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Summary

I had a perfect life. Schoolteacher. Married to my high school sweetheart. Little starter house that we called charming but was really just old. All I needed was the 2.5 kids, and I’d be living my perfect dream. Then my husband died.

After the funeral, I had a breakdown that lasted for a month...or 12. But now I’m reemerging, healing, finding my way. It’s time to learn who I am now and whether or not I can fix a leaky sink. And by my side, the entire time, is my husband’s best friend, Liam. The single dad knows a thing or two about personal struggles and about how to replace faucets.

With Liam, I feel alive again. Confident. Capable. Liam has become my best friend, too. Except if my parents, my in-laws, and the rest of the town had any say, I’d stay far away from him and his bad-boy reputation.

How do I admit to them what’s so hard to admit to myself? That I’m starting to look at him like he’s more than a friend. That the heat in his eyes when he looks at me is far beyond friendly. That like it or not, Liam makes me feel whole again.

©2021 Lisa Elijah (P)2021 Lisa Elijah

What listeners say about Make Me Whole

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    4 out of 5 stars

Heartfelt & Beautiful!

‘Make Me Whole’ is book 1 in the ‘Oil Barrons’ series and is a standalone. As the synopsis of the book states, this book follows best friends Liam and Kennedy on their journey from grieving friends-to-lovers.

Kennedy having struggled after losing her husband is finally ready to start slowly coming out of that shell and getting active back in society. Liam having helped her throughout the grieving process, as well as, also grieving himself (he was best friends with Kennedy’s husband) is there as a shoulder for her to lean on. Whilst all this is happening, we see their journey turn romantic.

I loved the storyline in this book. Both characters were endearing as well as complex. I loved how we saw Liam being there for Kennedy both as a platonic friend and then later as a romantic partner. Speaking of which, I loved how we saw them being very close friends at first, and then saw how and why their friendship developed into more. Everything about that journey was believable. This book also dealt with some heavier topics including grief, and I loved how it was handled.

I also felt that the pacing of this book was great. Everything seemed to flow well.

Some of the other side characters were very annoying though; most notably her in-laws and Liam’s father (and the people who shun Liam due to his father’s influence), but I suppose that was the author’s intention. So I guess, mission accomplished in that regard.

I listened to this book via audio and enjoyed every moment. Narrated by Lee Daniels and Tyler Darby, it was very easy to listen and get really into the story. Both narrators did a wonderful job. I really felt the emotions with this one, especially due to some of the harder topics explored within this book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it, especially the audiobook version.

I was provided a free audio copy of this book. However, all opinions shared are my honest thoughts about this book.

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Profile Image for Jennie @lostinbooklandia
  • Jennie @lostinbooklandia
  • 11-04-22

Heartfelt Small Town Romance

Marie Johnston writes beautiful, tug at your heart, slow burn, steamy romances. This slow burn, friends to lovers romance was the perfect weekend listen. Liam and Kennedy’s story was wonderful. They both have missing pieces in their lives and are struggling to fit in a town who sees Liam as a bad guy and Kennedy as the helpless widow. Liam has been in love with Kennedy since they were in High school and now that she is ready to move on from her husband’s death, Liam is the only man who makes her heart flutter again. They both struggle with their growing attraction and feelings toward each other, especially, since Kennedy was Liam’s best friend’s wife.

I’ve read Marie Johnston’s books before and really enjoyed them, however, on audio it was just as delightful. Lee Daniels and Tyler Darby narrate this story. They are new to me narrators who did a lovely job bringing Liam and Kennedy to life. At first, it hard for me to getting into the narration, but as the story progressed I started to feel the connection between the characters and narrators. Overall, this angsty, melt your heart, slow burn, a bit forbidden friends to lovers romance was a nice change of pace from all the mafia romance I was reading. It made me appreciate the slow growing connection between two characters who have a lot to loose, but along the way find something even better that will complete them in ways they never thought possible. This was the perfect start to the Oil Barrons series, and hope to read/ listen to more.
I would definitely recommend this story and any other Marie Johnston book.

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  • J.G
  • 01-04-22

Great start to a new series!

Make Me Whole will set you on an emotional journey of healing and opening your heart again. It’s a friends to lovers romance that follows a young widow trying to pick up the broken pieces of her life after a year of mourning her husband who died suddenly and far to young. And a single dad who has been outcast by a town due to his father and scandal that he is an innocent victim of. He was also best friends/cousin to the man Kennedy our heroin has been grieving for. This is not an easy love story of two people meeting and falling in love. Both have their own pains and baggage. Liam really steps up to help Kennedy start to move forward and that’s when deeper feelings start to develop.

There is a lot I enjoyed about this listen. One was that nothing felt glossed over or forced. I loved the friendship of Liam and Kennedy as much as the love between them. I loved that Liam let her set the pace in her process of moving on from her grief. There was such a realistic raw element to it that made me so emotional on a personal level. Sometimes the simplest tasks can seem like climbing mountains when you are grieving someone. Like packing their belongings,  or going to a hardware store to fix something that was usually done by the person you lost. And a feeling of victory when you can say one day I’m okay. I also loved that Liam was a hard working single dad who did what needed to be done to care for his boys and grandma. I was also intrigued by other characters in the story and that has made me anxiously waiting for the next in the series.

The narrators were perfectly cast for these characters. Lee Daniels really brought Kennedy to life in all the layers of emotions she went through. And Tyler Darby is a new to me Narrator I really loved his deep voice that was gentle in all the right places with a bitter edge in others Tyler really gave balance to the voice of Liam and after Listening I could not picture the character being voiced by anyone else.

Overall a fantastic listen. I enjoyed these characters, I loved the drama the touch of angst the friendship and love.  it’s a story I could listen to again and again

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Profile Image for BecJeanABN
  • BecJeanABN
  • 30-03-22

Emotional and beautiful!

Make Me Whole, book 1 in the new Oil Barrons series by Marie Johnston, is a beautiful friends to lovers romance. Set in a small town, Kennedy is trying to move on from her husband's death. His best friend, Liam, is doing his best to take care of her and his twin sons. As they start to realize their attraction for each other, they act on it and realize they can help heal each other.

The narration by Lee Daniels and Tyler Darby are spot on for Kennedy and Liam. Both narrators are new to me, but they were fantastic. Lee Daniels specifically blew me away in moments of grief. I really felt it and it made me feel more connected to the characters and story.

Marie Johnston is also new to me, but I can't wait to see where she takes this series. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a classic romance where despite adversity, love wins.

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  • Jocelyne
  • 30-03-22

Beautiful slow burn romance!

This is the first book in the Oil Barrons series, a Small Town Romance. I like Marie Johnston's writing. Kennedy and Liam's story is beautifully written, very emotional, heartbreaking, and heartwarming afterward. They are both great characters. Kennedy's past is heartbreaking. She is beautiful, strong, and supportive. Liam, a single dad, is handsome, caring, and supportive. His twin sons are cute. The storyline has angst, drama, and some family issues. The supporting characters are interesting. I loved Laney and Liam's grandmother. This is a beautiful slow burn romance, friends to lovers, and second chance at love. Lee Daniels and Tyler Darby did an amazing job with the narration. I enjoyed it. Looking forward for more in the series.

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  • Erin Lewis
  • 28-03-22

Enjoyable

Having read a number of books by Marie Johnston I was happy to learn that she had a new series, Oil Barrons releasing. This was an emotional story that drew me in and held my attention throughout and this is Kennedy and Liam’s friends to lovers story.
After her husband dies she turns to single dad and her husband's best friend Liam for strength and support, despite those around her advising her to keep away from him.
However as she slowly comes to terms with her grief and her mourning she begins to have feelings for Liam as he brings light back into her life. It is also obvious that Liam has feelings for her too as they both struggle to come to terms with their feelings.
Ms. Johnston handle the subject of grief and mourning well. As secrets are revealed and loyalties tested, Kennedy and Liam will be tested as will those around them.
The narrators Lee Daniels and Tyler Darby were both new to me. They did a good job in expressing the emotions and grief that the characters go through. Their voices were pleasing and easy to listen to and they brought the story and the characters to life for me.
My emotions were all over the place reading this story, there were times that I was angry , frustrated, moved to tears and my heart just about broke for this couple. Make Me Whole was a well written, heart warming story and I cannot wait to see what the author has in store for this series.

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  • J. Allen
  • 28-03-22

Book 1 - Oil Barrons

Book 1 in Johnston's new Oil Barrons series. This is Kennedy and William's story. A beautifully well written and perfectly narrated romance of second chances. Loss and heartbreak and of new beginnings and finding yourself and your strength. Kennedy's story was so heartwarming to listen to and I can't stress enough how well I feel Johnston portrayed her character and the growth, emotions and conflicts she went thru. Same with William / Liam's character - how small towns and family dynamics never seemingly go away. Amazingly written. Dual narration is always a bonus but these two did a great job in bringing these characters to life and not providing distractions from the storyline but smooth flowing. Overall a great read and I am highly looking forward to more in this series and this crazy small town family dynamic!

I received this book for free at my request and I voluntarily provided this review.

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  • Lisa X
  • 25-03-22

Loved getting to know these two!

What a sweet lovely story! I enjoyed the storyline and characters (both primary and secondary). One of my favorite things about it is how well we get to know both Kennedy and Liam. They each have some past issues and we get to watch them overcome and grow to become better people.

The secondary characters are delightful. There are all ranges from mean and spiteful to silly and kind. I really enjoyed getting to know them all.

I did listen to this on audio. The narrators are new to me and they both did exceptional! They really helped bring this story to life! I throughly enjoyed listening to this book! In fact one of my favorite characters gets her book next. I cant wait!
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  • MissTina44
  • 24-03-22

A heartwarming small town read

Make Me Whole is a sweet, heart-breaking but feel-good small town romance, about two best friends who find love after a tragedy. This is a journey of discover for Kennedy…..to find herself and stand on her own two feet, after grieving the death of her husband. The author handles the transition from grief to recovery very well. Liam is her closest friend and was her husbands’ best friend. He’s been her rock, supporting her during her grief. So how do these two tip-toe through their attraction that’s blossoming?

I liked the narrators. Both are new to me and I’m glad to discover them.
Lee Daniels embodied the uncertain insecurity of Kennedy in the beginning and adapted the strength the character developed as the story progressed. I love Tyler Darby’s narration, embodying that quiet strength which is Liam. He sounds so much like Josh Lucas, who’s dang cute with a sexy voice, so it wasn’t a stretch to envision him as Liam.

The premise of the story intrigued me, yet I wasn’t as engaged in the romance aspect as I wanted to be. This story really dove into Kennedy’s personal development, moving forward after grieving for her husband and becoming independent without the help of her family. She’s learning to rely on herself and Liam supports her while both discovering feelings for each other. So I felt a slight lack of romance in the story for my taste. I wish there was more yearning between the two. Or at least from Liam’s side earlier on, since Kennedy was still trying to come to terms with the idea of possibly dating again.
Overall, this is a great beginning of a new series by Marie Johnston.

*Thanks to Home Cooked Books for providing a copy of this ALC. All opinions are my own.

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Profile Image for Jenn Amy
  • Jenn Amy
  • 24-03-22

An emotional friends to lovers romance!

Make Me Whole is a heartbreakingly beautiful, emotional friends to lovers romance, about finding love after loss, healing and beginning again. This is my first time listening to Marie Johnston and it will not be my last. Kennedy and Liam’s story captivated me from the moment I begin listening. There are some tough moments of grief and pain for Kennedy as she finds her footing again after the loss of her husband, Derrick. She is mourning him, but is strong and determined to gain back her life and return to some normalcy and turns to Liam, Derrick’s best friend and cousin. Liam is Kennedy’s rock. His is strong for her, when she cannot be, he is supportive and patient and as she works through her grief. The romance between Kennedy and Liam is slow burn but the pacing and timing was perfect for their journey. There is a forbidden aspect to it, so rushing it would have felt unnatural and unrealistic to their story. Lee Daniels and Tyler Darby’s voices were perfect bringing Kennedy and Liam’s story to life. Their pacing, pitch and tone was perfect. Their storytelling is natural and flowed well. Both Lee and Tyler are new to me narrators and I will be looking out for more stories narrated by this duo in the future.

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Profile Image for Jan M
  • Jan M
  • 23-03-22

Awesome listen!

Make Me Whole by Marie Johnston pulled me in from the very beginning. The story has so many feels and wonderful characters. I felt so sorry for the young widow Kennedy trying to figure out her feelings for Liam. Small towns can be huge influences on one’s choices. The narrators, Lee Daniels and Tyler Darby both brought the characters to life with their voices. They each added the right emotions to them and I could envision so many details. I loved how the story flowed and felt like I was seeing things through their eyes. Definitely a great beginning to a new series!