Q: what’s one of your fave romance small towns?
Last week I started Jill Shalvis’s The Forever Girl, immediately had my heart squeezed by the talented hands of an Emotional Wizard, & decided that I would continue reading it another day 🤣.
Yesterday was the day & I approached it full steam ahead, both really enjoying it & determined to see this couple get their HEA.
The book opens with four friends/foster siblings gathered at the grave of the boy they lost & whom they all miss greatly.
Mazey Porter, called Maze & sometimes Mayhem Maze, also feels terribly guilty for his death, a guilt that has made her act out in certain ways & that hasn’t been helped by her fear of abandonment & of being vulnerable w/ others.
Walker Scott is also there at the grave, a man she lived with for a year when they were teens, the man she drunkenly married as a young 20-something in Vegas, the man she tries to ignore—& who does the same to her—even though she can never fully do that.
Three years of not talking later, when one of their foster siblings hatches a plan to have them all back in the same Wildstone house for a week, Mazey & Walker can’t stay away from each other. Maybe this time they can figure it out...once the truth about Mazey’s fake boyfriend/best friend she roped into accompanying her comes out, that is.
This book is hardhitting in the emotional department, from the friendships to Mazey & Walker, to another foster sibling, Cat. If you like found family then The Forever Girl might be your jam because it’s all about grabbing on tight to the people you feel are your own.
While the relationship between Mazey & Walker isn’t quite as steamy as I would like, the chemistry is there & I love how complementary they are.
That leads me to my critique of this novel—it just feels obvious to me that they belong together, that they know it too, despite what they think sometimes & say—& this plus the forced proximity & how he’s always seeking her out—I don’t know 🤷🏻♀️—the tension, the will they or won’t they, is a little weak for me.
Still, this is a really great read written by an author who knows how to play the heart like a musical instrument .
References to past abuse, parental neglect, & death of a child. There’s also an insensitive joke comparing someone’s dancing to a seizure.
4 ⭐️. The Forever Girl is out on 01/12/21. Thanks to William Morrow & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
🥃 Q: have you read any romance novels set where you live?
Max Abbott is a bit taken aback when Quinn Bazemore, the woman he fell in love with 13 years ago & then DUMPED, matter-of-factly strides back into his life like the Business Queen she is & says hi, everyone, I’m working with you on a new product roll-out.
Max and his family own King’s Finest Distillery & they’re going to use fruit from Quinn’s grandfather’s orchard to produce fruit-flavored brandies. As a PR pro Quinn’s got a lot to add to their initiative...even if Max doesn’t want to bring her on-board.
But Quinn’s determined to ignore the memories of their one summer, even if that’s proving impossible for both of them.
This second chance romance is a scrumptious, dishy treat with lots of layers. Reese Ryan crafts a story that feels complex despite it’s shorter length—there’s the history between Quinn & Max, their efforts to roll-out their product, & a family rivalry that I think will get more air-time in the next book.
There are some elements of Quinn & Max’s story that feel a little thin to me, but for the most part I felt satisfied by the emotional depth of A Reunion of Rivals, particularly after Max starts opening up.
That guy took a little while for me to warm up to—until his secrets started spilling out. Then I discovered he was mushy soft on the inside & as emotionally devastated by Quinn as I had hoped.
And Quinn—what a woman. I love her professionalism, her confidence. There are a couple of times where she puts Max in his place & I was so happy to see her standing up for herself and for the younger woman whose heart had been broken.
A Reunion of Rivals is a great intro to the Abbott family and their distillery. I’m definitely coming back for more (ya know, at some point. Anyone else’s TBR getting out of control?).
CW: the heroine was previously harassed & lied about at work and resigned (off page)
A Reunion of Rivals is available now. Thanks to Harlequin Publishing and Netgalley for my complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Sarah Hogle’s You Deserve Each Other kept me on my toes. Part grenade explosion, part tender re-connection, this book had me wondering what bad things happened to a once-in-love couple and if they’d make it back to each other even as my insides danced with laughter.
At the beginning of the book Naomi decides that she’ll do whatever it takes to get her fiancé Nicholas to break off their engagement. She’s started measuring her love for him in percentages and they’re not favorable.
To her shock, Nicholas has the same intentions and it turns into an all-out war to infuriate/annoy the other into saying I don’t and never will.
Sarah Hogle’s writing style is a dream and THIS IS A ROM COM which means it’s funny as hell. Once Naomi and Nick start letting their walls down, things turn from a shrapnel-flying battlefield to sweet, meaningful gestures and the sexual explosion we’ve all been waiting for. Kaboom.
But in general the whole lovers to enemies to lovers trope is a somewhat difficult one for me. Think about it: the author has to show so many different dynamics and make you feel each one. In this case, Hogle skillfully transforms them from enemies back to lovers but I had a harder time understanding and accepting the transition from lovers to enemies in the first place (& why Nicholas would make a decision he makes on the way back). Hogle gives some explanations but ultimately I wasn’t 100 percent convinced by their journey.
You Deserve Each Other is a madcap romance and I could have grabbed some popcorn, I enjoyed the show so much. Though there are some things about Naomi and Nicholas’s story that didn’t entirely convince me, the humor of it is a joy and so are their moments of vulnerability. After all, we probably don’t identify with butchering our own bangs out of spite but we *might* identify with not always being our best self; the frustrations of interfering relatives; and the butterflies that come with finding the person who sees you and loves you.
You Deserve Each Other is available now. Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for my complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Give me that HEA, please.
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