Posts

Reviews: THE PARTY CRASHER & WELL MATCHED

 

Hey everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two contemporary reads that are perfect if you’re looking to escape your troubles for a few hours.

 

Reviews:  THE PARTY CRASHER & WELL MATCHEDThe Party Crasher Goodreads

Author:  Sophie Kinsella

Publication Date: October 12, 2021

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group – The Dial Press

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

If you’re familiar with Sophie Kinsella’s books, you know she’s the queen of heartwarming, humorous reads and The Party Crasher is no exception.

The novel follows Effie, a young woman who has been struggling with the news of her parents’ divorce.  The fact that she thought they were blissfully happy and didn’t see the divorce coming has really tarnished Effie’s view of what she had always thought of as a happy, loving childhood.  It comes as even more of a blow when Effie’s father suddenly has a new, and much younger, girlfriend, Krista, and that he and Krista have decided to sell Greenoaks, the quirky old country house that Effie and her family grew up in.

Effie and Krista have butt heads so often over the selling of the house that even Effie’s relationship with her dad has suffered, so when Krista decides to throw a “house cooling” party so the family can say goodbye to Greenoaks, she doesn’t even send Effie an invitation.  Effie doesn’t want to go anyway, that is, until she remembers that she had hidden a beloved childhood toy somewhere in the house and becomes determined to retrieve it without Krista or her father knowing she has returned to Greenoaks.  She decides the perfect time is the night of the house cooling party since everyone will be distracted by the festivities.  What could possibly go wrong?

What I always love about Kinsella’s novels is the balance between family or personal drama and laugh out loud hilarious moments.  The drama in this story is obviously Effie struggling to deal with all of these changes in her life, and her antics as she tries to stealthily crash the house cooling party provide endless comical moments since pretty much anything that can go wrong, absolutely does.  I found Effie to be an incredibly sympathetic character, even if she did occasionally have some juvenile reactions to her potential new stepmother. Haven’t we all had some family drama that makes such reactions easy to relate to?

I also loved the dynamic of Effie’s relationship with her sister, Bean, who is stuck in the middle of Effie’s feud with Krista. Bean is just so pure, like a golden retriever in human form. She just wants everyone to be happy, especially Effie, and she tries her hardest to make that happen, even if it means helping Effie with her crazy scheme to crash the party.  Another unexpected source of help in Effie’s scheme comes in the form of Effie’s ex-boyfriend, Joe.  Plenty of awkward, hilarious, and heartwarming moments ensue.

I’ve been going through a rough time lately so I was really in the mood for a funny and heartwarming read. The Party Crasher was exactly what I needed.  4.5 STARS

 

 

Reviews:  THE PARTY CRASHER & WELL MATCHEDWell Matched (Well Met, #3) Goodreads

Author: Jen DeLuca

Publication Date: October 19, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

With its wonderful characters and magical Renaissance Faire backdrop, I’ve been enjoying Jen Deluca’s contemporary romance series, Well Met, so much. April and Mitch, two of my favorite secondary characters from the previous books, have undeniable chemistry, so I was beyond excited to learn that Well Matched, the third book in the series, would bring them center stage and that the fake dating trope would be involved.

April is such a fantastic character. She’s a forty-year old, single mom who is used to doing everything herself.  I really admired her sense of independence.  As she says, it has always been just her and her daughter, Caitlyn, against the world and she likes it that way.  She has big plans too, now that Caitlyn is heading off to college.  It’s time to sell the house, leave Willow Creek, and have a fresh start somewhere else.

Even though she has no plans to stay in town and no interest in romance, she can’t help but admire Mitch Malone, the high school gym teacher.  Mitch has a reputation for being a lady’s man and also for wearing a kilt every year at the Ren Faire that shows off his attributes.  April can’t deny he’s easy on the eyes, so when he asks her to be his fake girlfriend at a family function to appease his grandmother, who thinks he’s never going to settle down, April agrees in exchange for him helping her with some work on her house.

April and Mitch’s journey together is a bit of a slow burn.  It’s clear they are attracted to one another but April fights her attraction every step of the way, in part because of Mitch’s reputation and in part because she’s leaving anyway.  Friends with benefits, yes, but an actual future together, nope.  I loved watching their relationship evolve, especially as they get to know each other better and April realizes there’s a lot more to Mitch than she had previously given him credit for and finds it harder to fight her attraction to him.  I thought DeLuca did a wonderful job of portraying April’s struggle over whether to follow her head or her heart and couldn’t wait to find out which path April would decide to follow.

I also had a great time being back in Willow Creek.  I’m always captivated by the magic and charm of the Ren Faire setting and loved that I got to see beloved characters from the first two books in the series and see what they’re up to. I became so invested in these characters that it was like visiting with old friends and I truly loved that feeling.

If Ren Faires, sexy men in kilts, single mom protagonists, and fake dating are your jam, then you definitely want to check out Well Matched4.5 STARS

October Reviews: CRAZY STUPID BROMANCE, LOVE YOUR LIFE, & SNAPPED

 

So my birthday was last week and I celebrated by reading three of my most anticipated romance reads of the year.  I had saved them all for last week in hopes that I would be in for a real treat, and I’m happy to say I was not disappointed.  🙂

 

October Reviews:  CRAZY STUPID BROMANCE, LOVE YOUR LIFE, & SNAPPEDCrazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club, #3) Goodreads

Author: Lyssa Kay Adams

Publication Date: October 27, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley

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

 

Crazy Stupid Bromance is the third installment in Lyssa Kay Adams’ Bromance Book Club series and what a delightful installment it is!  This time we follow Alexis and Noah, who are both friends with the members of the book club.

We met Alexis Carlisle in an earlier book when she came forward as a victim of sexual harassment at the hands of a famous celebrity chef.  Since she came forward, Alexis and her cat café “Toe Beans” have become a magnet for other victims who want to share their stories in a safe place.  Crazy Stupid Bromance opens with Alexis being approached by a young woman.  Alexis assumes she is another victim wanting to share her story and is thus shocked when the woman tells her that they are actually sisters and that their father is dying and needs a kidney.  Stunned and uncertain about how to proceed, Alexis turns to her friend and confidante Noah for guidance.

Noah Logan has a checkered past as a hacker.  He’s now on the up-and-up and works in cybersecurity.  He does still have one big secret though – he’s completely head over heels for Alexis. There’s just one problem…Alexis is also the best friend he has ever had.  If he tries to take the next step and it backfires, he loses both his best friend and the love of his life.  Cue Mack and the rest of the guys from The Bromance Book Club.  Can they help Noah figure out how to move his relationship with Alexis from friends to lovers?

You guys!  I am loving this series so much.  Crazy Stupid Bromance is every bit as entertaining as the first two books in the series are.  I breezed through it in a day and was just so drawn in by both the dramatic story of Alexis and her newfound family as I was by the heartfelt and sometimes comical journey to coupledom of Noah and Alexis.  They have so much chemistry and I just loved their shared nerdiness as they worked Doctor Who Lego sets together, etc.  And of course, I can’t leave out Mack and Company either. They are hilarious as always, especially the Russian, who is always such a scene stealer. (The fourth book is going to be about the Russian and I seriously cannot wait!).  The Russian had a little competition this time though when it came to stealing scenes as Alexis’ cat, Beefcake, gave him a run for his money in that department.

If quirky and hilarious with a side of family drama sounds like your thing, you really need to check this series out!  4.5 STARS

 

 

October Reviews:  CRAZY STUPID BROMANCE, LOVE YOUR LIFE, & SNAPPEDLove Your Life Goodreads

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Publication Date: October 27, 2020

Publisher:  The Dial Press

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

 

Sophie Kinsella’s new rom-com Love Your Life follows Ava, a young woman who has very strong opinions when it comes to love and romance.  Ava is not a fan of dating apps and the power of the almighty algorithms.  A romantic at heart, she believes that the path to love can only be found out in the real world, not behind a computer screen.  She is therefore beyond thrilled when she meets the man of her dreams while she’s in Italy at a writing retreat.  The philosophy behind the retreat is that nothing should get in the way of writing, especially nothing personal.  Therefore, the participants go by fake names and reveal nothing personal about themselves to the rest of the group.  Ava and Mr. Perfect can’t resist each other and end up spending nearly the entire retreat together, skipping classes, cliff diving, and yes, having passionate sex.  The romance is everything Ava could want it to be, and when, at the end of the retreat, she learns that Mr. Perfect’s name is Matt and he lives in London not far from where she lives, life couldn’t be better.  Or could it?

Once the real world encroaches on her fantasy, things with Matt aren’t nearly as perfect as Ava thought they were. What appeared to be perfect compatibility in Italy suddenly appears to be the exact opposite.  Ava and Matt don’t have the same taste in food, art, music, décor, and even in mattresses. She meets his parents and they’re awful to her and constantly throw the name of Matt’s ex in her face.  Ava puts on a brave face and tries to pretend that everything is still picture perfect, but deep down, she starts to wonder if she and Matt have anything at all in common. Ava wants her Italian fantasy romance back, but since that’s not possible, she knows she and Matt need to figure out if they have a path forward.

Love Your Life has a lot of things going for it. It was of course very entertaining to watch Ava and Matt try to navigate the awkwardness of their relationship and I was also a huge fan of Ava’s crazy rescue beagle, Harold who was an adorable scene stealer, and of each of their quirky friend groups.  Their hilarious banter and comical antics had me chuckling to myself every time they appeared in scenes.  I also found both Ava and Matt quite likeable, although I do have to admit that Ava could be a little frustrating.  I loved her big heart and especially her need to rescue things, be it animals, old furniture, discarded houseplants, etc.  She was such a lovely and colorful character, but at the same time, that huge heart and her desire to always look on the bright side of things made her seem almost ridiculous at times when she was trying to pretend to everyone (and to herself) that her relationship with Matt was perfect.  Thankfully Ava finally does open her eyes and eventually shows some growth as the story progresses.  If she hadn’t, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the story nearly as much.

Even with my initial frustration with Ava, I still found Love Your Life to be a charming and fun romance, sure to please all you romantics out there.  3.5 STARS

 

 

October Reviews:  CRAZY STUPID BROMANCE, LOVE YOUR LIFE, & SNAPPEDSnapped (Playbook, #4) Goodreads

Author: Alexa Martin

Publication Date: October 20, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley

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

 

Snapped is the fourth book in Alexa Martin’s Playbook series.  I actually haven’t read the first three books in the series, but I’m thrilled to say I was able to jump right in without any issues.  The series follows the Denver Mustangs football team and their significant others and the focus in Snapped is starting quarterback Quinton Howard, Jr., and Mustangs PR rep Elliott (Elle) Reid.

Snapped opens with a bang. It’s the season opener and as Quinton takes the field, he covers the league logo on his jersey with black tape and then proceeds to take a knee as the national anthem is played.  The owner of the Mustangs is outraged by Quinton’s actions and sends Elliott Reid to get to the bottom of it and find a way to make Quinton stop what he’s doing. Quinton explains his reasons for protesting to Elliott. It’s all about racial injustice with two specific focuses:  1) He wants to lend his support to Black Lives Matter, and 2) He wants to call out the football league for mistreating and neglecting retired players of color.  He then tells her he wants to start a charitable foundation and Elle decides that’s her ‘in’ and vows to help Quinton get that up and running.

I absolutely adored Quinton’s character.  He’s intelligent and sensitive and just so passionate about this cause.  It’s impossible not to root for him and I just loved listening to him speak his truth.  I really liked Elle too, although I did find her to be somewhat naïve at times.  Elle is bi-racial but was raised almost entirely by her white parent.  She says that she was raised in an environment that taught her not to see color.  What this has led to is Elle tending to explain away actions that are clearly racist as not racist.  As she and Quinton start to work together, he calls her out on this and starts to open her eyes to the truth about racial injustice and, in particular, how pervasive it really is.

I thought Snapped was a fantastic read overall and that the author struck a perfect balance between the romance and social justice storylines. I loved watching Quinton and Elle grow closer as they worked together and I especially loved how Quinton helped Elle grow as a person. I also adored the whole Mustangs family, especially the significant others. Such a fun group!

If you’re into romance, and especially if you’re into football, be sure to check out the Playbook series. I’m really looking forward to going back and reading the earlier books in the series.  4 STARS