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Reviews: WEATHER GIRL & MADE IN MANHATTAN

 

Hey everyone, hope your week is off to a great start.  It snowed 14 inches here last week and since we don’t really do snow well here in central Virginia, the whole area was pretty much shut down all week.  I work from home so it didn’t impact me too much, plus it made for a great excuse to cozy up in front of the fire with some wonderful books, two of which I’m sharing reviews for today.

 

Reviews:  WEATHER GIRL & MADE IN MANHATTANWeather Girl Goodreads

Author:  Rachel Lynn Solomon

Publication Date: January 11, 2022

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Rachel Lynn Solomon’s latest contemporary romance, Weather Girl, follows Ari Abrams, a young Jewish woman whose lifelong fascination with the weather has landed her a dream job as a TV meteorologist.  Working alongside her longtime idol, legendary Seattle weatherwoman, Torrance Hale, Ari’s job is everything she ever hoped it would be.  That is, with one exception:  the unbearable tension in the workplace between Torrance and Seth, who happens to be the news director at the station as well as Torrance’s ex-husband.  The two of them are constantly at each other’s throats, making everyone around them feel awkward and uncomfortable, including one of Ari’s coworkers, sports reporter Russell Barringer.  Unable to take it anymore, Ari and Russell cook up a scheme to get Torrance and Seth back together.  Adult version of The Parent Trap, anyone?

I had a lot of fun with this story.  Ari and Russell are both such likeable characters and I enjoyed their attempts at nudging Torrance and Seth back together, especially since it became clear that the two of them were also growing closer along the way.

I also just loved how realistic and relatable Ari came across, particularly when it came to her struggles with mental health.  Ari suffers from depression but has also struggled with the fear that no one would like her if they knew of her depression.  Her way of coping with that has been to keep her depression and therapy a secret, put on a happy face and be a walking ray of sunshine to everyone around her.  It was clearly not healthy and in fact, was downright exhausting at times, because all Ari really wanted was to feel like she could be herself.  Could Russell finally be the one who gets her to let her guard down?

Speaking of Russell, I really loved this guy and honestly found him to be more realistic than most of the male leads I’ve read about in romance novels.  He’s a Jewish single dad and he hasn’t been on a date in at least five years.  Russell also struggles with his weight and so doesn’t really think of himself as a “catch” for any woman. I liked that sense of vulnerability about him, and I also liked that the more he and Ari hung out together, the more it was clear what a great match they could be because, even though their matchmaking schemes weren’t exactly professional, they really did bring out the best in each other.

If matchmaking a la The Parent Trap, a realistic exploration of a person coping with depression, excellent Jewish representation, and a friends-to-lovers romance appeal to you, Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon needs to be on your must-read list. It’s the fourth novel I’ve read from Solomon, and it’s definitely another winner for me.  4 STARS.

 

Reviews:  WEATHER GIRL & MADE IN MANHATTANMade in Manhattan Goodreads

Author: Lauren Layne

Publication Date: January 18, 2022

Publisher:  Gallery Books

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

As soon as I saw that Lauren Layne’s new contemporary romance, Made in Manhattan, was being advertised as a modern-day reverse My Fair Lady, I knew I had to read it.  I’m a huge fan of My Fair Lady, the musical and the film, so I’m always up for a fresh take on an old favorite.

Made in Manhattan follows Violet Townsend, a young woman born and raised in the wealthy, privileged Upper East Side of Manhattan.  Violet is an expert when it comes to knowing what to say, how to act, and what to wear in all elite social settings.  Violet also loves to make people happy, especially Edith, who while not a blood relative, has practically raised her since Violet’s parents and grandparents all died when she was much younger.  Edith runs a successful international corporation and has been troubled by the fact that she has no living family to take over the business when she retires, that is until she learns that she has a grandson named Cain Stone she never knew about.  Edith is determined to groom Cain to take over the business, but there’s just one problem: Cain, who hails from New Orleans, is about as rough around the edges as they come.  With his long hair, scuffed boots, faded jeans, and a vocabulary that consists largely of the four-letter ‘f’ word, Cain doesn’t exactly fit in with NYC’s elite. Edith enlists Violet to help give Cain a Manhattan makeover.  Less than thrilled at the prospect, Violet reluctantly agrees because she just can’t say no to Edith. Unfortunately for Violet, Cain is even less thrilled at the prospect.

As with the original My Fair Lady, there are just sparks flying everywhere between Violet and Cain as soon as the makeover commences.  Cain is impossible, fighting Violet every step of the way, and Violet becomes more and more frustrated. She can’t understand why he even bothered to come to New York if he’s not willing to do whatever it takes to become CEO of the company that is pretty much being handed to him.  Cain, on the other hand, can’t understand why Violet, or Duchess as he refers to her, has nothing else better to do with her time than treat him as a human mannequin.  While I found all the awkward, snarky banter at the beginning of their relationship quite entertaining, what I really enjoyed was watching their relationship evolve as they got to know each other better and could look past their initial impressions of one another. It becomes all too clear that the two of them have the hots for each other, whether they want to admit it or not.

The only thing better than watching their relationship evolve was watching Violet herself evolve.  She really does start to question what she is even doing with her life and why she feels the need to be such a people pleaser all the time, even if it makes her miserable in the process. The more time she spends with Cain, the more she finds herself willing to step out of her lifelong comfort zone and try new things.  It’s as if she’s undergoing just as much of a transformation as Cain is, and I loved to see it.

Made in Manhattan was everything I could have wanted from a My Fair Lady-inspired book and then some. I flew through the pages in less than a day and was sad when the story was over, even though the ending was immensely satisfying.  4 STARS.

Romance Reviews: TO SIR, WITH LOVE & ONCE UPON A ROYAL SUMMER

Happy Monday!  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two fantastic contemporary romances that I devoured this weekend.  This was my first time reading a novel from Lauren Layne even though I’ve wanted to for ages, and this was my second novel from Teri Wilson, whose novel The Accidental Beauty Queen I fell in love with a couple of years ago. Also, how cute are these covers together? I just noticed they’re color-coordinated as I was putting this post together, lol.

 

Romance Reviews:  TO SIR, WITH LOVE & ONCE UPON A ROYAL SUMMERTo Sir, with Love Goodreads

Author: Lauren Layne

Publication Date: June 29, 2021

Publisher:  Gallery Books

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

I’ve been wanting to read one of Lauren Layne’s contemporary romances for a while now, and when I saw her latest book, To Sir, With Love, being compared to You’ve Got Mail, one of my favorite films, I knew this was the book for me.

The premise of the story is a fun one.  Main characters, Gracie Cooper and Sebastian Andrews, meet on a dating app and really hit it off.  They haven’t exchanged real names, only referring to themselves as Sir and Lady, and have not met in person, but they regularly correspond through the app and it’s clear they have great chemistry.  There’s just one catch.  Gracie and Sebastian do know each other in real life, and Gracie can’t stand Sebastian.  She thinks he’s nothing more than a greedy corporate big shot who is trying to force her to sell her family’s struggling champagne business.

I had so much fun reading this story.  I loved the contrast between the friendly and flirty messages Sir and Lady send to one another versus the outright sparks that fly between Gracie and Sebastian every time they interact.  I also loved watching Gracie’s feelings toward Sebastian evolve as she gradually starts to realize he isn’t the monster she had made him out to be in her head.  I love a good enemies to lovers story so I was completely invested in the changing status of their very entertaining relationship.

In addition to the relationship between Gracie and Sebastian and their alter egos, Sir and Lady, there’s also a big focus on family that I loved.  Gracie’s two siblings feature prominently as they are also part owners of the family business, even though they’ve pretty much abandoned Gracie to run it alone while they live their own lives.  There’s a bit of family drama around that, but I did love the bond between these siblings and how they’re able to come together and have an honest and supportive discussion about what to do when it becomes clear the store may not make it.  There’s also a wonderful cast of secondary characters who work in the shop with them, as well as Gracie’s neighbor Keva, a quirky chef who pops in at all hours. They all add an extra layer of fun and humor to the story.

There’s also a very important message about the importance of living your own life and following your dreams and passions.   Gracie didn’t want to let her father down since it was his dying wish that they keep the business in the family, but it was his passion, not hers. Gracie’s struggle with that is a struggle I think many readers will relate to.

I truly loved everything about To Sir, With Love, from its Manhattan setting to waiting with anticipation to see what would happen once Gracie and Sebastian realized their connection through the dating app.  The reading experience was everything I hoped it would be and more and I look forward to reading more from Lauren Layne. 5 STARS

 

Romance Reviews:  TO SIR, WITH LOVE & ONCE UPON A ROYAL SUMMEROnce Upon a Royal Summer: A delightful royal romance from Hallmark Publishing Goodreads

Author: Teri Wilson

Publication Date: June 15, 2021

Publisher:  Hallmark Publishing

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

The tagline on the cover of Teri Wilson’s new contemporary romance, Once Upon a Royal Summer, describes it as “A theme park princess. A real-life prince.” As a Disney fanatic and a romantic at heart, I couldn’t resist the story’s premise and its promise of a modern-day fairy tale.  And boy does it deliver!

Wilson grabbed my attention and my heartstrings from the opening pages when we meet Lacey, who works at Once Upon a Time theme park in Florida as Princess Sweetpea.  We learn that Lacey’s mom passed away when Lacey was seven and that one of the few joys she had during her mom’s many hospital stays were princesses who would come around and visit the children to keep their spirits up.  Lacey remembers how special they made her feel and now she wants to pay that forward by doing her best to make special moments for as many children as she can. I had tremendous sympathy for her for losing her mom so young and I just loved how big-hearted she is.

Our real-life Prince Charming, Prince Henry of Bella-Moritz, is also a lovable character.  Henry has brought his young daughter, Princess Rose, to Florida to celebrate her birthday and to let her have a few days where she can just be a normal little girl, without all the pressures of being a Royal, which have already started to bear down on her.  When Lacey first meets Henry and Rose, she has no idea who they are.  All she sees is a girl who loves princesses and a single dad doing his best to give his daughter the time of her life.  Henry’s devotion to his daughter just melted my heart and I just knew from the moment we met him that he would be perfect for Lacey. I was so happy to see sparks between them as soon as they met.

After their initial meeting, Lacey is informed who Henry and Rose are and is charged with giving these VIP guests a magical vacation. I adored watching Lacey spend time with Rose.  She brings out the best in her and also makes her happy in a way Henry hasn’t seen since Rose’s mom died.  And she does the same with Henry. Henry and Lacey share so many sweet, romantic and flirty moments. At first neither of them can tell if it’s just the magic of the theme park or if there’s really something between them, but the answer soon becomes clear and I was loving every minute of it because I’m just such a sucker for the royal falling for a commoner trope!

There’s so much to love about this story beyond just Lacey, Rose, and Henry.  I also really enjoyed the magical, romantic setting, which is split between the theme park and Henry’s charming kingdom of Bella-Moritz.  It’s a picture-perfect backdrop for romance.  I also loved the fabulous secondary characters, including Ava, Lacey’s best friend who works as  Little Red Riding Hood at the theme park, and Ian, Prince Henry’s bodyguard, who is like an uncle to Princess Rose and who according to Ava, looks like a long-lost Hemsworth brother.  The Queen is also a pretty great character as she struggles between what is “right and proper” for royals, but is also a caring mother and grandmother who just wants her son and granddaughter to be happy and loved.

If you’re into modern-day fairytales that will warm your heart and leave a smile on your face, I highly recommend Once Upon a Royal Summer.  I devoured the story in less than a day so it’s a perfect choice to throw in your bag for a weekend at the beach or to read poolside.  4.5 STARS