Literarily For Keeps AND Freedom’s Kiss

Sarah Monzon kept me company on my travels last week with both Literarily for Keeps and Freedom’s Kiss. I only had one problem: I wanted to read both at the same time and didn’t want to put either down to read the other. It’s tough wanting to read ALL THE BOOKS.

About the Book: Literarily for Keeps

literarily for keepsShe only has to pretend to be married for five days. What’s the worst that could happen? 

Literature professor Ashleigh Darmody never imagined her life would turn into a classic trope, but that’s exactly what happens when her sister Claire calls with a bizarre request–quickly find a fake husband. Backstory is a powerful thing, and Ashleigh’s has plenty of shadows, but is her past so shady that it requires an elaborate scheme to ensure Claire’s prospective father-in-law, renowned TV evangelist Ken Abrams, will give her his blessing to marry his son? 
Already divorced from a man who turned out to be other than he claimed, Ashleigh now has to pretend to be blissfully married to a stranger for the next five days. But when the lines of fiction and reality blur with each tick of the clock, could a temporary deal turn into something for keeps?

About the Book: Freedom’s Kiss

Freedoms kissThey were both prisoners of their past. Could legacy be the key to setting them free? 

Olivia Arroyo knows who she is and where she’s going—her sense of family responsibility a stepping stone to her dream of becoming a chef. When her employer refuses her the chance to move from server to the kitchen, she makes another opportunity for herself with the owner of a new food truck. But her life derails when a hidden piece of her past suddenly comes to light, and she discovers everything she thought she knew about herself has been a lie. 

A single decision can have innumerable consequences—a truth that has changed Adam Carrington’s life. A criminal defense attorney turned food truck owner, he is haunted by his role in an unpardonable act and driven by his need to make restitution. Unexpected help comes in the form of a feisty, raven-haired beauty, but she soon begins challenging his kitchen as well as his heart. 

Florida, 1816 
Propelled by a fleeting hope of freedom, Winnie and her family escape slavery and find refuge and new life with the Seminole Indians of Florida. But their future is still uncertain as threats of war, a return to slavery, and removal to the west shake their tentative grasp on freedom. Will they ever step out of the shadow of fear to leave a legacy of deliverance?

My Thoughts

I’ve yet to meet a Sarah Monzon book I haven’t liked and these two add to the count. I’ve had Freedom’s Kiss patiently waiting for me for awhile, and Literarily for Keeps just came out. I thought it’d be fun to focus on one author while traveling and so loaded both on my ereader (and on the Ipad, and the phone, because, you know, things happen and you don’t want to be BOOKLESS).

The books share some similarities: solid characters, contemporary settings, toe curling romance, and tough topics. Both stories deal with sexual abuse, so trigger warning for some. Personally, I think Sarah did great job of lending gravity and the seriousness the situations without requiring a box of Kleenex, breaking the tension with well placed levity. I also appreciate her note at the end of Freedom’s Kiss. Throughout both stories, Sarah weaves faith in naturally, never getting preachy while incorporating solid Biblical truths. Her characters aren’t perfect and have made mistakes, but all learn that God takes us as we are, not where we think we should be.

Literarily for KeepsThis is a quick fun read perfect for passing a Sunday afternoon. But don’t think it’s too sweet. It’s a first person narrative (which I usually avoid, but guys, it’s Sarah Monzon, so I couldn’t not read it) with an internal monologe that I related to so often, I wondered if Sarah had tapped into my own head. Granted, I don’t have quite as many literary reference bobbing around, but I think most will relate to the rambling monologue that frequently occurs in those 5 seconds before you make a decision but if you wrote it all down would take 3 pages.

Freedom’s Kiss: I’m a Carrington family fan for sure; weekly game night sounds ideal. For the first two books we see Adam as a secondary character, but I kept wondering what was going on with him and what his story was; now I know. I was a little surprised at how quickly the romance developed, but it made such a great platform for romantic tension for the rest of the story and allowed some toe curls. When I think about, Adam is such a passionate and compassionate man, he couldn’t help but jump in with his whole heart right away- he’s all or nothing.

I appreciated getting to know a slice of history I wasn’t familiar with and ended up with some time on Google reading up, so I know Sarah was trying to fit a long timeline in, but I found the secondary historic story a little jumpy at times. Being light skin, it will always be hard to understand the struggles that can come with dark, but I feel that I gained some understanding, especially of the Native American culture of that area. The book opened up a conversation for me with a Native American friend where we could talk points of spirituality. As she’s not a believer, I was happy to have some thoughtful questions I could ask as a result about the culture she was raised in and share a bit of my faith with her.

I received a copy of Freedom’s Kiss from the author. I was not required to post a review. These opinions are my own.

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