Sammy Espinoza’s Last Review by Tehlor Kay Meija

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Dell

Date of publication: July 18th, 2023

Genre: Romance, LGBT, Queer, Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay, Music, Contemporary Romance, Lesbian

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A music critic stuck in a spiral of epic proportions targets her teenage crush for a career comeback and a chance at revenge. What could possibly go wrong?

Sammy Espinoza’s life is a raging dumpster fire. Her desperate attempt to win back her singer ex-girlfriend has landed her in hot water at work, and she has one last chance before her editor cuts her column. Luckily, Sammy has a plan to redeem herself, but it won’t be easy.

Rumor has it that Max Ryan, the former rock god, is secretly recording his first-ever solo album years after he dramatically quit performing. And it just so happens that he and Sammy have Right before Max got his big break, he and Sammy spent an unforgettable night together.

Exclusive access to Max’s new music would guarantee Sammy’s professional comeback and, even better, give her the opportunity to serve some long-awaited revenge for his traumatic ghosting.

But Max lives in Ridley Falls, Washington, and Sammy has history there as a family that never wanted her and a million unanswered questions. Going back would mean confronting it all—but what else does she have to lose?

First Line:

People like to say you can’t go home again, but for me that’s more than a literal statement than a figurative one.

Sammy Espinoza’s Last Review by Tehlor Kay Meija

Sammy Espinoza’s life is a mess. An attempt to win back her singer ex-girlfriend exploded in her face. The fallout resulted in her being on probation with the threat of her editor pulling her column unless she could redeem herself. And Sammy does plan on redeeming herself. She had just discovered that Max Ryan, a former rockstar and former one-night stand who ghosted her, might be recording his first solo album. If she can get an interview and an inside scoop about his music, she will be redeemed and forgiven. But Max lives in Ridley Falls, Washington, and Sammy doesn’t want to go back. That would mean facing her estranged family and getting answers to questions that she has had for a long time.

When I read the blurb for Sammy Espinoza (I am shortening the title for this review), I knew I wanted to read it. I have a soft spot for damaged heroines, and I love to read about what caused the damage. I decided to wish on it since it wasn’t available on Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine’s NetGalley page. When I got the email that the publisher granted my wish, I was pretty pleased. This book has stuck around in my mind since I had wished for it. And guess what? I am glad that I read this book.

Sammy Espinoza is a fast-paced book set in the fictional town of Ridley Falls, Washington. The pacing for this book was perfect for it. I had no issue following the storyline, and there were zero times I had to backtrack. There was a tiny bit of lag in the middle of the book when Sammy was floating around Ridley Falls, but that didn’t disrupt my reading experience.

I will warn you; you will need Kleenex while reading this book. You will cry because the storyline will have you in emotional knots. Sammy’s issues constitute a significant part of the storyline. It was painful to read in portions (her mother had me seeing red) and, in other parts, joyful and hopeful.

I didn’t like Sammy at the beginning of the book. She was a hot mess. Her character was selfish, childish, and had a massive chip on her shoulder. After cementing that in my head, the author then went on to show the Sammy behind all of that. The real Sammy was insecure, scarred by her childhood, and desperately wanted to be loved. Then that Sammy slowly (it was painful to read at times) morphed into the Sammy I loved. She was a self-confident woman who was happy and surrounded herself with a family she chose.

I wasn’t too sure what to think about Max. He seemed like such a nice guy, but something was also tortured about him. I figured it was part of his act until he saw Sammy after he ghosted her. Then, a side of Max that I didn’t even think existed emerged. I sympathized with him and didn’t blame him for doing what he did after Sammy told him about what she wanted to do.

The secondary characters were the backbone of this book. Sammy had a fantastic friends with Willa and Brooke. Brooke made me laugh. She was blunt and didn’t deal with Sammy’s (or Willa’s) BS. Willa’s parents were characters. And Sammy’s grandmother was just fantastic.

The storyline involving Sammy, her mother, and her father’s side of the family was heartbreaking and infuriating. I got so mad for Sammy as the storyline went on, and it slowly revealed what a jerk and how self-centered her mother was. There was a scene with Willa’s mother and one with Sammy’s grandmother that broke my heart. Sammy’s issues (well, a good part of them) could have been resolved if her mother had done the right thing. I won’t get into that storyline anymore because there will be spoilers.

The storyline involving Sammy, Max, and the article made me irritated. Sammy should have been upfront with Max about why she came to Ridley Falls. But, at the same time, Max should have been upfront with Sammy about his issues and past. But it doesn’t excuse him for just jetting on her. Especially when something very significant happened, and she was left alone.

The end of Sammy Espinonza was perfect. It also gave me one of my favorite quotes, “Three Queers and a Baby.” I did get a giggle out of that. I also liked how hopeful the last chapter was. It made me happy for Sammy and her crew.

I would recommend Sammy Espinoza’s Last Review to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and sexual situations.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Dell, NetGalley, and Tehlor Kay Mejia for allowing me to read and review Sammy Espinozia’s Last Review. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Sammy Espinoza’s Last Review, then you will enjoy reading these books:

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