Reviews: ASTRID PARKER DOESN’T FAIL & THE KEY TO MY HEART

 

Hey everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Sorry I fell off the face of the earth again.  Work stayed unexpectedly busy this week and then I got bogged down with holiday planning and basically forgot all about the blog.  I started playing catch up last night though so if I haven’t stopped by to comment on your posts yet, I’ll be there soon!  Today I’m back to review the latest releases from two authors I really enjoy.  Ashley Herring Blake is an author I first encountered through her YA novels and I just fell in love with the unforgettable characters she creates. I’m now loving her adult romance series just as much as I adored her YA novels.  Lia Louis is an author I just started reading last year and she quickly became a favorite after I read and fell in love with both Dear Emmie Blue and Eight Perfect Hours.  She just writes those books that tug at your heartstrings and have you reaching for the tissues.  Anyway, I’m thrilled to be able to share my thoughts on both of their latest endeavors.

 

Reviews:  ASTRID PARKER DOESN’T FAIL & THE KEY TO MY HEARTAstrid Parker Doesn't Fail (Bright Falls, #2) Goodreads

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Publication Date: November 22, 2022

Publisher:  Berkley

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

 

Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail is the second installment in Ashley Herring Blake’s Bright Falls romance series.  When I first met Astrid Parker in the first installment, I’ll freely admit that I couldn’t stand her.  Blake worked her magic though and had me loving Astrid by the end and wanting to know more about her.

When the story opens, Astrid has taken over her overbearing mother’s successful interior design business.  She is struggling to make a go of it though and, desperate to bring in new business, Astrid agrees to be the designer for the renovation of Everwood Inn, a once successful, but now dated, inn located in town.  Not only will she serve as the lead designer, but the entire renovation is being featured on Innside America, a popular home improvement reality TV series.

I’ve really been enjoying the trend of incorporating reality TV series into romance books, and its use here was a winner for me as well, as Astrid’s love interest is closely tied to this renovation project. Jordan Everwood not only grew up at Everwood Inn, but she is also serving as the lead carpenter on the project. Jordan is not overly excited about this renovation because she finds Astrid’s designs impersonal and devoid of any of the charm that makes the inn such a special place.  Some of the funniest moments in the book stem from Jordan plotting to sabotage Astrid’s designs.  Talk about sparks flying! It was so much fun watching their relationship evolve from being at odds over everything to finally coming together to make things happen.

What I especially loved about Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail though is that not only did I get to know Astrid better, but Astrid also learns so many things about herself.  She realizes that most of her struggles to take over her mother’s business stem from the fact that she actually has no passion for interior design and has only taken over the business because it was expected of her.  I enjoyed this journey for Astrid as she slowly realizes that if she wants to be happy and successful in life, she has to strike out on her own and figure out what she’s truly passionate about.

Astrid’s journey of self-discovery doesn’t stop with her career and with stepping out of her mom’s shoes though.  Her journey is also one of sexual awakening.  When she and Jordan first literally run into one another, Astrid doesn’t really understand the feelings she is experiencing because she has always considered herself solely attracted to men.  Once she realizes she truly is attracted to Jordan, she reflects back over her life and realizes she has always been bisexual.  I thought Blake did a wonderful job portraying this aspect of Astrid’s personal journey in a very realistic way.

I loved the balance between the hilarious moments, witty banter, and steam that I come to expect from rom-coms coupled with the more serious elements of self discovery that Astrid experiences.  It was also just great fun to be back in this world and to see Delilah and the rest of Astrid’s friend group again.  Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail is definitely a solid installment in the Bright Falls series.  4 STARS

 

Reviews:  ASTRID PARKER DOESN’T FAIL & THE KEY TO MY HEARTThe Key to My Heart Goodreads

Author: Lia Louis

Publication Date: December 6, 2022

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

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

 

The Key to My Heart is the third book I’ve read from Lia Louis and I think it’s my new favorite!

When we meet Natalie Fincher, she is just going through the motions from day to day.  Life has lost all meaning to her since she lost her beloved husband unexpectedly just over two years ago.  She goes to work and she sees her friends enough to keep them from worrying about her too much.  They all think she has been grieving long enough and should be ready to move on. I really loved how the author highlights how personal the grieving process really is and that there’s no set moment when a person should be ready to just get on with their lives. I also felt tremendous sympathy for Natalie because she was struggling so much.  It was heartbreaking to see her just going through the motions and to learn that she has all but given up one of her life’s passions, playing piano, because she’s so lost in her grief.

Aside from loving Natalie, one of the big highlights of the book for me was when someone discovers Natalie has been anonymously playing at a London train station’s public piano and they start leaving sheet music on the piano for her to find. They leave it anonymously and it’s always one of her deceased husband’s favorite songs.  I loved the little element of mystery that this added to the story and couldn’t wait to find out who was doing it and why.  It also gave Natalie a much needed distraction as she continues to process her grief.

Aside from the poignant grief story and the intriguing sheet music mystery, I was also a huge fan of the “found family” that surrounds Natalie and helps her start to find her path forward.  By the end of the story, Tom, Shauna, and several others who helped Natalie along the way, captured my heart just as much as Natalie did.

The Key to My Heart is a beautifully written story that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming as it explores grief and loss and whether it’s possible to find love and joy in life again after losing your soulmate. 4.5 STARS

20 replies
  1. Verushka
    Verushka says:

    I don’t know why, but the idea of Jordan sabotaging Andi while supposedly helping her just cracks me up! Astrid Parker doesn’t Fail is just too cute!

    Reply
  2. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    I loved this book as well, but I think Emmie Blue is still number one for me. The found family was such a standout in this. I loved Shauna so much, and Tom, dear sweet Tom.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I hope The Key to My Heart is a great read for you. Yes, it’s just a hectic time of the year overall. I think the last week of the year will be filled with peace and quiet though so I’m looking forward to that. 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.