Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  I took a few days off from work and used the time to get caught up on my sleep and to dive into some wonderful reads.  Today I’m back to share my thoughts on two of my favorite reads from this past week. As you can probably guess from the title and cover of the first one, it’s full of Shakespearean goodness, and the second one is a gem of a book that I still cannot believe is actually a debut.


Reviews: THE DANE OF MY EXISTENCE & YOU, WITH A VIEWThe Dane of My Existence (A Bard's Rest Romance, #2) Goodreads

Author: Jessica Martin

Publication Date: July 4, 2023

Publisher: Berkley

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


Jessica Martin’s For the Love of the Bard was one of my favorite summer reads last year so I was excited to get my hands on a copy of her latest novel, The Dane of My Existence.  This latest novel takes us back to the charming, Shakespeare-obsessed town of Bard’s Rest, New Hampshire, and reunites us with the close-knit Barnes family.  I adored this town and this family, so it was great to be back with them, although the focus this time is on oldest sister, Portia, who we briefly met in the first book.

Portia left Bard’s Rest years ago to pursue a career as a big shot corporate attorney.  She has returned home because she’s currently taking a company-mandated sabbatical before she moves to Boston to manage one of her firm’s satellite offices.  Portia considers herself an “ice queen” as she is career-driven and has little interest in relationships and/or dating.  She’s also much less enthusiastic about Shakespeare than her family and most of the other residents of Bard’s Rest.  I’ll admit that it took a few chapters for me to really warm up to her, but once I did, I loved her, especially when she realizes that there’s a real estate developer threatening Bard’s Rest and goes to the mat to try to save the town.

I also very much enjoyed Benjamin Dane, the hot shot commercial developer Portia goes toe to toe with. She fully expects to take him down with little trouble, but he surprises her by being equally skilled when it comes to strategizing and outmaneuvering the competition. At first I really wanted to hate him since he poses a threat to this charming little town, but it becomes clear early on that there’s a lot more to Ben Dane than meets the eye. I loved watching Portia and Ben verbally spar, but I also liked it when he catches her off guard because he isn’t the arrogant alpha-male she was expecting. Watching their relationship evolve from a rivalry to one of trust and openness really made this an enjoyable read for me and I was eager to see if they would get past being on opposite sides of this real estate drama.

Aside from enjoying getting to know Portia better and seeing her fall into a relationship she didn’t see coming, I also just really loved being back in Bard’s Rest.  If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, imagine Stars Hollow but with quirky Shakespeare enthusiasts as residents, loads of fun Shakespearean references and puns sprinkled about, and a huge Shakespeare festival that takes place every year.  I loved the town so much and was disappointed to learn that it didn’t really exist in real life because I totally would have visited there!

If you’re in the mood for a fun rivals to lovers romance filled with witty banter, Shakespearean references, and all the small town and close knit family vibes, I highly recommend both For the Love of the Bard and The Dane of My Existence4 STARS


Reviews: THE DANE OF MY EXISTENCE & YOU, WITH A VIEWYou, with a View Goodreads

Author: Jessica Joyce

Publication Date: July 11, 2023

Publisher:  Berkley

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


You, With a View by Jessica Joyce follows Noelle, who has recently lost her beloved grandmother, and is still struggling with her grief.  When she moves back in with her parents after losing her job, Noelle comes across several decades-old photos of her grandmother and a man who was definitely not Noelle’s grandfather.  Tucked in with the photos is a love letter.  Noelle becomes obsessed with finding out who this mystery man is and uses the photos and the letter to create a TikTok video in hopes of someone recognizing him.  To her shock and amazement, her video goes viral and the grandson of the man in the photos reaches out to her.  Noelle is even more shocked when they meet up and the grandson turns out to be Theo, her old high school arch nemesis!

The story had my emotions all over the place because even though I was heartbroken for Noelle as she mourned the loss of her grandmother, I truly laughed out loud as soon as she and Theo reignited their old rivalry.  It’s so obvious they have feelings for one another no matter how hard they try to pretend otherwise, so it was a lot of fun watching them finally realize it for themselves.  I love a good enemies to lovers story and this one was fantastic!

As much as I loved watching Noelle and Theo and their evolving relationship though, it was Theo’s grandfather Paul who truly grabbed me by the heartstrings.  He can see how much Noelle is hurting and offers to show her even more photos of her grandmother and tell her the story of their relationship and how they were planning to elope.  When they find an old roadmap of a honeymoon trip Paul and Noelle’s grandmother had planned but never took, Noelle, Paul, and Theo all decide to go on the road trip together.

If you’ve followed my reviews for a while now, you know I love to read road trip stories and this is one of the best ones I’ve ever read.  It has plenty of road trip shenanigans that kept me laughing my way through the pages, but it’s also just such a wonderful bonding experience for Noelle, Theo, and Paul.  Paul continues to share the story of his relationship with Noelle’s grandmother, this time sharing letters that she had written him.  I thought it was beautiful watching that relationship unfold at the same time that we’re watching Noelle and Theo realize their own feelings for one another.  For those who like steam in their romance reads, there’s a bit of that as well.

You, With a View is one of the best debut novels I’ve read in a long time.  I honestly selected it to read because I loved the cover, but I was truly blown away by the depth of the story inside.  It’s one of those wonderful books that will make you laugh, make you cry, and will just wrap you up in a warm hug. I think this one is going to stick with me for a long time.  5 STARS

18 replies
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I do too. That grandparent – grandchild connection just always gets to me and reminds me how close I was to my own grandparents.

  1. Angela @ Literary Wanderer
    Angela @ Literary Wanderer says:

    You, With a View sounds so fantastic – I love the road trip aspect!

  2. Lark
    Lark says:

    Yay for two more good ones! I have to admit, I’m most curious about the Shakespeare-obsessed town of Bard’s Rest. I think I need to go check out For the Love of the Bard now. 😀

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

    I’ve been seeing amazing review for You With a View! I already love the sound of Paul and the role he plays in Noelle’s story. It sounds like the story is a lot deeper than the cover would lead you to believe (to me, illustrated covers scream light and fluffy). So glad this was such a hit for you!

  4. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    I enjoyed both of these a lot. Not sure what kept me from loving Dane as much as the previous book, but it was still a solid read. You with a View was stupendous! The road trip was brilliant! The pairing was perfect! And grandpa’s are always a nice touch. Glad to see you loved it too

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I enjoyed the first Bard’s Rest book a little more as well, and for me, I think it was just the joy of experiencing that town for the first time. I remember being positively giddy about all of the Shakespearean references and puns.

  5. Rachel @Waves of Fiction
    Rachel @Waves of Fiction says:

    I love road trip stories as well so I’m happy to hear this is one of the best you’ve read. I have You With a View too and I’ve just started it so I’m happy to hear you loved it so much!

  6. Verushka
    Verushka says:

    Oh my Heart, You with a View and Paul and the roadtrip <3 This story is just like the warmest hug ❤️

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