Cover Image: Back to September

Back to September

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book received through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was excited when I saw this book. I have read other Melissa Brayden romances and they are always enjoyable, so I couldn't wait to get this one. The fact that this one was set in a bookstore only made it more interesting. Hannah is a bookstore owner fighting to keep her shop going. She enjoys historical books and isn't interested in romance books. One of her workers convinces her to arrange a book signing event at the store with one of the most popular romance authors: Parker. Sparks fly between both women and they strike a friendship that soon develops into something more. 

I loved it. The plot is based on a relationship that seems unlikely to survive: two people from very different backgrounds, with different jobs and different personalities manage to overcome all those obstacles to simply be together. Hannah and Parker's scenes together were unbelievably cute. Their personalities shined in the moments they shared through funny dialogues that pulled you in and made you root for them. 

To point out something I didn't like that much, I should probably say that some of Parker's decisions were questionable at best. The fact that the whole story is told from Hannah's point of view makes them more difficult to understand, but on the other hand, manages to reflect Hannah's own feelings. 

If you enjoy cute romances, with some angst and funny dialogues, this is a perfect book for you.
Was this review helpful?
When the bookshop owner Hannah hosts a book signing for romance novelists Parker, sparks begin to fly. They begin to discover new things about themselves and one another. But when things get serious, they wonder if the spark is enough.

Similar to Hannah's opinions on romance novels, I'm not big on the stereotypical romance stories. However, like Parker, Melissa Brayden's writing captivated me to not put this book down. The story is different than most lesbian romances and brings the characters to life.
Was this review helpful?
I usually love Melissa Brayden's books, but this was just an okay read. I liked the chemistry between th two main characters but I was missing more interaction between them.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really cute romance! I loved the bookstore backdrop-- it's always fun to read about characters who love books as much as I do! The characters were sweet, if a little stereotypical and two dimensional. Overall, it was a fun time!
Was this review helpful?
Melissa Brayden is back with another fabulous heart pounding romance with Back to September!  The incorrigible Hannah, is a bookstore owner who has a tendency to roll her eyes at romance novels.  But business is slacking off a bit lately so she petitions to have a famous romance author, Parker Bristow come in for a book signing to drum up some business.  Parker and Hannah are complete opposites, they meet, sparks fly and... they turn to someone else. Won't say more here except, if you haven't read any of Brayden's novels, you are missing out!  She's simply wonderful at bringing out the best in her characters and creating features of friends we all have.  Must read and a delight!
Was this review helpful?
I think this story would be a dream come true for most readers...own their own book store, have a famous author come into the store, and fall in love...overall it was a fun, cozy read that had some amazing characters. A bit of drama but the drama just made the story even better. I think I’m seriously going to make this my read in the month of September book, just for fun...if you’re a Brayden fan you’ve probably already read this or plan to. If you haven’t read any books by Melissa Brayden I encourage you to give this one a go...ya never know it might just be your next favorite!
Was this review helpful?
Reading a Melissa Brayden novel is like cozying up by the fire, sipping wine and just...enjoy! She never disappoints with either her characters or the story itself. I could continue to read her novels endlessly. Five big hearts for Back to September!
Was this review helpful?
*I received a free digital ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Romance not necessarily at its best

There were many brilliant moments inside this, but just as many terrible ones. To start with, a book about books should be exciting, especially with people who absolutely love books and reading, and share that as much as possible. All the geeky stuff, the shared knowledge to help people find their “perfect book match”. That was wonderful. It was the romance aspect that let this all down.

One thing I found difficult to handle was that there was more than one “high” point. We have everything going brilliantly, switching to things fading out, switching to things going fantastically brilliantly again (eked out so far that it became boring), up to things going dramatically badly, but ending with an HEA. I’m sure huge chunks of this could have been cut out, as it’s not the idea that the reader gets bored in the middle. So the dramatic part (which didn’t feel so dramatic), which is supposed to hit at two thirds, actually felt like it came late.

The HEA, once it finally did come (after we had a fake HEA before that) was a great ending. It’s just the journey to there that was far too messy for my tastes.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK
Was this review helpful?
Brayden has mastered the formula of lesbian romance fiction. In this novel, there's a variation which is refreshing for the reader.

I found the connection between Hannah and Parker quite superficial at the start and I wasn't overly engaged, but Brayden slowly delivered the feels and unwrapped a full-blooded love story.
Was this review helpful?
Let me start by saying that this is a very sweet and gentle book that I did not finish. For me, it was too gentle at times, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Hannah seems like such a nice person to know, and she is so sincere and earnest with her bookselling business (strangely enough, as a librarian, I found her book worship a little over the top… but I guess my books are used and hers are new... you don’t really want to pat your books when you know they’ve been checked out 50 times and have mystery stains on them). I did identify with her change of attitude towards romance novels. I used to participate in some of that snobbery, I admit it, but now it’s my favorite genre. A good romance novel can smack you in the face with emotion in a way that other genres just don’t.

Sadly, this book did not emotion-smack me. It lacked tension. It took me a long time to really feel the connection between Parker and Hannah. Part of it could be the distance between them, but I don’t think so. It didn’t feel like there was any real longing between them. The build up could certainly have been stronger. They connect a little here, a little there. Do some deeds. But I didn’t feel it. Hannah narrates the book, and I think her narration contributes to the sense of not enough tension. She is a gentle person, I daresay even a bit boring. A boring narrator makes for a boring book. Also, at times there was not enough sentence variety. Every sentence would start with an I. This makes sense because this is how people think, but it doesn’t make for my favorite reading experience.

I think this book would have been better had the heat and tension been kicked up a couple notches. Possibly it did, and I just missed it because I gave up about 70% through. Still, it makes for a cozy, lady-lovin’ read, and if that is your jam, then this book is for you.
Was this review helpful?
There's no question about the fact that Melissa Brayden is a good writer. I always enjoy her books, but lately they'd been getting a little too formulaic and I always found her style of dialogue a little too hipster-y. I'm pleased to say she's gone in a completely different direction with this book, breaking the boundaries of lesbian romance and outdoing herself in the process. The plot was very unexpected and so different from the usual romance formula. The characters were both incredibly well developed, the dialogue was fantastic, the angst was so well written I was reduced to tears several times. I'm not normally a fan of first-person narratives but it really worked here, and I was still able to get a clear understanding of Parker's feelings even though the book was written from Hannah's perspective. I prefer this new side of the author to her previous feel-good style and I hope she keeps this going!
Was this review helpful?
4/5. I actually loved the book and thought it was Melissa Brayden best book in years. I was able to connect emotionally with both Parker and Hannah.
One of my main complaint is the same as in any book from this author: the lack of communication. It's always the same in all of her books. First, the character met up, fall in love, talk or not about their issues. Secondly a big lack of communication moment and then it ends well.  If you read one of her books, you basically read all of her other books. Just that at some point you connect more with some of her characters.

Also, this book feel less about Hannah and Parker yet all about Hannah and Parker when it seems like the main focus what supposed to be Hannah.
Was this review helpful?
To be honest I'm not a fan of books written and narrated as the first person, so I was a bit dubious about reading 'Back to September' add to the mix that this book was slightly different to the other books that I have read by Melissa Brayden, but I can honestly say hand on heart I loved it and MB has done it again. She has a good one here. 

Hannah and Parker are great characters with an instant attraction, but the story isn't that straightforward, there are quite a few twists in their path.

Would I recommend: Yes a great story with some hot romance going on
Was this review helpful?
Melissa Brayden  has a way of developing characters that as a reader you get a real feel for who these women are. The same is true in this story only we get to know Hannah, a local independent book shop owner who is very comfortable and happy in her life. She has a problem in that the bookshop  is not making enough money and she may lose it. Along comes nationally known romance writer Parker who does a reading at the shop and gets the shop moving in a positive light financially. It is clear that there was an initial connection between the two women but neither was looking for a relationship.  What happens from this point unto  The very end of the novel took me on a remarkable roller coaster of emotions. Because I felt so much for the two lead characters but what they went through truly had me on the verge of tears and on the verge of laughter. I love when an author has the ability  to take me on an adventure that ends at the very end of the book. If this is your cup of tea, this book really is for you.
Was this review helpful?
This felt different from the last few Brayden novels I’ve read and it’s a good difference. I loved it. Hannah Shephard runs her quiet bookshop in Providence the same way she lives her life. She doesn’t take risks or live wildly but she has to do something about her shop if she wants to keep it. On the suggestion of one of her employees she sends a request for a romance writer to do a book signing in her shop. Although Hannah isn’t a romance reader, Parker Bristow as a person is hard to resist.

Hannah is described as a person who can match a person with the perfect book and it’s the only part that I wasn’t overly enthralled by but Brayden managed to do it with a little bit of difference even though it’s a common theme for indi bookshop owners. I loved everything else about this novel. There’s great angst, lots of chemistry and steamy scenes as well as well-written characters.

Book received from Netgalley and Bold Strokes Books for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this story. I loved the meta premise of a bookstore owner and romance writer falling in love. 

At times it felt like there was a bit too much going on in terms of plot - the cabin bit with the girlfriends felt unnecessary and like it bogged down the story. Parker's trust issues were enough of a hurdle for our couple to overcome, and their romance might have been better served if that had been the main conflict. 

When I finished "Back to September", I started reading it again and was 60 pages in before I made myself move on to other half-read books in my TBR. I love the set up phase of a romance novel so much, and this one was set up perfectly. I will definitely be reading more books by Melissa Brayden!
Was this review helpful?
I highly enjoyed this story. It's the first book of Melissa Brayden's I have read but it won't be the last, because I just fell in love with her writing style and her characters. 

The chemistry between Hannah and Parker was great and I fell head over heels in love with this story and especially with Parker. Sometimes I whished we could have known a bit more about Parker and what's on her mind but this is the problem with strict first person narrator. Besides this it suited the story well. I also like the secondary characters a lot. There's really not much to complain about. So 5 stars.
Was this review helpful?
This was my first (but not my last) book by this author. Definitely different than any other romance novel I read. I loved the main character.
Was this review helpful?
Brayden is a fantastic romance writer.  While I enjoy all of her books, some I love and this is one of them.  I loved Hannah and the entire time I was rooting for her to win.  While I read several of them, books with a famous character are typically not favorites of mine.  This one was different though.  It was better.  Parker, I didn't love in the beginning but as the book went she grew on me.  By the end, I thought she was perfect for Hannah.  I think this is one of Brayden's better books.  Brayden never disappoints but this one I will be rereading over and over.  Going to also pick up the audiobook of this one.
Was this review helpful?
Okay, so I absolutely adored Beautiful Dreamer and was stoked to read Ms Brayden’s newest book.   I was expecting a wonderfully sweet and endearing slow burn romance with engaging characters, witty banter, small town shenanigans, Henley shirts – hell I was expecting  sunshine and unicorns.  What I got was …angst.  Gloriously heart-wrenching angst.  The highs were euphoric and the lows were devastating.  At points I had to put the book down and take a calming breath as the story unfolded.

Hannah Shepherd an independent bookstore owner who is struggling to keep her business afloat.  When she has the opportunity to host a book signing by one of the top romance writers, she jumps at the chance to bring more clients despite the fact that she’s a bit of a book snob who’s never read a romance.  Enter Parker Bristow, bestselling novelist, internet influencer and darling of the talk show circuit.  Despite her fame, Parker is down-to-earth and charming.  An easy rapport develops as she invites Hannah for dinner.  There’s a phenomenal chemistry between the two – physically and intellectually – and their attraction quickly escalates.

This is an on and off again romance – which totally cranks up the angst-o-meter.  As a reader, you know that they belong together and the more they are apart the higher the frustration – dating other people or stupid insecurities just make you want to throttle them both.  Call me a book nerd, but I found the scene where the two of them are relaxing on the couch reading their books almost as hot as the sex that happens soon after.  So often romances are all about the physical attraction and there’s not much time for talking or spending time outside the bedroom. The level of comfort and compatibility  between Hannah and Parker just amps up the raw physical attraction that the two share.

The story is told from Hannah’s first person POV and you get a front row seat to the gamut of emotions she experiences.  Considering herself staid and boring – she’s resolved to settle for a relationship based on friendship.  With Parker,  she’s swept up in the intensity of the  attraction and the brightly burning, all encompassing passion.   Parker is bewildering and addictive – and despite the pain and betrayal Hannah’s unable to resist the pull of the depth of her feelings for her.

After I read Back to September I was pretty much wrecked and had to take a few days to formulate my thoughts for my review. Once the angsty high that had completely sucked me into the book wore off, I began to have some misgivings with Parker and her actions.   If  I had been a character in the book, I probably would have offered to knock Parker around on Hannah’s behalf.  Okay, I probably would have given her a really stern glare – while her back was turned – and surreptitiously played “You’re No Good” on constant repeat in the bookstore.  I’ve gone back and forth on this – and what I’ve settled on is that Ms. Brayden is a talented writer who is able to completely bewitch her readers.  On paper, Parker’s actions were cowardly and callous and put Hannah through hell; but,  in Ms. Brayden’s book, it freaking worked.

Postscript: I haven’t read a lot of Ms. Brayden’s novels, but I did notice that a plot device used (twice) in Beautiful Dreamers was used in this book as well – I’m hoping that this is coincidence and not a signature plot device as its a pretty heavy handed way to get the MCs back together.

Definitely Recommended

Thank you to Netgalley and BSB for providing an advance copy for review.
Was this review helpful?