Reviews: Like the Wind (J. Bengtsson) | Expiration Dates (Rebecca Serle)


Like the Wind
by J. Bengtsson
Pub: 4/16/2019
Source: Purchased
4.25 stars


When a letter from his supposedly deceased mother finds its way into his hands, life changes in an instant for international pop star Bodhi Beckett.

Reeling from the deception of those closest to him, Bodhi spirals out of control and is sent to a secluded mansion in the coastal mountains of Southern California for some rest and relaxation. But the retreat proves to be anything but relaxing when a raging wildfire sets the landscape around him ablaze.

While escaping the flames, Bodhi rescues Breeze, a quirky, pet-loving woman, and together the two fight their way to safety. In the aftermath of the fire, Bodhi and Breeze hit the road to uncover the truth about his family. What neither of them expected is to forge a powerful connection that will change their lives forever...but can it survive the real world, or will it disappear like the wind?

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Most of Bodhi’s life has been spent in the spotlight – first as a child TV star and then as part of a hugely successful boy band. His complicated relationship with his manager-father is further fractured when Bodhi receives a letter from his mother, a woman he’s long believed to be dead. Retreating to a rented home to regroup turns into a nightmare when a raging wildfire sends Bodhi fleeing for his life. It’s there he meets Breeze, who is trying desperately to escape the fire with a menagerie of pets in tow. With a connection forged in fire, the two embark on a journey to uncover Bodhi’s past. When the real world descends on them, they’re forced to decide if their fledgling relationship can survive with all the world watching.

One of my favorite aspects of Bengtsson’s books is that her characters are so imminently likable. That held true for both Bodhi and Breeze and I loved following their journey – from harrowing first encounter to taking steps toward a future together. Breeze was a bit quirky and had her own past to put to rest, but it was Bodhi that captured my heart. Feeling like a bystander in his own life, the fire had him reevaluating and making changes to build the life he wanted. Bengtsson knows how to tell a story, one that always has me fully invested and living every moment right alongside the characters. This was the last of Bengtsson’s backlist titles I’d yet to read and I’ll be not-so-patiently waiting for whatever she writes next.


Expiration Dates
by Rebecca Serle
Pub: March 19, 2024
Source: Atria/NetGalley
2 stars


Daphne Bell believes the universe has a plan for her. Every time she meets a new man, she receives a slip of paper with his name and a number on it—the exact amount of time they will be together. The papers told her she’d spend three days with Martin in Paris; five weeks with Noah in San Francisco; and three months with Hugo, her ex-boyfriend turned best friend. Daphne has been receiving the numbered papers for over twenty years, always wondering when there might be one without an expiration. Finally, the night of a blind date at her favorite Los Angeles restaurant, there’s only a Jake.

But as Jake and Daphne’s story unfolds, Daphne finds herself doubting the paper’s prediction, and wrestling with what it means to be both committed and truthful. Because Daphne knows things Jake doesn’t, information that—if he found out—would break his heart.
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For more than twenty years Daphne has randomly received pieces of paper with the name of the next man in her life and the amount of time they will spend together – be it one night or three months. Receiving a paper with only a name (Jake) and no date sends Daphne into a tailspin. What does it mean? Is Jake “the one”? What transpires next is not a romance, and not a love story, but Daphne’s examination of her past, and her journey toward a future of her own making.

With the intriguing premise, I had high hopes for Expiration Dates. Unfortunately, this one did not work for me at all. The frequent name-dropping of Hollywood locales and the recitation of what everyone was wearing grew tiresome quickly. Instead of giving a nod to setting and characters, it lent a feeling of superficiality to both. The flashbacks of Daphne’s prior relationships never seemed to give me any further insight into Daphne. There is a twist that comes more than halfway through the story and felt so completely out of left field. It shifted the focus with a jolt and had me wishing for a smoother transition. Lastly, there was a significant character that acted so atrociously and delivered a betrayal that was, for me, unforgivable. The blurb calls this “the romance that will define a generation.” I beg to differ.

Have you read these books?


13 comments

  1. Like the Wind sounds really good. But I'll probably pass on Expiration Dates.

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    1. Lark - Bengtsson always delivers a really solid, engrossing story.
      The Serle book... yeah, not one I would recommend.

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  2. Ooh, yikes, this is the second negative review I've seen for Expiration Dates! Might have to move this one further down my TBR...

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    1. Angela - I'm taking a guess that the other negative review was from Deanna? lol We seem to be the only two who flat-out didn't like it. Most of the GR reviews are positive so there's that...

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  3. I haven't read Like the Wind, but I read the second book in the series. I need to go back and read this one. You make it sound good!

    I'm probably the only other person who didn't love Expiration Dates. It made me so angry. It was not the "romance that will define a generation". It wasn't a romance at all! I let it have love story, but it wasn't really even a good one of those. The twist was ugh and I hated the ending. We didn't even get to find out the origin of the notes!!! So frustrating. Glad I wasn't alone in not liking it.

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    1. Deanna - Solidarity, sister! We'll stand alone on this hill. LOL And I totally forgot to talk about the total lack of explanation for the notes. It was just, yeah, this happens and that was the end of it. WTH?!

      I actually liked Ripple Effect more than Like the Wind, but LTW was still so good and definitely worth reading!

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    2. I think if you're more into women's fiction than romance, Serle's book will be good for you. If you're more into romance like we are, you're going to dislike it because it doesn't have an HEA or HFN. That's its biggest failure.
      That's good to know about LtW!

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  4. J. Bengtsson is an author I definitely need to read way more of. I really want to work through her backlist, loved her Cake Books. Its always the worst when you have to low rate a netgalley read. And yeah I can definitely see why you had issues there.

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    1. Renee - Cake is one of those series will has stayed with me for long after I read each book. Something about it... I love it so hard. Yeah, it sucks to have to give a less-than-positive review at Netgalley. I'll post my review there and Goodreads and leave it at that. I feel no need to blast a negative review all over the place. That's not me.

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  5. I hate a bunch of name/brand dropping in books. I'm not a fan of the superficialness of Hollywood either. Expiration Dates is a pass for me. Wildfires are a big thing out here in Northern California, so I'm sure I could get into that aspect of Like the Wind. It's sounds lie a great story!

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  6. It's funny how we read Expiration Dates in such different ways. I don't recall the name dropping at all, so I guess I didn't feel it was out of line for someone in her line of business and where she lived, but I can understand being frustrated if you were expecting a romance. That was not there. I did feel the flashbacks helped me understand Daphne more which set the stage for who she thought was "the one". The twist made it all take on so much more meaning for me (if it's the one I am thinking of). Sorry it didn't work for you

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  7. Glad you at least enjoyed Bengtsson's book, but sad you now have to wait for another release. LOL!

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  8. Like the Wind sounds wonderful. I am sorry the second book didn't work out, but understand why.

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