2021, Week the Forty-Fifth: A Giant Hot Swedish Family

November 10, 2021 Disability, Neurodivergence, Romance 1

Hello Bookworms!

I recently binged a romance series. I hesitate to say it’s the entire series because there are at least 3 Bergmans left, BUT I’ve completed what is currently available of The Bergman Brothers series by Chloe Liese. It centers on the love stories of a large Swedish-American brood, the Bergmans. There are seven kids and a lot of purple nurples in this family. (What is with all the nipple twisting? Is this only a thing in a household with a lot of brothers? Because weird.) In addition to all the Bergmans being hotties and fluent in Swedish, all the love stories feature at least one of the partners in each love story having some sort of disability and/or neurological difference. It’s nice to see that sort of representation because EVERYONE deserves love. Also, Chloe Liese is on the autism spectrum, herself, so I trust that her portrayals of autistic folks are pretty decent. I should probably start talking about the books, shouldn’t I?

Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese- Willa is a soccer player for UCLA and is super intense about it. That’s why she’s especially freaked out when she can’t keep up in one of her classes and may become ineligible to play. She takes her (pretty douchey) professor’s advice (don’t worry, we will hate him less in a later book) and tries to get notes from her classmate Ryder. Only the dude completely ignores her, which RUDE. Because Willa’s got a lot on her plate. The soccer and the mom on chemo and the school work and the semi-nudist roommate BFF… She has no time for games. She later finds out that Ryder wasn’t ignoring her, but actually has significant hearing loss, so it’s a whole thing. The two are super into each other, of course, but flirt entirely through bickering, and mostly via text given Ryder’s hearing loss. Now, I listened to the audio book version, BUT I saw that the print version was revised after the author worked with the deaf community to improve Ryder’s story. The changes are supposedly relatively minor, and I think they’ll make the book stronger. But, you know, I haven’t read them so I can’t say for sure. I do like that Chloe Liese listened to criticism and then went back and fixed her already published book, though. I love to see people who learn from their mistakes. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t issue a MASSIVE content warning for this book re: loss of parent and/or cancer. This book may be about Willa and Ryder falling in love, but I cried a whole lot for reasons unrelated to the love story.

Always Only You by Chloe Liese- Ren Bergman is the biggest friggin dork and it’s real cute. He’s a professional hockey player, which he gets tons of guff from his family over since they’re SOCCER PEOPLE. I personally could not imagine actually being involved with a guy who earnestly spouts off Shakespeare passages, but it totally WORKS for Frankie. Frankie has had a secret crush on Ren for a while now, but she works for the hockey team running their social media and whatnot, and, well, he’s a super hot professional athlete so she never even bothered trying to shoot her shot. Frankie has rheumatoid arthritis and is on the autism spectrum, so flirtation is complicated for her anyway. Hard to maintain flirty banter when you can’t really read between the lines. Plus, Frankie uses a cane to help with her mobility which doesn’t generally bring all the boys to the yard. Though Ren appears to be a big burly hockey dude, but he’s super genuine and straightforward. Wholesome as a bran muffin, this guy. Eventually, Ren and Frankie figure out that they’re totally into each other and it’s fun. A side thing I dug about this book? Frankie is a huge Potterhead, but Liese makes a point to mention that Frankie realizes that JKR has been super problematic and transphobic of late. I still see so many HP references in fiction but they hardly ever point out that the characters realize that its author pretty much sucks. Still, I think it would be hard for Frankie as an autistic person with a hyper fixation on HP to fully give it up, so I liked that she acknowledged the issue. Could this story have worked if Liese had chosen to have Frankie be a fan of something else? Yeah. But I’m guessing that JKR’s most egregious commentary came out when this book was pretty far along in the writing process and deadlines were involved. Anyway. It’s better than nothing.

Ever After Always by Chloe Liese- Remember that douchey professor from book 1? That would be Aiden, the Bergman Brother-in-Law. He is married to the eldest Bergman, Freya, and their Happily Ever After has hit a rough patch. Aiden’s anxiety disorder has spun out of control in response to the enormity of potentially starting a family. Instead of talking to his wife about it, he buries himself in work, then wonders why Freya has become distant. With their marriage firmly on the rocks, Freya and Aiden decide not to tell anyone what’s going on and pretend to be a happy couple during her parents’ anniversary trip. Because OF COURSE they’d be expected to celebrate a happy marriage while theirs in in suckville. But, you know, you’ve got the entire Bergman clan on a Hawaiian island, so many shenanigans ensue. I found myself googling if beach soccer is really a thing because it would hurt your bare feet. (It is a thing, apparently the ball is less firm but I’m guessing it still hurts bare feet so, IDK, soccer people are weird.) Marriage in crisis books usually only serve to bum me out, but Freya and Aiden had me rooting for them from the very start.

With You Forever by Chloe Liese- Axel is the quietest Bergman brother, whose personality was always a bit of a puzzle to his family. After his little sister was diagnosed as autistic, Axel realized many of his preferences and the way he interacted with the world indicated he too was autistic. (This isn’t a spoiler, it’s very obvious, and two books ago Ren mentions that he’s pretty sure Axel is on the spectrum.) Rooney (the semi-nudist roommate of Willa from book 1?) has become an honorary member of the Bergman family thanks to her friendship with Willa. It works out well for her, since her own family isn’t particularly close. She’s had a crush on Axel for years, but he seems wildly uninterested. When Rooney is struggling with some secret health issues (it’s ulcerative colitis) and takes a sabbatical from law school, Willa offers up the Bergman’s remote Washington getaway for Rooney to use for some R&R. When she arrives, though, she finds that grumpy Axel is about to embark on a massive renovation of the property (because it’s falling apart) but he can’t finance it* since he can no longer paint since he spends his time daydreaming about Rooney. Deep breath. There is that inheritance, though… You know. The one from the reclusive uncle who stipulates that Axel cannot have the funds unless he’s married. Super normal stipulation. Rooney goes for it, because what does she have to lose? Marriages of convenience NEVER end up with the parties catching feelings. Except they always do.

*Axel has decided not to share the state of the cabin with his family because he’s afraid they’ll decide to cut their losses and sell it. He seems to have forgotten his FILTHY RICH PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY PLAYING BROTHER who would totally have paid any amount to fix the place up. I mean, I get it, if he’d asked Ren for help the marriage of convenience plot wouldn’t have worked, but still. He’s right there, my dude. I was hoping the end would have showed Ren being like “WTF, Axel, why didn’t you ASK ME?!” but by the end of the book the rest of the family didn’t seem to have it figured out?

My silly complaints aside, I really enjoyed these books. As I mentioned earlier, I’m going to need this series to continue, because I need to see what becomes of the remaining Bergman siblings… Vigo in particular, as he’s been spouting off the virtues of romance novels for several books now. I want good things for that Man-Cub. I’m officially out of words, folks. Be safe out there!

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