Review: Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

Title: Well Matched
Author: Jen DeLuca
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: Oct 19, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell.

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire–a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what’s real and what’s been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship.

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch’s family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch’s girlfriend again…something that doesn’t feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans–and open her heart–for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.ng?

Review:

Mitch is my favourite character in this entire series. I just want to give him a hug because his heart is so big and full of love!

Ren Faire takes a back seat in Well Matched as April isn’t a “joiner,” as she calls it. She’s ready to reno her house, post it for sale, and go back to the city where no one knows your name. It should be easy, but as the school year draws to a close, April begins to realize how hands-off she’s been within the community of the small town through Caitlin’s life, and wonders if she’s missed out. We get a lot more world-building of the town and I enjoyed learning more about their tight knit community!

April is a very relatable character – a single mom who’s been burned by her ex-husband, who’s very introverted and private, panics every time the spotlight is on her. While I don’t think she has an anxiety disorder (she’s not diagnosed), she does have episodes where panic takes over her body – she doesn’t say the right things, the words can’t come out, and she just feels her world imploding. This plays a huge part in her relationship with Mitch and it leads to a lot of the push and pull between them that throws off their chemistry (which they have a lot of!).

I loved seeing them both open up and share their vulnerabilities with each other and how they make one another stronger. I definitely finished this book grinning like an absolute idiot and flailing about cause they’re SO CUTE AND I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

This book is a huge page-turner and I finished it faster than I’ve finished any ARC recently! I mean, the fake-dating and only-one-bed tropes really had me, but seeing these characters grow to love each other was absolute perfection!

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.2/5

eARC gifted via Edelweiss+ by Berkley and Penguin Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Along Came a Lady by Christi Caldwell

Title: Along Came a Lady
Author: Christi Caldwell
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: Aug 24, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Rafe Audley lives to thwart his father, the Duke of Bentley. The ne’er do well who abandoned his children claims he wants to make up for his failures, but Rafe only cares about protecting the people of his mining community and providing for his three siblings, who’ve been his sole responsibility since childhood. So far, Rafe has turned away the duke’s man of affairs, solicitor, and other interlopers, until the clever duke sends the unlikeliest of people to convince Rafe to join English High Society—a bold and intriguing woman.

Edwina Dalrymple has never failed a charge. She’s quite adept at successfully transforming young women of the gentry and daughters of newly minted lords to take their place in society. Taming a bastard son of a duke will be child’s play, plus this job promises to enhance her reputation within the ton. All she has to do is fetch the wayward Rafe and groom him to be presentable to Polite Society.

As the tenacious teacher and her domineering, stubborn, refuses-to-be-taught pupil engage in a fiery battle of wills, their chemistry ignites and the true lesson becomes clear: opposites attract and hearts must be heard.

Review:

I love a book with fantastic character development. While Along Came a Lady has that in spades, I’m learning I feel very meh about books with characters who start off absolutely terrible.

Edwina is an infuriating character at the start – I found her to be self-involved, unaware of the realities of the world (despite her upbringing), and while stubbornness and determination can be great traits at times, she was something to behold at the beginning as she traipsed about a mine in slippers and a dress. I nearly couldn’t get past her pushiness and absolute disregard for her own safety and the safety of the mining staff.

Another theme I dislike is when characters think they’re saving others from some horrid life, just because they aren’t part of high society. Edwina felt very entitled at the beginning, and I was 100% on Rafe’s side of every argument for a fair chunk of the book.

That being said, both Edwina and Rafe grow so much, and this book is really driven by that development. I loved seeing how they forced each other to reflect and adjust and change to be better people (and not just for each other!). That moment when Edwina and Rafe finally start to communicate with each other and just understand one another better *chefs kiss*. It was just perfect seeing them open up, even just a little, and be vulnerable with one another.

Another thing I loved was how realistic each character was – their voices were entirely unique and characters fleshed out. Again, fantastic character development and growth. I do wish there were more quiet moments of communication and connection between the characters outside of them clashing (including the dynamic with the siblings and their father). The end was a bit rushed and I wish the characters had been given just a little more time to grow and breathe – it would have been perfect.

Overall, definitely a character driven book with a slow burn romance. I enjoyed it immensely after I got through the first quarter to a third of the book – Edwina at the beginning just was not my cup of tea. But the book surprised me in its depth and I’m curious to read the next book in this companion series to see how the other siblings find their HEA.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
World Building: 3/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 2/5
Overall: 3/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.46/5

eARC gifted by Berkley and Penguin Random House via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: You Have A Match by Emma Lord

Title: You Have A Match
Author: Emma Lord
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: Jan 12, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
GoodReads

Synopsis:

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie … although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents—especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.

Review:

“If you learn to capture a feeling, it’ll always be louder than words.”

While Tweet Cute had a Twitter war and restaurant rivalry, the story was focused on the two MCs/love interests, told from their dual perspectives. You Have A Match is the opposite of that.

Told solely from Abby’s POV, this story is about two sisters finding out they’re sisters and unravelling the mystery of their parents’ broken relationship (or so they suspect). There’s definitely a friends-to-more storyline, but that’s very secondary to all the other drama going on (which is fair. I mean, this teenage girl just found out she has a full-blooded sister she didn’t know about, the boy can wait).

Communication (or the lack thereof) is a HUGE part of this story – if mix-ups and broken telephones of sorts isn’t your thing, this book will have you pulling out you hair. Abby is as passive as you can get – she doesn’t stand up for herself, her dreams, and sometimes even what she believes in and it’s frustrating to see, but understandable in the whole she’s a teenager who doesn’t want to ruin relationships and burden people kind of way. This results is a lot of issues, passive-aggressive pranks (which were actually a lot of fun to read about), arguments, and misunderstandings, which all lead into later discourse, but is very intense and sometimes hard to read in the moment.

I adored the characters and their stories – for the most part, we actually got to know every important character really well – their history, their present, and their dreams for the future and I loved that Emma Lord took the time to give us realistic and relatable teen characters and a wonderful found family (in more ways than one!).

Lastly, I have to mention the social media element – Instagram. I loved the role it played in connecting people, in sharing passions and dreams, and showing the weight it sometimes has on people to be on all the time.

As a whole, I loved this book and Emma Lord is quickly becoming and auto-buy author for me!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.67/5

eARC gifted by Wednesday Books and St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Title: Rent a Boyfriend
Author: Gloria Chao
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: Nov 10, 2020
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

Review:

Rent a Boyfriend was a frustrating, yet fantastically crafted read. I hated Hongbo, and for a minute, I really hated Chloe’s parents. However, being from a Chinese family myself, I know the stress of saving face and being seen as “obedient” so your parents are seen as “good parents” who teach responsibility and meekness. Chinese (and most East Asian) face culture is very toxic and I personally hate it.

ANYWAYS, the book. I totally understood Chloe’s impulse to try to bring home the perfect boyfriend so her parents would stop trying to set her up with Hongbo, a terrible man from a terribly manipulative family. It was so frustrating seeing her parents continuously trying to push Hongbo onto Chloe, not respecting her or Andrew when it came to their relationship (I mean – they didn’t know it was fake, like that rude?? Especially since they seemed to like him??). The situation was perfectly infuriating and frustrating as Chloe continued to question her choices and autonomy through the book.

I loved Andrew – he’s a huge softie who’s willing to fight for for Chloe, and I loved the story behind his art (ahhhh my heart). I also hate his family story, but again understood the reasons behind it, even if I didn’t like them. One thing I absolutely love about Gloria Chao’s books is that she shows that there can be a middle ground with parental relationships (though that’s still not always the case), and that it’s okay to fight for your mental health and boundaries. Personally, I’m still really struggling on that front with my family so books like these really give me hope and make me feel seen.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.62/5

eARC gifted via NetGalley by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers and Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong

38349181._sy475_Title: Watcher in the Woods [Rockton #4]
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: Feb 19, 2019
Publisher: Minotaur Books
GoodReads

Synopsis:

The secret town of Rockton has seen some rocky times lately; understandable considering its mix of criminals and victims fleeing society for refuge within its Yukon borders. Casey Duncan, the town’s only detective on a police force of three, has already faced murder, arson and falling in love in less than the year that she’s lived there. Yet even she didn’t think it would be possible for an outsider to find and cause trouble in the town she’s come to call home.

When a US Marshal shows up in town demanding the release of one of the residents, Casey and her boyfriend, Sheriff Dalton, are skeptical. And yet only hours later, the marshal is shot dead and the only visible suspects are the townspeople and her estranged sister, in town for just the weekend. It’s up to Casey to figure out who murdered the marshal, and why they would kill to keep him quiet.

Review:

Watcher in the Woods was pure chaos and I loved it. After the events of This Fallen Prey, Watcher in the Woods provides a semblance of peace for about 2 minutes before everything goes to hell again.

I really enjoyed getting to know April better and see the relationship between Casey and April develop through the book. The fact that Kelley Armstrong provides diversity in her books in so many different ways continue to impress me (even though it should be the norm!). April being on the spectrum tracks with Casey’s previous stories about her and I loved seeing how April attempting to compensate for some of these traits allowed her to build relationships with Kenny and Casey.

As always, I adore Dalton and Casey and love how supportive and comfortable they are with each other. Their relationship is #goals for me and I just grin like a fool when they’re together. Also, it makes me so happy seeing Storm grow up – she’s so cute (their doggo in case you didn’t know)!

With the vast cast of characters, it’s also great seeing more of who’s in town and the type of people who’ve been admitted. We got a lot of Diana and Petra in the first few books, but we’re learning more about Kenny, Matthias, and Jen, which has been interesting and has also led to more questions about Rockton and its mysterious council, as well as how they vet and admit residents.

Armstrong has such a gift for writing and Watcher in the Woods is another hit – suspects around every corner, suspense and mystery hitting just right so that I never know whodunnit until the end!

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4.5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads: 4.14/5

eARC gifted through NetGalley via Minotaur Books and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

Author Interview: My Name is Layla by Reyna Marder Gentin

Title: My Name is Layla
Author: Reyna Marder Gentin
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Publisher: TouchPoint Press
GoodReads

Synopsis:

School will never be the same…

On the first day of eighth grade, thirteen year-old Layla has a pretty good idea of what’s in store for her– another year of awkward social situations, mediocre grades, and teachers who praise her good behavior but find her academic performance disappointing. Layla feels certain she’s capable of more, but each time she tries to read or write, the words on the page dance and spin, changing partners and leaving her to sit on the sidelines.

Her new English teacher, Mr. McCarthy, senses her potential. When he pushes her to succeed, Layla almost rises to the challenge before making a desperate choice that nearly costs her everything she’s gained. Will she be able to get back on track? And who can she count on to help her?

Buy Link:
Amazon CA | Amazon US | Kobo

Author Interview:

Hi! Welcome to Between Printed Pages, we’re so happy to have you here today.

So happy to be here!

Before we start, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure. My name is Reyna Marder Gentin and I’m a writer from Westchester County, New York, where I live with my husband, Pierre Gentin. We have two adult children, Ariella  and Micah.  I spent many years as a practicing attorney, working mainly in a public defender’s office representing felons appealing their convictions. In 2014, I left my job and began focusing on writing, an in October, 2021, my third novel will be published.

What was the inspiration for My Name is Layla and what about the story called to you?

I took a workshop on writing for youth, and I became interested in writing a story about a young person struggling with an issue that might not be obvious on the surface, but which could cause great frustration and loss of self-esteem. I wanted it to be something that could propel a person to make poor choices that she would then have to fight her way back from—showing resiliency and learning and teaching empathy along the way. I chose to write about dyslexia.

What is something you wish everyone knew about dyslexia?

I wish everyone knew that dyslexia is the most common learning difference, and it doesn’t mean that a person is unintelligent. With hard work, most people can learn to read.

Your first book, Unreasonable Doubts, is adult fiction. Was writing My Name is Layla very different? And why did you decide on writing this one for a middle-grade audience?

My first book, Unreasonable Doubts, was inspired by the work I had done as a public defender. Many of the characters were based on people I had known, and the plot was drawn from a case that I had handled. In that sense, it was “easier” to write, because I was drawing from my own experience. My Name Is Layla was written from my imagination, although I certainly accessed my own memories of what it was like to be a young teenager, the frustrations, the intensity of the emotions.

What’s a song that describes My Name is Layla?

We Are The Champions

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don’t be afraid to try. Just get something down on paper and you can make it better later – if you’ve written nothing, you have nothing to work on. And subject your self to critiques from real readers (not your mom!); it can be painful, but it’s really had to assess your own work. You don’t have to accept everything someone says, but consider it carefully.

What are three books you believe everyone should take a chance on?

The Outsiders, Lonesome Dove, Olive Kitteredge

Your next book, Both Are True, is out in October. Could you tell us a little bit about it?

Jackie Martin is a woman whose intelligence and ambition have earned her a coveted position as a judge on the Manhattan Family Court—and left her lonely at age 40. When she meets Lou Greenberg, Jackie thinks she’s finally found someone who will accept her exactly as she is. But when Lou’s own issues, including an unresolved yearning for his ex-wife, make him bolt without explanation, Jackie must finally put herself under the same microscope as the people she judges. When their worlds collide in Jackie’s courtroom, she learns that sometimes love’s greatest gift is opening you up to love others.

Last, but not least, what is your favourite word?

Oy!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Reyna! Congratulations on your release of My Name is Layla!

Buy it today!
Amazon CA | Amazon US | Kobo

Book Tour + Review: The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff

Title: The Great Godden
Author: Meg Rosoff
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
Publisher: Penguin Teen
GoodReads

Synopsis:

We Were Liars meets Call Me By Your Name in this lyrical and quintessential coming-of-age tale about a summer when everything changes, from Meg Rosoff, bestselling author of the iconic novel How I Live Now.

This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer. . . . In a holiday house by the sea, our watchful narrator sees everything, including many things they shouldn’t, as their brother and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter two brothers: irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise — and the consequences will be devastating.

Review:

The Great Godden left me with mixed feelings. I waffled on what to write about it for a while because the narration was so beautiful and unique, but the overall story was something I wasn’t that into, if that makes any sense. Let me break it down.

The main character is never named, gendered, or given an age, which gave the narration a sort of distant feeling. They’re the eldest sibling though and more of an observer than someone who jumps into the spotlight. These are important to take into consideration later.

The author definitely nailed the sibling relationship with this family – thoughts of comparison, the understanding that sometimes we only know two or three things that define our siblings as humans. I definitely related to how the MC observed and interacted with their siblings for the most part – everyone had their thing and they only interacted when necessary.

That being said, with some situations, I found it weird that the MC never felt the need to try to mediate or intervene in any way. They just stayed out of it all and kind of watched (and slightly participated in) a train wreck. Again, not necessarily unrealistic, but it surprised me how clinically everything was processed through the MC’s POV, but there was also little self-reflection on their part. Even when they were angry, it didn’t really come through in the narration except for what we’re told and I kind of liked it and didn’t at the same time?? Definitely an interesting writing choice on the author’s part.

There were two lines that I really hated. I felt they were insensitive and unnecessary. I think it’s important to point them out so other readers aren’t surprised by them like I was:

“If only I could remain among you gorgeous friends instead of flying off to Hungary,” she said, infecting “Hungary” with the same enthusiasm you might normally save for “Pyongyang”

This is a negative statement, implying Korea is not a desirable destination, and it was jarring to read that, especially as an East-Asian. It hit me as a comparison that seemed unnecessary and hurtful to make. I even tried to reconcile it in my head and wondered if it was meant as a positive thing, but the context just doesn’t lend itself to such a reversal.

No one else went clear, so there was no jump-off, praise Allah-Jehovah-Zeus…

I didn’t understand the need to use three gods names in such a way, lumping together names people hold sacred in such a flippant manner – ex. I’m Christian and I would never holds God’s name at the same level as Zeus’s as I believe Grecian gods to be mythology. The character is seemingly equating them, but none of them stand equal in many people’s eyes and it’s disrespectful and hurtful to use the name of gods that aren’t yours in such a way.

All of this talk and I still haven’t mentioned the Goddens. I don’t know where to start. I was very frustrated with the ignorance of the characters, the lack of intervention of the parents, and the general way the whole situation was handled. Kit is all charisma and Hugo is recluse and unsociable, and how they’re integrated into the MC’s family is what leads to many of the problems the family finds themselves buried in later. However, I do think that because of the outcomes and the lessons taught and learned, this book is very valuable and important. One thing I liked (and again, also disliked) is how gaslighting is presented and explained in the book – I think if I had read this when I was younger, this would’ve had such an impact on my mental health and given me insight into some of the things I’ve experienced and questioned.

All in all, I did like the book for its lyrical writing and interesting narrative, as well as for the lessons taught and what it can teach readers now and in the future. That being said, there was some insensitive content, as well as weird moments that were uncomfortable for reasons I can’t really pin down (but that might have also been the point??). So, did I like it? Kind of, mostly. Do I recommend it? I think so, maybe. Inconclusive, I know, but I hope my review gave you a better idea of whether you want to pick this one up.

Plot: 3.5/5
Characters: 3/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Pacing: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.66/5

Book provided by Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Indigo | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Book Depository

Review: Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

Title: Good Girl, Bad Blood [A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #2]
Author: Holly Jackson
Genre: YA Mystery
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Publisher: Delacorte Press
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Pip is not a detective anymore.

With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh.

The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

Review:

I don’t know how, but this was equally as good, if not better than, the first book!

Love the slow unfolding of the case, the subtle hints and pieces that fall together at the end. Pip was a lot closer to this case (her best friend Connor’s brother disappears), and so we see her trying to find herself as much as she tries to find Jamie through this book. I loved the growth among the characters, and how the romance is supportive and very there, but it doesn’t over take the main plot and mystery. And Pip and (redacted) have such a fantastic relationship – very healthy, communicative, and supportive, which is sadly so rare in YA (for some reason??).

We don’t stop seeing Andie Bell and Sal Singh in this book though – the trial is happening, people have been found guilty, and we see how some of that impacts this story as well, which is fantastic (the domino effect is strong in this one, and I love it).

Something Holly Jackson does really well too is adding subtle diversity to the town – a random clue behind someone who is Middle-Eastern, the family that moved out with the East Asian last name. Little things like that go a long way, and I appreciated that these details helped build the world and develop the case at the same time.

Good Girl, Bad Blood also has a lot more media elements than the first book – images, maps, etc. that help build up the case. I read AGGGTM as an audiobook and there was only one map that I couldn’t see. This book would have a number of JPEGs missing from the audiobook, though the images are described in detail in the story itself, but the photos are supplement the story nicely.

Absolutely love this series, and I’m psyched to read the next book.

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pace: 5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.7/5

TW: Murder, Accounts of Sexual Assault with Drugs, Catfishing

eARC received from Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Heiress Gets A Duke by Harper St. George

Title: The Heiress Gets A Duke
Author: Harper St. George
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher
: Berkley
Publication Date
: Jan 26, 2020
GoodReads

Synopsis:

American heiress August Crenshaw has aspirations. But unlike her peers, it isn’t some stuffy British Lord she wants wrapped around her finger—it’s Crenshaw Iron Works, the family business. When it’s clear that August’s outrageously progressive ways render her unsuitible for a respectable match, her parents offer up her younger sister to the highest entitled bidder instead. This simply will not do. August refuses to leave her sister to the mercy of a loveless marriage.

Evan Sterling, the Duke of Rothschild, has no intention of walking away from the marriage. He’s recently inherited the title only to find his coffers empty, and with countless lives depending on him, he can’t walk away from the fortune a Crenshaw heiress would bring him. But after meeting her fiery sister, he realizes Violet isn’t the heiress he wants. He wants August, and he always gets what he wants.

But August won’t go peacefully to her fate. She decides to show Rothschild that she’s no typical London wallflower. Little does she realize that every stunt she pulls to make him call off the wedding only makes him like her even more.

Review:

I’m not a huge historical romance reader, but I absolutely adored how put together this book was – the characters, the story, and the writing had me absolutely hooked! This takes place in 1875 London, with August and her family visiting from New York. Already, there’s a huge difference in how the Crenshaw family conducts themselves versus those of London society. For one – August works for her family business. As a result, rumours state that she’s “mannish,” thus making her ineligible for a proper match (which August thinks is trash, I agree obviously).

That being said, I loved how little drama there was through this book (for the most part, but we’ll get into that later). I loved that despite August fulfulling the I’m-not-like-other-girls trope, she never shames the women around her for how they conduct their lives – she shows pity for those forced into marriage, and respects those who are able to make the system work for them without bringing shame. It was refreshing that there wasn’t any shame thrown around – it’s just August didn’t want that for herself and I loved how willing she was to fight for the freedom of her sister and herself to marry who they loved.

Can I also note that Evan is the KING of consent and it wasn’t obvious or overstated. His character growth through the book was fantastic – he always tried not to stomp on August’s ideals and characters, despite needing to marry her to save his estates and support his family and staff. I appreciated how much he cared about what she wanted, even if it was something as simple as a kiss.

Tension. There was so much delicious tension between August and Evan from the very beginning and their verbal sparring made me smile often through the book, and showed how very equal they were in wit and humour. There’s so much detail and depth in all characters, not just the MCs. Everyone had a chance to show off their personality which added to the whole story and world immensely.

My one gripe with the book is the end. As noted, this book has little drama, but the end has two fairly big misunderstandings/complications that cause a rift between the MCs that was resolved all too quickly. A whole book developing and growing these characters and the end reward was so rushed that it took away from the overall story as a result. It left the book feeling a little unresolved and didn’t leave me fully satisfied, even though it was the end I wanted, which is a real shame and took a star off from my overall rating.

As a whole, this book surprised me in its depth and in its characters. I’m extremely excited to read Violet’s companion novel in July when it releases!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.99/5

eARC obtained via Berkley via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Book Depository | Indigo | Amazon CA | Penguin CA

Book Tour: Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Welcome to the Rent A Boyfriend Book Tour, hosted by Hear Our Voices!

Title: Rent A Boyfriend
Author: Gloria Chao
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: Nov 10, 2020
GoodReads

Synopsis:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in this incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results, from the acclaimed author of American Panda.

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

Buy Links:
Indigo | Bookshop | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon

If you liked that, read this!

On the theme of fake dating and familial expectations, here’s a list of 10 books I’d recommend to you if you’re looking for characters who’ve tried to fit cultural or social expectations and have been surprised and/or changed by the people around them and the people they meet along the way!

American Panda by Gloria Chao 
Gloria Chao’s debut novel about Mei, a first-gen immigrant, dealing with family expectations, the stress of cultural norms, and figuring out whether its her dreams or someone else’s she’s chasing. A great #ownvoices book starring a Taiwanese MC!

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen
This is a favourite of mine and you can read my full review here! With very similar vibes to Rent A Boyfriend, Taylor, the school nerd and “ice queen,” makes a deal with popular, playboy, Evan, to pretend to be in a relationship after waking up to a sea of gossip the day after a party. With focus on broken and found families, this book is full of cute and fun moments!

Frankly In Love by David Yoon
Another great fake-dating #ownvoice romance! Frank Li is caught between the cultural expectations of his Korean parents and his Southern California upbringing. To hide his Caucasian girlfriend, he enlists fellow Korean-American Joy Song to pretend to be his girlfriend. A fun book about expectations and teen love, this book is sure to keep a smile on your face!

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
What happens when you fall for someone you don’t know? When Lily writes her favourite lyrics on her chemistry table out of boredom, it surprises her when someone write a response! Full of high school drama, missed connections, and the joys of being part of a big family, P.S. I Like You is a cute YA romance that you’re sure to fall for!

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
If you need a laugh, Morgan Matson’s got you! The Unexpected Everything is a fun story about subverting social expectations, a teeny-tiny scandal (kind of), and lots of dogs! Andie learns the hard way that not everything in life can be planned, and sometimes you just have to go along for the ride.

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
A whirlwind one-day romance between Lucky, a K-Pop star, and Jack, a paparazzo, who meet when Lucky goes out in search of a burger. Full of cute moments, heavier moments (addressing anxiety and body image), and scenic travel scenes through Hong Kong, this book is for lovers of K-Pop, travel, and insta-love (ish!)!

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali
What happens with you pretend to be someone you’re not? What happens when you don’t? A beautiful book about living differently for others and figuring out how to be true to yourself and stand up for what you love and who you love in a world that keeps trying to tear you down.

I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee
Staying true to yourself is hard enough, but Skye Shin is trying to do that while also competing to be the first plus-sized K-Pop star. Navigating a glittery world of fat-phobia, media scrutiny, and maybe love (???), Skye has her work cut out for her. A fantastic stand-alone and a great look at the unrealistic (and often dangerous) standards of the K-Pop industry.

Charming As A Verb by Ben Philippe
Henri is the dutiful first-gen Haitian son who seems to have it all figured out, but Henri burns with ambition outside of the expectations set for him. When he’s enlisted by Corinne Troy to help fix her image at school, they both find themselves wondering how much it’d cost them to be themselves.

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
You’ve probably heard of this one before, but I’ll be another voice telling you to read it! Another one-day romance that is chalk full of self-discovery, taking chances, and falling in love, even when the future is uncertain.

Hope you found some books to add to your TBR and some new #ownvoice books to invest in! And remember, Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao is out today!

Buy Links:
Indigo | Bookshop | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon

About the Author:

Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, Our Wayward Fate, and the upcoming Rent a Boyfriend (Nov 10, 2020). When she’s not writing, you can find her with her husband on the curling ice or hiking the Indiana Dunes. After a brief detour as a dentist, she is now grateful to spend her days in fictional characters’ heads instead of real people’s mouths.

Author Links:
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