Friends Don’t Fall in Love by Erin Hahn

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of Publication: October 17th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Adult, Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, Music, Adult Fiction

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Erin Hahn’s Friends Don’t Fall in Love is about long-time friends, taking chances, and finding out that, sometimes, your perfect person was right there in your corner all along.

Lorelai Jones had it all: a thriving country music career and a superstar fiancé. Then she played one teenie tiny protest song at a concert and ruined her entire future, including her impending celebrity marriage. But five years later, she refuses to be done with her dreams and calls up the one person who stuck by her, her dear friend and her former fiancé’s co-writer and bandmate, Craig.

Craig Boseman’s held a torch for Lorelai for years, but even he knows the backup bass player never gets the girl. Things are different now, though. Craig owns his own indie record label and his songwriting career is taking off. If he can confront his past and embrace his gifts, he might just be able to help Lorelai earn the comeback she deserves―and maybe win her heart in the process.

But when the two reunite to rebuild her career and finally scratch that itch that’s been building between them for years, Lorelai realizes a lot about what friends don’t do. For one, friends don’t have scratch-that-itch sex. They also don’t almost-kiss on street corners, publish secret erotic poetry about each other, have counter-top sex, write songs for each other, have no-strings motorcycle sex, or go on dates. And they sure as heck don’t fall in love… right?

First Line:

It takes me approximately five minutes to find Lorelai Jones, recently spurned country music princess, let loose in Nashville.

Friends Don’t Fall in Love by Erin Hahn

Important things you need to know about the book:

Pace: The pacing of Friends Don’t Fall in Love was a nice medium pace. There was next to no lag, and the storyline flowed smoothly.

Trigger/Content Warning: There are a couple of trigger warnings in Friends Don’t Fall in Love. If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:

  • School Shootings/Gun Violence: Lorelai’s backstory and main storyline heavily refer to school shootings. Lorelai is a 3rd-grade teacher and recounts monthly lockdown drills. Her career ended because of backlash that she got from singing Neil Young’s Ohio (lyrics here).
  • Chronic Illness: Lorelai had been diagnosed with Celiac Disease 6 months before the main storyline began. There is a scene when Lorelai flares up after eating non-gluten-free food.

Sexual Content: Friends Don’t Fall in Love is a very spicy romance with explicit scenes.

Language: There is mild to moderate swearing in Friends Don’t Fall in Love.

Setting: Friend’s Don’t Fall in Love is mainly set in Nashville, Tennessee. But there are a couple of chapters that are set in Michigan.

Representation:  There is LGBTQ representation. Craig’s employee is gay and is married. Lorelai’s agent is a lesbian and is also married.

Tropes: Friends to Lovers, Unrequited Love, Opposites Attract

Age Range to read Friends Don’t Fall in Love: I would suggest 21 and over for this book. The sex scenes are very explicit and very spicy.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

Lorelai Jones was an up-and-coming country star, and she had it all: a thriving career, dedicated fans, and a superstar fiancee. But that all went up in smoke after she sang a protest song. Her career was over, and her superstar fiancee dumped her over Instagram. Five years later, Lorelai decides that she wants to make a comeback. She contacts Craig, her best friend and ex-fiance’s former songwriter, and enlists his help.

Craig has been in love with Lorelai for years. Content just being in the friend zone, he will bend over backward for her. That includes producing a new record for her. But, as they work closely together, Lorelai realizes that her feelings for Craig aren’t ones of friendship. Deciding to act on those feelings, she and Craig enter a new, unexplored area of their relationship. Can Lorelai and Craig keep their feelings for each other to just the bedroom? Or will Lorelai lose her best friend for good?

Main Characters

Lorelai Jones: I liked her. She was spunky, and she wasn’t afraid to let people know what she was feeling. Before she hit it big, Lorelai was a 3rd-grade teacher, and doing lockdown drills affected her. So, when she sang that protest song (with permission from her manager), she did it from the viewpoint of a former teacher. She wasn’t expecting the backlash. I give her credit for trying to make it again in Nashville after agents refused to sign her. But, and I stress this, I was a little “are you serious” when it came to Craig’s feelings for her. How can you not know that man was head over heels for you? It wasn’t like he was hiding his feelings (spoiler: he wasn’t). I couldn’t believe it took her six years to admit she had feelings for him, too.

Craig “Huck” Boseman: I liked Craig. He was written as an ordinary guy. He wasn’t athletic, was quite nerdy, and was in touch with his feelings. I mean, he wrote erotic poetry!!! He is portrayed as a pushover at the beginning of the book. It didn’t stay that way (he eventually started establishing boundaries). My only quibble with him was his relationship with Lorelai. He had been friend-zoned after that night they had, and he was content to keep it that way. When they made that jump from friends to lovers, I was a little scared for him. He was a sensitive guy, and I was worried that Lorelai would steamroll over his feelings.

Secondary characters: The secondary characters did add extra depth and nuance to Friends Don’t Fall in Love. Some characters explained Lorelai’s music backstory. Others explained Craig’s backstory, and still others added depth to their feelings and storylines.

My review:

Friend’s Don’t Fall in Love was a well-written book that glued me to my Kindle. I enjoyed reading about Lorelai and Craig’s romantic relationship and friendship. I also enjoyed reading about Nashville and the country music industry. I also agreed with the point the author was making with Lorelai singing the protest song. This book will be going into my read-again pile.

The main storyline centers on Lorelai, her fall from fame, her work to get back into Nashville’s music scene, and her relationship with Craig. I thought it was well written. I was invested in Lorelai and wanted her to succeed. I wanted her to show all her critics the middle finger while she regained her status as an up-and-coming country star. I also wanted her relationship with Craig to work in the worst way.

The romance angle was perfect (chef’s kiss). I liked that the author chose to have Craig and Lorelai have a close friendship before they got involved. It made them getting romantically involved much more believable to me. I also liked that Lorelai was the one who had to come to terms with her feelings instead of Craig. It was refreshing to read.

As I stated a few times above, the sex scenes in Friends Don’t Fall in Love are spicy and explicit. The author does mention it on the book’s Goodreads page, but I read that after I finished the book. So, I was a little surprised at how raunchy it got.

The end of Friends Don’t Fall in Love was perfect in every way. The author wrapped everything up in a way that I loved and made me smile.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Erin Hahn for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Friends Don’t Fall in Love. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to Friends Don’t Fall in Love, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Erin Hahn

Love Interest by Clare Gilmore

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: October 10th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Adult, Fiction, Chick Lit, New Adult, Adult Fiction

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

A sparkling adversaries-to-lovers romcom set at a magazine publisher in Manhattan. When Casey and Alex are forced into proximity, they soon realize falling for each other is just as much of a risk and as it is a reward.

Casey Maitland has always preferred the reliability of numbers, despite growing up the daughter of two artistic souls. Now a twenty-four-year-old finance expert working in Manhattan, Casey wonders if the project manager opening at her company – magazine powerhouse LC Publications – is a sign from the universe to pursue a career with a little more sparkle. That is, until she’s passed over for the job in favor of the board chairman’s son.

Alex Harrison is handsome, Harvard-educated, and enigmatic. Everybody loves him – except for Casey. But when the two are thrown on the same project, they both have something to prove. For Casey, it’s getting tapped for a transfer to the London office and fulfilling her dreams of travelling. For Alex, it’s successfully launching a brand that will impress his distant father.

As work meetings turn into after hours, Casey and Alex are drawn to each other again and again, but neither can avoid the messy secrets and corporate intrigue threatening to tear them apart. What they discover about their workplace might change everything – including the dreams each of them is chasing.

First Line:

The meeting invitation appears on my cell phone screen when I’m halfway up the subway staircase.

Love Interest by Clare Gilmore

Important things you need to know about the book:

Pace: Love Interest is a medium to fast-paced book. While the pacing suited the book, the author could have slowed it down. I had to go back and read some significant parts of the book. There is a lag in Love Interest. The lag didn’t affect how I liked the book.

Trigger/Content Warning: Surprisingly, there are no trigger or content warnings in Love Interest. After reading many books with triggers, it was refreshing to read one that didn’t.

Sexual Content: There are sexual scenes in Love Interest. Seeing that this is a modern-day romance, I wasn’t too surprised that there was. The sex scenes are explicit enough to be hot but didn’t cross the line into TMI.

Language: There is foul language used in Love Interest.

Setting: Love Interest is set entirely in New York City.

Representation: There is queer and BIPOC representation in Love Interest. Casey is white and straight, but she has friends who are BIPOC and queer (which is fantastic). Alex is half Korean and straight. His friends are Casey’s friends.

Tropes: Enemies to Lovers, Forced Proximity, Workplace Romance

Age Range to read Love Interest: 21 and over

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

Casey is a financial advisor for a magazine who wonders if she can insert a little pizzazz into her life. So, when a position for project manager becomes available in her company, she applies. Casey is mad when she is passed over for the job for the chairman’s son, Alex. She is furious when assigned to the project that Alex is heading. But her fury wanes as she gets to know Alex, and she starts to catch glimpses of the real him. A friendship evolves that soon turns into a not-so-hidden workplace romance. But, as rumors swirl about the fate of the magazine and the project Casey is on becomes Alex’s chance to show his father what he can do, can their romance survive?

Main Characters

Casey Maitland: I will be the odd one out here, but I didn’t initially like Casey. Her attitude towards Alex was awful. Yes, I get that it was fueled by disappointment and anger, but it made her seem like a teenager instead of the adult she was. But, by the middle of the book (when she and Alex started dating), I liked her. This was an infrequent case of a character redeeming herself. She became a supportive girlfriend who wasn’t afraid to tell it like it was. But she also kept her sense of self. She had plans, and those plans were going to happen, if Alex was in her life or not.

Alex Harrison: I initially liked him, but he had Daddy issues. His sense of self was wrapped up in getting approval from a distant and cold father. But I liked that he didn’t use nepotism to get the job at the magazine (but I am sure that’s what got him the job if it makes sense). I liked how he handled Casey at the beginning of the book. But he did change a little towards the middle of the book. He had stated at the beginning of the book (shortly before Casey and he started hooking up) that he didn’t believe or want relationships because he didn’t want to be tethered. Yet, by the middle of the book, he was only with Casey. I liked that the author did have Alex come to terms with his father by himself.

Secondary characters: I know this paragraph is the same in every review, but in this case, the secondary characters did make the book. Each character added extra depth, nuance, and flair to the storyline. If the book weren’t about Alex and Casey, I would have been happy to read about the secondary characters. That is how much oomph they brought to this book.

My review:

Love Interest was an interesting and good read. I got involved with the main characters and was rooting for them to overcome their obstacles. I also loved the secondary characters and the vibrance they brought to the book.

The main storyline of Love Interest focuses on Casey and Alex as they navigate their romance and project together. I liked that the author made this storyline relatable and believable. I wanted them both to succeed at what they were doing and their romance. I was caught up in this storyline and was very happy with the ending and the epilogue.

I liked the romance angle of Love Interest. I liked that Casey and Alex’s romance happened organically (as organic as a romance novel can get). It wasn’t Instalove by a long shot.

The end of Love Interest was sweet. I loved how the author ended all the storylines and tied them into Casey and Alex’s storyline. I also loved the epilogue. After reading that, I went to sleep with a massive smile.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Clare Gilmore for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Love Interest. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to Love Interest, then you will enjoy these books:

Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: September 26th, 2023

Genre: Christmas, Romance, Holiday, Fiction, Contemporary, Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction, Adult, Contemporary Romance

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

From Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of The Homewreckers and The Santa Suit, comes a novella celebrating love and the warm, glittering charm of the holiday season.

When fall rolls around, it’s time for Kerry Tolliver to leave her family’s Christmas tree farm in the mountains of North Carolina for the wilds of New York City to help her gruff older brother & his dog, Queenie, sell the trees at the family stand on a corner in Greenwich Village. Sharing a tiny vintage camper and experiencing Manhattan for the first time, Kerry’s ready to try to carve out a new corner for herself.

In the weeks leading into Christmas, Kerry quickly becomes close with the charming neighbors who live near their stand. When an elderly neighbor goes missing, Kerry will need to combine her country know-how with her newly acquired New York knowledge to protect the new friends she’s come to think of as family,

And complicating everything is Patrick, a single dad raising his adorable, dragon-loving son Austin on this quirky block. Kerry and Patrick’s chemistry is undeniable, but what chance does this holiday romance really have?

Filled with family ties, both rekindled and new, and sparkling with Christmas magic, Bright Lights, Big Christmas delivers everything Mary Kay Andrews fans adore, all tied up in a hilarious, romantic gem of a novel.

First Line:

Kerry Clare Tolliver couldn’t remember a time when the smell of a Fraser fir tree didn’t make her smile.

Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews

Important things you need to know about the book:

Bright Lights, Big City was a fast-paced book. It took me over two days to finish reading. The author could have slowed the book’s pacing down a little, but considering that it takes place from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the pacing suited it. There was some lag toward the book’s latter half (during the search for Heinz), but it didn’t affect my enjoyment.

There are trigger warnings in Bright Lights, Big Christmas. If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:

  • Bullying (on page: Kerry and Murphy experience bullying from their competition)
  • Cheating (off-page: Kerry reveals her parents divorced because of her father’s cheating)
  • Death (off-page: Heinz’s boyfriend died three years into their relationship from a brain aneurysm)
  • Depression (off and somewhat on page: Heniz suffered from a deep depression for years over George’s(his boyfriend) death)
  • Divorce (off-page: Kerry’s parents are divorced)
  • Homophobia (off-page: Heinz reveals that his parents disowned him because he is gay)
  • Theft (on page: The competing tree stand steals Murphy’s cart that he uses to deliver Christmas trees)
  • Illness (on page: Heinz is severely ill with the flu)
  • Violence: (off-page: Murphy settles a dispute with the competition that results in bloody knuckles)

Sexual Content: There is no explicit sexual content in Bright Lights, Big Christmas. There are a couple of kissing scenes and one scene where I think Kerry and Patrick hooked up (not sure).

Language: There is some mild language in Bright Lights, Big Christmas.

Setting: Bright Lights, Big Christmas is set mainly in Greenwich Village, New York City. There is a chapter where the book is set in Tarburton, North Carolina.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

When Kerry Tolliver’s larger-than-life father, Jock, suffers a heart attack and has surgery afterward, she volunteers to go to New York City to sell Christmas trees in his place. Since losing her job, Kerry has been floating along, and she figures that New York City is perfect to reinvent herself. At first, New York City is everything that Kerry thought it would be. But, with competition set up a block away and the stand losing business, Kerry needs to focus on how to get those trees to sell. What Kerry wasn’t expecting was her attraction to Patrick, a single dad living in the brownstone the stand is in front of, and her growing affection for the residents of the street. Is Kerry and Patrick’s romance just a holiday romance? Or will they be able to make it work? What about the elderly neighbor? Will they be able to find him?

Main Characters

Kerry Tolliver: I had mixed feelings about her character. She both annoyed me and made me laugh. I know it’s a weird combination, but that’s how I feel. Kerry wasn’t the best employee (she left the stand with people she didn’t know a few times) and was kind of rude to people. But, she had a great heart. She cared about the people she met, even after knowing them for weeks. Her attraction to Patrick was a given from the first moment they met. I was looking forward to them having an enemy-to-lover type relationship, but it flipped soon after.

Patrick McCaleb: I liked him, but I did wonder if he had some complex when it came to women. His ex was difficult (and that is saying it mildly), and Kerry was a little immature for him. But he was a great guy and a great father to Austin. He also supported Kerry regarding her choices (at the end of the book).

Secondary characters: The secondary characters made this book. They added extra flavor and depth to the plotline. My favorite secondary characters were Heinz, Austin, Murphy, and Claudia.

My review:

Bright Lights, Big Christmas was a good, sweet read. The plotline was simple, and I didn’t need a diagram to understand what was happening. I didn’t need to reread chapters or pay much attention to the characters’ backstories. It was a good, clean read that made me happy and sad.

The main storyline centers around Kerry and her time in New York City. I liked the author’s version of New York City (no rude people, kind neighbors, or police that understood agreements) but found it slightly unrealistic. But that unrealistic part made this book so good to read. I liked seeing Kerry interacting with the brownstone tenants and her brother. I also loved reading about her blooming relationship with Patrick (and Austin by default). My only quibble is that their romance was Instalove and what I said above about New York City.

The other storyline centers around Kerry, Patrick, Austin, and Heinz. This storyline was a sweet storyline that made me tear up a little bit. I also got very aggravated with Austin’s mother for her assumptions, but no harm was done at the end of the day. Heinz’s backstory, almost at the end of the book, was heartbreaking. I also loved what he offered Kerry.

As much as I dislike Instalove, I did like Kerry and Patrick’s romance. It was cute, and I liked how the author did try to let it grow organically at first. The romance felt forced by the end of the book, but I chalked that up to what was going on and Kerry’s decision.

I saw the end of Bright Lights, Big Christmas coming since the middle of the book. I liked that the author wrapped everything up the way she did. But I did have questions about Murphy and Claudia. I hope the author writes their story next.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Mary Kay Andrews for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Bright Lights, Big Christmas. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books similar to Bright Lights, Big Christmas, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Mary Kay Andrews

The One That Got Away by Charlotte Rixon

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: August 15th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Adult, Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, Adult Fiction, Womens Fiction

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two years together.
Twenty years apart.
One day to change their story.

2000. Benjamin’s world is turned upside down the night he meets Clara. Instinctively, he knows that they are meant for each other, but a devastating mistake on their last night at university will take their lives in very different directions.

20 years later, Clara has a high-profile job and a handsome husband. But despite the trappings of success, she isn’t happy, and she knows that a piece of her heart still belongs to Benjamin, the boy she fell in love with years earlier. The boy whose life she fears she ruined.

When a bombing is reported in the city where they first met, Clara is pulled back to a place she tries not to remember and the first love she could never forget. Searching for Benjamin, Clara is forced to confront the events that tore them apart. But is it too late to put right what went wrong?

Across the miles and spanning decades, Charlotte Rixon’s The One That Got Away is a sweeping, poignant story about growing up, growing apart, the people who first steal our hearts, and the surprising, winding roads that love can take us on, for readers of Jill Santopolo, Rosie Walsh, and Colleen Hoover.

First Line:

It’s a hotter day than anyone anticipated for April and he’s sweating, but not just because of the heat.

The One That Got Away by Charlotte Rixon

When Benjamin met Clara at university, he knew she was the one. But, two years into their relationship, they are forced apart by a horrible and devastating mistake. That mistake takes Clara and Benjamin in different directions. Fast forward twenty years later, Clara, a successful journalist in an unhappy marriage, is shocked to hear about a bombing in the city where she and Benjamin first met. Rushing to the city, Clara doesn’t know if he is dead, alive, or injured. Will Clara find Benjamin? What happened that night twenty years ago? And who is the bomber, and why did that person target the football (soccer for Americans) stadium?

When I read the blurb for The One That Got Away, I was mildly intrigued. I like books that span decades, and I also like when those books are recent with characters around my age. That is why I decided to accept the St. Martin’s Press widget. But now that I have read it, I am very unimpressed.

The One That Got Away is a medium-paced book that is set in the city of Newcastle in, England. The storyline for this book moved slowly. That slowness kept making me lose interest, and I had to force myself to keep reading.

The storyline of The One That Got Away is centered around Clara and Benjamin. This storyline was chaotic. It was a dual POV storyline (Clara and Benjamin). That is not what bothered me. The author did clearly label the chapters. What bothered me was that it ping-ponged back and forth in time. One chapter would be in the early 2000s, the next in 2023, then the 2010s, and so on. I couldn’t get a handle on anything happening.

I couldn’t stand Clara. When she was first introduced, I thought she was a little immature but chalked it up to her age. But, as the author continued with the book, I disliked her. She came across, even in her 40s, as immature and selfish. She constantly lied to herself, her friends, husband, and Benjamin. She ruined the book for me.

On the flip side, I liked Benjamin. He got the short end of the stick when it came to Clara. I also felt he was made so oblivious by love that he was willing to overlook her behavior. When the mistake happened, and Clara cut ties with him, I pitied him. But, in a way, his life turned out so much better than Clara’s. My only fault with him is that he didn’t push Aiden after the party, and something was clearly wrong.

This book’s storylines with Benjamin and Clara are so chaotic that I will not start explaining or unraveling it. I found some more well-written than others. I also wish the mistake had been revealed sooner in the book instead of being talked about and around.

The bombing storyline was maybe the only straightforward one in the book, and it shocked me. I was wrong about who I thought it was. I also was heartbroken over why that person chose to do what they did. Looking back, it made sense. I just wished that Aiden had told someone sooner.

The end of The One That Got Away was a HEA. Clara was finally living her best life after cutting some dead weight out. I disagreed with the romantic angle, but hey, good for them. I also loved seeing how Aiden turned out!!

I would recommend The One That Got Away to anyone over 21. There is language, nongraphic sexual situations, and violence. There are references to childhood sexual abuse, alcoholism, child abandonment, cheating, and attempted rape.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Charlotte Rixon for allowing me to read and review The One That Got Away. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading books like The One That Got Away, then you will enjoy these books:

The Hundred Loves of Juliet by Evelyn Skye

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: August 1st, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Retelling, Fiction, Adult, Fantasy, Chick Lit, Magical Realism, Urban Fantasy, Adult Fiction

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Helene was young, she dreamed of the perfect man and filled her notebooks with stories about him and about love in its purest form. But after a messy divorce, she has let go of such naive fantasies. She has moved to a small town in Alaska, where she is ready to write her novel and build a new life without romance. Fate has other plans, though.

Helene soon meets Sebastien Montague, a handsome fisherman who is her invented hero made flesh, down to the most idiosyncratic details. But how can a man she created possibly exist in the real world?

While Helene tries to discover the truth behind his existence, Sebastien is determined to keep that truth from her, for he is a man scarred by serial tragedy, hiding a secret that has broken his heart time and again. Yet the shadows of the past emerge, endangering Helene and Sebastien’s future before it even begins–and it becomes clear that it won’t be easy to forge a new ending to the greatest love story of all time.

A woman fleeing her disastrous marriage discovers that she is part of a legendary love story that spans lives, years, and continents in this modern-day reimagining of Romeo and Juliet.

First Line:

Alaska in January is a fairy tale, with frost-rimed branches glittering in the pale moonlight, like lace woven by a snow maiden.

The Hundred Loves of Juliet by Evelyn Sky

Finding her husband in a compromising position with his intern was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Helene. Leaving her husband, she travels to Alaska to start over. She plans on working on herself and her novel while living there. Men were not part of the equation. Then she meets Sebastien and feels an immediate connection to him. While Sebastien feels the same, he is determined to keep Helene at arm’s length. Why? Because Sebastien is Romeo, cursed to immortality by his cousin Mercutio and destined to repeatedly watch Juliet die horrible deaths. And Helene is the reincarnation of Juliet. Will Helene find out the truth about her and Sebastien? How will she react?

When I saw that this was a Romeo and Juliet retelling, I was immediately drawn to this book. I am a big Shakespeare fan and like to read (and watch) any stories or adaptations of his plays. I am happy to say that this book lived up to my expectations!!

The main storyline of The Hundred Loves of Juliet centers around Helene, Sebastien, and their romance. It was bittersweet to read, making this book so good. This book has medium to fast pacing, and it suits the storyline. I also loved Sebastien’s growth and healing throughout the book.

Several secondary storylines feed into the main storyline, adding extra depth. The main one that stood out to me was Helene’s relationship with Merrick.

I liked Helene and loved seeing her character grow during the book. She was damaged when the book started. The death of her father when she was in elementary school changed her. What also changed her was her marriage to Merrick. I didn’t blame her for running to Alaska after what she witnessed. I would have done the same. I also understood her reaction when Sebastien showed her that room and when she read the journals. Everything she had written was true and were memories. Her mind was blown. By the end of the book, Helene had morphed into the woman she should have been from the beginning. I loved how she took down Merrick (with Sebastien’s help).

I loved Sebastien. The author revealed reasonably early that he is Romeo. But then the author took that storyline down a path I didn’t see coming. Romeo is cursed to an immortal life and is forced to meet Juliet and watch her die repeatedly. By the time he meets Helene, he is a shell of a man, tortured by what has happened, and has extreme survivor’s guilt (along with some PTSD). His last interaction with a reincarnated Juliet never happened because Sebastien couldn’t stand to watch her die again. When he met Helene in Alaska, I understood his reaction. I would have reacted the same way. I loved seeing his growth throughout the book. The Sebastien at the end of the book differed from the Sebastien at the beginning, and it was a big difference.

The romance angle of The Hundred Loves of Juliet was bittersweet. The author kept 90% of the romance focused on Sebastien and Helene. But she also highlighted the other Juliet romances, which all ended horribly. So, I was rooting for this incarnation to survive and help heal Sebastien.

There are sex and sexual situations in The Hundred Loves of Juliet. But, the sex is either off-page or described in a non-graphic way. There is also a couple of fade-to-black sex scenes between Sebastien and Helene.

The end of The Hundred Loves of Juliet was sweet. I loved that Helene and Sebastien could get their happily ever after. The author’s note had me in tears, and I agreed with what she wrote.

I would recommend The Hundred Loves of Juliet to anyone over 16. There is mild language, mild violence, and nongraphic/fade-to-black sexual situations.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey, NetGalley, and Evelyn Skye for allowing me to read and review The Hundred Loves of Juliet. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of The Hundred Loves of Juliet, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Evelyn Skye:

Will They or Won’t They by Ava Wilder

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Dell

Date of Publication: June 27th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction, Chick Lit, Adult Fiction

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

On screen, they’re in love. Off screen, they can’t stand each other. Two co-stars with a complex history reunite to film the final season of a beloved paranormal drama in this tension-filled will they won’t they romance from the author of How to Fake It in Hollywood.

Lilah Hunter and Shane McCarthy are madly in love— at least, their characters are. As the stars of the hit paranormal TV show Intangible, they spent years pining for each other on-screen… until Lilah ditched the show at the end of season five in hopes of becoming a film star. With no such luck, she’s back to film the much-hyped ninth and final season, in which their characters will get together at last.

But coming back means facing one of the biggest reasons she left: Shane. Ever since their secret behind-the-scenes fling imploded at the end of the first season, the two of them have despised each other.

Now back on set together for the first time in years, with the world’s eyes on them and their post-show careers on the line, they’ll have to grit their teeth and play nice. But under pressure to give Intangible’s fans the happy ending they’ve been waiting for, Lilah and Shane are forced to get closer than ever. And if they’re not careful, they just might get blindsided by one final twist: a real-life happy ending of their own.

First Line:

Lilah Hunter knew better than to get her hopes up.

Will They or Won’t They by Ava Wilder

Lilah and Shane play a madly in love, but kept apart, couple on the hit paranormal show, Intangilble. In real life, though, they loathe each other. So, it was a good thing when Lilah left the show to make a movie and see what else was out there. But the film was a flop, and Lilah wasn’t getting any work because of it. So, when the producers approached Lilah with an offer to return to the show, she wouldn’t turn it down, even if that meant working with Shane again. But Lilah and Shane realize that maybe their hatred towards each other was more than that (thanks to a risque photo shoot). What will they do? Will they give in to their feelings? Or won’t they?

When I wished for Will They or Won’t They, I was on a huge contemporary romance kick. I hoped I liked the book because the blurb seemed rather bland. Unfortunately, I feel the same way now that I have read the book. This book didn’t create any strong feelings for it either way.

The medium pacing of Will They or Won’t They did suit the book. This pacing allowed Lilah and Shane to recount their past relationship (working and personal) on their own and with the therapist. There was some lag toward the end of the book, but since it was the end, it didn’t affect anything for me.

Will They or Won’t They takes place mainly in Hollywood, with a brief scene in New York City and a chapter in Canada. I was disappointed that the author mostly kept to where the show was filmed, convention centers and hotel rooms. I would have loved to see more of those cities and where they filmed in Canada.

The main storyline in Will They or Won’t They are Lilah and Shane’s love/hate/love relationship. The author did a great job of giving Lilah and Shane’s backstories in a way that didn’t seem forced. I could see a behind-the-scenes romance blowing up and causing issues. I could also see a producer wanting his main stars to get along and send them to couples therapy. But, once the book started focusing on the present day, I began to feel “meh” about it. The storyline seemed to be Lilah and Shane rehashing stuff from their past. Also, I wasn’t a massive fan of how their romance ping-ponged back and forth.

I didn’t care for Lilah. She came across as a neurotic pain in the butt who was also a bit of a diva. She self-sabotages almost every relationship she has had (and she admits this at one point in the book). But, at the same time, I felt terrible for her. Growing up, she had a horrible home life that caused her severe anxiety. Her mother got her into acting to overcome it, and things took off. I also felt how she treated Shane was pretty crappy, both past and present. Now, he was no angle, but she took it to another level.

I had no real concrete feelings for Shane. For most of the book, he came across as bland. He went out of his way to needle Lilah (the whole donut scene at the beginning of the book stands out the most to me). I did guess what his real feelings were reasonably early in the book and guessed what he would do with those feelings.

The romance angle of Will They or Won’t They bored me. While I like secret romances, I wasn’t a huge fan of theirs. How can a relationship flourish if they never go out together and always have sex? It can’t, and in the long run, if this were real, I would say they didn’t have a chance long term.

The end of Will They or Won’t They was pretty standard. The author surprised me with a twist towards the end of the book. The author explained the twist in the epilogue, and I was back to feeling “meh” about the characters.

I would recommend Will They or Won’t They to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and sexual situations.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Dell, NetGalley, and Ava Wilder for allowing me to read and review Will They or Won’t They. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Will They or Won’t They, then will you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Ava Wilder:

The Book Proposal by KJ Micciche

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Date of publication: May 16th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Adult Fiction, Books About Books, Love, Chick Lit

Trigger Warnings: Cheating (off-page), STD (off-page)

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

Goodreads Synopsis:


Broke up with, broke, and with a vicious case of writer’s block, romance writer Gracie Landing is a hot mess. She can hardly be blamed for drinking one (or a few) too many cocktails when out with her besties in an attempt to cheer herself up. Sometime in the foggy wee hours, she recklessly emails her unrequited high-school crush, Colin Yarmouth, who is now a successful attorney harboring regrets of his own. When she receives an intriguingly friendly (not to say flirty) response, her acute embarrassment is overcome only by her fervent curiosity―what would a hottie like Colin be like as a grown up? The two forge an unlikely friendship that’s unmistakably headed for more. Colin’s tales of his own woeful break-up become fodder for Gracie’s fertile imagination and her current work-in-progress takes off. With the deadline looming and her checking account dwindling, Gracie has no idea that borrowing Colin’s story could wreak havoc on her life, her career, and her own chance at happily-ever-after…

First Line:

Some things never cease to amaze me. Like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Or the way a good cup of coffee can take the chill out on an early autumn morning.

The Book Proposal by KJ Micciche

Gracie Landing has had a heck of a year. Her fiancee was boinking the wedding planner and knocked her up, she is broke, and she is suffering from writer’s block. So when her best friends took her out to cheer her up, she got blitzed. Instead of drunk texting her ex, Gracie drunk emails her high school crush, Colin Yarmouth. Colin, who is going through some issues, is shocked when Gracie emails him. He is also intrigued. His reply to her email snowballs to them emailing and texting daily. When Colin shares his unhappily ever after with Gracie, she uses it as the base for a novel (with his permission). Gracie doesn’t know that Colin’s story is about to wreak havoc on all areas of her life. Will Gracie come out the other side of the fallout unscathed? Will she be able to continue having a relationship with Colin? Or is everything over before it had a chance to begin?

I have been reading many books that either feature authors or publishers or are in some way about books. Four of the last six books I have read have been what I stated above. Don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining. I like it when a book centers around a book. That is one of the main reasons I decided to read The Book Proposal.

The Book Proposal is a fast-paced book in Brooklyn and Queens. The pacing was right for this book. With the quick dialogue (Gracie had some epic snapback comebacks), the book would have lost some of its “oomph” for me if it had gone slower. Also, the pace matched the almost frantic pace of the characters’ lives and the city where they lived.

The Book Proposal’s main storyline concerns Gracie, her writer’s block, and her email to Colin. I loved that Gracie was a romance writer that wrote smut. Some of the best lines were when she tried to develop the dialogue between the two characters in her newest book. I was dying laughing while reading. It also made me want to read that book (even if it was fictional). Oh, and let’s not forget the steamy secret admirer letters she wrote to Colin in high school. Again, they were epic.

I wouldn’t say Gracie was a hot mess. At the book’s beginning, she is immature and doesn’t know what she wants. But her character growth (helped by a very steady Colin) was good for a romance. I liked that she became self-aware that she caused her messes. I also liked that she realized she didn’t need a man to make her happy.

Gracie’s drunken email to Colin was epic. I have heard about drunk texting (never done it, my drunken days consisted of drunk dialing, and yes, I am that old), but drunk emailing was another thing. Her email was because she blamed him for the nickname (Elvis) she got in high school. I also liked that the author kept them to email, texts, and eventually seeing each other.

Colin’s backstory was just as bad as Gracie’s. It took a while for Colin to tell Gracie what happened. All I have to say is, “Yikes,” and I didn’t blame him for divorcing his wife. Colin also had his issues, which were centered around his father. Colin’s father was an idiot and a jerk. I loved that he got his comeuppance at the end of the book. He deserved it.

The romance angle was interesting. It’s interesting because it didn’t present as a romance until Gracie and Colin met face to face. Put it this way, if I didn’t know I was reading a romance, I would have figured this book to be a chick lit. But, once the feelings got turned on, they were all in. Of course, as in any romance novel, there are a few detours and roadblocks. I liked that Gracie and Colin (unwillingly on his end) dealt healthily with those detours and roadblocks.

There were a couple of twists to this book that did take me by surprise. One is the connection between Colin, Gracie, and Colin’s ex-wife. I was not expecting that minor storyline to blow up the way it did or its ripple effects (good and bad). The other twist was between Gracie and her ex. Again, I was surprised to see him show up toward the end of the book. But, in this case, I did get a good laugh. All I will say about him showing up is: “You reap what you sow,” and Gracie was lucky to avoid marrying that hot mess.

The end of The Book Proposal had me feeling conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I was mad and sad for Gracie and Colin. But I felt that Gracie did the right thing, and while it felt like she was getting the short end of the stick, she didn’t. On the other hand, I was super happy for Gracie and Colin. I loved that they got their HEA.

I recommend The Book Proposal to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and nongraphic sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warnings at the beginning of the review.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca, NetGalley, and KJ Micciche for allowing me to read and review The Book Proposal. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of The Book Proposal, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Seven Rules for Breaking Hearts by Kristyn J. Miller

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: May 16th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Chick Lit, Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction, Travel, Adult Fiction

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Love breaks all the rules.

Margo Anderson is sworn off commitment. Alongside her best friend, Jo, she runs a viral podcast featuring rules for hooking up without catching feelings. So when Jo surprises her by deciding to get married and taking up a sponsor’s offer to host an all-expenses-paid wedding trip on Catalina Island, they have the whole internet to answer to.

In a scramble for content to appease their disappointed listeners, Margo cooks up a social experiment: Break all her own dating rules, just to prove that it’s a bad idea. And she’s found the best man for the job in the groom’s best friend and her old high school nemesis, Declan Walsh. He may be easier on the eyes than Margo remembered, but he’s sure to be as smug and annoying as he was before—there is no chance Margo will ever catch feelings for him . . . until she does.

The more time they spend together through cake tastings and wedding party activities, the more Margo can’t ignore their obvious spark, and she may actually be enjoying getting to know Declan. But can she let go of the rules to let him in?

First Line:

The Blue Room was teeming with amateur influencers. The clubs in Studio City weren’t known for a cozy local vibe on the best of nights, but it was especially bad tonight.

Seven Rules for Breaking Hearts by Kristyn J. Miller

Margo and her best friend, Jo, are co-hosts of a viral podcast that they made famous for seven rules for hooking up without getting feelings involved. So, the internet freaked out when Jo announced she was getting married and using a sponsor’s offer for an all-expenses paid wedding trip to Catalina Island. Also upset was Margo. She was left dealing with the fallout from Jo’s announcement. So, she devised a plan. She’s going to break her own dating rules to prove that it is a bad idea. Her victim: Declan Walsh, the groom’s best man and Margo’s arch nemesis from high school. But, as Margo spends time with Declan, he isn’t who she remembered, and she does something that she vowed never to do: She caught feelings for him. But, when a vengeful fan reveals her plan, Margo might just have lost the best thing that has happened to her. Will Margo prove to Declan that what she feels is real? Or has she blown it?

Seven Rules for Breaking Hearts was a medium to fast-paced book that made me laugh in places and want to cry in others. It is mainly set on Catalina Island, centering on the resort and the town of Avalon. Having always wanted to go to Catalina Island, I enjoyed the brief forays into the water and one memorable hike to see bison. On a side note, I was surprised when that came up in this book and did a Google search of it. Seeing that it is real, I want to go there even more.

The main storyline of Seven Rules for Breaking Hearts centers around Margo, Declan, Margo’s plans to do damage control, Jo’s wedding, and the various trips the wedding party takes. I wasn’t a massive fan of Margo’s plan and felt it would end badly. I did think that the author did a great job of weaving all of these details together to make a great story. Because I feel that if she had just based this book on Margo and Declan, it would have fallen flat.

I didn’t like Margo at first. She seemed immature and needy. Even though high school was ten years behind them, she was still focused on how Declan treated her. There were points when she talked crap about Declan to Jo, and that’s when I wanted to stuff a gag in her mouth and tell her to get over it. Her plan to use him for her damage control plan was pretty low. But then something happened that usually doesn’t happen if I had made up my mind about a character. I started to like her. She was acting the way she was because she wasn’t sure what her future held, which scared her. And when her phone was stolen, and everything leaked, I felt awful for her. I wish that storyline had been closure because I was heated. But the author left it as that person did it and got caught, but nothing happened. Margo, of course, got the short end of the stick there. I won’t say how, but it made me very teary-eyed.

I loved Declan. He was the complete package: gorgeous, intelligent, and built. His confession to Margo about why he acted the way to her in high school was sweet. He also dealt with everything that Jo and Margo did (for the podcast and their sponsors) in stride. There were points in the book where I thought he was a little too laid back, but that didn’t last long. But, when everything was leaked, he jetted. I didn’t blame him; it was just too much. Plus, his feelings were shattered. So, no, I didn’t blame him for what he said to Margo and how he took off.

For a romance, there weren’t a ton of sex scenes. Margo and Declan fooled around a ton, but sex was only a few times. The author did include Margo getting serviced by Declan in a dressing room and Margo returning the favor to Declan in the shower. The sex wasn’t graphic either, and honestly, I could have cared less. For me, it was the chemistry that they had and the build-up. Other people might disagree, but I stand my ground in this case. Declan and Margo had great sexual chemistry.

As for trigger warnings in this book, I can only think of two. They are:

  1. Drinking: The drinks flowed freely in this book. Margo and the rest of the wedding party were drunk up to the wedding.
  2. Drugs: One of the bridesmaids owns a high-profile cannabis store. During the bachelorette party, she brings cannabis-laced brownies and gummies to help celebrate.

The end of Seven Rules for Breaking Hearts was super sad. I hated seeing Margo acting the way that she was. She was depressed and knew she had mucked it up between her and Declan. Of course, this is a romance, and you know they end up together. That scene stole my breath. And the epilogue was fantastic!!!!

I would recommend Seven Rules for Breaking Hearts to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warning list.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Kristyn J. Miller for allowing me to read and review Seven Rules for Breaking Hearts. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Seven Rules for Breaking Hearts, then you will enjoy reading these books:

The Comeback by Lily Chu

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Date of publication: May 9th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, Adult, Canada, Adult Fiction, Asian Literature

Trigger Warning: Racism

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Who is Ariadne Hui?

• Laser-focused lawyer diligently climbing the corporate ladder
• The “perfect” daughter living out her father’s dream
• Shocking love interest of South Korea’s hottest star

Ariadne Hui thrives on routine. So what if everything in her life is planned down to the minute: That’s the way she likes it. If she’s going to make partner in Toronto’s most prestigious law firm, she needs to stay focused at all times.

But when she comes home after yet another soul-sucking day to find an unfamiliar, gorgeous man camped out in her living room, focus is the last thing on her mind. Especially when her roommate explains this is Choi Jihoon, her cousin freshly arrived from Seoul to mend a broken heart. He just needs a few weeks to rest and heal; Ari will barely even know he’s there. (Yeah, right.)

Jihoon is kindness and chaos personified, and it isn’t long before she’s falling, hard. But when one wrong step leads to a world-shaking truth, Ari finds herself thrust onto the world stage: not as the competent, steely lawyer she’s fought so hard to become, but as the mystery woman on the arm of a man the entire world claims to know. Now with her heart, her future, and her sense of self on the line, Ari will have to cut through all the pretty lies to find the truth of her relationship…and discover the Ariadne Hui she’s finally ready to be.

First Line:

When my phone flashes a notification, I’m primed to be irritated before I even see what it is. It’s been a busy morning, and my eyes were so dry my eyelids stick together when I drag my gaze away from the moniter.

The Comeback by Lily Chu

Ariadne Hui is living what she thinks is her best life. She is a lawyer at one of the most prestigious firms in Toronto and thrives on routine. That changes when her roommate (and best friend) invites her cousin to stay for a few weeks. He had a bad breakup in South Korea and needs a place to lay low while he heals. Her roommate forgot to tell Ari, and she freaked out; she came home to a strange man sleeping on her sofa. But, as she got to know Choi Jihoon, she realized he was a sweet man who had been badly hurt. Soon, Ari falls for Jihoon. But Jihoon isn’t precisely who Ari thinks he is, and she is shocked to find out who Jihoon is. With rumors and lies swirling around her, can Ari cut through everything and see what she has? Or will she give everything up because she can’t handle who Jihoon is?

The Comeback is a fast-paced book that takes place mainly in Toronto, with Ari traveling to Seoul towards the middle of the book with Jihoon. She spends a couple of chapters there before traveling back home. I was thrilled that the author had some of the book set in Seoul, but at the same time, I was a little disappointed. There needed to be more travel (which I get because of Jihoon’s KPop idol status) around the country. I did like that the author took us to some off-the-beaten-track places in Toronto. It made that city more appealing and made me want to visit.

There are trigger warnings in The Comeback. They are:

  1. Racism: Hana, Jihoon, and Ari are subjected to overt and not-so-overt racism throughout the book. Some of the best examples come while Ari is working at the firm. The white daughter of a woman who is friends with the partners is picked over Ari for cases. That woman is tone-deaf regarding Ari’s race (she is Chinese), and there is a conversation with another coworker that Ari overhears talking about her race.

The main storyline of The Comeback centers around Ari, her journey of self-discovery, and her relationship with Jihoon. At the beginning of the book, Ari is a workaholic lawyer doing everything to make a partner in her firm. But, it was very apparent early on in the book that it wouldn’t happen. The overt and not-so-overt racism (looking at you Brittany and Meredith) was sad and even sadder that Ari thought she had to deal with it quietly. She found joy in planning trips, and she was good at it. But she felt she couldn’t do it as a job because she needed to follow in her father’s footsteps. I did feel awful for her because of all that pressure she kept putting on herself. It took Jihoon scaring her and then living with her to open her eyes to the fact that there might be more to life than her job. And it wasn’t until after Seoul, when her boss fired her for dating a KPop idol, that she realized she could do what she loved. Her relationship with Jihoon was based on a lie, and then Jihoon told her to keep it a secret. She did the right thing the last time she broke up with him.

I like Ari, even if she did come across as a rigid workaholic at the beginning of the book. It is explained that she felt that if she did what Ari loved (planning trips), she would let her father down. She also was furious at her sister for leaving her with that burden. Her relationship with Jihoon was a huge turning point for her character. I didn’t blame her for being angry or not knowing what she wanted when having a relationship with him. She also understood the need for secrecy. But when everything blew up (because of a picture) and what Jihoon said to take care of the backlash, I was on her side. I would have done the same thing as she did. What Jihoon did was demeaning and gave their relationship zero value. But, in a way, it did work for her. She was able to get out of that toxic work environment and start a career that she loved. She could heal from Jihoon’s actions and accept that higher powers controlled him. Of course, I wasn’t a fan of what she did next, but I figured it would happen sooner or later, with this being a romance novel.

I liked Jihoon a lot. He had spent almost his whole life under a microscope and was suffering from burnout. So, he jetted to Canada and ended up crashing with Ari. In the beginning, he was the perfect blend of innocent and worldly. He loved talking about his shoe and earring collection (at this point, Ari had zero clue he was in a KPop band). He tried to do things himself but failed massively (turning Ari’s bathroom blue was freaking amazing). My only issue is that he lied by omission. When his cover was blown (in a grocery store, of all places), he had to tell Ari who he was. He didn’t tell her until she was forced to leave her home and go into hiding. Then he left for Seoul. When Ari met him there, he explained more about his life (he had zero downtime, everything was scheduled). He also told her he didn’t want to be in the band anymore (neither did his other bandmates), but their contract held them. Then Jihoon and Ari are spotted as tourists, and everything goes to hell. Jihoon told Ari that he would take care of everything and for her to trust him. I didn’t like him at this point in the book because of what Jihoon did. He broke Ari. But he also set her free (if that makes sense). The daily emails (along with the apology) were a step in the right direction.

I liked Jihoon and Ari’s romance, even if it started with a lie and was kept secret until Seoul. You could tell that Jihoon adored Ari and that Ari adored him back. It was sweet. I liked that the author kept the sex scenes PG-13. There was a lot of kissing with the chapter ending and the next one beginning with them in bed. And let’s not forget the sexual tension between Ari and Jihoon. You cut it with a knife during some parts of the book.

The end of The Comeback felt rushed. I liked that Jihoon and Ari got their happy ending. But I didn’t buy that the band’s rabid fans did a 180 when it came to their relationship. It didn’t make sense to me (considering they hated her). That was my only quibble. I did love the epilogue!!!

I recommend The Comeback for anyone over 16. There are nongraphic sex scenes (lots of kissing), mild violence, and language. There are also some scenes of overt and not-so-overt racism.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca, NetGalley, and Lily Chu for allowing me to read and review The Comeback. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of The Comeback, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Lily Chu

The Last Word by Katy Birchall

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: May 2nd, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Adult, Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, Adult Fiction

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Hating Game meets Beach Read in Katy Birchall’s enemies-to-lovers romcom The Last Word , about a young journalist who puts her career (and her heart) on the line when her former work nemesis is hired in her newsroom.

Harper Jenkins is at the top of her game. A brilliant, determined journalist with a well-known knack for getting tight-lipped Hollywood stars to open up to her, Harper loves her job as Celebrity Editor at a newspaper’s glossy weekend magazine and has the best contacts in the business.

But when her awful boss hires talented reporter Ryan to be the new Features Editor, Harper is furious. Because the two have met a decade ago, they were interns at the same publication, where they fell into a whirlwind romance…until Ryan betrayed Harper, and they never spoke again.

Thrown together in a busy newsroom, their dynamic is a disaster from the start. They can’t agree on anything and bicker constantly―Ryan can’t bear how chaotic and messy Harper is; Harper finds Ryan’s condescending nature infuriating. They clash over who’s writing what article, and fight over who’s going to which event.

Yet as they’re forced to spend more and more time together, Harper realizes she may have misjudged Ryan and can’t help but feel a spark growing between them. Long buried feelings start to resurface and, when they’re thrown together on a romantic press trip abroad, their chemistry comes to a head.

But all is fair in love and magazines, and with the news that layoffs across the department are imminent, Harper is left to who will get the last word?

First Line:

The question is posed toward the end of the night, as a large box of chocolates is passed around the table and Mimi, the host, fills up wine glasses so her fridge isn’t left with bottles that are two-thirds drunk.

The Last Word by Katy Birchall

Harper is killing it at her newspaper. A top-rated celebrity journalist, she is known for getting Hollywood stars and starlets to open up to her. She is also known for her business contacts, which she worked hard to get. But things start going sideways for her when Ryan is hired as the new Features Editor. Harper and Ryan were a thing over ten years ago, and that ended in disaster when Ryan betrayed Harper. She has never forgiven him or gotten over the betrayal. But, the more time they are forced to spend together, the more Harper realizes that she might have overreacted and that her feelings for Ryan might be more profound than she admits. How will Harper and Ryan’s romance end? Will it be a happily ever after? Or will it be over before it gets a chance to take off?

I was not expecting to dislike The Last Word. Usually, these chick-lit romances are a fun, quick read for me. A light bit of fluff is a palate cleanser for my brain (I read many books with heavier content). I went into reading The Last Word expecting it to be a mildly pleasant book. It was not. Unfortunately, the main female character ruined the book for me. To say I disliked her is putting it mildly.

The storyline for The Last Word was easy to follow. Taking place mainly in London, the book follows Harper as she navigates her career and relationships. I did like the storyline. It was well written and kept my attention on the book (even with my intense dislike of Harper).

I couldn’t stand Harper. While I admired that she had worked hard to prove her parents wrong, I felt she came across as a spoiled brat for almost the entire book. I didn’t understand why she disliked poor Ryan for so long. The author kept that a secret until nearly halfway through the book. Meanwhile, Harper acted like a fool in her office (screaming at Ryan, accusing him of stealing her stuff, mocking his cookies, and freaking out about other things). I might have sympathy for her if the author had disclosed what he did (and honestly, it wasn’t a big deal). But then she did it again (when the layoffs happened), and her behavior made me sick. I did have a small amount of sympathy for her because of how her parents were. I felt that the author threw that in just for that reason.

As much as I liked and felt bad for Ryan, I wish he had stood up for himself. He let Harper walk all over him at the magazine. Listen, I get that he didn’t want to rock the boat with her at work (she did have seniority), but he turned into a freaking doormat. When the author finally divulged why Harper hated him, I got it. What he did wasn’t right, but telling Harper she didn’t get the job wasn’t his place. I also got why he didn’t tell her about the layoffs at the magazine. It wasn’t his place (it was that idiot, Cosmo). But he still let Harper blame him for everything. It got old after a while, and honestly, he should have moved on after the layoff.

There are sex scenes in The Last Word. They were non-graphic. Because of how I felt about Harper, I was a little disgusted by reading them.

The end of The Last Word was interesting. I liked how Harper took her layoff and turned it around. She could keep doing what she loved but on her own time. That was awesome. I also liked how Harper told her parents and sister off. It was long overdue. Harper and Ryan got their HEA, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. She was awful and didn’t deserve him (there, I said it). And while I liked the epilogue, it didn’t evoke the happy feelings they usually do. Instead, I felt nothing but pity for Ryan.

I recommend this book to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and language.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Katy Birchall for allowing me to read and review The Last Word. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of The Last Word, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Katy Birchall: