Cover Image: Calumet


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Member Reviews

This is a second chance romance between Jax and Iris and it is a great read. This is not a genre that I would normally read but I have to say that the depth of the writing in this book and t the way that the characters pulled you into the story had me turning the pages to see what the outcome would be for Jax and Iris. I couldn't put this book down as it was a real page turner that I really enjoyed reading along with all the complicated situations that were in this book and it is so well written and a must read. 

I Voluntarily Reviewed an Arc Copy of this book.
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Ali Vali made a brilliant decision when she decided to use Calumet as the title to her newest novel. The Native American calumet (also known as a “peace pipe”) has always been a physical representation for peace, and that fits perfectly with one of the main themes of this novel.

Calumet is not your usual standalone romance novel. It is much more complex and layered. The main character, Dr. Jaxon Lavigne has achieved what she set out to do when she left small town Louisiana after her high school graduation. She is a well-respected professor at a prestigious university and in love with a beautiful and successful Hollywood actress, Margot Drake. Even with all her success, Jaxon still can’t get over her past. When an invitation for her 15th high school anniversary arrives, she is encouraged by Margot and her best friend Bert to go back home and face the town and people she left behind, including her parents and her first love Iris, and the secret Iris has been keeping for many years.

The plot of this story is intricate and nuanced with many layers of meaning for different characters. The mystery involving Jaxon and Iris is slowly revealed throughout the tale. There is also a good bit of angst that Jaxon must go through as she returns to confront the people who caused her to leave home. The small town of Chackbay, the moss covered trees and slow-moving water actually made me a bit homesick. I also love the way the author connects her stories to her other books. I look for little “easter eggs” or mentions of things from different stories. In this book, we actually have Tully and Libby Badeaux from the novel Second Season as minor secondary characters. It’s always nice to see a couple I fell in love with still together and doing well.
The romance between Jaxon and Margot is lovely and runs through the whole story, though to me it is almost secondary to seeing Jaxon make peace with her past and grow as a character. The characters make this novel. It is definitely a character driven tale. In fact, if someone wants to study how to develop a character in a story, all they need to do is read this book and study the character Jaxon Lavigne. The way the author created this character and showed her development and growth through the book as she faced the hurt and angst of her past is just amazing. 

I have only the highest praise for this novel and the author. I suggest you buy and read this book as soon as you can.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an honest review.
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As many other readers have mentioned: this was not necessarily the book I expected after reading the blurb. I pegged this for a second chance romance and while second chances were to be had for many different characters, this is not the typical romance book you'd expect to get from Ali Vali. 
I actually liked it though and even found myself not wanting the romance I was expecting from the blurb to blossom. As always the dialogue is typical for Ali Vali which, for me, is perfect, her characters are all equally enjoyable and I loved the exploration Jaxon and Iris did when it comes to decisions from the past. Personally I felt more connected to Jaxon and that has nothing to do with the writing but more with a dislike for certain personality types.
The plot is interesting and kept me reading well into the night, it's was a nice change of pace from the usual romance books and well worth the time. 

***An ARC was provided by Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. ***
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Not the typing book that this author puts out and at first I was a little thrown off but then I remembered that I am a bit tired of reading the same old formula these days. It’s not a love story between the 2 MC’s but it’s still a love story and a bit of whodunnit for good measure. I loved it.
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This was a very well-written book with complex characters, in which nothing was ever black and white. I found it a very interesting read, however, it wasn't what I expected at all. The blurb is misleading as this is not a romance at all, and the ending was quite unexpected. If you're expecting a romance, maybe this isn't the best read for you, but if you just want an engaging book with good characters, do give it a go.
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Add me to the list of readers who were not expecting this. For a good portion of the book, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and the {dare I say it} cheating to ensue. There were so many layers to this story and I just didn't want to stop reading. What could've been a throwaway standalone is so, so much more. I remember a few months ago when Ali Vali showed the cover on social media, but I don't remember the title being Calumet. I spent 99% of the book wondering what the significance of Calumet is, but it was worth the wait

Even without a gangster in the cast of characters, I could spot an Ali Vali book in a blind test. Her use of language and sentence structure is uniquely hers.
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I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book when I first read the briefing, its not your usual lesbian style of writing, but that said don't be put off by this.

It still has it all, excitement, passion and questions  

Calumet was a pleasure to read and I enjoyed from page 1 to the end. Ali Vali has done good with this one 

Would I recommend: Yes if you don't want your 'normal run of the mill love story
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I received an ARC copy of this book from the Publisher via Netgalley and voluntarily leaving my review.

Jaxon and Iris secretly dating in high school. They went their separate ways after high school. Jaxon hasn’t come back to her small Louisiana town in years and was never planning on returning ever. Jaxon is successful professor and popular one at that she enjoys her work and have a steady girlfriend. Iris got married have two children she loves her job because she gets to see her kids everyday even when they are being teenagers. Although she loves her town she tries to shield her daughter Sean from rumors that still affect her family. 

Jaxon and Iris are still dealing with past pain as they tries to move forward. I like that this book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I like Margot and how she was patient with Jaxon as she deal with her past. Sometimes you have to confront the past in order to let go.
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This is not one of Ali Vali's action based books (as may be surmised from the synopsis).. Is it a second chance at love? Why is Iris's daughter the double of her lost love Jaxon? This is an enjoyable story of what happened to two teenagers after they went their separate ways at the end of high school. There is no real angst or tragically heart breaking betrayal. But it is an entertaining read.
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So I've written in the past of my rollercoaster relationship with Ali Vali's books. I tend to either end up enjoying them well enough. or really disliking them. And since I never quite know what to expect, I usually wait to see some other reviews on her works, and don't try to get them as ARCs. But when I read the blurb of this book, it intrigued me so much that I made an exception to my usual proceedings and requested it. I had no idea where this book would go and the mystery implied seemed riveting to me. So I was very excited to read this book. 

Calumet is the story of Jaxon Lavigne and Iris Long. Jaxon and Iris secretly dated in high school in their small Louisiana town, but after they were split up right after high school, Jaxon turned her back on the town and never returned- and has become a very successful English professor in California. Iris stayed in her hometown and married a local. But when a high school reunion dawns Jaxon decides to return to town and confront some demons from her past, but just finds out more. 

I want to start off by saying, this book has a love story and it is a prominent one- but I would not label this book as a romance novel. I know Vali writes more than romance, but many of her standalone books are romance novels. But this is a different kind of standalone. This is a book that is more about exploring different decisions people make in their lives in regards to people they love, and it is about emotionally dealing with past hurts and injustices and what it takes to deal with those. And I really enjoyed it. 

The characters are really interesting. Iris and Jaxon are both carrying past hurt and dealing with their issues in different ways. Watching the dual character exploration that takes place primarily in their heads was good. I appreciated how their thought processes took place. 

My favorite characters were probably all the secondary characters however. Sean, Iris' daughter is wonderful and nuanced in the best teenager way, Birdie and Eugena in Jaxon's life were lovely too. but my favorite character was definitely Margot, Jaxon's girlfriend. They were so lovely together and I just loved how happy she made Jaxon whenever they spoke and interacted. 

What I also found interesting in this book is that Vali books often have a very "good guys vs bad guys" theme to them- but all of the characters in this book felt a lot more shades of grey- with one small exception. Even the characters you might love to hate in this book definitely have redeemable parts to them. Particularly the father figures of the book. 

My criticisms are more minor. I actually spent about 60% or so of this book worried that I would HATE the ending, but fortunately it worked out in a way I very much enjoyed. And also there were occasional times I would have trouble remembering who was speaking or what was happening around the characters as they interacted, but that might just be on me too. And I didn't love the slight Lord of the Flies praise but that might just be my taste in classic literature 

I think this is the first Vali book I've rated higher than 4 stars. It's definitely my favorite of hers, and I really like that she is pushing herself as a writer. 4.5/5
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I received this book for free for an honest review from netgalley #netgalley

I really didn't like the ending of this book but it was a great journey to get there and very unconventional.
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I always look forward to a new Ali Vali book. They are always well written and Calumet was no exception.
The story pulls you in from the very first paragraph and it's not similar to any other book I've read before.
I love how Ali Vali keeps coming up with new ideas. There are no grammar or spelling errors, in my opinion It's a flawlessly flowing book. Loved the book and the author.
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Wow, Ali Vali delivers a knock out of a story.  Dr. Jaxon Lavigne is a college English professor at UCLA and hasn't returned to her hometown in over a decade.  When she receives an invitation to her 15 year high school reunion her partner Margot, an actress, encourages her to attend.  She's hoping Jaxon will be able to move on from her past so they can move forward in their relationship.

Iris Long Gravois is Jaxon's first love.  She stayed in Chackbay, Louisiana and married the high school quarterback.  But rumors about Jaxon and Iris still effect her marriage and family.  I thought this was going to set up a high school sweethearts second chance trope which I've enjoyed by other authors.  But Vali goes a different direction and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see how everything plays out.  

The writing is top notch.  I like the love of literature, reading and the written word that is promoted.  There is thoughtfulness in a story Jaxon uses to teach while visiting her old HS.  And Margot is one of my favorite main yet side characters.  I feel mixed about the ending because I was happy and sad at the same time.  Thank you NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an ARC ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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This wasn’t the traditional romance in the sense that the plot doesn’t revolve around the love story of two people. There is a romance aspect but it plays more of a secondary role. The plot revolves more around the main character addressing her past traumas from her youth and coming to terms with her future, while unveiling some surprises along the way. As I read, I kept wondering if there was a personal aspect for Vali and if this was a cathartic topic. This was drastic departure from her comfort zone. As others have said, it was nothing I was expecting. It was well written, and a good story, just didn’t appeal to me. The stars are based on the quality of the story, not my personal likes.
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Calumet is an incredibly written story that contains an every day situation for too many people.
Jaxon Lavigne was told to get out of her family home as her high school graduation neared. Now years later she has worked hard and become a successful college professor attracting students who want to learn from her and some who just are attracted to her.  But Jaxon is involved with someone and is very happy.   
Now she has received another invitation to her high school reunion and as usual has no interest in going back to this small minded community but her best friend has asked her to go with him this year. 

Iris Long  lives and works in this small town and is in charge of the reunion and has hope that her first love will return some day.
She has a long buried secret that isn't as much of a secret as she had tried to make it. Her life is mundane  but good and there's always that nagging feeling of what could have been. 
Jaxon decides to go back but she's not sure why.  Once there she doesn't find that much has changed and is anxious to get back home until she meets a young high school student with the same dreams she had and looks very familiar.  Then she meets the girls mother, Iris.  Jaxon and Iris haven't spoken since graduation when Jaxon had asked her to leave with her. But Iris was not secure enough to do so. How does her daughter look so much like Jaxon?

Ali Vali is extraordinary writer bring such life to her characters and amazing depth to her stories  You will enjoy this and the end will leaving feeling.  Feeling what is the question.
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OMG this is such a sad story. I'm super conflicted if I'm happy with the ending or not but I'm saluting the author for not making this such a typical story. this is well written and so worth the read. 

thank you for the author and her team
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Oh wow, this book was nothing like I thought it was going to be based off the synopsis alone. My mind automatically jumped to a specific troupe based off the blurb and I was surprised to find that I was wrong. It was nice to read what ended up being an unexpected surprise. Also, this book was very well-written and the dialogue and pacing felt on point. I really, really enjoyed it. I might just have to buckle down and commit to reading the Cain Casey series because I’ve enjoyed everything Ali Vali has written that I’ve read so far. I would definitely recommend reading this.
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