Friday, November 13, 2015

Finding Bliss - Cassie Strickland (The Bliss Series)

Rating: 5 stars
Published: September 2015
Many thanks to Netgalley and Cassie Strickland for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Amazon Goodreads
Clara's put the past behind her, she likes her life how it is, focused on work and work only. Except life has a way of shaking things up. One phone call changes everything. Grey's voicemail brings up dark memories, fear, and lust Clara didn't even know she had in her anymore. Going to Bliss could finally close that chapter in her life, but it could also open a new one.

 Best book after a super vague synopsis goes to Cassie Strickland! At 20% I was saying, I love this book and having an inner battle with myself to put it down when I needed to get real life things done. Without giving too much away, I am going to try to review this book, then I am going to beg Cassie to give me the next book right now.

 Clara hasn't had the easiest life, it's been heartbreaking, traumatic, and completely life altering. She isn't just a girl with a past, she's a girl all consumed by her past. While she seems to have moved on, her family and friends around her are watching her just go through the motions. It seems like life had enough of her Clara's floating by and throws a major twist. Grey, the handsome country man turned B&B owner is unknowingly best friends with Clara's past and he doesn't understand why her arrival in Bliss is leaving her so fearful. He's not afraid to get to the bottom of things, especially as Clara weaves her way into his heart. They have such a strong pull to one another, but the past runs so deep.

 I love how Cassie Strickland handled the past, it was handed to you within the first 40% of the book, but it didn't just go away. It shaped each character, for Clara it was from the start, and for Grey it was overtime as he learned about it. I really appreciated that this book didn't fall for the NA tragic past trap, where it is so tragic, but doesn't effect life or future. Even as the past was put away where it belonged you could visibly feel how Clara felt in situations that reminded her of everything. That kind of connection is hard to keep when you want an HEA book, but she did it so well. I felt it was realistic, not overwhelming, and allowed the book to keep moving forward. The book, while dealing with a very sensitive topic, has themes of hope, redemption, and love.

 The minor characters were incredibly well written, their involvement just enough to get you invested in them as characters, and they helped move along the plot and subplots. I found myself interested in the minor characters and really appreciated that Cassie Strickland wrote them into important roles instead of just space fillers or a required character count. They had their own lives in the books, something that I think a lot of fiction leaves out, and allowed me to see the town of Bliss as a real place. I look forward to reading about the other characters, especially after the epilogue at the end of Finding Bliss.

 This is a very long book, I admit it began to drag on for me, but once I put it down I kept gravitating back to it. It's the kind of book that the length works for, especially since it wrapped this book up and completed it as a standalone in the series. I do want to warn my readers that it deals with several very sensitive subjects, including religion and abuse. It is an incredibly emotional book and I enjoyed it from start to finish.

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