Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Pushed into a job he never wanted by his overbearing family, Cory had a nervous breakdown; his depression was so bad that he couldn’t even get out of bed. After time spent in therapy, learning coping mechanisms and the importance of saying no, Cory is on the long road to recovery. When he is asked by his therapist about the one thing he could do to make himself happy, Corey decides to pluck up the courage to reconnect with his childhood best friend, Asher.
The men last saw each other when they were fifteen and have had no contact for sixteen years, but when Cory tentatively walks into the bar Asher now owns and listens to Asher singing a self-penned song about a boy with cinnamon eyes, he hopes that maybe Asher might return the love that Cory has always felt for him.
I chose Cinnamon Eyes for New To Me Author Week for our Reading Challenge Month based entirely on the book’s blurb and I was not disappointed. Simply, Cinnamon Eyes is a sweet, but beautifully written, second-chance romance. This is exactly the book I was looking to escape into and escape I did, happily reading the book from cover to cover – not once, but twice!
I was particularly impressed by Nell Iris’ understanding of Cory’s depression. I am a firm believer of characters’ experiences being a close to real life as possible and as someone who has struggled with depression for much of my life, I could really identify with Cory. From the outset of the story, Iris makes her reader conscious of the fact that Cory’s positive mood is not a lasting one and that his recovery journey is not complete. I think it is really important that Iris recognizes that individuals attempting to get well have different ways of coping when their emotions become overwhelming. For me, it was the snap of an elastic band around my wrist, whereas for Cory it is a pinch of his ear,
I has to squeeze my eyes shut to prevent hot tears from spilling down my cheeks. Even if I’d passed the days of constant crying, this was too much.
How could it be gone?
My hand shot to my earlobe, and I pulled on it. When the tears refused to back off, I pinched. Hard. Pain flashed through my skull, and I whimpered. The pinch had the desired effect. When I was certain I’d regained control of my runaway emotions, I opened my eyes.
Despite Cory’s vulnerability, I found myself welcoming his relationship with Asher wholeheartedly. This is because Asher does not ask more of Cory than he can give and Asher accepts Cory no matter what. Asher re-introduces Cory to so many things that had once made him happy, like music, cookery, and more significantly, the feeling of belonging to a family.
Although I loved Cory and Asher as characters, both separately and as a couple, I must admit that I adored Mr. Cross. I do not think it was a coincidence on Iris’ part that Asher’s father has cancer. The correlation between Mr. Cross and Cory reminded me how some people dismiss depression, just as Cory’s family does. However, the understanding that the older man and Cory have is touching and gives them both hope. There is also a warm humor to their exchanges, as well as Cory gaining confidence as he communicates further with Asher’s father, and the sense of family Iris builds gave me all the right feels.
Cinnamon Eyes is a romance that will melt readers’ hearts, without being saccharin sweet because of the real-life issues that Iris handles with such sensitivity. This may be the first book I have read by Iris, but it won’t be the last! A full five-star recommendation.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New to Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Riptide Publishing. One winner will win a set of Advanced Review Copies before the books are released (or if it is a non-U.S. winner, an electronic copy of the books upon release). Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New to Me Author Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more details about the awesome prizes!
Oh, I’ve never read anything by this author before. And your review makes me want to read this one as well. I love second-chance romance and I’m glad that the character with depression rings true. Okay, I’ll put this on my TBR!
I have this one on my To Be Read list and your review certainly put it higher on my wishlist. I love second chances and characters that are real and it looks like this books delivers that. Thank you for your review
I wanted to read it this week, but I’m not done with my pick yet (Hexbreaker). However, I will be reading it and I’m happy that you enjoyed it.
I will definitely read this book. Thank so much for your review
This sounds beautifully done!
Thanks for the review. This sounds like a book I would enjoy and I’m putting it on the TBR list.
I’m with you on the idea of any mental illness needing to be done as realistic as possible tho I think that’s also subject to who’s realism as they referring too, it’s so hard when it’s about depression as we all have our coping mechanisms and are taught different things based on our triggers. I glad this book seems to be about him regaining a bit of himself. It’s what I like to read about. Especially if a reason for being depressed is in losing a life or realising your life isn’t yours
Interesting review that definitely makes me want to give this one a read. I think it’s challenging for an author to convey depression in a realistic way while keeping a reader from losing interest in the character, especially because a lot of us read MM romance for escape. I’ll be curious to see how Iris manages that!
This sounds like a book I’d enjoy so thank you for bringing it to my attention, Kirsty. I just finished a different book that had two childhood friends reuniting (Back to You by Chris Scully), so it would be interesting to see whether the books have similarities.
Thanks for the review, Cinnamon Eyes sounds like a beautiful story & I’m adding it to my wishlist.
This new-to-me author is also on my TBR list, thanks to a previous review and this one just reinforces my desire to check out this author and this book.
You’ve sold me on this one, Kirsty. Finding someone who writes characters with depression well and realistically is something I’ll always be on the lookout for. I haven’t heard of this author or book before, so I’m so glad you took a chance on it.
I haven’t read a story by this author yet but it sounds like a bit of an emotional read. Thank you for the review!
I was already interested in this one after reading the blurb, i’m such a sucker for stuff that seems sweet but realistic at the same time. But now that you gave it 5 stars, I need to bump it up my TBR! Sounds like depression was handled like it should be too, which pleases me.
Thank you so much for this fabulous review <3
Your great review makes me want to read this book! I’m putting it on my ever growing wishlist 🙂
Thank you, Kirsty! The cover of this book had already caught my eye, but after reading your review I’ll be certainly adding it to my TBR list.
Wow, 5 stars for a new-to-you author with authentic mental illness rep? *claps* *immediately purchases*
Ahh this sounds so sweet! I totally added it to my tbr list! I love second chances~ 🙂
Thanks for the review. This sounds like a good second-chance story. I like the set-up. And I like that you mentioned the psychology behind it. With my having a psych background, I look for books that deal with those issues authentically.
After reading your review, I had to get this book. I’ve heard it was good but as it’s a new author, I wasn’t sure about it. The story feels very true and enjoyable.