Cheri Reviews Capturing Forever by Erin Dutton

I’ve been following Erin Dutton since she first started publishing. I truly loved Fully Involved and A Place to Rest but have been disappointed to varying degrees by the rest. I’ve read all of her books with the exception of For the Love of Cake. When I saw that Capturing Forever dealt with a long-term couple who had separated but are now interacting with each other again, I decided to give it a shot. I’m one half of a long-term couple and like to see folks work out their issues to come back together. I also like that the plot is something different from the norm; a rebuilding and repairing rather than the excitement and unknown of the first time.

Here’s the blurb:

Jacqueline Knight is driven and ambitious, always focused on getting to the top. But when her father’s failing health demands her attention, she must consider putting her career on hold. Though she struggles with her new responsibilities, she won’t admit she can’t do it alone. And the last person she wants to accept help from is her ex, Casey.

Since their breakup eight years before, Casey Meadow s has concentrated on co-parenting their son and making a new life for herself. While she’s happy to offer her help, spending time with Jacqueline threatens to open the box in which she’s locked away their past relationship.

Will the lessons learned in eight years apart be enough to mend the mistakes of the past?

I was drawn in pretty quickly and came to care about the main characters, Casey and Jacqueline. The blurb, I think, is misleading though because Jacqueline very quickly accepts Casey’s help and comes to rely on her. They become a team in taking care of the man that Casey considers her own surrogate father since she lost her parents many years earlier. Throw into the mix their twenty year old son, Sean, a mutual good friend, Casey’s jealous girlfriend, and Jacqueline’s casual sex partner and there’s plenty of drama and potential obstacles to our leads reconnecting as friends, let alone anything deeper.

I was happy and feeling like the author had recaptured the story telling that made me such a fan early on. That is, however, until I got to about 80% in. At that point, Jacqueline’s feelings of self-pity and her inability to talk about the biggest thing that she felt stood in their way got to be too much for me. I don’t want to go into it too much for fear of spoilers but it was the same thing we see so much of in romance novels: intentional lack of communication for use as a plot device when it doesn’t feel authentic.

Along with the communication issues, the conclusion was rushed. All of the important stuff about the relationship and how they were going about making the problems of the past not follow them into a new relationship were glossed over in a couple of paragraphs as narrative instead of letting us see the changes. More attention was given to how seeing each other in different outfits made them aroused than how they were actually making it work. I cared about the characters and their relationship and wanted to experience them fixing the things that tore them apart, not to have it all neatly wrapped up for me. I remember feeling this way about several of the author’s books over the past few years.

So, while I went into the book with low expectations based on the past few books, I was very pleasantly surprised with the first 70% or so and then completely let down by the last 30%. The plot was predicable – I called nearly everything that was going to happen within the first few chapters – and I would have been ok with that if the conclusion hadn’t been so rushed and the communication issues would have felt legitimate.

If you enjoyed the author’s previous work, you’ll very likely be happy with this one. I’m sure I’ll read more from Dutton in the future, and probably pick up For the Love of Cake at some point, too. I can’t seem to help myself.

I received a copy of Capturing Forever from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You can download a sample or purchase Capturing Forever by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews Officer Down by Erin Dutton

I nabbed an advanced copy of Erin Dutton’s upcoming novel, Officer Down. If you don’t have time to watch the video, here’s the verdict: I enjoyed the book and I was skeptical because I’d been disappointed by the last few of her books (I haven’t read For the Love of Cake so I can’t speak to that one). This one felt much more like the Dutton of old, whose work I loved.

More than Friends by Erin Dutton

From the blurb: Evelyn Fisher thinks she has the perfect role model for a long-term relationship, until her best friends, Kendall and Melanie, split up and all three women must reevaluate their lives and their relationships.

Evelyn is a hard-working cop that has never known her two friends as separate entities. She has never been satisfied with her short relationships, because they have all fallen short of Kendall and Melanie’s picture-perfect life. But behind the scenes, the couple has become nothing more than roommates that are too tired of each other to even bother fighting anymore. Melanie calls it off and, before too long, she and Evelyn begin having feelings for each other that they never expected.

I enjoyed Erin Dutton’s latest because it showed the most common failure of relationships – the slow death of love. Many books and movies focus on that one big thing that made something break. Adultery, alcoholism, abuse. But, most times, there is no “big thing.” More often than not, there is slow growth of the two parties, gradually pulling them farther and farther away from each other. This was portrayed realistically by Dutton, without either woman looking like the “bad guy.” I enjoyed reading about the new relationship as well, including the obvious guilt and drama associated with someone falling in love with their best friend’s very recent ex.

The writing is smooth, although it could’ve helped to be about 50-100 pages longer to give the protagonists more time to believably work out all the associated issues, including Evelyn’s friendship with Kendall. I’ve only read one other book by Dutton (Fully Involved), but I’ve enjoyed both, and I might like this one more. It might take another read before I know for sure, though. Overall, I definitely recommend it.

Reviewed by Nikki Little

Click here to purchase More Than Friends

A Perfect Match by Erin Dutton

I’ve been a fan of Erin Dutton for a long time and A Perfect Match was the only book of hers that I hadn’t read. I’ve enjoyed all of Dutton’s books, some more than others, but I’ve not really been disappointed by any of them. So why wait more than two years to buy A Perfect Match? Because I hate spending $10 ($11 at BSB) for a short book. I know, I know, that may be a lame reason but it’s the truth. I think this was classified by Bold Strokes Books as a Matinee book because you could read it in an afternoon. I just don’t think it’s fair to charge the same price for a 300 page novel as a novella under 200. So anyway, I got a gift card for my birthday and felt ok about buying it since someone gave me the money.

A Perfect Match starts off with closeted pro golfer Tiernan O’Shea being outed and dumped, very publicly, as she’s heading out to start a tournament. That tournament is being covered by reporter Elena Pilar, also a closeted lesbian. A couple weeks later, they’re paired up in a pro-am charity tournament and discover their mutual attraction.

So, did I like the short book? Yeah, I did. I liked the characters and the story but, to be very honest, it was just too short. I like short stories but this felt like it should have been a full length novel but wasn’t developed enough. There was so much that, honestly, should have been developed because leaving the story as it is just feels like it was rushed. As I watched the pages tick away, I kept thinking, “the wrap up is going to be too easy and quick,” and it was.

These characters had some very complex issues and I would have loved to see some actual resolution but instead most arcs were just left hanging. As I was reading the book, I was engaged and connected to the characters, just like I usually am with the author’s work, and I looked forward to seeing how it would end, how she would either bring Tiernan and Elena together or, maybe, not have them be able to overcome the barriers and walk away from each other, even though I knew that would be a longshot.

With several hours gone since I finished the book last night, I guess I am a little more disappointed than I initially thought I was. Am I happy I read it? Yeah. Did I enjoy it? Yeah, I did. Do I think it would have been better with fully fleshed out characters and story arcs? Absolutely.

So I guess the bottom line is that if you’re a die-hard Dutton fan, suck it up and buy it or ask someone to loan it to you or pick it up when you get a gift card or it goes on sale. If you’re new to the author’s work, don’t start with this one. Start with Fully Involved or A Place to Rest and go from there.

Click to buy A Perfect Match by Erin Dutton

Point of Ignition by Erin Dutton

This is the latest by Erin Dutton. It’s her second book dealing with fire fighters. Well, this one focused on Kate Chambers, a fire fighter who had been injured and moved into investigation side of the job. She’s not happy about the move but is committed to being god at her new job. Her first case involves proving arson at a sports bar and finding the guilty party. Here she meets, and is instantly attracted to, Alexi Clark, the co-owner of said bar.

While the book was your standard lesbian romance, two emotionally damaged women who are attracted to each other but know they shouldn’t get involved, and the mystery was easy to figure out, I still enjoyed it. I like Dutton’s style of writing. No matter the story, her characters are genuine and draw me in. I also have to say that I was thrilled to see a woman of color as one of the main characters. I’ve only read maybe a handful of lesbian romance novels that have had non-white woman in a leading role. It was refreshing, as was the fact that Alexi’s race was really a non-issue throughout the book.

I’m looking forward to picking up her next release which is slated for April.