B O O K R E V I E W : Luck and Last Resorts

LUCK AND LAST RESORTS
By Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Publication Date: Tomorrow, August 9, 2022!

Thanks to @berkleypub / @berkleyromance for sending me a gifted copy of the book.

Nina Lejeune lives her life by two rules: 1) Always have fun and 2) Never depend on anyone else. As chief stewardess of THE SERENDIPITY, she works hard four months of the year so she can have independence the rest of the time. Single by choice, she doesn’t want her life to change.

Nina’s contentment is threatened when Ollie Dunne shows up on the first day of cruise season. Nina and Ollie had been co-workers and casually hooked-up until the previous year when Ollie left yachting to become the chef for a well-regarded restaurant.

Now, he’s back for Nina. He believes there is something serious between them, but if she can’t admit she loves him by the end of the season, he’s resolved to return to Ireland for good.

This is a clear violation of her rules. Relationships aren’t always fun, and they require depending on and trusting someone else. But can she stand to lose Ollie forever?

To be honest, I struggled with this book in the beginning. Nina’s idea of fun often seemed at best selfish and at worst cruel. It was hard, also, to understand Ollie’s attraction to her. However, as their backstories were revealed, their attitudes and behavior made more sense.

Before reading this book, I knew nothing about working on charter ships, so it was interesting to see how things operated below deck. Nina had to manage her second in command, Britt, as well as two new hires, and their personalities and conflicts provided a respite from the romance. Jo Walker also makes a few appearances in this book.

Most of all, I liked that the book showed a grand gesture is meaningless without real change and that relationships require attention and work to succeed.

Definitely pick this up tomorrow if you enjoy any of these tropes in your romances:

✅Enemies-to-Lovers

✅ Forced Proximity

✅ Second Chance

✅ Realistic Challenges

Where is your favorite place to watch the sunrise/sunset?

B O O K R E V I E W : Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Happy publication day to Book Lovers by Emily Henry, and thank you so much to @berkleypub and @berkleyromance for a gifted copy of one of my most anticipated books of the year! #berkleypartner #berkleyig

Book agent Nora Stephens always gets the best deals for her authors. She’s organized, tough, and a workaholic. She’s also careful not to fall in love; she’s not that kind of heroine. After all, three of her ex-boyfriends have gone on work trips to small towns only to find their true loves in the wholesome locales. Her one weakness is her little sister, Libby, whom she will always protect and to whom she will never say no.

So when Libby, five months pregnant, asks Nora to visit Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August for a sister’s getaway, Nora packs her bags. Libby has a list—laminated no less!—of things they (Nora) need to do during their vacation, including ride a horse, date a local, and save a small business. Nora can’t resist a good list.

Instead of finding a charming hamlet, though, Sunshine Falls leaves a little to be desired, such as reliable wi-fi and decent restaurants. And rather than running into a handsome denizen, Nora keeps seeing Charlie Lastra, an editor she knows from the city. Two years ago, when first meeting, Charlie chastised her for being six minutes late to a meeting. As far as Nora can tell, time has not made him less serious or brusque. They both know what they want, and it doesn’t include a future with the other, but that might not be the final chapter of their story.

“This book, this job, this trip, this never-ending, days-spanning conversation. I want to make it all last, and I need to know how it ends. I want to finish it, and I need it to go on forever.”

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Book Lovers since I first heard Henry mention it at a virtual event last summer. It’s as good as Beach Read, and transcends the romance genre. Reading this, I both laughed and cried.

📖 Full of bibliophiles and set in the publishing industry, the book celebrates writing and reading.
📖 Multiple characters have to negotiate how to manage balancing their own needs and desires against those of loved ones. It questions when sacrifices are necessary and when they verge into martyrdom.
📖 The book talks a lot about tropes in books, but another theme is family relationships (particularly among siblings) and how people are assigned roles within families.
📖Even though it’s set in South Carolina, it gives a lot of love to NYC!
📖 Charlie might be more swoonworthy than Gus!
📖 No one writes snarky banter (my favorite) better than Henry!

B O O K R E V I E W : I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson

I’m So (Not) Over You 
by Kosoko Jackson
Publication Date: February 22, 2022

Thank you to Berkley Romance for a gifted copy of the book!

Aspiring journalist Kian Andrews never understood why his boyfriend, Hudson River, broke up with him just as they were graduating from Northeastern. When Hudson unexpectedly texts Kian, Kian can’t resist meeting him, hoping to find resolution. Instead, Hudson admits he never told his parents they split and begs him to attend a family dinner as his boyfriend.

Kian agrees but finds himself invited to Georgia’s biggest wedding of the year. If Kian goes as Hudson’s plus-one, Hudson promises to introduce him to one of the most prominent magazine editors in the business.

Soon, the fake relationship feels very real, but the class issues that drove them apart are only heightened as the two men navigate the expectations of Hudson’s wealthy family, owners of the Rivers & Valley brewing company.

I love the representation in the book and how it addresses race, class, and sexuality. Kian’s BFF, the newly minted lawyer, no-nonsense Divya is a fun character who delights in giving Kian reality checks. I wish that there had been more backstory about their relationship and circumstances surrounding their breakup. Without this information, it was difficult to understand why a second chance was worthwhile. Also, much of the narration moved via Kian’s inner dialogue, and I think I would have preferred less contemplation and more action. I’m excited that Kosoko Jackson transitioned from writing YA to adult novels and look forward to seeing his future endeavors!

B L O G T O U R : An Accidental Odyssey by kc dyer

Thank you to Berkley Publishing for inviting me on the book tour for An Accidental Odyssey by k.c. dyer and for a gifted copy of the book!

Gianna “Gia” Kostas is on the threshold of major life changes. She’s just completed an internship at NOSH—without a permanent job offer on the table but is set to marry Anthony Hearst, one of the most eligible bachelors in New York. On her way to a cake tasting with the most talked about—and expensive—baker in the city, Gia receives an earth-shattering call.

Her father, Dr. Aristotle Kostas, suffered a stroke and was admitted to the hospital. Long estranged, Gia and Ari had just been making headway on repairing their relationship. The next morning when Gia visits, Ari has checked himself out—and left his prescription in the room! Unable to find him, she pressures his graduate assistant to reveal Ari’s plans and learns he went to Greece.

Worried about her father and irritated with his irresponsibility, Gia hops on a flight to Greece (as one does) planning to give Ari his medicine and a stern talking to and then immediately return to New York. Once she finds Ari, she learns that his heart and mind are set on recreating Odysseus’s famous voyage. A retired Classics professor, Ari has a theory he’s determined to prove to leave his mark on the field and make Gia proud of him. With an unexpected job offer and opportunity to spend time with her father—and keep an eye on him—Gia decides to accompany him on his travels around the Mediterranean.

Aided by archeologist Dr. Rajnish “Raj” Malik, as well as a full cast of secondary characters who love the warm-hearted and bigger-than-life Aristotle Kostas, Gia realizes there’s more to her father than she realized, and they are both surprised to uncover shocking family history that changes everything. As Gia comes into her own as a daughter and writer, she begins to question her future.

The setting for the book is exquisite, and Gia’s travel writing is sure to make you hungry for Mediterranean food—if not hungry to travel to Greece and Italy! It was fun to see how dyer recreated some of Odysseus’s traps for Gia as she and Ari retraced his route.

I enjoyed Gia and her snarky comments (except I’d have been happier if she hadn’t said “just saying” as much) as well as her friendship with her BFF Devi. Because I went on an archeology dig in college, I also liked revisiting that environment! Herman, the bird, was a highlight.

The book is primarily about Gia and Ari’s relationship as well as Gia learning what she wants from a romantic partner with the romance secondary. I loved Raj and wish there had been more scenes with him but I understand why they were somewhat limited.

A great choice for fans of Float Plan, People We Meet on Vacation, and The Invisible Husband of Frick Island.

kc dyer / Author photo © Martin Chung

R E V I E W :: THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY by Freya Sampson

June Jones had planned to leave her home town for university, but a family emergency kept her in Chalcot, the small English village, and she developed a solitary existence working at the library and spending time immersed in books. As her world shrank, so did her self-confidence. Yet, she adhered to her routine, and she loved her job, even though her boss, Marjorie, was insufferable.

Her ordered existence, however, is disrupted when the council announced budget constraints would lead to closing some of the libraries in the district. At first, June avoids explicitly aligning with “FOCL” (Friends of Chalcot Library), but watching the devoted patrons fighting for the library and understanding all the ways the library is essential to them inspires her to take a stand for what she believes. Her new friendships make her realize her loneliness, and she even rekindles communication with Alex Cheng, a classmate from London in town helping at his family’s restaurant. Despite June’s efforts and the rising community support, powerful forces are at work behind the scenes against the library.

I loved the library setting and all the library denizens. They were interesting secondary characters who showed that libraries are more than repositories of books. Once their backstories were revealed, they also challenged stereotypes. I also liked the age diversity—a precocious young boy to an elderly man and everything in between.

June at times frustrated me, she was so conflict-averse. On the one hand, I share that trait so empathize. On the other, June really let Marjorie take advantage of her and demand inappropriate personal tasks.

While there is a romance between June and Alex, it’s not the focus of the book, and I even wish that there had been more scenes with him. The book reminded me more of A Man Called Ove or All the Lonely People told from a thirty-year-old’s perspective.