This was my first Emily Henry book after hearing so many good things about her contemporary romances. The thing everyone raves the most about? Her character banter and “Book Lovers” definitely delivered on that front! We follow a shark of a literary agent, Nora, as she tries to bridge the invisible gap between her and her baby sister with a semi-spontaneous month-long trip to the very location her best selling client based HER romance book on. Once there, Nora runs into the grumpy editor who she is convinced hates her after he passed on her client’s book. Cue small town romance! The very thing Nora says will never happen to her. This book is incredibly meta in regards to its story, and it was a little odd (in a good way) to read about two people in the publishing business as an author myself—it was fun but also plays into the self-aware nature this book is steeped with. But this book felt more like a family drama than a romance.
“Once Ghosted, Twice Shy” is my first Alyssa Cole book. So many of my friends love her romances so it’s about time I gave her a try! But of course, I decided to challenge myself further with reading her standalone, sapphic novella in her Reluctant Royals series rather than one of the main books. I’m still a bit uncertain about this author, but I think the fault is mine with starting where I did. This cute little story follows Likotsi, assistant most high to the prince, and Fabiola, an aspiring Instagram model and jewelry maker who both swipe right knowing that their initial meeting was just going to be a fling. But these captivating and beautiful women end up needing and wanting so much more from each other. I like the dual timeline POV and how that weaved these characters stories together and gave them a history that is otherwise so hard to establish in a novella, but personally, I don’t think the novella format worked for me.
If you are a fan of slow burn, rock-and-roll romances in stand alone contemporary books, and also happen to be a big music aficionado, I cannot recommend “The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes” enough. We follow our FMC as she navigates the recording world, having finally left her middle of nowhere town and gotten away from her less than stellar home life, all after being abandoned by the boy who swore they’d escape together and make a name for themselves together. Toni is an incredible guitarist, but in a world that’s still very much sexist (and racist though the author focuses more on the sexist aspects) Toni, who prefers to work behind the scenes, is constantly passed up for her less talented, male counterparts. It’s after one such encounter where the boy who broke her teenage heart comes back unexpectedly into her life. What follows after that meeting is a sweet, sort of second chance romance that really dives deep into the characters, their emotions, and growth from who they were as teenagers, to who they are when the book starts, and beyond. It’s a well written character driven romance, even if the book does feel its length at times.
“Whisper of the Lotus” is a little deceiving, but not in a bad way! The synopsis focuses heavily on this idea of the main character, Charlotte, needing excitement, fleeing a dead-end job to impulsively visit her childhood best friend (Roxy) who has been living and thriving in Cambodia for the past 3 years after leaving London. In reality, the book is much deeper than that. Charlotte is less fleeing a boring existence, as she is getting away from a narcissistic parent who has emotionally taken advantage of her and guilt tripped her into never leaving. We watch Charlotte do things for herself for the first time in nearly a decade and through the experience of traveling so far away and meeting so many kind people, discover a voice that her mother almost completely took away. I don’t know if this book necessarily needed to take place in Cambodia in order for it to have the same emotional impact as we learn more and more of the secrets hidden from Charlotte, but here we are.
This is my first Colleen Hoover book, and with all the hype surrounding this author, I will admit I was expecting a lot. I wanted to read “Verity” mostly because it’s a romantic thriller and I wanted to read something that was meant to be a bit unsettling. And the premise of “Verity” is definitely that! This book very much has “Gone Girl” and “Jane Eyre” vibes where you have a relatively unknown author coming in to finish a very successful author’s series. Verity cannot finish her series being confined to a near vegetative state in her home, so never one to let a good series go to waste, her publishers bring in Lowen to finish out the series. Lowen is a thriller writer herself, so that’s kind of the justification for her being qualified to take over Verity’s work, who writes her books from the villains POV. As Lowen tries to figure out how to write this series, she stumbles across Verity’s autobiography and uncovers not just the depth of this family’s tragedy, but how deranged this successful author is, all while falling in love with Verity’s husband. There are definitely some creepy elements but ultimately, the longer I sat with this book and thought about it, the more I disliked both the story and the way it was written.
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