by Roslyn Sinclair
Narrated by Abby Craden
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
I listened to the audio versions of this series, narrated by Abby Craden. Craden is a fantastic voice actor. She portrayed both characters beautifully. Their personalities really come through and her inflections are spot on. I also found her interpretation of the supporting characters enjoyable. Everyone had their own voice that made them easily identifiable.
I was ridiculously excited for these books. I have read the author’s other works and can say with confidence she is one of my favorite sapphic romance writers. The Carlisle series is what easily solidified this.
One of the big things I want to point out about this series (or duology really) is that it is actually a series. Let me clarify. It is very common for lesfic books to be in a “series” but not exactly be about the same characters. Often a book will be about characters A and B, then the next book will focus on character C that had been a part of the story in the background. You wouldn’t need to read the first book, or read them in order, to enjoy them. The Carlisle series breaks this tradition. Book two picks up one week after the first and keeps the same main characters, same writing style, and continues the established plot. I absolutely loved this. I’m a sucker for a nice long story that really lets us get to know characters and enjoy them to the fullest.
Another thing this series does that’s a bit different than most lesfics is that it follows one of the two protagonists the whole way instead of alternating chapters from both perspectives. This is not unique to these books, it just doesn’t happen as often. I admit I usually don’t like this as much, but this was the perfect narrative choice for the story being told and I’m very glad the author chose to do this.
Truth And Measure
Truth and Measure feels like it hits the ground running. I will admit it was actually a bit of a shock to the system. It felt a bit like catching a movie just after the opening credits, but before anything actually relevant to the plot happened. This was a little bit hard to shake right away. Additionally there are several names sort of thrown at you very early too. Some of these names aren’t entirely necessary to remember in detail for the majority of the plot. Since the story centers around the fashion industry I can completely understand why names would be used so much. That whole “it’s who you know” concept that rules industries like this seems like the reason. These were really my only criticisms in this book and this only felt overwhelming for maybe a fourth of the book or less.
I will say you had better love a good slow-burn because this book does that to perfection. It establishes the intense budding romance between 42 year old Vivian Carlisle and her personal assistant, 26 year old, Julia Moretti. The narrative following Julia the entire time really puts us in her shoes as she tries to figure out her feelings for her boss, a boss that is very guarded with her emotions, and with good reason. Vivian is the lead editor of a major fashion magazine. Very wealthy and very well known. While Vivian comes off cold and uncaring, we start to see just what she isn’t saying right along with Julia. This is why I am happy the perspective sticks with her. Vivian would feel like a very different character if we were privilege to her internal dialog the same way we are with Julia. I adore these characters so much. They complement each other very well and the growth they go through feels so natural for them. I was genuinely on edge wanting to know how they were going to circumnavigate all of the glaring issues they faced, namely figuring out exactly what was between them and how they would deal with the boss and assistant complication.
The book ends with a relatively shocking metaphorical gut punch to Julia that not so much changes the direction of the narrative, but sets up for one that evolves. Nothing is really resolved by the end other than them actually acknowledging there is more there than they thought and acting on it. Now they are going to have a very different set of challenges to face.
Above All Things
This next book picks up one week after the events of the previous one. Pining is no longer one of the major points of the narrative, which means we are way past slow-burn territory. The entirety of this book is Julia and Vivian trying to balance their careers and figure out exactly how deep their feelings go, including how deep into family territory they want to go. Both books are very well written in terms of the emotional impact, but I have to say I enjoyed this one more. This book was an emotional rollercoaster! Lots of tense moments, sweet laugh out loud ones, and yes plenty of sexy times as well. So often a situation would arise, an argument or shocking declaration, and I legitimately would not know how they would resolve it. Julia and Vivian would often hit moments where communication would be an issue, but these were not long and drawn out. Working through these is really the backbone of the narrative and it was satisfying to see both characters learning how to have healthy conversations, particularly in Vivian’s case. Vivian’s growth was fantastic and I feel had a bigger place in the story than Julia’s, though there was that aspect as well.
This was one of those books that even though they definitely hit an important climax of the story, I would want to just keep seeing more about their relationship and lives overall. The author wrote such interesting characters with great interactions. I find myself feeling sad I have nothing more to read of them, but where the story ends does make sense for the narrative. This was a fantastic romance that really highlights the obstacles and work involved in a relationship that’s worth fighting for.
I can say with confidence that I HIGHLY recommend this series for anyone that loves a well balanced romance full of drama laughs, and sexy bits. Well written characters are what made this story fantastic and had me rereading several times.
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