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    4.5 stars- Chemistry that ignites the pages

    I read Moment of Fate based on a recommendation and a tease of a fantastically hot and fun scene. I was assured I could read this book (the fifth of the series) out of order, so I dove right in…and pretty much loved everything about it. The characters were fantastic, the dialogue fun and flirty without being silly, and the romance was SEXY. The book is told entirely from a single first person narrative, using a stream of consciousness style. It is effortless, but polished, and a joy to read. Due to the style, there are disruptions to the flow, predominantly interjections of internalized thoughts during the dialogue. Those aspects I loved. It added humor and kept a smile almost permanently plastered to my face. However, when it switched between narrating/ retelling a moment and those reflections, it was a tad abrupt and through me off. I think this was just a matter of getting accustomed to the style and pacing, because it felt less disruptive as the story progressed. The tone was upbeat, peppered with humor, with a good mix of introspective moments and some angst. The characters were fantastic. Bryan and Oliver had depth to their personality, but were fun and lively. I especially liked how their interests and education background played a part in their thoughts. Since the book was exclusively from Bryan’s POV, most of those insights were his. For example, he described moments like photos- the framing, light, ambiance, but Oliver’s writing also played a significant aspect in the story. Weaving these details into the narrative and interactions made the characters pop and come to life. Not only were the individual characters personable, but Oliver and Bryan were equally great as a couple. The fluid flow in conversations between serious topics and silly puns or side remarks made for an authentic romance. They complimented each other well, and it was evident early on there was more than lust fueling their budding relationship. Throughout their story, there was an underlying sweetness that made me sigh, and the chemistry was emotional and physically palpable. I do have to comment how crazy amazing the sex scenes were. I know having that intense emotional connection and chemistry ramped up the heat factor, but in general the scenes were smoking. There was a good variety too- different scenarios, environments, and emotions fueled each interaction, preventing any chance of monotony. The conflicts were also well flushed out and the resolutions thorough. I liked that the author factored in Bryan’s chronic illness throughout the plot, how it weighed on him and influenced everything, yet he railed against it changing his life. That felt honest and was woven into the storyline just as a chronic illness permeates every aspect of one’s life. The outside influences on their relationship worked as well, strengthening them and sometimes stirring up conflict. And up until the last portion, I liked the couple’s unknown futures weighing on Bryan while he kept trying to simply live in the moment. It was believable, and even though they weren’t communicating about it, it didn’t feel like self-sabotage. Until it turned into exactly that. I take issue with the miscommunication plot point. It’s so frequently used that it’s become a sore point for me. Sometimes the scenario works and make sense for the characters. For the most part, the way things occurred fit with Bryan’s personality, but it made me love this story a little less. I liked how it ultimately concluded. I even liked aspects of how the major conflict went down. However, anytime the major miscommunication happens in a book, I cringe. Overall, Moment of Fate was a fantastic read and certainly had no issue standing alone, so don’t let the #5 stop you from adding this to your shelf immediately. The characters are unique with a vibrant narrative that is sure to leave you with a smile. The chemistry was off the charts, which is always a win in my book. This was one of the hottest books I’ve read in a while. The scenes were descriptive but never monotonous, and there was a steady emotional current that made the scenes that much better. Definitely a book I’ll recommend often to friends, and a series I’ll be going back to read from the beginning. *Reviewed for Alpha Book Club*
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    Sexy friends to lovers romance!

    Moment of Fate is the fifth story in Karen Stivali’s sexy new adult/contemporary romance series Moments in Time. I’ve enjoyed every story in the series to date and had been looking forward to more, so this story came with high expectations – and I’m happy to say it delivered! Bryan Dane’s yearlong sex hiatus since a fellow friend was diagnosed as HIV positive has been going well, and he’s on the home stretch. With summer college classes in photography by day and playing with his rock band at night, he’s been busy enough not to miss the intimacy too much. When fellow student Oliver Newcastle leaves behind a journal that Bryan finds, it’s the first step to a new friendship. Oliver is spending three months in New York ‘finding himself’. Back home he’d been engaged to a female friend for ages, but she’d found someone else and he’s decided it’s time for him to move in a new direction. Just out of the closet, he’s determined to experience the sights and sounds of NYC and blog about the experience, a far cry from his small town in New England. With Bryan’s help, he’s going to dive into new adventures. But the more time he and Bryan spend together, the more they can’t deny the attraction that exists between them. Bryan’s willing to end his self-imposed celibacy for Oliver, but when the summer is over, will it mean the end of the relationship that has suddenly become much more to both of them? What a great story! I loved the combination of Bryan, who is experienced and comfortable living as an out gay man, with Oliver who has had some limited same-sex experiences but has only recently come out of the closet. Bryan’s got some interesting friends and they have some equally interesting parties, making for some funny, sexy, and sometimes awkward scenes. I also liked that they don’t just dive into sex right away, as Bryan is serious about not having random hookups and hasn’t entered into another relationship since he found his ex-cheating on him (hello baggage). Things between them proceed from friendship to intimacy at a measured pace, but they don’t hold back once they’ve decided to go all in, resulting in some steamy and emotionally intense scenes. Bryan’s baggage doesn’t just come from a bad breakup. He’s got chronic lyme disease which manifests itself in different painful ways when he’s under stress. It also causes him to have anxiety attacks. He ends up revealing the disease to Oliver very early in their relationship, something he’s never shared with any other friend and is the first step to the trust that develops between them. But Bryan only holds to that trust so far – he knows Oliver is planning to go home after the summer and doesn’t want to get too emotionally involved. It causes him to make some decisions that create rocky times for this couple. Through it all Oliver is steadfast. The blog that he writes is very entertaining to read and I liked that the author put those posts in the story. He’s a caring man and a thoughtful friend. There are some sweet scenes with Bryan’s young niece Phoebe and Bryan’s sister Suzi plays an important role in the story as well. In the end, Bryan and Oliver get a well deserved happy ending. Moments of Fate is a sexy and entertaining friends to lovers romance.
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