Friday, December 13, 2019

Review - - The Christmas Boutique


THE CHRISTMAS BOUTIQUE
by Jennifer Chiaverini
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie 
  


Just weeks before Christmas, severe wintry weather damages the church hall hosting the Christmas Boutique—an annual sale of handcrafted gifts and baked goods that supports the county food pantry. Determined to save the fundraiser, Sylvia Bergstrom Compson offers to hold the event at Elm Creek Manor, her ancestral family estate and summertime home to Elm Creek Quilt Camp.
In the spirit of the season, Sylvia and the Elm Creek Quilters begin setting up market booths in the ballroom and decking the halls with beautiful hand-made holiday quilts. Each of the quilters chooses a favorite quilt to display, a special creation evoking memories of holidays past and dreams of Christmases yet to come. Sarah, a first-time mother expecting twins, worries if she can handle raising two babies, especially with her husband so often away on business. Cheerful, white-haired Agnes reflects upon a beautiful appliqué quilt she made as a young bride and the mysterious, long-lost antique quilt that inspired it. Empty nesters and occasional rivals Gwen and Diane contemplate family heirlooms and unfinished projects as they look forward to having their children home again for the holidays.
But while the Elm Creek Quilters work tirelessly to make sure the Christmas Boutique happens, it may take a holiday miracle or two to make it the smashing success they want it to be.

Hellie’s Heeds:

This was a very perfect kind of Christmas gift--and one I saw was intended for the avid fans of the Elm Creek Quilts novels. It was a cozy, sweet with moments of bittersweet, and small town drama-filled story revolving around the dilemma of where to hold the much loved and needed fundraiser after a disaster strikes the church hall where it is typically held. Each chapter is told from the point of view from an Elm Creek citizen, and ones I believe who’ve had their own stories told in previous Elm Creek novels. While technically the book can be read alone, I believe my enjoyment of it would have been more if I had read the other books in the series. I would have had a familiar understanding of the author’s writing style as well as an investment in the characters. 

While I was a new reader of the setting and author, I was able to follow easily with the storyline and the common dramas and issues at play, and the author’s writing style was such that she shared enough details from past stories (alluding to the other books, I believe) to catch up a new reader while reliving beloved moments for fans. The descriptions of the quilts made and/or being made are gorgeous, elaborate, and make even the most novice crafter long to be taught by this fun-loving group of ladies. The conflicts and reactions of characters--those beloved and those that were a struggle to like--felt authentic and well-rounded. It’s not unlike sitting with your family at Christmas. There’s a good chance not all your relatives are all ones you welcomed into the house with an authentic Merry Christmas, but in the end, you find you enjoyed yourself despite your family being a little crazy. You might even come away understanding their (wrong) point of view a little better. It is the season of miracles. 

One of the very clever things I think the author did was introduce us very quickly to a character who I imagine was not likeable in other books. However, because I met her first--I rather bonded with her first and her issues and felt she was justified for her behavior. I did realize she was a bit Type A and really needed to realize she was creating this havoc--which she didn’t until it was too late and even then had issues accepting it--but I still felt like I could identify with her fears and issues more so than the other character who had been in other books, who had been picked on by my character, and who I felt was trying to be obnoxious on purpose. Eventually we even get that character’s POV and even then she’s unapologetically herself (read: obnoxious) but still with a certain charm. All this to say: these characters felt real and authentic. 

For fans of the author and series, I can see this being a five star read, but for newcomers like me, the writing may feel slow and/or lots of infodumping. I believe the slow style and narrative writing is simply how this author creates stories while I am a reader who prefers more fast-pace scenes with lots of snappy, sassy dialogue. It’s not that kind of book; and I don’t think it’s that kind of series. But for what it is, it is very good--and I believe a welcome addition to your Christmas reading, if you’re in the mood for a cozy, small-town story.



Thursday, December 12, 2019

Review - - Someone to Remember


SOMEONE TO REMEMBER
By Mary Balogh
The Westcott Series - Book 7
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Reviewed by Maria
  

I’m a total sucker for a continuing saga. I’m that reader who wants to know what happens to the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, children and distant relations. I want a happily-ever-after for all of them. And Mary Balogh delivers on all counts.

Her most recent series, The Westcotts, is filled with intrigue, deceit, secrets and most of all romance. There are now a total of seven Westcott books to give you hours of reading enjoyment. Whether you’re lounging in your coziest reading chair, or riding the subway to work, you’ve got a lot to look forward to.

In the latest installment of the Westcott Family Saga, the novella, Someone to Remember, the author has taken Matilda Westcott, a secondary character from the previous books, and shone a spotlight on what had become the hopelessness of her life.

Matilda is an aging spinster destined to stand in the shadows watching everyone around her find happiness while she cares for her Dowager mother. Any hope of an independent, fulfilled life was squashed thirty-six years ago, when her parents forbid her to marry the one man she loved, Charles Sawyer.

The ensuing years weren’t kind to either of them. While Charles went on to marry another, he never loved again. As for Matilda, the loss of Charles proved to be too much, and the once vivacious young woman, interested in life, retreated behind a docile façade, becoming an overly fussy companion to her mother. In short, they both lived lives they endured, rather than enjoyed, until years later when they unexpectedly found themselves attending the same dinner party.

Surprisingly, old emotions resurfaced and Charles becomes determined to win Matilda back. The question is, can he breakthrough the wall she’s built around herself and strip her of the notion that it’s never too late to fall in love?

The story arc is multi-layered with confessions and reconciliations, as Charles tries to win Matilda back and create a relationship with his illegitimate son. Truths are hard won in this lovely story of love lost and second chance romance.

When Matilda and Charles finally rekindle their love, the courtship is swoon worthy. It’s sweet, kind, tender and oh, so romantic. I do believe you can read this novella without having read the series. But the series is richly filled with characters and intrigue you shouldn’t miss.

As a final note - it was refreshing to read a romance where the hero and heroine were in their ‘mature’ years. After all, one is hardly dead at fifty, and I wish there were more romances written with heroines in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Just saying.



Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Review - - Meet Me on Love Lane


MEET ME ON LOVE LANE
by Nina Bocci
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: December 10, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie
 


Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.

She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.

With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?

Hellie’s Heeds:

This story ticked the boxes for my usual feel good reads: small town setting, fun secondary characters, heartwarming heroes, and a plucky heroine. Said plucky heroine has to return to a home she hasn’t called home nor been in for over twenty years, and whose memories of her childhood here are filled with pain and antagonism. Her plan is to get on her feet long enough to make a new plan to get back to New York City (the only real city in the world) before anyone has made any real connection she is back. No sooner has she arrived to town than she makes a conquest of a new town doctor, Max, and nearly permanently emasculates her old childhood bestie, Henry, whom she doesn’t remember. 

Without going into details, I think you know who she ends up with. Anyone who has read a romance at all knows who the love interest will be. And in true Hallmark channel fashion, our plucky heroine finds her purpose and destiny--and neither of these involve New York City. (Which is great because by then we all love Hope Lake and want to move there.) 

For me, the story felt a little ho-hum (and this could be just the mood I was in when I read it.) It was okay, but not overly memorable in writing style, plot, or dialogue. There were funny moments and sad ones; I connected with the characters, but not in a deep way. (And again I don’t think every reader seeks that sort of experience of finding your new imaginary BFF with every book you read.) When I thought about it, I think my biggest disappointment was that the Black Moment didn’t feel black. Honestly, I couldn’t even identify a black moment...or even a mildly gray one. I will say the heroine’s struggle was her amnesia when it came to her childhood in Hope Lake, her memories of her mother’s constant belittling of the town and insistence of raising her child somewhere that wasn’t a bubble, and the fact she has basically missed out on important family time with her father and grandmother since her mother has been dead for several years. The conflict is internal and nearly solely the heroine’s--and the rest of the people who populate Hope Lake can come across as a bit too perfect and understanding at times. 

Now not every story needs a black moment of Black Hole proportions; and the story hit the right beats in the other ways of storytelling, so for you the story might be much more satisfying. I am intrigued enough by Hope Lake and other characters to search out the other books in the series to see if I grow to like the writing more. Please let me know what you think of it when you do get a chance to read it. 



Monday, December 9, 2019

Review & Giveaway - - Christmas Revels VI


Christmas Revels VI: Four Regency Novellas
by Hannah Meredith, Anna D. Allen, Louisa Cornell, and Kate Parker
Publisher: Singing Spring Press
Release Date: September 20, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
  


Come Revel with four award-winning authors for Christmas tales filled with laughter and tears and love… 
HER LADYSHIP ORDERS A CHRISTMAS TREE – Scandal and outrage--dare one say blasphemy?--descend on the village! Her Ladyship has tasked the new steward, Lachlan Reed, to place a pagan Christmas tree in the Hall. Surely the vicar will put a stop to it, but only his daughter Emily is present to deal with the matter. If she is to avert an insurrection, Emily must enlist Lachlan's assistance, before Christmas—and a royal visitor—arrive. 
“THE PLAY"S THE THING…” There’s always an amateur theatrical at the duchess’s annual Christmas house party, but this year, two people, Rachel Grant and Captain Lord Alexander Kingston, have assumed false roles even before the festivities begin. Lies and misdirection lead to an improbable attraction. Rachel is horrified when the action in her play goes off script and only Alexander knows how the drama will end. 
YULETIDE TREACHERY – Frances Smith-Pressley doesn’t enjoy society, so when she’s dragged to a Christmas house party by her parents, she escapes to her favorite place, the library. There she confronts a masked man she later discovers is her host, the disfigured Earl of Wolfbrook. Brutally beaten and left for dead in France, Wolfbrook has included his potential assailants among his guests. Can unmasking a traitor lead two lonely people to love? 
A PERFECTLY UNEXPECTED CHRISTMAS – Abandoned by her husband after their wedding night, Portia struggles to manage his estate and care for the daughter who arrives precisely nine months later. When St. John attempts to return home for the christening, a riding accident results in amnesia. The physician recommends a return to his routine, and if St. John can survive the regimen Portia decrees, he hopes to have a home for Christmas. Forever.

PJ's Thoughts:

I tend to like my romances on the sexy, sassy side but sometimes I'm more in the mood for a sweet, heartwarming journey to love. This tends to occur most often at Christmas when I can curl up with a cup of hot tea, my favorite cozy blanket, and lose myself in happily-ever-afters from Regency England. Even better if the stories are novella length, the perfect reading nugget to slip in between shopping, baking, and all the other items on my holiday to-do list. It's also a great way to try out authors I have yet to read. Over the years, I've discovered some of my favorite, keeper-shelf, authors by picking up a Christmas anthology of novellas. 

Christmas Revels VI offers readers four stories, each written by a different author, each appealing in their own way, each featuring a heroine I could root for and a hero who captured a bit of my heart. 

In the first story, there's a vicar's spinster daughter, tainted by her sister's scandal, who finally takes control of her own happiness in a rural village overflowing with quirky, gossipy townspeople. The author does a great job of bring the characters, and the town, to life with humor and emotion. It's a sweet romance between two characters who won my heart.

The second story, set at a duke and duchess's house party features a mystery, a family reunion, and a reminder that people are more than the physical appearance they present. I loved that the heroine falls in love with the hero's mind and heart, and that his disguised, less than appealing, appearance, rather than being off-putting, to our heroine, becomes an endearing part of the whole. 

The third story, featuring a scarred hero and a bluestocking heroine, was my favorite. My heart hurt for the disfigured, reclusive hero who was exposed by a British traitor and badly beaten by the French. Man, did this guy deserve some happiness. Enter the bluestocking older daughter of one of his guests who is exactly what our hero never knew he needed. Expect snappy banter, danger, a traitor to unmask, and a love that shines bright. I really adored these two.

Two favorite tropes, a marriage of convenience and second chances, take the spotlight in the fourth novella. When this story opens, our "hero" is anything but heroic. He's a drunk (actually, an alcoholic), and less than appealing. But a riding accident, resulting in a head injury, and month-long coma, gives our couple the opportunity for a second chance. I really loved the heroine in this story and admired her strength, her intelligence, and her determination to be her own, independent, person. I appreciated her reasons for going through with the marriage, even knowing the kind of man she was marrying, and her reasons for what she does when he awakens from his coma. I'm a sucker for second chances and though I would have had a really hard time forgiving the hero for his former actions, I really liked the (sober) person he gradually becomes post-coma and I liked these two together. I turned the final page confident they would have a long and happy life.  


~~~~~~~~~~~~


Have you discovered any favorite authors through a holiday anthology?

I started my holiday baking over the weekend. What would be your favorite treat to find on the table at a holiday house party? 

I'm giving one randomly chosen person who comments before 11:00 PM, December 10, a Kindle copy of Christmas Revels VI
*Must be 18 or older






Sunday, December 8, 2019

Meg & Jo Winners






The randomly chosen winners from 

my review of MEG & JO are:

Margaret
(signed copy of MEG & JO)

Eileen AW
(MEG & JO mug)

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Virgin River Debuts on Netflix









I remember the day I first discovered Robyn Carr's Virgin River, almost 13 years ago. I was browsing the book aisle at my local Walmart one Saturday morning - as I was frequently known to do - when a book cover caught my eye. The mountain cabin with its front porch rockers piqued my interest, the back cover blurb sealed the deal, and by the end of the weekend I had fallen in love with Mel, Jack, and the town of Virgin River. 







Yesterday, Netflix brought Robyn Carr's beloved characters to life with the premiere of Season One of Virgin River, the series. 





In the midst of a busy day, I took a break to watch Episode One. Several hours later, I reluctantly turned off my TV after watching the entire season - all ten episodes. Kudos to Netflix for their wonderful casting, writing, acting, and filming. While there are some changes, they've retained all the wonderful qualities of Robyn Carr's emotional stories and beloved characters. By the end of the first episode, I was fully immersed in the world I had fallen in love with through Carr's written words. I am all-in for as many seasons as Netflix chooses to make...and fervently hoping that number is high!

Have you read the Virgin River books?

Have you watch the Netflix premiere yet? 

What did you think?

If you haven't started the series yet, Virgin River, book one, is currently on sale for $1.99 in e-book format.



Friday, December 6, 2019

Spotlight Review and Giveaway - - MEG & JO


Meg & Jo
by Virginia Kantra
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
 


The timeless classic Little Women inspired this heartwarming modern tale of four sisters from New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra.

The March sisters—reliable Meg, independent Jo, stylish Amy, and shy Beth—have grown up to pursue their separate dreams. When Jo followed her ambitions to New York City, she never thought her career in journalism would come crashing down, leaving her struggling to stay afloat in a gig economy as a prep cook and secret food blogger.

Meg appears to have the life she always planned—the handsome husband, the adorable toddlers, the house in a charming subdivision. But sometimes getting everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

When their mother’s illness forces the sisters home to North Carolina for the holidays, they’ll rediscover what really matters.

One thing’s for sure—they’ll need the strength of family and the power of sisterhood to remake their lives and reimagine their dreams.


PJ's thoughts:

I've been a fan of Virginia Kantra's writing for years, following her from romantic suspense, to paranormal romance, to contemporary romance, and, now, to women's fiction. In all those years, through all those books, she's never failed to engage my emotions, fully immerse me in the worlds of her imagination, and leave me happily craving her next book. Such is the case with her newest novel, Meg & Jo.

Inspired by Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (inspired, not a re-telling), Meg & Jo begins the journey of four present-day March sisters from North Carolina. Fans of the original will see nods to Alcott's characters in the modern-day sisters, as well as some secondary characters, but while Kantra's love of the original is apparent, her Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are very much modern women of their own making and Meg & Jo, a story of Kantra's creation that I thoroughly enjoyed. Also, for the romance readers among us, fear not. Meg's and Jo's love lives are very much a part of this book and happy endings are assured. 

Whether you have sisters or not, I think we can all relate to the sometimes messy and complicated relationships that are part and parcel of families and how those relationships mold and change us as we go through life. Told by Jo and Meg, in alternating chapters, Kantra skillfully unveils the dynamics of the March family's past, present, and future while guiding the two oldest sisters through their own trials of life. The revelations are emotional, sometimes painful, but remind us that change can be good, can be empowering, can strengthen not only us but our relationships as well. Once again, Kantra fully immersed me in the lives of her characters, giving me a stake in their happiness. I celebrated their triumphs, shared their fears, fell in love with Meg's and Jo's heroes (both of them, for different reasons), and fell in love with this family. For all its dysfunctional parts, all the complicated, competitive relationships, in the end, these people, these sisters, are family and while their bonds of love may be tested, while they may bend and stretch, they never break. 

Beth and Amy are next to have their stories told and I cannot wait to discover what Kantra has in store for them. I mean, how could I not be excited about a story that begins with this line: "It's always a mistake to sleep with a man who's in love with your sister." 


~~~~~~~~~~


Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Virginia Kantra at a romance conference and have enjoyed visiting with her at subsequent conferences since then. She's somewhat of a local author for me (three hours is local, right?) so earlier this week, I made the drive to Raleigh to attend her launch party for Meg & Jo. What a wonderful evening! Quail Ridge Books hosted the launch, more than 40 people attended, I enjoyed meeting readers of all types, and copies of Meg & Jo sold out...but not before I nabbed a copy for me...and one for one of you! But first, here are a few photos from the Meg & Jo launch.






Virginia, sharing her love of Louisa May Alcott and her reasons for paying homage to Little Women with her contemporary novel, Meg & Jo











She not only writes books, she bakes cookies too. Aren't those book cookies awesome? 












Virginia's very own hero (her husband) kept us entertained and well fed (isn't that a fabulous cake?). The champagne was delicious and put to good use when Virginia invited all of us to join her in a toast to Louisa May Alcott. 












PJ and Virginia. Happy to add another book to my Virginia Kantra keeper shelf. Also, had a blast at my very first book launch party!










If you're ever in the Raleigh area, check out Rosewater Kitchen & Bar. It's a warm and welcoming new restaurant in the North Hills area with a delicious menu, comfortable vibe, and impeccable service. Our server, Heather, effortlessly kept our post-launch group of eleven well-fed and happy. She's a server extraordinaire! 








I have two giveaways today so tell me...

Have you read Little Women?

Which March sister was your favorite? Why?

Have you read any of Virginia Kantra's books?

Do you have a favorite book or series of hers?

Do you have sisters?





Giveaway #1: One randomly chosen person who comments before 11:00 PM, December 7, will receive a signed copy of Meg & Jo from me. 

Giveaway #2: One randomly chosen person who comments before 11:00 PM, December 7, will receive a Meg & Jo mug from Virginia Kantra. 


*Winners must be 18 or older.
*Open to U.S. addresses only.






Thursday, December 5, 2019

Winner - - December Coming Attractions






The randomly chosen winner of a print copy of

Restless Rancher by Jennifer Ryan is:

KLMANNRN

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Review - - The Duke's Stolen Bride


The Duke's Stolen Bride
by Sophie Jordan
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: October 22, 2019
Reviewed by Santa
 


An urgent dilemma…
To save her impoverished family, Marian Langley will become a mistress. But she will not be just any mistress. Marian intends to become so skilled, so coveted, that she can set her own terms, retaining control over her body and her fate. Only one problem remains: finding a tutor…
A scandalous solution…
Other men deprive themselves of pleasure for propriety’s sake. Nathaniel, Duke of Warrington, would much rather be depraved. He slakes his desires with professionals who ask nothing of him but his coin. Marian’s proposal—that he train her without taking her virtue—is an intriguing diversion, until their lessons in seduction spin out of control.
And a most unlikely duchess…
When Marian is blackmailed into engagement by a man she despises, Nate impulsively steals her away. Though he never intended to take a wife, he can’t tolerate the idea of Marian forfeiting her freedom to another. But can he bear to give her what she demands—a real marriage?

Santa says...

The Duke’s Stolen Bride by Sophie Jordan is the newest addition to her The Rogue Files and it is another 5 Star for me. I have really enjoyed this series. We are introduced to our heroine, Marian Langley, in the previous books as governess and friend in the Duke of Autenberry’s household. She sent money home to her father and siblings but then her father fell ill and she returned home to care for him, staying after his death. Their circumstances quickly spiraled downward and she finds it more and more difficult to pay the bills and put food on the table.

And that is how she finds herself under a table, in a tavern, running from the coal peddler, one of many merchants she owes money to. As luck would have it the table she ends up under is the table of none other than a duke. A duke whose reputation precedes him. He is no other than the Duke of Warrington aka the Duke of Depravity. Marian intrigues him for no other reason than she lands at his feet, as any number of women do, but not for the usual reasons. He agrees not to give her away when the coal peddler storms in looking for her.

Marian’s problems don’t end there. She has a distasteful suiter who comes bearing gifts and keeps pressing his interest in her and if she does not agree to marriage to him he would be more than happy to press himself to her two younger sisters. Marian must come up with something more to do for her family. Tutoring and the sewing her sisters do are not enough to keep food on the table and their brother at Eton. 

Marion sees her only recourse is to become a mistress like the newly retired ‘widow’ who moved to their village a couple of years ago. Her friend, the widow Mrs. Ramsey, cautions her that it is not a lifestyle for everyone. But Marion is inexperienced and an innocent and would require some direction. She tells her of her encounter with the duke and decides to approach him to ask for his hand in her tutelage.

To say that Nathanial, the duke of Depravity, is shocked is an understatement. Once again, he is intrigued. An innocent wanting to be a sought after mistress. He reluctantly agrees and they set rules and requirements of their arrangement. Like never letting things go beyond kisses and caresses. What could go wrong? Love would never come into play - this a business arrangement. Its bounds are soon tested as her ‘suiter’ more aggressively plays his hand. The duke is left with little choice but to steal his bride.

Marian and Nate are a delight. I was rooting for them from the very beginning. I loved being introduced to the other Langley sisters. And I ask you, what English village wouldn’t be complete without a mysterious widow of unknown repute? I think you will enjoy this book as much as I did.



Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Review - - Would Like to Meet


PJ, here. We all make mistakes. Recently, I made one when I accidentally assigned this book to be reviewed by Hellie after already receiving a review of the same title from Maria a few months ago. I blame my mistake on the fact that I was knee-deep in packing when the error occurred. Of course, it could also be due to the fact that I'm old but I reserve the right to pick my excuses so I'm discarding that one and sticking with the packing. ;-) My amazing Dish team members were very understanding and so, today I bring you not one, but two reviews of the debut novel, Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters. Enjoy!



Would Like to Meet
by Rachel Winters
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Reviewed by Maria
  


Can you fall in love like they do in the movies?

It's Evie Summers's job to find out. Because if she can't convince her film agency's biggest client, Ezra Chester, to write the romantic-comedy screenplay he owes producers, her career will be over. The catch? Arrogant Ezra thinks rom-coms are unrealistic--and he'll only put pen to paper if Evie proves to him that it's possible to meet a man in real life the way it happens on the big screen.

Cynical Evie might not believe in happily ever after, but she'll do what it takes to save the job that's been her lifeline . . . even if it means reenacting iconic rom-com scenes in public. Spilling orange juice on a cute stranger? No problem. Leaving her number in books all over London to see who calls? Done. With a little help from her well-meaning friends and the adorable father-daughter duo who keep witnessing her humiliations, Evie is determined to show Ezra she can meet a man the way Sally met Harry. But can a workaholic who's given up on love find a meet-cute of her very own?


Maria says...

Rachel Winters has taken rom-com to another level. Her debut novel features a creative, smart heroine, Evie Summers, who in order to save her agency, and thereby her job must convince an Oscar winning screenwriter he has what it takes to write a romantic comedy.

In addition to being a wonderfully descriptive book that puts the reader right into the crazy world of a British film agency, she is also dead funny. Seriously. There are sections in this novel that are laugh out loud funny. I don’t mean lol, I mean I guffawed.

It was almost as if I were watching a movie instead of reading a novel, complete with a unique set of “Bridget Jones-esque” best friends who pop off the page and take you on a delicious journey as you flip from one scene to the next.

The plot relies on the fact that the heroine doesn’t know she’s being duped, and while I wasn't 100% convinced of that through line, the author gives the reader such an amazing, curl your toes, rom-com ending, I went along with it. The story will take you to a happily-ever-after-ville, with all the wonderful 'will-they, or won't-they' in between.

This is without a doubt a book that begs to be curled up with in your favorite chair, with a cast of characters that will live with you long after you’ve read the last page. It's a fun contemporary romance destined to be on my keeper shelf.


~~~~~~~~~~~~


Would Like to Meet
by Rachel Winters
Publisher: Putnam/Random House
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie 





Can you fall in love like they do in the movies?

It's Evie Summers's job to find out. Because if she can't convince her film agency's biggest client, Ezra Chester, to write the romantic-comedy screenplay he owes producers, her career will be over. The catch? He thinks rom-coms are unrealistic--and he'll only put pen to paper if Evie shows him that it's possible to meet a man in real life the way it happens on the big screen.

Cynical Evie might not believe in happily ever after, but she'll do what it takes to save the job that's been her lifeline . . . even if it means reenacting iconic rom-com scenes in public. Spilling orange juice on a cute stranger? No problem. Leaving her number in books all over London to see who calls? Done. With a little help from her well-meaning friends--and Ben and Anette, the adorable father-daughter duo who keep witnessing her humiliations--Evie is determined to prove she can meet a man the way Sally met Harry. But can a workaholic who's given up on love find a meet-cute of her very own?

Hellie’s Heeds:

Imagine you’re me and you were around the last time Chick Lit was popular; and imagine you’re me and you’ve seen, owned, and/or randomly quoted every rom-com movie as if they’re roadmaps to love. You can see why I am such a fan of this book. This book is the love letter for all the lovers of rom-coms and are unashamed to say so. You’ll laugh at each of the meet-cutes that comprise the novel--because the entire book is based on the heroine reliving every meet-cute ever written--and enjoy how horrible they actually go. In the movies, meet-cutes are actually cute. In Rachel Winters’ book, they’re the stuff that make you notorious at the local coffee shop. 

Now this is not to say you need to go and watch every rom-com ever made to get the jokes. By no means. The book is a stand alone and if you had never seen a rom-com before, you’d simply think this girl has some awful luck. But if you have seen a rom-com or two in your time, it will make the experience that much more enjoyable, as if you too are in on the joke. 

It’s action-packed and light on sexual tension (since there are possibilities for more than one love interest), but it was a quick read and I could not put it down. I didn’t notice I was missing love scenes--if anything, it reminded me of the chick-lit books of old I really enjoyed. So...it’s very rated PG-13, even with the erotic book club fiasco and the roommate who has a different sex partner every night. 

Since there are a couple of possibilities as far as the love interest goes, I am loathe to explain too much more, except that the author picked the right hero. There was a time or three where I was panicked it was going in one direction, but eventually it came around to the right Happily Ever After. This book is going immediately on my keeper shelf next to the Bromance, and it’s going on my list this year as best books of 2019. I’m also adding Rachel Winters to authors to watch. Enjoy!