Review: Second First Impressions (Sally Thorne)

Second First Impressions
Author: Sally Thorne

Publication Date: April 13, 2021
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From the USA Today  bestselling author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine comes the clever, funny, and unforgettable story of a muscular, tattooed man hired as an assistant to two old women—under the watchful eye of a beautiful retirement home manager.

Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.

Hilarious, warm, and romantic, Sally Thorne’s novel delivers an irrepressibly joyous celebration of love and community for fans of 99% Mine and The Hating Game.


I had a good time reading Second First Impressions. Ruthie was a young women who was old before her time. At twenty-five, she acted older than most of her peers. She worked and lived at a retirement community. Her life revolved around that and making sure she followed the rules and schedules she had mapped out for herself. She was a sweet person and I liked her.

Ruthie’s world is thrown out of whack when a new temp in her office comes up with a plan to help Ruthie date. Melanie wasn’t my favorite character. She had a place in this story, but I didn’t always love how she handled things. I don’t feel like she was most qualified to help Ruthie since she didn’t truly understand her.

Things are even more crazy for Ruthie when the property owner’s son, Teddy, shows up. The happy-go-lucky bad boy ends up living next to her. It changes her routines and shows her maybe she doesn’t really know her own “type”. I loved and disliked Teddy all at the same time. I didn’t always get a good read on the guy. I loved what he gave to Ruthie in someone who saw her for who she was. I disliked him because he showed her how he felt when he knew he was leaving. I know everything worked out the way it should, but on the journey this bugged me. I think what won me over in the end was how he treated the two ladies he worked for at the retirement communities. They might not have been very PC with him, but he took it all in stride and it made the book more fun with their shenanigans. Without that fun, this book would have been very dull.

Overall, Second First Impressions kept me entertained. It was character driven, and the characters definitely made the book. The plot was on the weak side, so I appreciated them.

Review: Wildflower Season (Michelle Major)

Wildflower Season
Series: Carolina Girls, #1
Author: Michelle Major
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

She always followed the path of least resistance…until it leads her to a small town where she can follow her dreams.

When Emma Cantrell’s marriage imploded, she learned a fast and painful lesson about trusting her heart. Then, on a visit to Magnolia, North Carolina, to see her brother, an elegant, if dilapidated, mansion for sale presents the opportunity to start over. Risking everything on her dream of opening the Wildflower Inn, Emma buys the house…just as the storm of the century hits, severely damaging the structure. But a chance meeting with Holly, a bride-to-be in desperate need of a new venue, gives her hope…and the name of a contractor who’ll work fast and cheap, allowing Emma to repair the inn in time to host the wedding and save her investment.

A furniture builder who hasn’t picked up a tool in the five years since his wife died, Cameron Mitchell has no intention of agreeing to help this beautiful—and, he’d guess, entitled—woman insisting that he fix her inn. Until he learns that Emma was sent by Holly, the little sister of his late wife. Grudgingly, Cameron agrees to do the work, with one condition: that he be left completely alone. But the more time they spend together, the more Emma touches a part of his heart he was sure died long ago, forcing him to try making peace with his past.


The Carolina Girls series is a spin-off of The Magnolia Sisters series. It’s set in the same small town of Magnolia with nods to the original sisters, but can be read as a standalone romance.

Emma is a transplant to Magnolia. She fell in love with a house and wants to turn it into an inn. She’s basically there to reinvent herself, but she quickly makes friends. Cam grew up in Magnolia, but has tried to avoid people since the death of his wife. When Emma approaches Cam to help her with construction at her inn, sparks fly. Cam and Emma’s relationship was sweet. Their start at co-workers helped develop a strong friendship (with benefits). I loved how they influenced each other to accept the past and move on from it.

One of the fun things about this book was the small town setting. It made the connections between all of the characters fun. Everyone knew everyone. The couples from The Magnolia Sisters series popped up here and there. A bunch of new characters were introduced. I liked seeing possible relationships that could pop up in future books. Although, there were times that all these introductions felt like it slowed down Cam and Emma’s story. I guess maybe that’s understandable for a first book in a new series.

Overall, Wildflower Season was a good read. The North Carolina setting was beautiful. Both the main characters and the side characters had depth. I enjoyed that everything wrapped up nicely at the end. It was a good start to the series.

Review: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba (Chantel Cleeton)

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba
Series: The Cuba Saga, #4
Author: Chantel Cleeton

Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

At the end of the nineteenth century, three revolutionary women fight for freedom in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel inspired by real-life events and the true story of a legendary Cuban woman–Evangelina Cisneros–who changed the course of history.

A feud rages in Gilded Age New York City between newspaper tycoons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. When Grace Harrington lands a job at Hearst’s newspaper in 1896, she’s caught in a cutthroat world where one scoop can make or break your career, but it’s a story emerging from Cuba that changes her life.

Unjustly imprisoned in a notorious Havana women’s jail, eighteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros dreams of a Cuba free from Spanish oppression. When Hearst learns of her plight and splashes her image on the front page of his paper, proclaiming her, “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba,” she becomes a rallying cry for American intervention in the battle for Cuban independence.

With the help of Marina Perez, a courier secretly working for the Cuban revolutionaries in Havana, Grace and Hearst’s staff attempt to free Evangelina. But when Cuban civilians are forced into reconcentration camps and the explosion of the USS Maine propels the United States and Spain toward war, the three women must risk everything in their fight for freedom. 


I have been a fan of Chanel Cleeton’s Cuba Saga since I read the first book. It’s been a delight to learn more about Cuba, its history, the people, and its relation to the United States through her words. Each book has a told a different story through multiple view points. The same was done with The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba. For this review, I’m going to tell you a little bit about each character and then I’ll sum up my final thoughts.

Grace Harrington – Grace wanted desperately to be a newspaper reporter like Nellie Bly. In order to become one, she found herself entrenched in the battle between the Journal and the World papers. This battle brought her attention to the one going on in Cuba. To be honest, it took me a while to get into this character’s story. I wasn’t immediately drawn to her desire to be a newspaper reporter. Once I got several chapters in her point of view, her involvement in the story became more fascinating to me. That was good because the majority of this book seemed to be in her POV. I also enjoyed Grace’s interactions with Rafael.

Evangelina Cisneros – This was the POV that I kept wanting more of. Evangelina was a real life person who went through some horrible things in Cuba. I could tell Cleeton did her due diligence researching her plight and life. I, like Americans of the time, found her life fascinating. I could have read a book entirely in Evangelina’s POV. I would have liked more of it in this book.

Marina Perez – It’s always nice to learn more about the Perez family. I found her backstory to be very interesting and her current life situation as well. I liked how her POV tied the story together. Marina was probably the least fleshed out character with the least amount of time spent on her POV. I would have loved more inclusion of her in this story.

Now for more on the book as a whole…

I found the subject of the Cuban Revolution to be incredibly interesting. I hate to say that I knew nothing about it prior to this book, but I knew nothing about it. I loved how Cleeton used real life inspiration to craft her story and create her characters. Each woman’s tale was well written and inspiring. I do have to mention that at times I found The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba to be quite information heavy. It had more information than her past books in this series and less focus on the romantic relationships. Being a romance reader, I missed the focus on that aspect. That being said, it was still a great read that fans of this series are sure to love.

Review: Heart & Seoul (Jen Frederick)

Heart & Seoul
Author: Jen Frederick

Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Women’s Fiction, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick comes a heart-wrenching yet hopeful romance that shows that the price of belonging is often steeper than expected.

As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn’t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she’s reminded that she doesn’t look like anyone else in her family—not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat’s new wife and new “real” son.

At the age of twenty-five, she thought she had come to terms with it all, but when her father suddenly dies, an offhand comment at his funeral triggers an identity crisis that has her running off to Seoul in search of her roots.

What Hara finds there has all the makings of a classic K-drama: a tall, mysterious stranger who greets her at the airport, spontaneous adventures across the city, and a mess of familial ties, along with a red string of destiny that winds its way around her heart and soul. Hara goes to Korea looking for answers, but what she gets instead is love—a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara home…or destroy her chance of finding one.


If I had a relationship status with this book, it would say “It’s complicated.”

As an adoptee, I am always fascinated by books about adoptees. I’m always looking for something I can identify with in them. Heart & Seoul was a little different of an adoptee read for me since I’m not a Korean American adoptee. I connected with many thoughts Hara had, but obviously not all. I’ve read some information about what it means society wise to be a Korean adoptee a few times. In my early childhood, I spent a lot of time with two different families with white parents and Korean adopted children. I never really thought about how different their experience as adoptees would be compared with mine until I reconnected with one of them through social media. Their thoughts and feelings about their adoption are way different than mine. I knew how they grew up and wanted to better understand their feelings. That was one of the reasons I was excited to read Heart & Seoul, along with the fact that I am a fan of Jen Frederick’s previous book.

Heart & Seoul was an emotional read from the start with Hara losing her adopted father. Her desire to search for her birth parents, and the reasons why, were easy to relate to. The journey she went on to Seoul was fascinating. I loved learning about Seoul, the customs, and some of the history of adoption there. Hara’s emotional journey was fraught with ups and downs. Her losses and gains were tough and had me hoping for a happy ending for her.

Since I brought up happy ending, I want to point out that this NOT a romance novel. You’re not going to come away with an HEA or HFN with this book. I didn’t realize this going into this book. Honestly, the ending is why I didn’t give this book 5 stars. I needed more resolution. Things ended too abruptly for me. The entire time I was reading Heart & Seoul, I kept thinking how different this book was from anything else I’ve read from Frederick — until I got to the drama and climax. That was exactly what I would expect from a Jen Frederick book. It shouldn’t have been shocking to me, but it was. That being said, I still enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it.

Review: The Last Night in London (Karen White)

The Last Night in London
Author: Karen White
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Karen White weaves a captivating story of friendship, love, and betrayal that moves between war-torn London during the Blitz and the present day.

London, 1939. Beautiful and ambitious Eva Harlow and her American best friend, Precious Dubose, are trying to make their way as fashion models. When Eva falls in love with Graham St. John, an aristocrat and Royal Air Force pilot, she can’t believe her luck—she’s getting everything she ever wanted. Then the Blitz devastates her world, and Eva finds herself slipping into a web of intrigue, spies, and secrets. As Eva struggles to protect her friendship with Precious and everything she holds dear, all it takes is one unwary moment to change their lives forever…

London, 2019. American journalist Maddie Warner, whose life has been marked by the tragic loss of her mother, travels to London to interview Precious about her life in pre-WWII London. Maddie has been careful to close herself off to others, but in Precious she recognizes someone whose grief rivals her own—but unlike Maddie, Precious hasn’t allowed it to crush her.  Maddie finds herself drawn to both Precious and to Colin, her enigmatic surrogate nephew.  As Maddie gets closer to her, she begins to unravel Precious’s haunting past—a story of friendship, betrayal, and the unremembered acts of kindness and of love.


Before I start this review, I have to talk about the author’s note. I have read all of Karen White’s books. Two on my list of favorites are Falling Home and After the Rain. It’s been years since I read those books and that is the only reason I have for not remembering who Maddie Warner was! Now, you don’t need to have read those two books to enjoy this one, but it sure had a delayed emotional impact on me when I made the connection! Now for the review…

The Last Night in London is one of those books that had my attention from the prologue. That chapter set up a story and mystery that had me questioning everything and everyone in the 1940’s setting. I was as curious as Maddie was to unravel the story in 2019. Even when I thought I knew, I don’t know that I knew what had happened with Precious, Eva, Graham, and Alex. It was frustratingly good to try and figure out.

As for the 2019 end of the story, I really enjoyed that part too. Maddie was a frustrating character when it came to her own life. She had her reasons, which I understood, but I wanted her to get over it. I loved how she played detective with Precious’ family to find out what had happened to her during the war and after.

Overall, this was another winner by Karen White. I love how she mixes past with present in her books, neither story winning me over more than the other. Both sides or timelines always keep me intrigued. She has done this with all her previous releases and again with The Last Night in London.

Review: The Idea of You (Robinne Lee)

The Idea of You
Author/Narrator: Robinne Lee

Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. For Solène, it is a reclaiming of self, as well as a rediscovery of happiness and love. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most. 


Robinne Lee is a talented author. Her words and sentences were beautiful without being flowery. There was this tone that carried throughout the entire book. I don’t know how to explain it other to say that it made me feel everything Solène was feeling. Lee is also a talented narrator. Her voice was Solène’s voice. She brought her character to life in the best way.

As for the story… Well, it’s about an almost 40 year old divorcee who meets a 20 year old boyband member when she takes her daughter backstage at his concert. Solène and Hayes embark on a clandestine affair that is somehow both sultry and sweet. Hiding things from her loved ones and the world isn’t easy, and Solène has to deal with what that means for herself and those closest to her. There are a lot of uncomfortable emotions and choices to be made. I couldn’t help but love Solène and Hayes despite their flaws. Solène’s POV is the only one in the book, and I kind of wanted Hayes’ too, but this book was more powerful with just Solène’s.

I want to say more about my thoughts and feelings, but I don’t want to give anything else about this book away. I guess I’ll wrap up with a couple of things. 1. That ending. If you have read this book, you know what I mean. Can I get a book from that point in Hayes’ POV? 2. In some ways, this is a romance. In other ways, it’s not. I wouldn’t want to slap the women’s fiction tag on it because that is not what it feels like to me. The Idea of You crosses over genre boundaries for me with its tone and subject matter.

Review: The Ex Talk (Rachel Lynn Solomon)

The Ex Talk
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Publication Date: January 26, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sparkling romantic comedy debut.

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.


I had a hard time figuring out my feelings about The Ex Talk. There were things I really loved about it, but the things I didn’t nagged at me. Here is what I loved and what I didn’t about this book.

What I loved:

  • The Seattle vibe. A lot of the times books set in Seattle focus too much on the well known landmarks and not on the actual vibe the city and the people have. The Ex Talk hit the vibe spot on.
  • The enemies to lovers trope. The banter was real, people. So was Shay and Dominic’s chemistry. I loved it!
  • The public radio thing. I liked both the setting part and The Ex Talk show itself.
  • Shay’s reactions to the conflicts she encountered.
  • The evolution of all the different types of relationships Shay had.
  • Overall, the writing was very good.

What I didn’t love:

  • The whole lying about being exes for the radio thing. That ethical conflict bugged the heck out of me, even if it made for an interesting story.
  • There was a section of the book from 15% to about 30% that I had to push myself to keep reading. I don’t know what was up with the section. Maybe too much set up toward the plot? All I know is that once I got back on track at 30%, things flew again for me.
  • Shay was annoying at time. She could be very self-centered.

Honestly, I think if things hadn’t gotten slow for me for a chunk of this book, I might have rated it higher even if I didn’t love everything about it. It was a good, unique book.

Audiobook Review: The Five Stages of Falling in Love (Rachel Higginson)

The Five Stages of Falling in Love
Author: Rachel Higginson
Narrator: Christine Marshall
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Audible Studios
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The Five Stages of Falling in Love is a Contemporary Romance.
Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief.

Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady’s prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her?

Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days.

When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn’t just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she’s capable of ever giving again.

As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there’s more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there’s more to life than death.


The Five Stages of Love has been on my TBR since it was released. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get to it. I’m seriously regretting that now. This book was heartbreakingly good.

Liz is has lost her husband and the father of her four young children. She’s simply trying to make it through the day when Ben moves in next door. As Liz moves through the stages of grief of Grady, she begins to develop a friendship with Ben. As their friendship morphs into more, Liz has to navigate her feelings over losing Grady and what it means to fall for Ben.

Like I said before, this book was heartbreakingly good. Liz’s grief was overwhelming at times, as it should have been. Listening to her navigate her understandable feelings was hard, but it was also rewarding. The way she worked through things and picked up the pieces of her life was inspiring. It might have taken time, but also felt natural. I loved how her feelings grew organically for Ben. I adored how Ben accepted Liz for who she was at any given moment, and also how he bonded with her children. The only thing I could have wanted from this book that wasn’t included was Ben’s point of view. I don’t blame Higginson for not including it, though. It might have distracted from the growth of Liz’s character.

The Five Stages of Falling in Love was a very beautiful story of grief and love. It broke my heart several times, but also put it back together. It touched me in ways I wasn’t expecting. I would highly recommend it. It is now my favorite Higginson book.

Review: Snapped (Alexa Martin)

Snapped
Series: Playbook, #4
Author: Alexa Martin
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

With the stakes this high, it’s no longer just a game for the quarterback in this romance by the author of Blitzed.

Elliot Reed is living her best life—or pretending to. She owes it to her dad’s memory to be happy and make the most of her new job as Strategic Communications Manager for the Denver Mustangs. Things are going well until star quarterback Quinton Howard Jr. decides to use the field as his stage and becomes the first player to take a knee during the national anthem.

As the son of a former professional athlete, Quinton knows the good, the bad, and the ugly about football. He’s worked his entire life to gain recognition in the sport, and now that he has it, he’s not about to waste his chance to change the league for better. Not even the brilliant but infuriating Elliot, who the Mustangs assign to manage him, will get Quinton back in line.

A rocky initial meeting only leads to more tension between Quinton and Elliot. But as her new job forces them to spend time together, she realizes they may have more in common than she could’ve ever imagined. With her job and his integrity on the line, this is one coin toss that nobody can win.


I was a little nervous prior to starting Snapped. I’ve enjoyed the Playbook series up until this point, and the reviews I have seen for this fourth book are very mixed. People seemed to either love or dislike it, so I wasn’t sure how it would hit me. Snapped started out with a letter from Martin about how the book and she relates to Elliot, the NFL, and the racial injustices/inequalities in it. I appreciated this letter because it enhanced how I saw the character and what was going on. It made me forgot about the worry I had and just dive in.

I enjoyed the experience of reading Snapped more than I thought I would. It didn’t really feel like a romance, more like women’s fiction for the most part. That didn’t bother me because I was immediately pulled in with the writing and story. Based on the subject matter it covers, I was imagining it being a heavy read. It had its heavy moments, mostly at the climax of the story, but was overall not too angsty. The build up to the climax did make me uncomfortable, but it was supposed to. Martin did a great job making me feel the tension Elliot was feeling. Did I love feeling that tension? Not really, but I pushed through.

What I liked the most about this book was Elliot and the self-discovery she went through.  I could feel her fears, frustrations, sadness, and hope. I can’t comment on how true to life her experiences were as I’m not biracial, but I’m hoping maybe they mirror the author’s enough to be authentic to readers who are.

Quinton was a gem of a character. I loved how he stood up for his beliefs and didn’t back down. I only wish I would have gotten dual point of view because I would have loved to hear his thoughts straight from his own head. It would have made this book and its topics that much more powerful.

I feel like I need to warn readers who are fans of the series at this point. I know I mentioned how this didn’t read like true romance novel to me (and it’s definitely not a rom-com). There’s a lot of getting to know each other, working together, and building rapport between Elliot and Quinton through most of the book. Things don’t truly progress further until about 70% and then it feels like fast forward was hit. I do wish the romance was heavier at the beginning, but the progression to the start of a relationship did feel natural.

Overall, Snapped was a good addition to this series. Each book has gotten a little heavier in subject manner, and this one continued that trend. I wish there had been a little more romance throughout the book, but I wouldn’t want it to take anything away from the important, relevant issues touched on. It also set up what I’m guessing is going to be book #5, which I am very interested in reading.

Review: Beach Read (Emily Henry)

Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.


Okay. I am going to apologize, but this review is going to start out with a bit of a rant. Beach Read is a classic example of why the illustrated cover trend needs to go. When I look at this cover, I think cute and happy romance. Then, I read the blurb and it confirms cute and adds funny to the happy romance. I seriously thought I was going to be reading a rom-com. People, I have not been this bamboozled by a cover and blurb since Meet Cute by Helena Hunting. The marketing for Beach Read is ALL wrong. This story does have a romance and there are some funny moments, but this is NOT a rom-com. It’s women’s fiction. Beach Read is an emotional journey filled with ups and downs. Plus, the cover and title don’t even fit the book. There’s not really much beach or a beach read involved. I struggled the first 15% of this book because I was expecting a rom-com. I was in the mood for a rom-com. I seriously debated DNFing. I had to put the book down for a day and come back to it with adjusted expectations. That’s the only thing that saved it for me. If this book hadn’t had such a sunny cover and a blurb that sounded more fun than emotional journey, I don’t think this all would have been an issue.

Okay, end rant. Let’s move on to the actual story. Emily Henry is a talented writer. She takes the characters (and reader) through some pretty heavy stuff while managing to add in some funny and romantic moments. This kind of gave the story a feel of being out on a lake — up and down with the waves of happiness and sadness. I really enjoyed the mix of emotional journey, mystery, romance, and familial relationships this book tackled.

January was a mess of a character. I understand why she had to be this way, but I kept thinking she felt more like a teenager than someone close to thirty. The way she avoided what needed to be dealt with was both annoying and understandable. I liked how she grew over the course of the book.

Gus was a lot of a mystery because we don’t get his perspective. It didn’t do him justice not to have his POV. It made him come off as a bad guy more than once. That being said, I loved it when he and January were in a groove together. They were a great couple who totally clicked.

So, yeah. I ended up enjoying Beach Read way more than I expected while I was in that first 15%. I enjoyed the journey it took me on and felt its impact at the end. Fans of the women’s fiction genre are going to like what this book has to give.