Make Me Exhale by Marie Johnston

Make Me Exhale by Marie Johnston is the final book in the Oil Barrons Series.

Isla Barron, the youngest of Cameron and Naomi’s children, has recently inherited her trust fund at the age of 25. With a burning passion for beer-making, she sets her sights on converting an old train foundry into a brewery and event center, a dream that she keeps hidden from her family.

To bring her vision to life, Isla hires McCoy Cunningham, a project manager from McDaniel Construction, owned by McCoy’s mother, Sylvia McDaniel. McCoy is a quiet, imposing figure, known for his curt and brusque demeanor. His past experiences with another brewery and an ex-girlfriend have left him emotionally scarred and averse to relationships.

The central theme of this series is communication. Although the characters are open to offering advice and criticism, they rarely engage in meaningful conversations or ask important questions. This leads to problems as Cameron, Isla’s father, his pride and arrogance have caused lasting repercussions for his family. However, his acceptance of his mistakes and their effects on his loved ones is a significant turning point in the story.

Isla the youngest in the group of siblings she often feels left out and overlooked. She has been the rule follow and under the thumb of her parent’s for longer. She has not learned to ask for what she needs. Isla not using her voice she is often not thought of her by her siblings and cousins, causing her to feel isolated. The themes in this book of isolation and feelings of loneliness even when in a crowded room speak to many of us. Isla’s story is one of following her dreams and finding her voice, all while learning the importance of communication and honesty.

Isla undergoes a transformation when she starts to challenge decisions made by others and assert her own opinions, leading her to discover much about herself. As expected, the renovation project faces various challenges and delays. However, the underlying reasons for the delays become the source of conflict in the story. Meanwhile, McCoy’s relationship with his mother is fraught with tension, as he feels that she uses him for her own benefit. This subplot deserved more attention and resolution.

The series has been a delightful journey of self-discovery and personal growth for the Barron siblings. The final book in the series brings all the character arcs to a satisfying conclusion, allowing the readers to witness the characters’ transformation firsthand. Amidst the development of the main characters, the story is also peppered with steamy scenes that add a touch of romance to the narrative. While the series has been a delight for readers looking for romances centered on personal growth it also has been a window in to the amazing talent from this author.

Book Stats:
Rating 5/5
Series: Oil Barrons
Tropes: Small Town, Age- Gap, Grumpy Sunshine, Foodie/Beer Romance, DIY

Review of Previous Book in the series