Craving Constellations by Nicole Jacquelyn – a review

Nicole Jacquelyn writes an outlaw MC series that is full of strong-willed, dominant bikers with out-spoken alpha females at their sides.

The first book in the series is Craving Constellations. It features a daughter of the Aces MC who grew up in the club, only to abandon the only family she has ever known while in college. Now she returns five years later, seeking protection for herself and her daughter from her abusive husband, bringing with her luggage full of secrets.

Craving Constellations introduces the Aces MC and sets up several characters to have their own books. It also informs the reader of many of the rules that guide this world; protecting family and the club, keeping loyal to this family and never leaving, the patriarchal rules of respect that guide interactions between members and the consequences for breaking any of these rules. Unfortunately, Brenna has broken most of them and is going to have a rough return to the world that was her home for the first 18 years of life.

Craving constellations

Book Blurb:

“How is it, that someone can make decision after decision attempting to get away from their past and somehow end up right back where they started?”

When Brenna decided to leave the only life she’d ever known, she never thought she’d ever be back. Now, five years later she’s running from her clean cut husband straight back to the motorcycle club that raised her… and the man she left behind. She left with a secret, and as soon as she returns the truth will break her carefully constructed life wide open.

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I loved the poetry of this novel. The idea that Brenna sought to extricate herself from the oftentimes violent world of an outlaw motorcycle club, just to end up in greater danger in an emotionally and physically abusive marriage that sends her running back home for safety is intriguing. It brings to bear the idea of destiny and whether any of us can escape our pre-determined fate. Brenna felt that she kept making the same mistakes, no matter how many times she thought she was choosing differently, which has been a recurring theme in my own life the last several years.

Jacquelyn weaves complicated tapestries throughout her novels, and takes the time to allow her characters to grow and mature. Every time I felt that I knew these characters and their stories, something else will bubble up that takes the reader by surprise. One revelation, which the reader learns with Dragon, settled a hard pit of sadness and anxiety in my stomach. It is at this moment that you realize just how screwed up life has been for Brenna and her daughter and it tears apart their little family and the safety and security she thought they had found.

I highly recommend checking out this series. It is more complex that many other MC books on the market and limits the “club business” aspect of these stories to a minimum, a bonus if that isn’t your thing.

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Positively Mine – a review

mineFrom the cover:

It is four weeks into her freshman year of college, and Laurel’s first test was unexpected. Discovering she’s pregnant isn’t exactly what she had planned for her first semester, and while she intends to tell her emotionally-distant father, being away at school makes it all too easy to hide.

An imperfect heroine plagued by bad choices and isolated during what should be the best time of her life, readers are sure to identify with Laurel as she confronts teen pregnancy, in secret.

Positively Mine is the first – and so far only – book by author Christine Duval. I had never heard of the author beforehand but having read this book, I have started following her online to keep up with future releases. Her book was excellent!

Duval’s first book reads as anything but. I am floored by her debut, even more so due to the fact that the ‘young woman has baby while still in highschool/uni and tries to keep it a secret’ idea isn’t exactly original, and yet, this is likely the best book I have read in the subgenre. Her pacing throughout was exceptional and there was back-story to frame the main character’s state of mind. Even if I, as the reader, didn’t agree with her decisions, she didn’t annoy me.  I generally find that you want to leap into the pages and shake the main character for continuing to follow a path that will go nowhere, but I thoroughly enjoyed her journey, without losing patience.  Pacing I tell ya, it makes all the difference.

It was easy to put myself into Laurel’s position and understand her decisions, whether you have ever found yourself in that position or not. Whether due to a coincidence of personality traits between myself and Laurel, or to the exceptional writing of Duval, I related to the character and found myself believing that in many ways, I would act the same way. I don’t want to expand on this point too much because of spoilers, but I will say that Laurel’s tendency to keep quiet, to keep her head down and work on a specific path almost with blinders on, not looking too far ahead because its overwhelming and feeling that if I can just survive this course of action and finish it I’ll deal with ‘come what may’ afterward … well, that’s is generally my coping mechanism for similar situations.  I’m doing it now, in my own way. This really allowed me to mentally jump into the story and feel as if it was happening to me.

This book has been on my to-read shelf on goodreads for awhile, I added it sometime in 2014. I can’t remember exactly how I found it, but I think I was searching genres and lists on the website looking for books and added to my shelf a whole bunch which sounded good, but didn’t quite fit my mood that day. So last Friday evening when I was home sick and looking for a way to pass the evening, I rediscovered this book and found a new series to love. I’m almost thankful for that monster headache that cancelled my plans.

After finishing Positively Mine, I did some research and found out that a sequel is expected sometime in Autumn 2015, but no title has been announced yet. If this sounds like its up your alley, you could also try searching for the Freshman Forty series. The author seems active in responding to questions on the book’s goodreads page, so I started following her there and hopefully will get a reminder closer to about the sequel.

I highly recommend this book for any teen or young adult!

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