Book Title: Always Only You
Author: Chloe Liese
Series: Bergman Brothers, Book 2
Release Date: August 4th, 2020
Synopsis: Ren Bergman and Frankie Zeferino both art part of the big machine that is the LA Kings. Ren is a player on the hockey team and Frankie is part of their PR team as their social media coordinator. Their mutual attraction is clear to almost everyone around them, except the two of them, so what happens when one thing leads to another leads to another? In this #OwnVoices story, Chloe writes an autistic character with arthritis falling in love with a cinnamon roll of a hockey player. Brace yourselves!
Review: If you know me and followed me on Instagram or Goodreads enough, you’ll know that I am a die-hard Chloe Liese fan. She writes witty characters, incredible female leads and their charming and supporting male leads. Chloe highlights disabilities in her books, making you aware of the things that happen around us and that we might not always acknowledge. Her stories are raw and honest and fun and sexy and a must-read for everyone who enjoys contemporary romance.
“Always Only You” is the second in the Bergman Brothers series. We first met the Bergman family in “Only When It’s Us” when Willa and Ryder crossed paths. And we got to know the family dynamics and the hilariousness that ensues when you have the whole Bergman clan together. This book introduces us to Ren Bergman, who is a player for the LA Kings hockey team and boy oh boy, you guys are in for a treat with Ren. But the star of the book is Frankie Zerefino. She’s part of the LA Kings staff, handling their social media and mingling with the team. She’s a tough cookie. As someone who was diagnosed with autism and has arthritis, Frankie works twice as hard when it comes to everything in life. She’s not asking for anybody’s pity or sympathy or attention, she just does what she does and she does it well.
“Because I know that having arthritis, being autistic, does not make me less whole or human. It doesn’t make me wrong or broken. It makes some things in my life more challenging in ways, yes, and maybe I don’t represent the “norm,” but I can be someone who surmounts obstacles without it meaning there’s something fundamentally lacking in my makeup.”
This book was heartwarming and sexy, but most of all, it was hilarious. Frankie and Ren are forces to be reckoned with. She’s a Harry Potter loving wild card who has the best inner monologues. I swear, I could be happy just reading a book of Frankie’s thoughts whenever she’s around Ren or whenever she’s thinking about Ren. It’s hilarious the kind of things her brain conjures up. Her autism doesn’t define her, her disability is not the thing that makes Frankie who she is, but it’s definitely also the thing that keeps her from letting people into her life. Frankie’s had bad experiences and she knows where to draw to the line for herself, even if those lines are tempting to cross for a certain hockey playing, Shakespeare loving ginger.
“Problem is, that truth has been harder to hold on to when I let people in. Because then my sensory limits, my unexpected emotions, my easily tired body, my unfiltered mouth, are part of the package deal with me, and apparently, they wear out their welcome.”
Good lord guys. Ren Bergman is a dream. I have a soft spot for alpha assholes and all that jazz, but can we talk about soft boys who are cinnamon rolls and have big hearts and are waiting for the right woman? I mean, we all loved Ryder Bergman, but we weren’t truly ready for the magnificence that is Ren. He’s a hunk of a man, but he’s also a soft teddy bear. Ren loves Shakespeare and can quote almost anything related to the Bard. But more than that, he has established a pre-hockey session with his team to read and enact scenes from a play. He’s so observant, kind and supportive and he doesn’t step in to defend Frankie or help her because she’s falling. He knows what she’s capable of and he just likes being there in case she needs someone to lean on. I mean, if that is not the definition of a book boyfriend, I don’t know what is. That’s not all, guys. I’m serious, there’s more to Ren. He doesn’t curse. Instead…let Frankie explain this to you instead:
“Ren never swears. Well, not like that, at least not in public or with the team. Elizabethan oaths are more his speed. Hugger-mugger. Malignancy. Canker-blossom. He’s subtle about it, muttering them under his breath, but I have exceptionally good hearing, and since I caught the first one, I’m always craning to listen when I’m around him, hoping I’ll overhear another.”
As someone who doesn’t know anybody on the spectrum, reading about Frankie and her experiences and understanding her state of mind really gives you perspective on what life is like for someone on the spectrum. Like with any character, you want to throttle Frankie for the choices that she’s making, but her reasoning and understanding the way her mind works makes you very aware that this is the only way she knows how to handle situations of that kind. It’s not a negative mark in her column, it’s a learning curve for Frankie, Ren and mostly, the reader. And it takes a certain kind of person to be understanding and patient and kind and generous with their time to not rush someone who doesn’t want to do it all.
This book, and books like this, are so important for the romance community. We so rarely see heroines with disabilities portrayed like this. It’s crucial to understand the world of autism and arthritis and not shy away from acknowledging it. Representation is something that is talked about so often in the creative industry and this is a good place to start.
I could spend forever gushing over Chloe Liese and her magical ability to weave stories featuring incredible characters. All I can say is that on August 4th, please download this book onto your Kindle or order your physical copy, because you will want to read and read and read it over and over again.
Thank you Chloe Liese for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.