This post includes reviews of the currently available books in the Aster Valley series:
- Winter Waites (#0.5)
- Right as Raine (#1)
- Sweet as Honey (#2)
- Hot as Heller (#3)
Winter Waites (Book 0.5)
This novella serves as an excellent introduction to Lennox’s latest series and her writing as a whole. There is a certain element of insta-love due to the story’s length, but once the two men meet properly, their chemistry is natural. Honestly, my only quibble is whether Winter finishes Genry’s hand rehab since that subject is rather abruptly dropped in favor of their whirlwind romance.
Gentry certainly takes care of Winter in the only way he knows how from a distance, which is both romantic and a bit overwhelming. The story has less of a dark moment and more of a “can this actually work between us?” revelation that was sweet to see come about. The epilogue introduces us to new faces that I look forward to learning more about as this series progresses, and I hope Winter and Gentry continue to be frequent side characters.
Right as Raine (Book 1)
First of all, I’m not a football fan. Spouse used to watch the game, but he stopped supporting the game based on reports of the long-term health effects of players. Not only does Lennox do a great job in having her characters acknowledge that concern, but she also makes the book completely accessible to those who do not understand or care about the game. She even made me care about the games in the book, which I have to applaud.
Mikey and Raine have quietly developed a relationship neither of them dared acknowledge even to themselves as long as they’re so much under the thumb of Mikey’s father and Raine’s coach, who happens to be the same man. Lennox excellently portrays the double-standard of supporting a person regardless of their sexual orientation while also pressuring the person not to act on that portion of their life (i.e., it’s okay to be gay, but don’t go out and date anyone and BE gay). It’s terrible that an injury is what gives Raine and Mikey the freedom to finally explore what each man means to the other, but that’s pretty much the nature of the game (pun intended).
I fell in love with Aster Valley as much as Mikey and Raine do. While I predicted some of the book’s eventual outcome, I did not expect the road Lennox took to get the reader there. These characters more than deserve the happily ever after they’ve worked toward, and I look forward to seeing them pop up in future installments of this sweet series.
Sweet as Honey (Book 2)
True to its title, the romance featured in this book is pretty dang adorable. Sam is a genuine caretaker but doesn’t treat Truman like a child, and Truman realizes that the care Sam gives him can help with his own self-confidence. It’s basically a match made in heaven, especially given their delicious sexual chemistry. The only flaw in the plan is that Sam is only visiting Aster Valley, away from his family and career in Houston.
On the other hand, this book also features a fascinating dose of mystery and small-town drama for a dash of excellent depth. Truman is blamed for an incident that almost brought the town to ruin over twenty years ago, and he’s regularly targeted by the local sheriff and members of his family. This places Sam in the crosshairs, as well. Bouncing between the plots is how the local librarian might be involved, especially since he has obvious feelings for Truman.
This story engrossed me as the romance and external plot intertwined seamlessly with the bevy of other familiar faces in town from previous books in this series. As a bonus, Sam does not “save” Truman from the drama that faces him in town. Instead, he helps Truman with the tools (internal and external) he needs to solve the mystery and fix the problems himself.
I’m a bit in love with this town and these characters, and even though I read this book on the day it was released, I already can’t wait for the next in the series.
Hot as Heller (Book 3)
The author mentioned on her social media that this book isn’t an age-gap romance so much as a romance between two men who are at very different places in their lives. This echoes through pretty much all of the initial interactions between Finn and Declan, especially since Declan views Finn as representative of everything he left behind in Los Angeles for small-town Aster Valley. Except the growing attraction between them is very real, despite both men’s best intentions. Part of me then assumed that this book would devolve into a “hide it from the media” trope, so the fact that Finn is an out actor and has no problem with reaching out to Declan for help was a refreshing change.
Because they are, as stated above, at different places in their lives, most of the external conflict rests on Finn’s shoulders, from how he relates to his career to how he interacts with the people who surround him. Declan is so adorably supportive, even when he assumes that his heart will ultimately be broken, that I couldn’t help fall in love with these characters as they fell in love with each other.
Lennox does an excellent job of setting up the scope of the “black moment” at the end of the book, but even though the situation doesn’t fall out as initially presented, it loses none of its tension. I’ve loved all of the couples in this series so far, but none of them deserve their happily ever after as much as Finn and Declan.