BOOK REVIEW: Willow Springs Series by Laura Pavlov
“We should all hope for a love that is worth risking everything for.”
I recently found the Willow Springs series on #KindleUnlimited as I was looking for shorter (less than 400 pages lol) books that I could get in to. As we are more than halfway through the year, my Goodreads challenge is slowly torturing me with how behind I am with it! I found this author and this series easily in my recommended section based off of other books that I have read. Let's just say I finished all five books within a week and a half when I was traveling and also came down with the dreaded Covid!
Though each of these stories are standalone contemporary romances, the greater story is the lifelong friendship of the 5 women these stories are about: Adelaide, Gigi, Maura, Coco, and Ivy (as they say, if you take the first letter from each of their names, it spells magic, making them the Magic Willows). I will give my opinion of each book individually below, but I want to spend this time here talking about these women and their absolute dedication, honesty, and presence to their friendship and, honestly, sisterhood. To have a friendship like this is absolutely amazing and something to cherish and adore. In every single one of their stories, these ladies are the true constant. They show up without question or hesitation when one of them is in need. They are all present for every significant accomplishment in each of their lives. They talk daily, whether it is through text, phone, or video calls. I feel that friendships like this are more on the rare side, and I have to say that was the biggest part of each book that I just thoroughly loved reading.
Frayed (Willow Springs #1)
Frayed is the first book in the series and follows Adelaide, the mayor's daughter and overall good girl, and Jett, the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, in their senior year of high school. Adelaide has had her whole life mapped out for her by her mother - be a cheerleader, go to the community college and become a teacher, marry Alec (who is the son of her mother's best friend). On the contrary, even though Jett has lived in Willow Springs his whole life just like Adelaide, he is the son of a single mother who got pregnant very young and has been looked down upon by most of the town. Then, Adelaide catches Alec in a situation that makes her question everything and now she is caught in a fork in the road where she needs to decide to continue the plan that Alec, her mom, and Alec's mom mapped out for her or find her own way, follow her own heart, and that heart may just lead her to Jett and a life full of spreading her wings, finding her own passions, and sharing it with him.
As this was the first book in the series, I obviously found many things in it that I liked that made me continue with the series! Like I mentioned, the biggest thing throughout the books is the friendship between the ladies. I enjoyed Adelaide and Jett's story very much. It was so sweet seeing how Jett was able to help Adelaide "see the light." and push her to find and follow her own dreams. Isn't that what we all want in a relationship? The person to encourage you to find your passions and reach for them? As for Adelaide viewing Jett and his family, I loved that she looked past the differences and saw them for who they are, a loving family who will deal with anything for each other. Overall, I gave this one 3 stars as the writing pulled me in, and I just had to know what was going to happen for all the other ladies!
Tangled (Willow Springs #2)
Tangled is the second installment in the Willow Springs series, and follows Gigi and Gray when Gigi is in her freshman year of college. Gigi has always had a slight crush on Gray, but he is her brother's best friend in the world, and so they tease and bicker with each other, constantly saying they hate each other. But do they really?
Gigi is attending the same college as frat boy president Gray who is tasked with keeping an eye out for her, and he is keeping to his promise. Now they can't seem to stay away from each other and start to see more to their characters than they really ever knew before. As they start to give in to their attraction, Gray keeps trying to push Gigi away, while Gigi knows what her heart wants, and it is Gray. Now as they finally admit how they feel, all that is left is telling her brother...
I enjoyed this story even more so than I did Adelaide's story. I loved the interactions that she had with Gray once she was on campus and seeing their relationship change from the annoying brother's best friend who is always around to a strong man who is kind, funny, and very attractive. I feel that Gigi grew a lot in her story and stood up for what she wanted and knew she deserved. I might be glad I don't have a brother once I saw how Cade reacted when finding out about their relationship! As for Gray, he is one of my favorite guys in these stories. He has his insecurities and worries, but he comes out in the end standing up for himself, as well as Gigi, and I loved seeing that growth and development. I gave this story 3 stars!
Charmed (Willow Springs #3)
Charmed is the third installment in the series and follows Maura and Crew Carlisle, family enemies. Maura has landed the top internship in her senior year of college, and it just so happens to be for the advertising company of her family's number one enemy. Crew is arrogant, cocky, but so devilishly handsome, and hates Maura and her family with a passion. Yet, as they work closely together and actually get to know one another for who they are and not their family members, they might see a side of each other that they didn't know was there. And as Maura finally gives her heart away, can they work through this family strife and find love and forgiveness on the other end?
I know I am repeating myself, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading Crew and Maura's forbidden enemies to lovers story. I was very curious as to why there was such hate and strife between these two families, and as the story unfolded I felt so sad and even hurt for Crew. I loved that Maura did not cower to Crew at all; she stood up for herself many times against him. I was heartbroken to see how things came to a head for Maura at home, but she still stood by what she wanted and would announce it to the world when Crew was ready. I loved that Crew did not leave her hanging and finally found the forgiveness for her family and shouted from the rooftops (okay, just a magazine LOL) how in love he is with her. I gave this book 3 stars!
Sealed (Willow Springs #4)
Sealed is the fourth book in the series following Coco and Roman, or should I say Pima and Big Sexy? LOL
Coco is fiercely independent, much to the dismay of her bratty sister and parents. So when it is time for her sister's wedding, of course Coco makes up a boyfriend who will be coming with her. Now she just needs to find him. In walks sexy, single dad Roman Amato. Coco is not looking for anything more than a hot date to her sister's wedding, and to repay the favor for Roman's son's birthday party - so they write a contract with one of the rules being to not catch any feelings. Coco prides herself on being in control and not having those loving feelings, until she gets on the back of Roman's motorcycle and everything enters a gray area. This was only supposed to be temporary, but her heart does something she never thought it would, it falls in love for the very first time.
I think Coco and Roman's story was my favorite one out of all of these stories! Coco is fierce, independent, and has a take no prisoners attitude even from a young age. She just needs a frickin' date to her sister's wedding so that she doesn't have to hear any comments from her bratty, older sister of how she will never give in and find someone. And in walks Roman Amato... I love that he stands up to Coco and doesn't let her walk all over him. He is this badass, motorcycle riding, house flippin' hottie who also has a young son that he will do absolutely anything for. I loved the interactions between Coco and Roman; he truly sees her and she allows herself to open up to him.. then throw in the cutest little mini-me ever and her heart is gone. A woman who never thought she would, or even could, find love, finds it. And she runs with it... Of course it can't be that easy though. This is new to her and she is terrified to be heartbroken and pulls away when things out of her control arise, but Roman will not let her run that easily. And their ending...whew I loved it! 4 stars all the way!
Claimed (Willow Springs #5)
Claimed is the fifth and final book in the series following Ivy and her long lost, but never forgotten, first love, Ty.
Ty is Nashville's hottest country star, but to Ivy he is just the asshole who left her without any word or warning at the end of senior year in high school after his family went through quite the drama and trouble. It's taken time but Ivy has put herself back together after losing the man who promised her forever. She owns a successful business, bought her very own first home, and is quite the serial first dater. Now, years later, Ty is back in Willow Springs for his sister's wedding and all he wants to do is to see and talk to Ivy and try to make things right with her after all this time. Every song he has ever written has been about and for her, and now the words just aren't coming any longer. Can Ivy give him a chance to make things right with them, or end as friends when he leaves again? Or will their hearts find each other again - and make sure to never leave?
Ivy and Ty's first love, second chance story was my second favorite of all of them. Ivy comes across as the glue for all of the girls in a way. She is the one who wants everything documented for them (every accomplishment, failure, discovery, firsts, etc.). The story starts and you just feel so sad for her as all of her friends have found their happily ever after, and she, who they all thought would be the first to get married and all of that, is now the last. But she isn't letting that get her down; she has a good life, everything she always wanted, minus the guy. Then Ty walks back through the doors and she throws a milkshake in his face! LOL. Ty is loving it though because he knows that he still has an effect on her, and all he wants is to clear the air with her so that they can maybe become friends again. But the heat and attraction between these two cannot be tamed, and they give in and give it a shot. And then they cannot stop, and do not want to leave each other again. I do not want to give too much away but the accident that occurs, holy cow! It was heart wrenching to see, but it opened both of their eyes to take that final leap they needed to. All of the lyrics we read throughout the story that Ty wrote about Ivy were beautiful (and I think I need someone to write a song about me! LOL), how could they not open Ivy's eyes? Ah, such a beautiful second chance romance story that got 4 stars from me!
Overall, I loved every single one of these stories, some more than others, but all of them had me smiling and excited when I finished. I loved in Claimed how there were a couple epilogues, each one years down the road where we could see where everyone has ended up and even a few sweet surprises that had me smiling and so excited! I cannot recommend this series enough if you want books about an everlasting friendship where each finds love and works through the obstacles that are blocking that love until it blossoms completely. If you’d like to see what I’m reading now, check out my Goodreads or follow us on Instagram and Facebook! If you’re excited to see what other topics we’ll be covering in the coming months, make sure to subscribe. Thanks for reading with me!