Release Reviews: Chase the Sun: Christina Lee & Nyrae Dawn

Chase the Sun (Free Fall #2)
Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn
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Released September 9, 2016
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Jamie Tolland has only ever known his small Oregon town. Same job, same friends, same gay bar. He feels obligated to stay, especially as his mother’s illness progresses. But when a situation presents itself in the form of a vintage sports car, he jumps on the chance to not only repair it, but also drive it to its new owner in LA.

Conner Murphy left Oregon years ago to make his life in West Hollywood. Like his unconventional parents, he’s always been a free spirit, never settling on one job or girl for too long. When he inherits his late uncle’s classic Chevelle, he’s more than happy to let his childhood friend Jamie help.

Jamie and Conner are as different as night and day. Even after years of living apart, they still have a blast together—but now it’s mixed with an undeniable spark of attraction. Before they know it, they can’t keep their hands off each other. For Conner it’s all new and exciting, but Jamie isn’t the type of guy who takes this sort of intimacy lightly.

Conner soon realizes that Jamie quenches something deep inside of him that no one has before, but he doesn’t know how to handle a real relationship. As Jamie’s time in LA comes to an end, and the more they struggle to get on the same page about their feelings, the more Jamie realizes that trying to tie Conner down is as futile as capturing the sun.

Jamie Tolland is breaking out of his uneventful, smothering life in Riverfall, Oregon to deliver a car he restored to his old friend, Conner Murphy. Conner escaped Riverfall for L.A. and he is happy to have his old friend bring the car he inherited and stay for a visit.

Jamie is a young gay man craving new experiences, adventure, and a vision of life outside of his small town. He's shy, stuck in a rut, and unsure of his own appeal. His life in Riverfall in no way prepares him for the more open and chaotic life in California. In some ways he does not feel like he fits in, but in others he feels more comfortable.

Conner is free-spirited, vibrant, funny, and charismatic. He is not sure what he really wants to do with his life. He's antsy, flighty, and frequently moves on to new jobs or experiences. He has always casually dated or at least slept with women, but is also fluid and beginning to look at men a bit differently since he has been hanging out with his friends, Lucas and Gabriel.

This is a slow build as they reconnect their friendship, experience the sights of the city together, and the lines of friendship begin to blur as their interest in each other increases. It is a slow unraveling of their preconceived ideas of each other, and a simmering attraction that finally begins to boil over. I enjoyed the differences in their dynamics in different situations. In some ways Conner took lead and others Jamie did. Being with a man is a whole new world for Conner and makes him even more vulnerable.

But they have conflicting ideas on relationships and commitment. Jamie is the settling down relationship kind of guy, while Conner does not think he ever will be. Conner's never had a true constant stabilizing influence in his life, and he often gets bored and changes direction. Conner is full of light that brightens up Jamie's world, but he has so many fears holding him back. It leaves Jamie chasing after it with little hope of ever catching it.

This is a journey for both of them. Jamie is seeing life outside the constraints he has lived under and finding a place he feels comfortable. But he also has strong ties at home that pull him back in. Conner has more issues to face. He hides his vulnerability with humor and an easy-going facade, but he really lacks self-worth and has a fear of failure, feelings, and rejection. It is easier to avoid attachments, opening up, or making decisions. He needs to learn to believe in himself and that he can stick with something and have others believe in him too. But he is also someone that takes care of others when needed as we saw in the first book with Lucas and even how he took Jamie in. Together they have potential to have a brighter future, but it all depends on if they can face their fears and be willing to chase the happiness that is just out of their reach.

I was excited to spend more time with Lucas and Gabriel from Touch the Sky. And Ezra, Gabriel's former and Conner's current roommate, was also featured and I am more intrigued by him than ever, so I am hoping for a book three. I liked their friend, Henry, and there was a tiny tease of another character that I have a feeling might reappear as well.

This one was not quite as emotionally complex, heartbreaking, or as full of secrets as book one. Conner had more issues to unravel and deal with than Jamie, but they were not at the level that Lucas and Gabriel had to overcome. I will admit at times I had a hard time remembering whose point of view I was in even though they are clearly marked in the chapter titles, but it did not affect my enjoyment that much. I did really like both of these guys and how their story progressed. It was a slower build, but I did feel their connection and chemistry.

This was a sweet, funny, heartfelt story with two young men trying to find a true home, purpose, and hope for a brighter, happier future. But along the way they have some hard decisions to make and growing to do. I really like the writing styles and character development of Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn (Riley Hart) so their collaborations will always be go-to reads for me. They have the ability to suck me into a story and make me fall in love with their characters, and this one was no exception.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Anyone who has been reading my reviews for a while knows that, individually, Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn (Riley Hart) are both authors I enjoy reading. Chase the Sun is their second collaboration together, and though I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as their previous novel, Touch the Sky, that’s a little like saying I don’t like peanut butter fudge quite as much as I like mint fudge. I happen to like them both. A lot.

Jamie Tolland and Conner Murphy were friends who grew up in the same small town in southern Oregon, but while Conner took his chance and left for West Hollywood right after graduation, Jamie stayed to work at his dad’s garage. Sure, he loves his family and the friends he has, but the longer he’s there, the more it feels like he’s in a rut, especially being gay in a small town. So when Conner’s uncle’s passing leaves Conner with a classic car, Jamie offers to get it running again and drive it down to California. Conner has always been like his parents, an uninhibited bohemian, never staying with a job or a girl for long. Even though they couldn’t be more opposite, Conner showing Jamie around L.A. turns out to be a good time for them both. When they discover the attraction between them, it’s an even better time. But Conner doesn’t believe he can handle anything serious, even though it’s never been like this with anyone else, and he knows he doesn’t want to hurt Jamie. Even as they grow closer, they both know that if there is to be a future for them, both will have to make big changes.

It took me a while to get into this story for a couple of reasons. As with Touch the Sky, Chase the Sun is written using alternating first-person perspectives. This style has the definite advantage of putting you in the story, because it sounds like you are experiencing things at the moment they happen. And while you eventually get both characters’ perspectives, the focus is on only one at a time. Probably the biggest challenge of this style is making sure the characters’ voices are distinct, otherwise it is very easy for the reader to be confused about whose point of view is being used. Here, as with the last book, Jamie and Conner sound a lot alike to my mind’s ear. Sure they are opposites in many ways, but unless references are being made to these things that are different, their similarities caused me to have to stop often to remind myself who the “I” is in the current chapter. And these chapters are very short. Every five minutes or so, a new chapter starts and the point of view switches. This made it difficult for me to solidify either character’s voice in my head enough to keep them separate for a large part of the story. It also felt like the story was treading water a lot in the first half. Maybe that was intentional to give the impression of both characters being stuck. Unfortunately, this didn’t help with my difficulty in distinguishing their voices, so up to about halfway through, I really didn’t feel the story.

Once things started happening, though, Jamie’s and Conner’s individuality began to shine through, and I started truly enjoying the narrative. From the start, we learn that Jamie is gay, but Conner is open to anything, not unlike his life in general. Watching them interact through the process of being reunited friends to becoming intimate and then to the realization that what they had was more than just a good time is full of the sorts of feels that I love when reading romance. And these two authors know how to make it just right. But beyond the sexual and romantic aspect of the book, the biggest thing I enjoyed was watching the transformation in each as it turned from Jamie being the innocent, sheltered one and Conner being the fun, anything-goes one to it becoming clear that Conner had the bigger challenge to overcome, figuring out what he wants.

I hate to keep making comparisons between this book and its predecessor, but there is one more thing they have in common: Jamie and Conner fit together in a way that’s rare in romance. I couldn’t explain it well when reviewing the other book either, but that same je ne sais quoi exists here. It’s special and apparently a talent these two authors have when working together. Whatever it is, even though getting into the story took me so long, once it had me, I was hooked and feeling every emotion they each had. Good timing too because that’s about the time the journey of personal growth kicked into gear for both characters. And that was as good ride as the romance.

Friends-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes, and Chase the Sun is a good example of why I like it so much. The issues here are believable, things that we all go through as we grow into our adulthood. And with Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn telling the story, I knew it was going to be good.

The authors generously provided me a complimentary copy of Chase the Sun in exchange for this fair and honest review.
Touch The Sky (Free Fall #1)
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Released March 28th, 2016
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Read our 4.5-star reviews: Jay, Kim, & Rachel

Lucas Barnett and Gabriel Stewart didn’t have it easy as kids. They were only trying to deal with bad situations at home when they became lifelines for each other. Their pipe dream was to someday meet in LA, where Lucas would design skyscrapers, and Gabriel would learn to fly. But then Gabriel disappeared without so much as a goodbye, and Lucas got himself in trouble with the law.

Five years later, both men are at a loss when they run into each other at a Hollywood bar. Lucas is still angry, but it’s not as if Gabriel could control how his mind and body had betrayed him. Being found on the ledge of that bridge had changed everything.

The attraction is immediate, but it’s more than their inability to keep their hands off each other. Neither man expects the fierce connection pulling them together. Unfortunately, ignoring their problems doesn’t make them disappear. Gabriel’s internal struggles are serious…dangerous. And no matter how much Lucas wants it to be true, saving Gabriel won’t make up for not being able to save his mom. If they don’t find the strength to face their own demons before the darkness takes hold, they risk more than just losing each other forever.

Christina Lee
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Once upon a time, I lived in New York City and was a wardrobe stylist. I spent my days shopping for photo shoots, getting into cabs, eating amazing food, and drinking coffee at my favorite hangouts.

Now I live in the Midwest with my husband and son—my two favorite guys. I've been a clinical social worker and a special education teacher. But it wasn't until I wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper that I realized I could turn the fairytales inside my head into the reality of writing fiction.

I write Adult, New Adult, and M/M Contemporary Romance. I'm addicted to lip gloss and salted caramel everything. I believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.

Nyrae Dawn

Nyrae Dawn can almost always be found with a book in her hand or an open document on her laptop. She couldn’t live without books—reading or writing them. Oh, and chocolate. She’s slightly addicted.

She gravitates toward character-driven stories. Whether reading or writing, she loves emotional journeys. It’s icing on the cake when she really feels something, but is able to laugh too. She’s a proud romantic, who has a soft spot for flawed characters, who make mistakes, but also have big hearts.

Whether she’s writing young adult, new adult, or adult you can always count on a healthy dose of romance from her books. She likes to tackle tough subjects, and believes everyone needs to see themselves in the stories they read.

Nyrae is living her very own happily ever after in California with her gorgeous husband (who still makes her swoon) and her two incredibly awesome kids.


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