February 8, 2023 · 10:06 am
Sophie Sullivan’s A Guide to Being Just Friends feels like a page out of a Hallmark Channel holiday movie — well, minus the snow and season’s greetings.
Following a bad breakup, Hailey has put out her shingle in the business world under the banner of a new, made-to-order salad restaurant. Wes has gone into business with his brothers, trying to escape their domineering father and memories of a bitter divorce between his parents.
When the two cross paths in a meet-cute moment (he assumes she’s the woman he’s been chatting with online at the coffee shop next to Hailey’s salad shop), Wes realizes he owes Hailey an apology. And then, the dance begins as the two decide their lives are just too hectic to date, but they can be just friends.
Except there are things simmering here that could come to a full boil.
Sullivan crafts two protagonists you can easily root for in this romantic comedy. Along the way, there are speed bumps and, given the alternating viewpoints of both our potential romantic partners, this does lead to some frustration in later chapters when the (inevitable) conflict arises.
However, that’s not to say there isn’t a lot here to enjoy. There is, but there were moments I grew frustrated with the story and characters.
The audio version of this works well, though Timothy Andrés Pabon’s narration as Wes tends to come across a bit faster than Stephanie Willing’s does as Hailey. This makes the transitions from one narrator to the other a bit jarring a first, but you will easily settle into the rhythms and voice of each person telling his or her side of the story.
In all, this is a fairly fun diversion and one that I’d recommend if you want a Hallmark Channel-style rom-com.
I received an arc of the audiobook via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
July 15, 2021 · 6:00 am
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
During a recent Twitter DM thread with an old friend and published romance author, I asked if the fact that I not only read but enjoyed both of Emily Henry’s “romance” novels meant that I had to turn in my “guy card.” She assured me that it was OK to enjoy any writer and genre I wanted.
Reassured, I’m here to report that I really enjoyed Emily Henry’s latest novel People You Meet on Vacation. Poppy and Alex became accidental best friends following their freshman year of college. Carpooling back to their small town in Ohio, the two bonded over various shared interests and some interesting disconnects. A year or so later, the two made a pact to take a summer vacation together each year.
And so, things went well for the first decade or so as Alex pursued his master’s degree and then began to share his love of literature with unsuspecting English students and Poppy pursued her dream of traveling the world and getting paid to share her experience and advice. Then, there was the infamous summer in Croatia and the two haven’t spoken much for two years. Continue reading →
February 12, 2021 · 10:00 am
Victoria Schwab is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers — and I’m having a lot of fun exploring her catalog.
One aspect that makes Shwab’s output so appealing is her world-building. And that strength is fully on display with This Savage Song. In an urban fantasy world, a monster wants to be a human, and a human resisting the urge to become a monster. August and Kate come from the ruling families on opposite sides of a brewing conflict who are sent to the same school. Kate has been trying to get back home with her father since her mother died and August is sent undercover to keep an eye on her.
Schwab resists the urge to make August and Kate into a Romeo-and-Juliet-like couple, instead opting to make them become friends and reluctant allies in an attempt to keep a seemingly unstoppable impending war from happening. Each has his or her own secrets (August’s is particularly intriguing) and could be a useful pawn in the other side’s attempts to sway the balance of power.
Schwab’s world is full of strong characters, careful world-building, and earned dramatic escalations. The novel builds up the tension and does end on a cliffhanger that left me curious to pick up the next installment in the series and continue to explore this world and the lives of August and Kate. Continue reading →
December 29, 2020 · 7:00 am
Leading up to Christmas, I enjoyed a few holiday-themed audiobooks from Audible’s free for subscribers collections. One was my traditional (at least for a while) visit with Charles Dickens and the other two were very different ends of the rom-com spectrum.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (Adapted by R.D. Carstairs)
For a while, I followed a tradition of visiting Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol each holiday season. And while that tradition fell to the wayside the last few years, I decided that 2020 seemed like as good a time as any to revive it.
This year’s visit is a full-cast adaptation by R.D. Carstairs. Featuring a solid cast that includes Derek Jacoby as the narrator/Dickens, this version of the Carol hit all the right notes. The cast is solid, the adaptation is good, and I even found myself picking up a few highlights or notes that I hadn’t before.
Eight Winter Nights by Liz Maverick
Rachel met Oz at last year’s Hanukah party. But despite having a great connection and meeting him first, her friend Tamara swooped in and has been dating Oz for a year while Rachel pines away for him, filling journal after journal with love letters for Oz. Then, Oz hurts his leg and gets jilted by Tamara, who conveniently asks Rachel to take care of him while she’s partying in a sunny, warmer clime. Continue reading →
October 8, 2020 · 8:00 am
My wife loves romance novels. So, every once in a while I like to read (or listen to) one or two to understand and share that love with her.
And now, I’ve read three different books that are a bit outside of my usual reading comfort zone and I’ve got a few thoughts….
Beach Read by Emily Henry
January Andrews and August Everett have been rivals since their college days. But while January sees Gus on the best-seller list, she never quite expected to run him again.
That is, until, her world comes crashing down around her following the death of her father. Breaking up her long-term boyfriend, rocked by revelations about her dad’s fidelity (or lack thereof), and facing a looming deadline, January retreats to her father’s lakeside cottage to get it ready to sell and hopefully get some writing done. But she didn’t count on the fact that Gus Everett would live right next door. Continue reading →
October 25, 2018 · 1:29 am
Neither Ivy Long nor Gabe Ledbetter could have predicted the chain of events that led them to serve as Mary and Joseph at the drive-through nativity in the small town of Ellery, Tennessee.
A published romance author, Ivy has suffered writer’s block since her husband passed away and plans fell through with their foster child. Gabe has returned home from Memphis, with a failing marriage and a looming malpractice suit.
So, when a baby is left in the drive-through Nativity, neither Ivy nor Gabe expected they would become her care givers. Nor could they predict the impact this little girl would have on their hearts. Could this be a Christmas present or miracle to help them both move on from their past and maybe find a new love — not just for the little girl, but for each other. Continue reading →
Filed under ARC, book review, digital arc, netgalley, review
Tagged as ARC, book review, digital ARC, favorite, netgalley, review, romance, S
February 13, 2018 · 2:38 pm
Love is in the air for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl). In honor of Valentine’s Day, this week is a “love freebie.”
My top ten this week centers on pop culture couples I’ve enjoyed.
- The Taylors on Friday Night Lights. The initial hook of the show was about football in a small town. But what kept me hooked for five seasons was the characters and the relationships. And the centerpiece of that was Coach Eric Taylor and Tami Taylor. They had their ups, their downs and everything in between. And it always felt authentic. If you haven’t checked out Friday Night Lights yet, please add it to your “to be watched” list.
- Buffy and Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While many fans hold up season three as the pinnacle of Buffy greatness, this fan prefers season two. At the center of that was the relationship of Buffy and Angel. Over the course of 22 episodes, the two get together, consummate the relationship, and then have it all go to hell, ending with Buffy having to sacrifice Angel to save the world. I love season two and the roller coaster ride that is Buffy and Angel that year.
- Sheridan and Delenn on Babylon Five. One of the best sci-fi romances out there. If you haven’t watched Babylon Five, consider it a must-see.
- Bill Adama and Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica. Another sci-fi show that gets the romance angle right. The slow burn between Adama and Roslin is just part of what makes this one of the best shows ever made.
- Sam and Diane on Cheers. Cheers is a master’s course on how to do comedy — and how to do a romantic comedy. I’ve been visiting the series again and I’m pleased with how well it all holds up, especially Sam and Diane.
- Lois and Clark on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The first season is a screwball comedy delight and season three when Lois figures out that Clark Kent equals Superman has some high points. The series really jumped the shark when they had the five-part wedding storyline that ended with the characters not married and Lois suffering amnesia and falling in love with her therapist (but I’m not still bitter…noooooo, not at all!) But even when the series got completely off the rails, the chemistry of Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher made this show.
- Hildy and Walter from His Girl Friday. The perfect screwball comedy, this one is a joy to watch. I love the chemistry between the two divorced reporters and how we know from the first scene they share that they’re going to get back together. If you haven’t seen it, consider this one the second add to your watch list recommendation from this list.
- Posey and John from Bless Her Heart by Sally Kilpatrick. Hard to pick just one couple from Sally Kilpatrick’s romance novels, but this one was the most recent and freshest in my memory. Part of it may be that Posey and John are both flawed characters with unique pasts but can still fall in love. It’s not a smooth road and the ending doesn’t wrap it all up with a nice bow. It leaves our lovers in a place that feels authentic and that there’s potential for a great future together.
- Rory and Amy Pond from Doctor Who. Notice that I don’t put Rose and the Doctor here. I won’t spend eighteen hundred words going into why I didn’t care for their “romance.” Instead, I prefer Amy and Rory from the (superior) Moffat-era of the show. While it’s not perfect and the two have their ups and downs, I couldn’t help but enjoy their relationship.