Eileen is sick of being 79. Leena’s tired of life in her twenties. Maybe it’s time they swapped places…
When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?
Title : The Switch Author : Beth O’Leary Format : eARC Page Count : 400 Genre : Contemporary Romance Publisher : Quercus Release Date : April 30, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 3.5 star review
THE SWITCH grabbed my attention from the first few pages with characters that were interesting from the start. In fact, the first 20% of this read was so strong, getting you on board with ‘the switch’.
Told in alternating POVs between Leena, a 20-something ambitious professional and Eileen, her 79 year old grandmother, these two swap residences. I did wonder how into Eileen’s POVs I would get, but honestly she was truly engaging and incredibly fun. The Yorkshire Dales versus London contexts were a fun contrast.
I would describe the storyline as cutely predictable and generally enjoyable. The characters in the dales were a little bit like ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, an eclectic mix and sometimes a bit stuffy. I did sometimes want to crank things up a bit. Meanwhile, Eileen in London was funny and her storyline was adorable. There were some serious tones to the story and while that was in the background, it brought somber notes to the characters and made them real.
The culmination and wrap up rushed to a sprint at the end but it made for a satisfying ending to this light and funny book.
Thank you to Quercus Books for the early review copy.
Ivy Edwards is thirty-one years old, funny, shameless, and a bit of a romantic. She’s also currently trying not to cry in the office toilet.
Partly because she’s just run out of money for fags. A bit because her mum continues to annoy her. Definitely not because she’s just been dumped by her fiancé.
With her London life in shambles and her family miles away in the Welsh valleys, Ivy doesn’t actually feel like she belongs anywhere.
At least, she has her friends – and a bottle of vodka.
Embarking on a journey of singlehood, Ivy is about to discover that sometimes, having your life fall apart can be surprisingly fun.
Sometimes, heartbreak can be the best education . . .
The Education of Ivy Edwards is perfect for fans of Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love, Holly Bourne’s How Do You Like Me Now?, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag.
Title : The Education of Ivy Edwards Author : Hannah Tovey Format : Ebook Page Count : 336 Genre : Women’s Fiction Publisher : Piatkus Release Date : May 7, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 3.5 – 4 stars
THE EDUCATION OF IVY EDWARDS was months of a journey in Ivy’s life as she navigated some of the biggest life changes imaginable. Ivy was a thirty-something protagonist that was incredibly real, irritations to boot. The story started with a relationship break up and tracked her slow demise across the months of grief and trying to cope.
The narrative for Ivy’s life was witty, with inner monologue that kept you chuckling and endeared you to her, just when you were most irritated with her. Ivy was all about friendships and family and she leaned on them a lot in this time period.
I sat down at my desk and closed my eyes. I can do this, I thought. I am an adult, I have a degree and I frequently make my own packed lunches.
I struggled somewhat with Ivy’s self-destructive streak and the friendships that came along with that, such as Dan and Rob. Her reliance on alcohol and drugs was frustrating but probably realistic of that 30-something professional, working in the big smoke and spiraling down, looking for a crutch.
As the story reached it’s culmination, I held my breath because I thought the journey might be for nothing, that Ivy had learnt nothing. I was satisfied however with the end.
If you’re looking for something real, less cookie-cutter and more sitting on gutter drunk, reciting your woes, then this is the read for you. It felt fresh and the writing was fun and willing to ‘go there’ with difficult topics and taboos.
Thank you to Piatkus Books for the early review copy.
When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else – she thought it was her fault.
When she realised life would never be the same again – she thought it was her fault.
And when he wanted her back like nothing had changed – Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame…
From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went – and if she can ever get her back.
Title : It’s Not Me, It’s You Author : Mhairi McFarlane Format : eBook (overdrive) Page Count : 545 Genre : women’s fiction/romance Publisher : HarperCollins Release Date : November 6, 2014
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Hollis’ 3.5 star review
At the onset of writing this review I was still hmm’ing and haw’ing over my rating for this one (but by the time you see if it’ll have a nice shiny star value up above) because sadly I’m still comparing everything to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. This had a similar ish vibe to McFarlane’s latest, IF I NEVER MET YOU, in regards to where our leading lady finds herself relationship-wise at the beginning of the book but things spiral out much differently and I appreciated that.
“Compared to the usual idiots I meet, he wasn’t a git. He was pleasant. He was.. benign.” “Tumours can be benign.” “That is so fucking deep! Write that down.”
I found this one easier to connect to on the emotional front than I did her latest, and I loved the complexity she made in the story’s romantic villain (I have to quantify this because there’s an actual villain). That’s the thing about this author’s books; I’m discovering that you may not always enjoy the journey, or love every second of it, but it’s all so painfully real and genuine and complex. You can’t fault her for that. This one did err a bit into the unreality with regard to where our lady finds herself along the journey to self-discovery and reflection and it was that bit I didn’t quite love. But it did get us on the road to the end game.
“Oof. One night with you and he’s turned into a love-letter writer. You must have an incredible pelvic floor.“
Additionally, I also appreciated how this could’ve gone an obvious route with regards to romance but it took a left turn along the way and I like that McFarlane made us wait a bit instead of just giving us the first available option. Well done.
So, again, yes, I enjoyed, one bit even had me howling so loud and long they probably heard me in the UK, but all around love, full body sobs of sadness or joy or both? Not quite and no. It does deserve a round up, though, because ontop of everything good or great mentioned? We have yet another fantastic female duo of besties, a delightfully awkward but also beautiful family dynamic (shout out to Ralph because he’s amazing!), and one of the best love letters I’ve had the pleasure to read. Delia might not have been my favourite McFarlane heroine (Georgie4ever), but I have absolutely no regrets about reading this or spending time with these characters.
If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?
When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.
Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…
Title : If I Never Met You Author : Mhairi McFarlane Format : ARC Page Count : 432 Genre : women’s fiction Publisher : William Morrow Paperbacks/Harper Collins Release Date : March 24, 2020/January 1, 2020
This is only my second McFarlane, whereas I’ve read a lot of contemporary writing by a lot of authors, but I think I can safely say that no one writes real life quite like her.
Laurie knew that most people were murdered by someone they knew; she’d stood up in court and argued or the killers’ bail applications while they wept not only about their fate, but about their loss. In this moment, she understood why.
IF I NEVER MET YOU is a women’s fiction title, much like the other one I read by her, DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME, but this one does have a higher romance-content than the latter. That isn’t to say you’re going to get any page time detailing swoony kisses or hot and heavies between the sheets, but instead you’re going to read a romance (fake romance, did I mention the fake dating trope?) that is heavily reliant upon friendship. And while I love me some romance, I love when the characters are friends, too.
Laurie noticed that someone “finishing” with someone else was such a savage language. They canceled you. You are over. Your use has been exhausted.
That said, I am finding it hard to nail down my feelings on this one. There is so much intelligence, strength, and emotion in McFarlane’s writing. This one deals with the emotional devastation and grief in the post-breakdown of an almost two decades long relationship, and where one goes after surviving that; particularly when one’s ex is a total cad. Throw in some maybe-not-so-healthy desire for revenge, the perfect playboy to get it with, and you have a fake dating meets office romance meets friends to real lovers story. But there’s even more than that, too.
“Oh, for fu– I’m sick of this perception of me as the greatest man slag of the northwest.” “Then be less man slag. Be the unslaggy man you want to see in the world.“ “Pfft. I’m selective.“ “Then select fewer of them.”
Complicated family dynamics, guilt and grief, enduring female friendships, and, of course, hilarity. And a cat named Colin Fur.
“Are you girls ready to order? Need me to explain anything?“ “We’re not girls. So you can explain your mode of address.” “Hey, y’all look pretty young to me.“ “Oh, you dear sweet fool, she will now verbally decapitate you.”
I think part of why I find this one harder to rate than the other, which was such a no-brainer, is that for all the emotions, I didn’t quite get caught up in any of them. I very much liked both of these characters, each with their stories that made them so much more than what they were perceived to be, and also deserved so much more for themselves, and I quite liked their respective besties, but.. yeah, just not quite the same charm or outright love. But it’s still such a great story, and so well written, whilst balancing that very real ‘life is messy and sometimes imperfect’ dose of reality, and I’m still a thousand percent keen to dive into the author’s backlist that I’ve yet to explore.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s3.5 – 4 star review
It’s been a long while since I’ve read Mhairi McFarlane and I’m glad to be reacquainted. IF I NEVER MET YOU was a read of phases for me, one of difficult angst for the first part and then a slow relax into a great story for the rest. I think I was expecting lightness from the start and that early heavy context took me by surprise initially. On reflection, that start made this a deeper story which I really appreciate.
Laurie was an incredibly likeable heroine from the start and it was not at all difficult to get on her side when she was wronged. I hated that sitution, the perpetrator and the demise of things. I loved the strong, successful women that Laurie was and her ability to keep her professional head throughout; I honestly thought that was completely realistic of so many women.
The ensuing story of Laurie and Jamie was pretty damn fun, full of tension and banter. So many lines were highlighted and I loved being the fly on the wall, stalking their dates and plotting. Jamie was a deeper character than I expected but I still think I’d have liked to have known him a little better.
This book was a Mancunian’s gift, set in the city and even more fun for me, visiting places around my work setting. I loved every single Manchester bit.
This was delightful Saturday read, I powered through it in a day, reluctant to put it down. It had some shades of predictability but that made it no less fun. Highly recommended for the kind of romantic read that has you laughing out loud.
Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.
Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .
Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara, gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.
In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?
Title : Grown Ups Author : Maria n Keyes Format : eARC Page Count : 656 Genre : Women’s Fiction Publisher : Michael Joseph Release Date : February 6, 2020
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 2.5 star review
GROWN UPS as you might guess, really showed what a mess grown ups can be. This was a family saga of epic proportions both in length of book but also in depth of shambled relationships and lives. This was definitely a less funny offering from Marian Keyes, but I wouldn’t have minded the lack of humour if the story had worked better for me.
The story centred on three families, brothers, wives and children. The brothers weren’t particularly close but the other people around them included some particularly strong personalities in Jessica, Ferdia, Nell and Liam. The character I probably liked the most was Nell but like is too strong a word, the rest of them I disliked or felt ambivalent about. I didn’t make connections with the characters as I had hoped at all.
The pacing of this story is somewhat slow, every element of the story was told in great depth, usually from multiple perspectives. So you can imagine that it takes 650 pages. This was like observing a slow motion house of cards collapsing over time. At the end, I did not feel wowed in any way or particularly satisfied at any of the outcomes.
I’m sad about this book, having read most of Marian Keyes books but you can’t like them all, I guess.
Thank you to Michael Joseph for the early review copy.
England, late 1930s, and Alice Wright — restless, stifled — makes an impulsive decision to marry wealthy American Bennett Van Cleve and leave her home and family behind.
But stuffy, disapproving Baileyville, Kentucky, where her husband favours work over his wife and is dominated by his overbearing father, is not the adventure — or the escape — that she hoped for.
That is, until she meets Margery O’Hare, a troublesome woman — and daughter of a notorious felon — the town wishes to forget.
Margery’s on a mission to spread the wonder of books and reading to the poor and lost — and she needs Alice’s help.
Trekking alone under big open skies, through wild mountain forests, Alice, Margery and their fellow sisters of the trail discover freedom, friendship — and a life to call their own.
But when the town turns against them, will their belief in one another — and the power of the written word — be enough to save them?
Inspired by a remarkable true story, The Giver of Stars features five incredible women who will prove to be every bit as beloved as Lou Clark, the unforgettable heroine of Me Before You.
Title : The Giver of Stars Author : Jojo Moyes Format : Hardback Page Count : 448 Genre : Women’s Fiction Publisher : Michael Joseph, Penguin Books Release Date : October 3, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 4.5 star review
I should know…know that when I read a Jojo Moyes book that it’s going to pack an emotional punch but with this blurb, I just didn’t see it coming. THE GIVER OF STARS had me invested quickly and feeling like a family member to the librarian sisterhood, so that when things happened, I felt devastated and scared to read on. The themes of misogyny, racism and feminism made this both emotional and empowering.
The context of reading, teaching poor and downtrodden women, children and men to read through the distrubution of books was in the background but it also powerful to observe. These women on their riding rounds also comforted the sick, grieving and took on the role of friends, confidentes and substitute mother figures.
I didn’t expect this book to be unputdownable, but it was as Moyes made the mundane work of Alice, Margery, Izzy and Beth’s lives totally readable and absorbing. Alice was the main protagonist, an English newly-wed, a little prissy but a genuinely sweet woman. The life she found in Kentucky was not at all what she expected and I tore my hair out over her and Bennett’s relationship. There were some revolting men in this book but then there were also some fantastic characters in Fred and Sven, they were the light in my reading and this book.
There was a second supporting protagonist in Margery and she really captured my heart. I loved her rebelliousness, her unconventional ways and willingness to be different. Her later storyline had me distraught, sad and prone to weeping. I just did not know where this book was going to end, there were so many possibilities.
I have come away from this read inspired. Jojo Moyes took me on a journey with this story and I am all the richer for it. This is historical women’s fiction at it’s best and I will remember this book for years, I am sure.
Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.
During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.
Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.
Title : Twice in a Blue Moon Author : Christina Lauren Format : eARC Page Count : 366 Genre : contemporary romance Publisher : Gallery Books Release Date : October 22, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★
Hollis’ 2 star review
It’s happened. I’ve finally rated a CLo book two stars (we won’t count BEAUTIFUL BASTARD in this tally because reasons).
I don’t really know where this trend of having a chunk, or even half, of a contemporary set in the past (aka making it YA) started but.. I don’t want it, or like it. Is this because these books now quality as women’s fiction? Unsure. That said, if you want to write a YA romance, go for it. Flashbacks, fine. But not full, long, chapters of it. It’s just not for me. Likewise, and in a related vein, second-chance romances aren’t my favourite. But I thought CLo could make it work for me. And sometimes it felt like it could’ve, like it was almost there but, overwhelmingly, it didn’t.
This story is about finding that one-true-love twice in a lifetime. And it’s also about twice the betrayals.
I didn’t like the hero because, let’s be honest, he only served a purpose to the plot and as result had no real personality besides muscles. I only liked the heroine when she was confronted with said hero after said betrayal, and after fourteen years of time passing, and let him have it. She stood up for herself, she addressed the elephant in the room, and I rooted for her (we were all rooting for you!). Every other time she was just.. fine, I guess. But her family was made up of mostly frustrating concepts, and while she did have one good friend, she didn’t get half as much page time as she deserved — and that’s probably because so much page time was given over to the script of the movie that took up the focus of the story. And the catalyst for getting these two leads back together.
There just wasn’t a lot to love here. Like many of CLo’s recent books, the heat factor is tame, they seem to only insert humour for every other release (so, this wasn’t one that was funny), and nothing about it left any kind of impression. The whole thing felt kinda basic, pretty muted, and just.. standard.
Like another recent release by another favourite author, I think I’m getting off this train. Or at least the ARC list. I’d much rather wait for reviews, and borrow from my library, then be posting early about my disappointment or not knowing if it’s even one I’ll want to read in the end.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.
She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.
Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…
Title : Postscript Author : Cecelia Ahern Series : PS I Love You #2 Format : eARC Page Count : 368 Genre : Women’s Fiction Publisher : Harper Collins Release Date : September 19, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 4 star review
POSTSCRIPT was the sequel I never thought I needed. Let’s face it, PS I Love You finished in a good place and so it has existed for over a decade. I was worried that book two would sully the good memories I have of book one, I was worried it would disappoint, it did none of these things.
Holly was seven years down the line from Gerry’s death, living her life, happy, in a relationship and officially in a different phase of her life from when she recceived the original letters. I wondered where Cecelia Ahern would take us, without harping back to the experiences of the first book too much but Gerry’s letters were used for good, to empower others.
What I liked about Holly in this book was that she was still a bit of a hot mess. She didn’t have it all together, even after all this time, showing this was just a personality trait. What I also loved reading about was Holly’s grief for Gerry and the life she lost. The grief that shone through was dulled down but with occasional acuteness and this seemed real.
The quest that Holly went on alongside others in her PS I Love You club was a journey. I had my reservations about it just like her boyfriend, friends and family but I was won around by those characters of Bert, Genika and Jewel especially. I made it to 88% rather smugly thinking that ‘I’ve not cried, I wont now’… and then proceeded to sob twice before the end.
…ultimately, it’s all anyone wants. Not to get lost, or left behind, not to be forgotten, to always be a part of the moments they know they’ll miss. To leave their stamp. To be remembered.
Cecelia Ahern wrote about the journey towards death and the grief that ensues with sensitivity and tangibility. She also wrote it in an uplifting style. She connected me to the characters and narratives with skill and affection. I am so glad that this second instalment came along and made it seem as though no years had passed since the last book.
Thank you Harper Collins for the early review copy.
Carin Frost doesn’t understand what’s happening to her. A confident businesswoman, wife, and mother, she begins to resent everything about her life. Nothing makes sense. Nothing makes her feel. Maybe it’s the recent loss of her mother in a tragic accident. Or maybe she’s just losing her mind.
Enter Matias Torres. As their new business partnership thrives, so does their friendship—and his interest in her. Carin is determined to keep her distance, until a work assignment sends them to Southeast Asia where a storm is brewing on the island. In the midst of the chaos, Matias asks her to do something unimaginable, exhilarating, BOLD. Carin knows the consequences could be dire, but it may be the only way to save herself.
An honest look at love and marriage and the frailties of the human heart, this is a story of a woman’s loss of self and purpose and the journey she takes to find her way back.
Title : The Year I Left Author : Christine Brae Format : eARC Page Count : 284 Genre : Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance Publisher : Vesuvian Books Release Date : August 20, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★.5
Micky’s 1.5 star review
I found the synopsis for THE YEAR I LEFT appealing. I like books with married couples, mid life troubles and the worries and stresses that evolve in a relationship; it’s real. That said, this book was way out of what I thought when I read that blurb and I’m going to try to pinpoint why it didn’t work for me. There might be some mild spoilers.
The protagonist, Carin is a workaholic, driven and hugely successful business person with a husband and son. They’re financially loaded as a family and pretty materialistic. Carin was unlikeable from the off despite her circumstances and her grief. I could see her mental health problem immediately but that didn’t mitigate who she was and how she behaved. I’m sorry to say that I disliked her from start to finish and therefore, I didn’t really connect with her.
I did however, understand her feelings about Jack, her husband but I could not reconcile her parenting or connection with her son, Charlie. As for Matias, again I made no connection with him as a character or them as an evolving work colleague, friendship and more. To me, this was a story about unrelatable selfish people. The storyline took a ridiculous turn that sealed my difficulty with this book.
Added to these difficulties, the narrative was largely in the first person which I don’t normally mind. However, in this book it was written as a letter to Matias and I found it awkward to read and it continually took me out of the story. You find out later why this is, but it doesn’t help with processing the story for the rest of the book.
Whilst this book wasn’t for me, I do think some people will find the format and story appealing as it has emotional and angsty content. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me.
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the early review copy.
All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jen DeLuca.
Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?
The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?
This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.
Title : Well Met Author : Jen DeLuca Format : eARC Page Count : 336 Genre : women’s fiction, romance Publisher : Berkley Release Date : September 3, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 4 star review
If what you’ve always wanted is a romance set against a Renaissance Faire, with a hate to love trope, then WELL MET is sure to be the book of your dreams. Or at least one of your top favourites from 2019.
I’ve only read one other book with this kind of setting, and honestly both the title and the author escape me, so that probably says a lot about how much I liked it. As a result I maybe went in to this one with lower expectations but whether that had anything to do with my enjoyment or if this is just that fun? Who can say (spoiler : it’s just that fun).
“So, what, am I just supposed to pull an extra bard out of my ass now?“ “Not a bad idea. It might dislodge the stick that’s up there.”
This is a women’s fiction title but is more romance heavy than some of the more recent ones I’ve read and it was honestly just.. cozy. We have two sisters, separated by quite a few years, reconnecting when the older sister is injured in a car accident and needs help not only going to and from doctor’s appointments but also with her teenager daughter. As Emily’s life has recently imploded, losing her job and her boyfriend, it isn’t much hardship to uproot herself to her sister’s small town. Additionally, Emily thrives on organization and handling crises. Win win win.
Emma the Tavern Wench missed Captain Blackthorne greatly. She wanted him to come by the tavern he’d been neglecting lately, because she thrilled to see him and lived for those moments where his attention was like the sun. But Emily the Regular Person wanted to give Simon a good shake and ask him what his problem was.
Part of what Emily takes on is a volunteer position in the local Renaissance Faire. Her niece wanted to be part of it and the only condition is a parent or guardian volunteering alongside. So Emily jumps in with both feet; and splashes all over the event organizer, Simon. I don’t mean that literally. But Simon is basically the raincloud of Emily’s sun and it sets the whole tone for their relationship over the coming weeks.
“A month ago I hated the guy, and I thought he hated me. This is like a summer romance on steroids.”
The Faire takes up the majority of the plot and events but it also acts as a great foil for some of the emotional issues that crop up over the story. DeLuca’s story touches on topics of grief and self-worth and I thought both were done really well and also just emotional enough without the angst or agony dragging on too long. I’ll admit there were brief moments where I thought Emily a touch too in her head or oblivious but it does fit in with her hangups and previous experiences and, in hindsight, I think it fits.
I wanted to crawl in to him, become part of him so he would never feel alone again. But I didn’t know how to tell him that without it sounding like the world’s creepiest Valentine’s card.
Additionally there were so many moments where I thought “well here comes the misunderstanding or lack of communication romance trope” and instead.. nope. I think that might honestly be the only thing that makes this stand apart from your typical romance. A few less frustrating tropes on the checklist.
“Brace yourself. I’m going to woo your ass off.“
If you want some great banter, some excellent tension, smoldering sweet swoons, and a good emotional backbone for a story set against old timey cosplay and fun, you should definitely pick this one up. I’m pleasantly surprised by yet another debut title and can’t wait to see what DeLuca does next. And if it involves a companion novel featuring a certain kilted not-so-meaty-meathead and a certain sister..? Here for it.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **