Oh my lord, did I love this one! Guys, I was up until 4:30 last night reading this gem. I could not. Put. It. Down! I had absolutely loved Jimenez’s The Friend Zone and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one – and it did not disappoint. Incidentally, I also went to bed around 4:30 when I read The Friend Zone…I highly recommend that book as well!
The Happy Ever After Playlist takes us to two years after Brandon’s death – our heroine Sloan’s fiance, who died in a motorcycle accident. She’s lived her life after his passing like a shrine to him, never moving forward. Until a dog jumps in front of her car and through her sunroof.
Jason is an up-and-coming musician, and he’s just gotten about a thousand calls about his dog living with some stranger while he was doing a concert in Australia. Some beautiful, kind stranger. When he returns to pick up Tucker (this dog, despite all the WONDERFUL characters in this book, is probably still my favorite), sparks fly and the two hit it off. Sloan finally has a chance to move beyond the stillness she’s been living in. But unfortunately, this relationship has an expiration date – Jason’s fourteen-month tour around the world.
What I endlessly love about Jimenez’s books, other than the fantastic characters full of depth, is the familiarity between them. Jimenez has a talent for capturing human relationships and connections that you can just feel, whether it’s Sloan and her best friend Kristen (trust me, these two got more tears out of me while I read this than Jason and Sloan did!) or the lovebirds themselves. By all rights, this story should’ve felt like “instalove” – that nasty trope where you don’t quite understand what changed and why the characters are suddenly in love and we’re supposed to follow that?? In the course of just one week they’re getting married?? etc. BUT THIS BOOK had none of that! And I entirely attribute it to Jimenez’s writing ability and vision for human relationships. Despite the fast pace of this romance, she never lost me. You just fall with them. Incredible.
While I have never, ever, luckily experienced anything like the pain Sloan has, I found her character and the way she interacts with the world to be really relatable and genuine. From the moment a dog jumped through her sunroof, I know I would’ve been best friends with this girl. It’s so much easier to root for the characters when you feel you genuinely understand them.
My only real complaint with this book (and as you can see, it’s a small one, because this still got five stars from me!) is that the plot becomes a bit back-and-forth, rough drama through the middle. What I did appreciate, though, and the reason this doesn’t affect my rating whatsoever, is that Jimenez doesn’t really follow the traditional romance plot path. Buckle up, because there are far more conflicts in this book than your typical romance. I mean, usually, I can see I’ve got about 20% left or so in a book, and I know the bombshell is coming. The other shoe is about to drop. It’s about to hit the fan. But things hit the fan so many times in this book! So many times! And while it took my emotions on a rollercoaster ride, the love that Sloan and Jason build is so much stronger and feels so much more authentic to the reader when you know all it took to get there. It feels more comparable to real life relationships than the un-popped bubble of other novels does.
Jimenez has me HOOKED. I will read anything she publishes. I feel like I’m saying that about a lot of authors lately, but I mean it. The romance world is getting real juicy. I can’t wait for her next novel. ❤
The Happy Ever After Playlist comes out today, April 14, 2020! I highly encourage you to grab a copy, and as tired as I am today, I’m happy to report it was worth missing sleep over. 🙂 A copy was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.