Hey everyone! I hope you’re all doing well. I’m back today with more reviews. This time it’s a new book from the author of Evvie Drake Starts Over, followed by an exciting Hollywood-based debut from Ava Wilder.


Reviews:  FLYING SOLO and HOW TO FAKE IT IN HOLLYWOODFlying Solo Goodreads

Author: Linda Holmes

Publication Date: June 14, 2022

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Linda Holmes’ new novel Flying Solo follows Laurie Sassalyn, a soon to be 40-year-old woman, who has just called off her wedding and returned to her Maine hometown because her beloved great-aunt Dot has passed away. Laurie has been tasked with handling Dot’s estate and what starts out as a few weeks of sorting through boxes of photos and souvenirs from Dot’s travels over the years, unexpectedly turns into a journey of self-discovery and a second chance at love for Laurie. The catalyst for all of this?  Surprisingly, a hand carved wooden duck decoy that Laurie finds wrapped in a blanket and stored in a trunk.  Convinced that the duck has some significance, Laurie sets out to see if her hunch is correct. As she begins her research on the wooden duck, she ends up at the library and comes face to face with her former high school boyfriend, Nick Cooper, who is now the town librarian.  It’s clear the two still have chemistry and some unfinished business, but is Laurie ready for love?

I enjoyed this story quite a bit. I’m a sucker for a good second chance romance so I was excited as soon as Laurie and Nick reconnected and it was clear the feelings were still there.  Both Laurie and Nick are such likeable characters, and I loved the banter between them.  I also loved how realistic the dialogue between them felt as they grew closer and tried to navigate the logistics of a possible long-distance relationship since Laurie has no intention of staying in Maine.  The conversations between them felt so authentic that I could easily imagine a real couple in a similar situation having the same conversations.

One area where the story fell a little flat for me, however, was the duck subplot.  While on the one hand, it was fun to follow Laurie as she searched for what made the duck so important to Dot and to learn more about Dot’s life by extension, after a while, it felt like the duck mystery was in the way of Laurie and Nick’s story, which was what I was most invested in.

Flying Solo was still a very solid read for me though and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys second chance romances and journeys of self discovery.  3.5 STARS


Reviews:  FLYING SOLO and HOW TO FAKE IT IN HOLLYWOODHow to Fake It in Hollywood Goodreads

Author: Ava Wilder

Publication Date: June 14, 2022

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Dell

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Ava Wilder’s debut novel How to Fake it in Hollywood is one of those books that you definitely cannot judge by its cover.  I went in expecting a light-hearted flirty romance, and instead, I found myself immersed in a moving, emotional and sometimes painful story that centers on grief and loss.  I love a good angsty read, so even though I was surprised, I was not disappointed.

I was drawn to this story by the promise of the fake relationship trope, and again, I was not disappointed.  Grey Brooks is an actress who, even though she had success as a teen in a long-running soap, is now struggling to really kick her career into high gear.  Her publicist comes up with a scheme to put Grey in the spotlight – to fake a love affair with Ethan Atkins, a former but now disgraced Hollywood heartthrob who is looking to make a comeback. Both Grey and Ethan are desperate enough to agree to meet in person to discuss the idea, and after some initial head butting and trading of barbs, they both agree to give fake dating a try.

I loved both of these characters so much.  Grey is feisty and scrappy and even though she’s a bit star struck by Ethan at first, she doesn’t hesitate to put him in his place when it’s warranted.  Ethan is a little prickly at first, but as I got to know more about him and what he has been going through, particularly the death of his best friend and writing partner, my heart just broke for him.  Ethan is struggling with grief, depression, addiction, and he just desperately wants to get his act together, especially so that he can spend more time with his daughter and secure more visitation with her than he has been allowed since he started spiraling.

The story was fun in terms of watching Grey and Ethan try to navigate the early stages of their fake relationship, especially when they were out in public.  There are definitely some hiccups along the way for them, but I really loved it once they realize their chemistry with one another is way more than just acting.  The real action takes place when they are together in private and they start to support and care about one another.  I was really rooting for them to become a real couple and was glued to the pages each time their budding relationship was threatened, first by paparazzi invading their privacy and then again by the media, when a reporter tries to get a rise out of Ethan about the death of his friend.

How to Fake It in Hollywood does have some steamy, sexy, and fun moments, but overall it is a story filled with depth and emotion, and with richly developed characters that will tug at your heartstrings.  4 STARS

14 replies
  1. Angela
    Angela says:

    Wow, that is not what I was expecting from How to Fake It In Hollywood! It still sounds like a fantastic read, although I’m glad I read your review first so I won’t be too surprised by the tone.

  2. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books says:

    Your description of How to Fake It in Hollywood really doesn’t seem to match the cover. (My ongoing pet peeve with illustrated covers. Not *every* book cover has to be illustrated – especially when it doesn’t match the tone of the novel.) My heart already hurts as it sounds like he is navigating a lot in his life. I might pick this one up.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, it was so much weightier than I was expecting. I’m glad I like those heavier reads; otherwise I might have been disappointed.

  3. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    I liked Flying Solo a bit more than you, and I guess I appreciated the reason for the duck subplot. For me, I thought digging up more information about Aunt Dot pushed Laurie to discover more about herself and the idea of independence and love she had.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yeah, I appreciated the reason for it. I guess I just got bored with it after a while, especially all of the shenanigans when it goes missing.

  4. verushka
    verushka says:

    I’m reading your review of How to Fake it in Hollywood and looking at the cover and wondering how on earth did such a lovely story about so much more than the romancw get that cover?

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