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A Truly Complicated Love: A Review of Neeny Boucher’s “Ties That Bind”

 Goodreads.com Description: “Forced to return to her hated hometown to work, Christina Martin, lawyer and ex resident bad girl, finds herself questioning her life choices. Reunited with her former husband, Nicholas Riley, their tenuous and complicated relationship is tested when secrets from the past and present are revealed.

Riley, a man with explosive secrets and penchant for psychological games, faces the dilemma of keeping the woman he loves through lies by omission or potentially losing her with the truth. This isn’t just their second chance for happiness, it’s their last chance and there may be some things that love can’t conquer at all.

Equal parts helped and hindered by a colorful cast of supporting characters, Ties that Bind, book three in the Complicated Loveseries, continues the dysfunctional relationship of Riley and Dina.

Warning: This book is not about bondage. I have nothing against books about bondage. Heck, I’ve been known to read a few works myself, but it’s just this book isn’t one of them. Unless, of course, you’re referring to the tangible and intangible bonds of human relationships, ties that bind and ties that can be broken. Then, this book is definitely about that. Ties that Bind is not a standalone and forms part of a series. It is highly recommended that you read books one and two, Back of Beyond and Lost in Flight before this one. Also, this series is full of quirky, socially awkward, and badly behaved characters, underpinned with dark humor. It is not a traditional romance and there is no guarantee of happy ever afters. Recommended for audiences over the age of 18.”

About the Author

Neeny Boucher is a nom de plume because my real name sounds like a 19th Century suffragette. Originally, I’m from New Zealand and am a long-time supporter of the All Blacks. Currently, I am living in Europe and a trailing spouse, following my husband all over the world for his work. This not only gives me the opportunity to write, but also, experience the world and indulge in one of my favourite past-times: people watching.


My own employment history is varied and ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. All of those experiences and encounters, however, have allowed me to collect amazing stories, which now form the basis of my writings.


I have always loved the weird, the outcast and those on the margins of society because they see the world in a different way. These are the people my characters are based around.
I have a BA Hons (English and Pacific Studies) and a PhD in Sociology/Indigenous Studies.

 

My Review

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Neeny Boucher’s “Ties That Bind” offered a serious plot twist that I never saw coming. A warning without giving away the story—it’s heart wrenching and thought provoking.

I’ve been a fan of Riley ever since book one in the trilogy. My opinion of him doesn’t change even after the big reveal. If anything my heart goes out to him. I understand this character more. He put people in his life he trusted. Instead of helping him when he needed them most, they enabled his behavior and subsequent reactions. They were more concerned with what Riley could do for them and their bank accounts.

The big reveal helped Dina finally understand the man she loved. Although it hurt, she needed the information in order to truly reconcile their relationship and her issues with him.

“Ties That Bind” was indirectly a story about group dynamics. There’s always a leader in charge of the group. The followers are those who don’t think for themselves. Whatever the leader believes, the group believes. Boucher gives readers the ultimate leader, Riley’s mother. People in town behaved according to her standards. If she believed someone worthy, they received all the benefits and accolades. Those who didn’t measure up—Dina—got the worse treatment. Sometimes there’s some instability underneath the surface. This holds true in “Ties That Bind”.

What I appreciated about Boucher’s tale is the fact Riley wasn’t the town’s bad boy. He was merely a kid who didn’t want to be like his family. In trying so hard not to be like them, he became a terrible person. Riley was an intelligent person who could do whatever he wanted in life. Unfortunately, he was running from himself and the truth.

Dina, likewise, was not the town’s bad girl. Hers was guilt by association. She was intelligent and destined to do more than what her small town had to offer, in her mother’s eyes. Dina wanted to please her mother and chose to shrug off her bad persona. The only thing she succeeded at was making herself miserable trying to live in someone else’s image.

Ella, Dina’s mother, was the key to her daughter’s misery. The same can be said about Riley’s parents who enabled their son’s problems. They knew the family history, but did nothing to help him out. A lot of the drama surrounding Riley and Dina could have been avoided had issues been addressed.

I loved Dina more after “Ties That Bind”. She matured but still had some growth left to do. She embraced her given name, Christina, but she didn’t accept all of her own quirks and idiosyncrasies. Until she did that, she couldn’t fully give herself to Riley nor could she fully love him.

I highly recommend “Ties That Bind”. The entire series is a wonderful examination of a ‘complicated love’. Nowadays, too many people hide behind the statement “I’m in a relationship, but it’s complicated.” In my humble opinion, Dina and Riley’s relationship should be the poster image of complication.

Rating: 5-hands-up5-hands-up5-hands-up5-hands-up5-hands-up (5 Hands=Excellent, 4 Hands=Very Good, and 3 Hands=Good)

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