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GROWN UPS by Marian Keyes

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

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.

THE GIVER OF STARS by Jojo Moyes

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.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the review copy.

TWICE IN A BLUE MOON by Christina Lauren

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. **

POSTSCRIPT by Cecelia Ahern

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.

THE YEAR I LEFT by Christine Brae

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.

WELL MET by Jen DeLuca

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. **

FIRST COMES LOVE by Emily Giffin

What happens when love, marriage and children don’t come in the expected order?

Fifteen years after the tragic death of their older brother splintered Josie and Meredith’s already fragile relationship, the two sisters are following very different paths.

Hardworking, reserved Meredith thought she’d done it all the right way round – married the perfect man, had the perfect daughter – but now she’s wondering if she got the love part wrong.

Impulsive and spirited Josie has been single for years. She wants a child so much that she’s preparing to head straight for the baby carriage all on her own.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and secrets from the past surface, Josie and Meredith must come to terms with their own choices. Perhaps they’ll find that they need each other more than they know…


Title : First Comes Love
Author : Emily Giffin
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 351
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : September 22, 2016

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


I like Emily Giffin’s writing style and have previously enjoyed a number of her books. She writes good, reliable women’s fiction about families, relationships and the challenges that arise in life. That said, FIRST COMES LOVE was just an okay read for me.

The book starts very strong with a family tragedy and the story centres on the ripples going out from this event 20 years later. Central to this are the joint protagonists, sisters called Meredith and Josie. Imagine two 8 year old sisters biccering and this is much of how these two behave in the book but with adult themes. I think the reason I only found this an okay read was because of the juvenille relationship these two had. I much preferred the focus on their lives seperately.

Meredith’s life centred on her husband and child but there really was a ‘finding yourself’ theme to her story which I quite enjoyed. Josie’s story was more about reaching her goals and she had a couple of friendships that were fun reading. I did find Josie’s obsession with previous failed relationships a bit irritating. The story isn’t heavy on romance but had a relationships focus, mostly family and platonic relationships.

This book did have a reasonably good culmination. Although this wasn’t my favourite Emily Giffin, I still enjoyed her writing style and I’ll be back to read more from her.

Thank you to Hodder books and amazon vine for the review copy.

HOW TO HACK A HEARTBREAK by Kristin Rockaway

Swipe right for love. Swipe left for disaster.

By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers—”Hatchlings”—who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.

But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.

Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez—the only non-douchey guy at Hatch—has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.


Title : How to Hack a Heartbreak
Author : Kristen Rockaway
Format : ARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : women’s fiction
Publisher : Graydon House
Release Date : July 30, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

What I loved most about HOW TO HACK A HEARTBREAK was Melanie. Our lead character is doggedly using the author’s version of Tinder, Fluttr, to try and find a connection. An enduring one. Not just for the night, though she’s willing to compromise, at least, on The One. She’d be fine with The One For Now. Unfortunately she’s constantly stood up or fielding dick picks. And by day, she’s working in a toxic start-up culture populated by frat bros who treat her, and her role as technical support, with sneers and abuse. Worse, she’s forever undermined as a coder just for being a woman.

This was far from the lighthearted rom-com I thought it would be. It actually read’s a bit less like a romance and more women’s fiction. Melanie has to face up to her own issues of paranoid and insecurity surrounding potential love interests, issues that harken back to her past, all while not letting the world around her drag her down. Even when it does.. repeatedly.
Rounding out the mix, though, is a great group of girlfriends who I would totally read more of. I don’t always just assume we’ll get follow up stories for members of the girlgang but in this case.. I’d love to read more about Whit! And get Lia a happy ending, too.

This story was smart, filled with clever and ingenious ladies, and yet didn’t shy away from the toxic internet and dating culture, whether it be through trending hashtags, reddit threads, or otherwise. I felt this perfectly reflected everything about my world but was still made interesting, too.
While the romance wasn’t my favourite thing, and I don’t know if that’s maybe because some of Melanie’s paranoia about Alex rubbed off on me as a reader, I did enjoy everything else in the story. And the writing. Like I said, I would totally read more of this group, and this world. Or whatever else Rockaway has to offer.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER by Linda Holmes

In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.


Title : Evvie Drake Starts Over
Author : Linda Holmes
Format : Paperback arc
Page Count : 304
Genre : Women’s fiction, romance
Publisher : Hodder Paperbacks
Release Date : June 25, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Linda Holmes took a story that was rather ordinary and turned it into something quite special. Evvie Drake was like many women, many people; she didn’t feel good enough, she felt the guilt of life and her past and she was afraid to live and be happy.

Evvie had reasons for being this way, but she also had a lot of secrets, not the bank-robbing kind, but secrets that she didn’t tell anyone. Evvie was grieving and yet she felt that she wasn’t. She had lost her place in life, her autonomy and her sheer existence seemed about keeping an appearance of a widow and not hurting other people. The pacing of this story was perfection, as was the timeline. Nothing happened in an instant, time passed tangibly and the changes and evolution in her life were realistic. Evvie as a character was flawed and endearing.

Evvie had an amazing friendship with Andy, I loved how they were so genuinely there for one another. Everyone needs an Andy in their life, but their dynamic changed and that was pretty tough to read. Andy however, brought Dean, her tenant into her life. Dean was a uncomplicated man but he had some difficult problems to work through and he needed a break from New York. Small town Maine brought that escape for him. A slow friendship between these two developed and it was everything unputdownable. I devoured this storyline and these two together and apart. Their romance was one of the most believable stories I’ve read in a long time in contemporary fiction.

EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER is a debut, a fantastic one. Linda Holmes has shown in one book her ability to craft believable characters you want to read more about, pace the story with refinement and leave you unable to put the darn book down. I am going to be recommending this book all over because I believe it is that good. You don’t need to know any more than this is a book that needs and deserves to be read widely.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

THE MARRIAGE CLOCK by Zara Raheem

In Zara Raheem’s fresh, funny, smart debut, a young, Muslim-American woman is given three months to find the right husband or else her traditional Indian parents will find one for her–a novel with a universal story that everyone can relate to about the challenges of falling in love.

To Leila Abid’s traditional Indian parents, finding a husband in their South Asian-Muslim American community is as easy as match, meet, marry. But for Leila, a marriage of arrangement clashes with her lifelong dreams of a Bollywood romance which has her convinced that real love happens before marriage, not the other way around.

Finding the right husband was always part of her life-plan, but after 26 years of singledom, even Leila is starting to get nervous. And to make matters worse, her parents are panicking, the neighbors are talking, and she’s wondering, are her expectations just too high? So Leila decides it’s time to stop dreaming and start dating.

She makes a deal with her parents: they’ll give her three months, until their 30th wedding anniversary, to find a husband on her own terms. But if she fails, they’ll take over and arrange her marriage for her.

With the stakes set, Leila succumbs to the impossible mission of satisfying her parents’ expectations, while also fulfilling her own western ideals of love. But after a series of speed dates, blind dates, online dates and even ambush dates, the sparks just don’t fly! And now, with the marriage clock ticking, and her 3-month deadline looming in the horizon, Leila must face the consequences of what might happen if she doesn’t find “the one…”


Title :  The Marriage Clock
Author :  Zara Raheem
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : William Morrow
Release Date : July 23, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


THE MARRIAGE CLOCK is a witty insight into the pressure for marriage to take place on parents’ timescale for an American, South Asian, Muslim woman. Leila was a free-spirited protagonist with a desire not to hurt her parents but also with a strong feminist streak. She was also a big Bollywood fan and this fandom had influenced how she imagined her falling in love to play out.

“He’s a nice guy, but we just didn’t connect,” I said.
“Connect? What is this, a Wi-Fi signal?” My mother glared at me.

What ensued was a series of cringe-worthy, parent-chosen potential spouses. What was even more hilarious was Leila’s attempt to go solo on this husband-finding project and I laughed many times at her attempts. The speed dating scene was particularly hilarious.

“This was definitely not how I pictured my Indian fairy tale panning out. I had imagined me + Shah Rukj Kahn + villa in the mountains + romantic song + dancing penguins. Instead, I got guy with too much gel + weirded-out looks + tone-deaf singer + lifeteime ban from ever stepping foot into this bistro again.”

The parent nightmare was pressurising and real. I couldn’t imagine having to conform and losing my choice in that way and in reality, this was Leila’s biggest difficulty. She was working as a teacher, she’d lived away from home previously and she sought autonomy, empowerment and freedom. So whilst this was a humourous tale, there was a constant streak of poignancy in Leila’s situation that just got me in the gut. At least she had some great friends around her.

The story went from the US to India and back. There were some short but unexpected heart breaks along the way and they really did have a kick. The story completed in a way that stung my romantic heart but made my feminist heart soar, so I can’t be unhappy about that.

This is a debut by Zara Raheem and she wrote engagingly and with wit. I will definitely be searching out any future releases she has; I would say she’s one to watch.

Thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss for this review copy.