. It wasn’t so much the loss of a family member which caused the angst, it was the past memories it dug up of grieving as Alicia’s sister, Jenni, died all those years ago and it affected all of them in different ways. It didn’t help that this was a romance where almost everyone had been involved with another in some way. It was a little incestuous. I wasn’t sure it would be handled well, a romance between Alicia and her ex-brother in law was going to be a careful balancing act to get it right and Megan Hart managed that. I was rooting for them to get together and saying screw you to Ilya and shouting at Alicia so get past her issues because they were such non-issues. Who cares about gossip anyway?

There was more than just the romance to this book, though. There was a further mystery of what Galina, Ilya and Niko’s mother, had been up to. And also what happened in the past with Jenni. This book was told in the present with flashbacks to their shared past interspersed throughout. It was really rather well done. My biggest issue with this book is that it felt unfinished when it ended because the second book was obviously meant to wrap up some of the story threads and that did bug me slightly. It was an enjoyable enough read, though, that I didn’t mind too much.

All The Secrets We Keep
Published: 13th June 2017
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
My Rating:

In the riveting conclusion to Megan Hart’s passionate new family drama, the secrets they keep are no match for the truths their hearts will never let go.

Still stuck in his small Central Pennsylvania hometown, Ilya Stern is used to feeling like a disappointment. After his high school girlfriend, Jennilynn, drowned, he married her sister, Alicia, only to divorce a decade later. The business they started together is threatened by a luxury development—and Alicia has already sold her stake. Now that Babulya, Ilya’s gentle Russian grandmother, has died, there’s no one left who believes in him. Or so he thinks.

Theresa Malone was Ilya’s stepsister for only a year, until his mother threw her pill-popping father out of the house in the middle of the night, forcing teenage Theresa to follow. Now she’s returned for Babulya’s funeral—and to facilitate the quarry-development deal. As she tries to convince Ilya to sell, she realizes her feelings for him have ignited—from sisterly into something more.

Working together closely, Ilya and Theresa struggle to define their intense attraction. When the details of Jennilynn’s death surface, will Ilya and Theresa’s deep connection keep their hope for the future afloat—or submerge them once and forever in their tragic past?
As I said, this book and the first were meant to be read together. They are stories which don't make sense apart and are intrinsically linked. That might have bothered me but it was very obvious upon reading the first book that there was plenty more story to explore. There were so many unanswered questions in regards to what would happen with Ilya and the fact that Theresa had a lot more troubles. And there were all the unanswered questions to be had with Jenni. And what on earth motivated Galina to come home. Basically, this book was both the story of Theresa and Ilya finding their happy, but also about tying up loose ends.

It was a really fast read and whilst it was angstier than my usual books I kind of enjoyed that. I was a bit wary going in, whilst I'd quite liked Theresa in the first book (despite her secretive ways) I was far more wary of Ilya. He came across as a bit of a dick in the first book and also very hung up on a girl he loved as a teenager. I didn't get how I was going to be convinced to like him and especially when he didn't seem willing to grow from the teenager he once was. Thankfully, Megan Hart is a far better author than I gave her credit for because whilst I'd been a fan of Theresa's in the first book it was actually Ilya I was cheering for because he really turned over a new leaf.

I will give this book that, there was plenty of character growth, far more than I experience in the first. I like Nico and Alicia as a couple but they seemed like they were falling back into something which could have happened if given a chance anyway. They were inevitable. Theresa and Ilya, on the other hand, had to grow as people before they were ready to even think about moving forward together. I liked that level of growth they experience, but especially Ilya growing into the adult he should have been long ago.

I was a little disappointed with the mystery surrounding Galina and Barry and what happened to Jenni all those years ago. I predicted back in the first book (not precisely, but I knew bits of what must have happened) and that obviousness about something which was in the background through two books was a bit of a letdown. I know it wasn't the focus of the books so I won't let it affect my rating but it was a bit meh.

As a whole, the book was brilliant and a fantastic close to the story of these characters and I will definitely be visiting Megan Hart's books in the future.

Do you like reading romance series where the books are obviously meant to be read together? Or do your prefer them to be standalone, especially when they focus on a different couple in each book?
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