Review: BETTER THAN THE MOVIES by Lynn Painter

Review:  BETTER THAN THE MOVIES by Lynn PainterBetter Than the Movies by Lynn Painter
on May 4, 2021
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

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






Lynn Painter’s new novel Better Than the Movies follows Liz Buxbaum, high school student and hopeless romantic.  Liz is obsessed with romantic comedies and uses them partly as a coping mechanism to deal with the death of her mom, who was also a huge fan of rom-coms.  Liz daydreams about securing a happily ever after of her own and thinks the perfect opportunity for one has presented itself when Michael, her childhood crush, moves back to town.

I really loved Liz. Her extensive knowledge and love of romantic comedies was so endearing, as was her slightly misguided attempt to secure her own happy ending by fake dating her neighbor in an effort to get Michael’s attention. I also found Liz to be a very sympathetic character, as she is clearly struggling with the loss of her mom.  It’s clear they were very close and that Liz is feeling her absence tremendously.

Liz wasn’t perfect by any stretch though.  While trying to orchestrate that happy ending for herself, she all but ditches her best friend.  And while she’s struggling to cope with the loss of her mom, she pretty much pushes her stepmother Hannah, who is actually really cool, off to the periphery of her life and refuses to let her be a part of any of Liz’s senior year milestones.  These rocky, awkward moments just made Liz come across as all the more real and, for me, made her that much more likable and relatable.

My absolute favorite part of Better Than the Movies though was Liz’s relationship with her neighbor and arch nemesis, Wes Bennett.  When the novel opens, Liz and Wes are in the midst of an ongoing war over the parking space out in front of their homes.  They each resort to all sorts of dirty tricks to keep the other from getting the spot, which was just hilarious. It’s actually Liz promising Wes unlimited access to that parking space that makes him agree to help her get Michael to notice her.  Watching the relationship between Liz and Wes evolve was the aspect of the book that really had me smiling as I read.  No matter how much Liz professed to loathe Wes, it was all too clear the two of them had tremendous chemistry and that her actual happily ever after has quite possibly been living next door to her all along.

I don’t want to say anything else because you just really need to experience Wes and Liz’s immensely entertaining journey for yourself.  Not only is Lynn Painter’s new novel Better Than the Movies a delightful rom-com that features fake dating and the enemies-to-lovers trope, but it’s also filled with perfectly placed references to all of my favorite rom-com films.  I honestly don’t think a book has ever made me smile so much; I’m sure I was grinning from ear to ear pretty much the entire time I was reading.


About Lynn Painter

Lynn Painter lives with her husband and pack of wild children in Nebraska, where she is a weekly contributor to the Omaha World-Herald and an avid fan of napping. When working on a new book, she can often be found sound asleep on her office floor. Some might say she should grow up and stop randomly dozing off like she’s a toddler, but Lynn considers it part of her writing “process.”



Beware the Ides of March!  More like, beware the day after Daylight Savings Time kicks back in.  I feel like I have been dragging ever since we turned our clocks ahead.  Oh well, hopefully sharing my thoughts on these two fabulous rom-coms will liven things up a bit.


Rom-Com Reviews:  THE DATING PLAN & ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWNThe Dating Plan Goodreads

Author: Sara Desai

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Sara Desai’s new novel The Dating Plan is a heartwarming rom-com filled with quirky characters and laugh out loud moments.  That’s not all though.  It’s also a heartfelt story about two people who are perfect for each other, if they can only overcome painful events from the past that have shaped how they see themselves and how they see each other.

Daisy Patel is a software engineer who loves statistics, spreadsheets, and all things Marvel.  Daisy, however, does not love Liam Murphy.  In fact, she actually hates him.  Why?  Because ten years ago, Liam was supposed to be Daisy’s date to her senior prom and he stood her up.  Not only did he stand her up, but he abruptly packed up and left town without a word.  She hasn’t heard from him since that night, so when Liam shows up at a conference Daisy is attending, sparks fly…and not in a good way.

Liam is in a bind though and thinks Daisy might actually be the perfect person to help him get what he wants.  Liam’s grandfather, who recently passed away, has left him the family business in his will, but there’s a catch. In order to secure his inheritance, Liam must marry before his next birthday and then stay married for at least one year.  Otherwise, the business goes to Liam’s brother, who just wants to dismantle it and use it to infuse cash into his own struggling business.  Liam is desperate to keep that from happening and when he witnesses Daisy being hounded by her matchmaking Aunties, he approaches Daisy with what he thinks is a win-win deal for them both.  If Daisy will agree to marry him and stay married for a year, he can secure the family business for himself while Daisy is freed from the incessant matchmaking and arranged marriage frenzy.  Daisy agrees reluctantly but says she cannot wing it when it comes to faking a whole relationship.  She needs a plan, complete with a slate of dates, that will provide her with a realistic backstory.

The plan they come up with is what really drives the bulk of the action in the book and it’s so much fun to follow Liam and Daisy as they seek to fool people into thinking they’re a couple.  There are so many hilarious moments, particularly involving Daisy’s aunties as well as some of the fun dates they decide to go on.  Daisy and Liam are adorable together and it becomes clear the more time Daisy and Liam spend together that they really are perfect for each other.  If only they could resolve and move past what happened ten years ago.  I was really rooting for them every step of the way.

I don’t want to give away anything, but I found the progression of their relationship very satisfying overall, and I also appreciate the blend of rom-com and heavier topics as we learn more about why Liam so abruptly disappeared from Daisy’s life.  The Dating Plan is a gem of a story for anyone who enjoys a light-hearted romance balanced with a healthy dose of family drama.  4 STARS. 


Rom-Com Reviews:  THE DATING PLAN & ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWNAct Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters, #3) Goodreads

Author: Talia Hibbert

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Publisher:  Avon

I’m so bummed that Act Your Age, Eve Brown marks the end of Talia Hibbert’s popular romance series, The Brown Sisters, but I’m thrilled to report that the final book in the series has quickly become my favorite.  I devoured this book in just a few hours because I just couldn’t get enough of Eve and her new boss, Jacob.  Their chemistry is off the charts so the sexy factor is high, but Eve is kind of a hot mess so the laugh factor is equally high.

As much as I adored Chloe and Dani from the first two books, I have to say that Eve just stole my heart from the very first page. With her purple hair, orange lip gloss, her kickass music playlist, and her overall sunny disposition, Eve is just a delight in every way.  Eve does have one little problem though and that’s sticking with plans she has made, especially those plans that relate to a career.  Eve has no idea what she really wants to do with her life and so she basically flits from one career to another, all the while living off of her trust fund.  Until her parents decide to cut her off, that is.  They’re both worried that she’s never going to get her life together so they kick her out of the nest and force her to get a job and fend for herself.  Eve goes out for a drive to clear her head and comes across a charming bed and breakfast that has an opening for a chef. On a whim, she decides to interview for the position and immediately butts heads with Jacob Wayne, the sexy B&B owner. Jacob likes to be in control and wants everything just so.  He can tell from the moment he meets Eve that there’s no way he could deal with having her in his kitchen. She’s just way too flighty for him to deal with.  When an unforeseen accident forces Jacob to step back and let Eve work for him, he finds out there’s a lot more to Eve than meets the eye and he may have severely underestimated her.

As I’ve already mentioned, the chemistry between Eve and Jacob is fantastic.  I was rooting for them to get together from their first snarky conversation during the job interview and cheering for them every step of the way as they got to know each other better.  I love how Eve’s sunny disposition basically wears down Jacob’s inner grump in one hilarious scene after another.

I don’t want to give away anything else about the plot but if you’ve been enjoying this series so far, you are absolutely going to fall in love with Eve.  And if you’re unfamiliar with the series but are looking for a delightful and sexy romance, Act Your Age, Eve Brown is just the read you’re looking for.  My only disappointment was that another Brown sister didn’t turn up out of the blue so that the series could continue.  Otherwise, the series has ended on a perfect note with me.  5 STARS.



My love for rom-coms has continued into 2021 and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you on two new ones that will hit bookstores tomorrow, Samantha Young’s Much Ado About You and Lily Menon’s Make Up Break Up.


Reviews: MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU & MAKE UP BREAK UPMuch Ado About You Goodreads

Author: Samantha Young

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Publishing Group

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

Much Ado About You by Samantha Young is one of the most delightful rom-coms I’ve ever read.  From its Shakespeare-loving heroine to its sexy farmer love interest to its quaint English village setting, this book captivated me from cover to cover.

The story follows 33-year-old Evie Starling, who just feels like her life is going nowhere.  Her love life is not great to say the least, and when she is passed over for a big promotion at work that she fully expected to get, Evie decides it’s time for a change.  That change comes in the form of a last minute holiday package to England.  As part of the package deal, she will live in an apartment above a charming little bookstore called Much Ado About Books, which she will also temporarily manage. How perfect does that sound?!  Evie’s plan is to take four weeks to lick her wounds, regroup, and come up with a new game plan for her life.  She wants no distractions from this plan and for Evie, that especially means no men.

Let me just say how much I adored Evie from the opening chapter.  I was cheering her on from the moment she told her boss off and quit her job.  I admired her courage and her determination and I especially loved that she didn’t just wallow, but instead came up with this great plan to recharge and reset her life.  It was so much fun watching her travel to this little village and immediately start fitting in with them like she belonged there.

I knew Evie was doomed though as soon as we meet my second favorite character in Much Ado About You, the sexy English farmer, Roane Robson. Roane is the most eligible bachelor in town and all the ladies swoon over him. He’s not a player though and is heart-set on finding that special someone to share his life with.  Roane is kind, soft, and as soon as he meets Evie, he knows he wants to get to know her better.  Needless to say, I was eager for Roane to find a way to wear down Evie’s defenses and her “No Men” rule because he was practically perfect.  We’re talking serious book boyfriend material here! Not only that, but the chemistry between Evie and Roane is off the charts.

I devoured this book in just a couple of sittings because I was so invested in these characters and whether or not they would take their growing friendship to the next level.  What I also loved is that the townspeople were clearly right there with me, trying to play matchmaker whenever possible.  And speaking of the townspeople, the novel also features a delightful cast of secondary characters, including Roane’s cousin Caro, who becomes like a little sister to Evie, as well as Roane’s gigantic and fabulous dog, Shadow, who can be credited with Evie and Roane’s meet-cute when Evie runs into the street to keep him from being hit by a car.

Much Ado About You does pack some emotional weight to it as well as the fun and romance.  There are some town rivalries and fractured relationships floating about, a touch of deception, and Evie has some drama with her mom and with her best friend from home. All of these elements added just the right touch of drama and made me love Much Ado About You all the more.  4.5 STARS


Reviews: MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU & MAKE UP BREAK UPMake Up Break Up Goodreads

Author: Lily Menon

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin

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

I’m a sucker for a good enemies-to-lovers story as well as a second chance romance, so I was eager to read Lily Menon’s new novel Make Up Break Up as soon as I heard it featured both.  It also features an inside look at dating apps and start up companies, and I’m drawn to books that feel timely when it comes to technology so in many ways, this book was a great fit for me.

I found myself very invested in the main character, Annika, primarily because she’s a female business owner in the tech industry.  I found myself rooting for her company’s success, especially when it became clear that not only were they the underdogs of the story, but it appears that Annika’s chief rival, Hudson Craft, is rising to fame on what appears to be an idea about a dating app that he stole from her when they met over the summer at a conference in Las Vegas.  The fact that Annika’s company is struggling while Hudson’s is clearly taking off makes matters all the worse.

I really wanted to hate Hudson on Annika’s behalf but I have to admit that he won me over pretty quickly because even though he could be totally obnoxious around Annika, he seemed like a nice guy otherwise.  The story takes an awkward but entertaining turn when Hudson moves into Annika’s office building so that now she has to see him every day.  In spite of her seeming animosity toward Hudson, it becomes clear pretty quickly that the two of them have major chemistry.  It’s hard to tell from one moment to the next if they’re going to kill each other or end up making out.

Even though I enjoyed their interactions overall and most of their scenes were a lot of fun, there were a few times where it just felt like they were acting pretty juvenile and I wanted to yell at them to grow up and behave like adults.  I also found myself a little torn when it came to the actual app development and business side of Annika’s life though. While it was really interesting at times, there were other moments when I wanted less tech talk and more relationship talk.

In spite of those issues, however, I still really enjoyed Make Up Break Up overall and look forward to reading more from Lily Menon in the future.  3.5 STARS