Review: Ever After Always by Chloe Liese (2021)

Bergman Brothers, Book #3

Review of Bergman Brothers, Book 1

Heat Factor: There’s some pining and petting in the middle and some sex at the end

Character Chemistry: These guys love each other so much they lie by omission to protect the other party. Like, a lot. 

Plot: Aiden and Freya are having a tough time. But they also really want to fix what’s going on, so they put in the hard work to make their marriage stronger. 

Overall: I really wanted to like this book. Everything sounds great on paper. But I didn’t get that serotonin boost that I’m looking for when I got to the HEA.

When you list the attributes of this book out in bullet points, I am all in:

  • Seducing my spouse! 
  • Characters go to counseling together!
  • Everyone reads romance novels – and even quote Kleypas to each other!
  • Thoughtful portrayal of anxiety!

But when I actually read it, I was frankly kinda bored. It took me ages to get through. Ages despite competent prose and several funny scenes and a very rude parrot. After thinking it over a bit, I’ve decided that my disconnect stems from three sources: one that is entirely personal to me, one that stems from this book being part of a series, and one that I think is a little more about craft and the way the book is written. 

Let’s start with the personal gripe. Reading a romance about people with utterly relatable and mundane problems was just too real. I don’t want to read about a marriage growing apart because she thinks he works too much and doesn’t have time for the family. I read romance for fun and escapism – if I wanted dreary real-world problems, I would read literary fiction. When I finished the book I texted Erin asking for some mafia romance recommendations (WHY HOLLY WHY) because I needed a bonkers plot. (Instead of mafia romance, because seriously, that is not actually my jam at all, I followed this with a chaser of Lush Money, which is exactly the amount of bonkers I needed right now.) 

Problem number two: Ever After Always is the third book in a series about a family with a ton of kids. Yes, each story stands alone, but there are a million secondary characters with weird Nordic names and I was at least a third of the way through the book before I had figured out who everyone was. 

But the biggest shortcoming of the book is that I’m not sure that Freya has much personality. I know that she’s athletic and likes to sing. Other characters – mostly Aiden – tell the reader that Freya is super empathetic and feels others’ emotions really strongly (hence him not telling her when he starts struggling), but I don’t recall seeing much evidence of this on the page in either her thoughts or her actions. Aiden was an extremely well-developed character – I got a really good sense of what he was struggling with and what motivated him – but after finishing the book, I couldn’t tell you much about what was going on with Freya except that she felt dissatisfied with her marriage and didn’t tell Aiden until she couldn’t hold it in anymore. Basically, both Freya and Aiden spend a lot of time processing Aiden. 

I think, in the end, that this is not a bad book, it’s just not the right book for me right now. 

PS: Freya refers to Aiden’s forearms as her “catnip” and it was utterly jarring.

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

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