What a Tangled Web (Tangle Valley #3) – Melissa Brayden

Madison is back! What a Tangled Web is the third and final book in the Tangle Valley series, Madison’s story, and definitely not a standalone.

Finally over Gabriella – she already was, she simply needed to be reminded – Madison is enjoying life but is a little too focused on work. She needs to broaden her horizons and the perfect opportunity comes when she finds out the owner of everyone’s favourite cafe is selling just as her investment guy tells her she has money to invest. In a very un-Madison manner, she seals the deals on an impulse, not knowing she just stole Clementine’s dream.

Melissa Brayden had my heart racing by chapter two. I like Madison, despite her confusion in the previous book, and I like Clementine and I know it’s a romance and everyone will be happy at the end but I didn’t want Madison, in her oblivious wealthy girl way, to hurt Clementine, even without meaning to. Seriously, what was the owner thinking, not talking to Clementine first? Anyway. The thing is, Madison is more oblivious than most, and it’s not just because she’s never had to worry about money. She lives in her own little world of charts and data and – her saving grace – grapes. And so has no idea sweet Clementine has been crushing on her since high school. When she realises, years after everyone else, that Clementine is gay, her whole outlook shifts. There are lovely scenes of longing looks and blushes, of starry skies and alternating confidence. And, of course, good and supportive friends.

I like this group of friends a lot. I’m a little over the cute banter (it’s been coming for a while, to be honest), but Brayden really writes fantastic characters. They’re sweet and kind and just flawed enough to be plausible. I was really hoping that this time, the drama would come from something other than the mandatory 80% breakup but no such luck. The catalyst comes from the outside but the result is the same. Brayden has mastered the formula and maybe asking her to shake things around a bit isn’t fair in times of pandemic. And she does write reunions perfectly.

I’ve tried to understand why I tend to overrate Melissa Brayden’s novels, what it is about her books that makes me so warm and full of feelings at the end, even when they’re not, objectively, the best books ever. Some of them are, but not all, they can’t all be. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the characters. I keep saying I’m very character-driven and Brayden’s characters fill my heart with emotions each and every time. I love them. I want them to be happy, and make others happy too. Yes, I sometimes wish they had more distinctive voices or even personalities, but they’re all so bloody lovely and endearing I can’t help but love them.

That said, if anyone, even the sexiest woman on Earth, tries to kiss me with their mouth full of cookie, I’m going to run as far as I can.

4-stars

What a Tangled Web @ Bold Strokes Books

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