Reviews: EXES & O’s and THE BACKUP PLAN


Hey everyone!  Today I’m back to share reviews from two authors who were new-to-me in 2022, Amy Lea and Jill Shalvis.  I enjoyed my first time reading them so much that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on their newest releases.  I’m thrilled to report that I’m still just as enamored with their writing as I was last year.


Reviews:  EXES & O’s and THE BACKUP PLANExes and O's (The Influencer, #2) Goodreads

Author: Amy Lea

Publication Date: January 10, 2023

Publisher:  Berkley

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


Exes & O’s is the second book in Amy Lea’s The Influencer series. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, which featured a fitness influencer, but as soon as I saw the Exes & O’s features a romance book reviewer as its protagonist, I knew I was going to love it!

Tara Chen is all about romance. She loves to read romance novels, and she has her own Bookstagram account where she reviews books and goes live to talk about her favorite romance tropes.  Tara is practically a living, breathing heart eye emoji, but although she loves everything about love and romance, has had little to no luck in her own personal life.  She has had her heart broken ten times and each time, she was the one getting dumped, and was often told it was because she was too clingy.

Even with all her bad luck in the romance department, Tara remains convinced her one true love is out there. She just has to find him.  Tara is a bit gun shy about putting herself out there with total strangers, however, and decides a second chance romance with one of her exes is the way to go.  She begins to seek out each of her exes, documenting her progress on her Bookstagram account.  As she embarks on this new adventure, Tara is also in the process of moving in with a new roommate, thanks to her last breakup leaving her homeless.  Unlike Tara, her new roommate Trevor, a sexy firefighter from Boston, has no interest in love and romance.  Even with his dislike of romance, Trevor can’t resist Tara’s charms and soon finds himself enlisted to help Tara find her second chance romance.

Oh my goodness, guys, this story was freaking adorable!  I truly adored Tara.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and is just so precious.  I loved both her passion for romance and her passion for all things junk food, both of which led to some pretty hilarious moments between herself and Trevor.  My heart also broke for her because she was so unlucky in love and almost all of her exes sounded like complete jerks.  I practically screamed at the book when she announced her plan to try to reconnect with one of them because OMG, they already broke her heart once. Why would she let them get close enough to do it again?

As much as I adored Tara, I think I loved Trevor even more.  He may be the grump to Tara’s sunshine, but it becomes pretty obvious within a few days of them living together that he is actually a cinnamon roll who would do absolutely anything to put a smile on Tara’s face.  The two of them were just so cute together and their scenes were filled with fun and sexy banter.  I was rooting for Tara to ditch her exes plan and jump Trevor’s bones from almost the beginning and so were Tara’s Bookstagram followers when he accidentally appears in one of her livestreams, haha!

The journey to Tara’s true love is definitely a slow burn one, but the pay off is worth the wait and the ending was so sweet, it had me crying happy tears.  Exes & O’s was the perfect sweet and swoony rom-com to kick off my 2023 reading year with, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the friends to lovers and grumpy/sunshine romances.  4.5 STARS


Reviews:  EXES & O’s and THE BACKUP PLANThe Backup Plan (Sunrise Cove, #3) Goodreads

Author: Jill Shalvis

Publication Date: January 17, 2023

Publisher: Avon and Harper Voyager

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


The Backup Plan is the third book in Jill Shalvis’ Sunrise Cove series, and as much as I enjoyed the first two books, I think this one is my favorite. It’s a heartwarming story about love and loss, family and friendships, and above all, about forgiveness and second chances.

The story follows Alice, Lauren, and Knox, who all grew up around the same time in Sunrise Cove.  Alice and Lauren were best friends who became estranged after Will, Alice’s brother and Lauren’s then boyfriend, was killed in a car accident.  While Lauren stayed in Sunrise Cove, Alice left, vowing to never return.   Knox, while not involved in any of the drama surrounding Alice and Lauren, has emotional baggage of his own related to Sunrise Cove and he, like Alice, left with no plans to return. Knox also happens to be the guy Alice had a not-so-secret crush on when she was a teenager.  It has been years since they have all seen each other but when the three of them co-inherit an inn, courtesy of a woman named Eleanor, an awkward reunion is thrust upon them and they each must face ghosts from their past as they come together to renovate and reopen the inn.

Everything about this story captivated me, especially the emotional and awkward moments between Lauren and Alice. The tension between the two of them is palpable throughout the story, as each of them remembers how they used to be as close as sisters, and because they know they’re going to have to eventually confront each other and talk about what happened to drive them apart.  Knox is often caught in the middle, doing what he can to try to diffuse the tension between the two women.  He also has awkward feelings of his own that he’s dealing with, however, namely that he very much reciprocates the crush Alice had on him back in the day.  Now is not the time for romance though…or is it?

As much as I loved getting to know Alice, Lauren, and Knox firsthand, I also loved getting to see them through the eyes of Eleanor.  We never actually meet Eleanor, as she is already deceased when the story opens, but she is truly the driving force behind the story. Eleanor was a childless woman who was practically a second mother to both Alice and Knox, while Lauren was the grand niece she loved but never got to know because Lauren’s father cut Eleanor out of their lives.  Through a series of email drafts she has left behind on an iPad, Eleanor slowly reveals to Alice, Lauren, and Knox why she left each of them a portion of the inn, why they were so important to her, and why she thought they needed each other.

It’s not all heavy emotion and drama though. The story also has some downright hilarious moments as Alice, Lauren, and Knox work to get the inn into shape in time for a grand reopening Eleanor had set into motion before her death.  I lost track of how many times I laughed out loud at the three of them and their antics.

If you’re looking for an engrossing story filled with both heart and humor, you’re going to want to add The Backup Plan to your TBR. 4 STARS

23 replies
  1. Verushka
    Verushka says:

    I cannot ger over your description of Tara as a heart eye emoji — i just kept grinning through the rest of your review and grumpy-adorable Trevor (and again Tara ❤️❤️)

  2. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    I think the beauty of all Shalvis’ books is how she blends heavy and light moments, and there is always a lot of humor, a great dog, and found family. Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Carla
    Carla says:

    These both sound like really fun stories, Suzanne. I have The Backup Plan on my TBR, but didn’t get an ARC, so am waiting until it is published. Great reviews.

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