The Unexpected Series Boxed Set is a collection of the five full-length novels about the Colthurst-Deckers, from the patriarchs, Gabe Colthurst and Chris Decker, to each of their children, triplets Jacob, Matthew, and Ainsley and foster son Porter Kendrick along with their significant others. Written by Claudia Burgoa, the Unexpected series is one of my all-time favorites, having gotten to know and falling in love with every member of this one-of-a-kind family that loves and lives with abandon, always coming together whether in good times and bad, and never forgetting the importance of each other and how, when things seem to be going wrong, they have one another to lean on because that's what being a member of their clan is about. I was able to read the books as they were released individually, and while the boxed set doesn't include any extras or bonuses, if you're the kind of reader that appreciates an engaging family saga, with love stories that range from gay romance (Gabe and Chris) to a triad (Matt, Thea, and Tristan), to complex couplings (Ainsley and Mason, Jacob and Pria, and Porter and Mackenzie), then this may be one boxed set that you'll fall for as much as I did. I'm giving the boxed set five out of five stars, which is the average of the individual ratings I gave the books. ♥
Unlike Any Other is where everything begins, with flashbacks about actor Gabe Colt meeting rock star Chris Decker as they work on a film together. It is also about the present, with Gabriel Colthurst and Christian Decker married and already with three children and introduces readers to the issues within the family centering on the youngest Colthurst-Decker triplet, Ainsley. At its very core, this was a story about a family struggling to regain its roots and its balance. I've always felt that the first book in a series is successful if it does two things: 1. Tells a great story and has memorable characters, and 2. Piques the reader's interest regarding the other characters in order to want to read future installments. Unlike Any Other most certainly did both and now I'm itching to find out what happens to the rest of the characters. It got 4.5 stars!
Unsurprisingly Complicated is Ainsley Janine Colthurst-Decker (aka AJ) and Mason Bradley's love story. AJ has loved and lost before, but she still dreams of having a love like the one her fathers share. Mason has always loved AJ but he has issues that make it difficult for him to really be emotionally available all the time, something that AJ needed. I found myself emotionally wrung out after everything AJ and Mason went through. Goodness, these two had to truly want to be together and to fight for what it is they wanted. But it was when they realized that they actually needed each other and were worth the risks that things leveled up, as if the previous trials were meant to prepare them for the ultimate test of love, trust, and commitment. I squeed. I sighed. I smiled. I stilled. And yes, my heart experienced that squeezing sensation that I associate with being so immersed and invested in a story and its characters that everything else fades away. My rating for Unsurprisingly Complicated is surprisingly simple: five-plus stars.
Uncharted is Jacob Christian "JC" Colthurst-Decker's love story with Cypriana "Pria" Walker and is told over the span of a decade, with the two having met and fallen in love in college but then going their separate ways. By the time I finished reading the book, I felt myself flooded by mixed emotions. It felt like Jacob entered his own personal brand of hell and stayed there for more years than he should have. The guilt and all those promises that were made were weighing him down and the abuse he was putting his mind, heart, and body through was almost like a self-flagellation of sorts. After everything Jacob went through, I couldn't help but ask myself, "All that for what? Was it even worth it?" And, at the end of the day, I guess you could say that true love is worth the pain and sacrifice and if two people are really meant to be together, then that very same true love will find a way. It may be sappy but if you truly believe then that's all that matters. This got five out of five stars.
Uncut is about Matthew James "MJ" Colthurst-Decker and it's a love story he shares with not just one but two people: Tristan Cooperson and Agatha Levitz (aka Aggie Levitz, Thea Dennis, and Thea Bradley). Matt is bisexual and his sexuality isn't something he keeps secret. He falls for Tristan, who is closeted, and then later, they both fall for Thea. Tristan's parents have raised him to believe the feelings he has for another man are wrong and Thea was raised by a woman who would never have won the Mother of the Year award. She also happens to be Mason Bradley's sister, a fact that doesn't come to light to everyone concerned until too many years later. There were a lot of things going on within the Matthew-Tristan-Thea triad and I found myself thinking that Thea's inclusion became more of a distraction to what was already shaping up to be one hell of a fascinating story between and about the two men. This isn't to say that this story was terrible; far from it. It's merely a matter of personal preference on my part, wanting the far simpler option than the much more complicated one. Still, this was an original take on a three-sided relationship and Matthew more than makes this a worthy read. Uncut got 4.5 stars.
Undefeated is the much-awaited story of Porter Kendrick and here he falls for widow and single mother Mackenzie Brooke. His failed love story with AJ is just part of the unraveling that occurs and he becomes this lost soul that you can't help but feel sorry for each time he appears in the series. Knowing what he went through in the past is why this fifth and final book was such a must-read for me. Yes, he hurt his family. Yes, he hurt the girl he loved. But here we see that he's turned his life around and did so for himself. This doesn't make him selfish, because had he done it for anyone and everyone else, he probably would have gone back to getting drunk and using drugs. Having gone through rehab successfully now enables him to move forward and make amends to those he hurt and it allows him the possibility of having a new beginning with Mac, Harper, and Finn. Undefeated is tied with Unsurprisingly Complicated as my favorite book in the series and I gave it five-plus stars, which had the entire series getting an average of five stars. ♥
Date Read: 10 December 2016
Learn more about Claudia Burgoa.
Purchase The Unexpected Series Box Set on Amazon.