Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 31. Technology themed

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 6. Household object on the cover, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings (for now, anyways!), 23. Author with an x, y, or z in their name, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

Ali Hazelwood does it again! And by it, I definitely mean writing a book so good I’m willing to lose my valuable sleep schedule just to finish it. I’ve quickly become an adoring fan of Hazelwood’s and I’m feeling BLESSED that I was given this advance readers copy. BLESSED.

Bee, a neuroscientist, is absolutely floored to be accepted as the lead on a NASA project designed to help astronauts absorb more information when in space. For Bee, this is the ticket out of her crappy, post-grad life under a misogynistic boss… but she soon discovers her co-lead is her arch nemesis, engineer Levi Ward, and things become a whole lot more complicated.

In the years since she met him in grad school, it doesn’t appear Levi has gotten any better or grown to hate her any less. But under the circumstances, they create a shaky truce for all that extra time they’re spending together, and Bee soon discovers she may like Levi a little more than she originally thought.

This book has so, so many of my favorite romance tropes: workplace romance. Enemies to lovers. The mean one falls for the sunshine one. UGH. I’m so obsessed with this whole book and also now Ali Hazelwood, not me most definitely following her every career move…

This book is The Hating Game but STEM and on speed. I cannot convey my love for it enough. You know when you read The Hating Game and then you started reading contemporary romance in droves, forever chasing the high of reading Sally Thorne’s stunning debut in a single night? No?? Well if not, please know this has been my life for like, five years (I honestly thought it was three years, but didn’t want to misquote, so I checked my Goodreads history and yeah…five years. Five years chasing the high of Lucy and Josh. Also have you seen the movie?? LOVED it). I finally found its equal in Love on the Brain, and I am a forever fan of Hazelwood’s now.

I LOVED Bee. Much like my Lucy, Bee was just an introverted, intelligent, but wonderfully quirky gal who absolutely made the story for me. I connected with Bee and her struggles, even not being a science person myself. You don’t have to understand neuroscience to connect with Bee’s passion for her work. Also, her research assistant, Rocío, reminds me completely of my best friend. Their friendship felt so similar to my own that I found myself dying laughing at their bits. Every character in this story is so well fleshed out and felt like someone I know in my own life, which made it so much more fun.

I didn’t immediately love Levi, but you grow to understand him and it puts him in a new light. Honestly, from the start, he does come off like kind of an ass. But he’s supposed to, and Hazelwood’s way of shifting his character into a new space in the story totally works, and I come to love him, too.

There’s also this added element and depth from these two Twitter accounts in the story. Bee runs an account called @WhatWouldMarieDo, referring to Marie Curie, where she commiserates with other women in STEM fields on the sucky parts of being a woman in STEM. Together with an another account named @shmacademics, the two use their thousands of followers to start a movement in the academic world. I loved this part of the storyline, and once you read it, I think you’ll quickly get a feel as to why.

The drama and climax of this story kind of took me by surprise by I TOTALLY loved it! You will not expect the outcome, and maybe you won’t even suspect the problem…but it’s just so juicy.

So, yeah, I’m kind of recommending this all around. Like pick this up immediately. Pre-order this puppy. Cannot tell you enough; currently screaming my love for it from the roof. Like I said, I was *blessed* with this advance readers copy from the publisher through NetGalley, and Love on the Brain will release August 23, 2022…but if you have any chance of getting your hands on it before then, highly recommend doing so. 😉

Have an AWESOME week friends!

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I know I said I would read everything and anything written by Tessa Bailey, but I *almost* didn’t read It Happened One Summer. The description of this book sounds like a superficial spin-off of Schitt’s Creek, which I have absolutely no interest in…however, this book was pretty dang good. It has Tessa Bailey’s charm and warmth, and even if it wasn’t something I would normally love, she wrote it, so I couldn’t help myself.

Piper Bellinger is an LA it-girl. Her job includes attending parties and making connections, and she’s paid in likes and follows. After another breakup in a string of bad relationships, she ends up in jail for throwing an epic party…and her stepdad sends her and her sister away to the town they were born to learn the value of money and hard work.

Brendan is Westport born-and-raised fisherman, and he’s never seen anything as ridiculous and over the top as Piper. But as annoying as she might be, she’s starting to get under his skin in a good way, as he notices her warmth and heart. While Piper’s stuck here the next three months, fixing up her late father’s bar, he’s determined to make her want to stay forever.

I thought I would hate this book. If you read the description of It Happened One Summer, it sounds like Piper is a rich and spoiled brat who’s going to be hard to love. However, I don’t think the description does her any justice. She’s warm, kind, hardworking, and much more – but I don’t think her life in LA helped her showcase those skills or practice them. Life in Westport gives her purpose and helps her character develop significantly, to someone I can actually like and enjoy a story with. That’s something I’ve always loved about Bailey’s characters.

Another thing Tessa has always done well is her supporting characters. The town of Westport is full of life and memorable faces, from Brendan’s crew mates to Piper’s father’s old friends, to her own grandmother. Tessa’s built a comforting little setting here that you just can’t wait to come back to!

Brendan and Piper’s romance was cute af. I loved Brendan’s gruff demeanor, and I think every girl dreams of being spoiled and adored just the way Brendan adores Piper. It’s wholesome, sweet, and undistracted: there’s nothing I hate more than a love triangle or something similar, but these two are absolutely devoted to each other.

Tessa Bailey proved once again that she is an absolute master. I dared to doubt her briefly, but I was wrong. I’m a committed reader now!

I literally can’t wait for the next part of this story, Hook, Line, and Sinker. Piper’s sister Hannah and Brendan’s friend Fox are getting their own story, and omg did I love them and all their little parts in this book! I hopped on NetGalley before I even finished this book just to request it. I’ll keep you posted. 😉

Pick this one up for sure! Even if you didn’t think you would like it either. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Have a great week friends!

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This one was a surprise! I actually really loved The Ex Talk, in spite of the premise I wasn’t too crazy about. An enemies-to-lovers has a real draw for me (even if most of their dislike was made up)!

Shay’s whole life revolves around public radio. After losing her dad, who was obsessed with radio and turned their quiet lives into a show, she goes into public radio to tell stories about humans and life. Ten years later, she’s still producing the same afternoon show, Puget Sounds, wishing she was a host. Everything is right with the world: except her special hatred for her coworker, Dominic, whose fresh out of his masters program and thinks he knows everything.

When public radio’s slow death threatens all their jobs, Shay suggests they try a new show: The Ex Talk. Exes come on the air to talk about how their relationship imploded, hosted by exes. Shay and Dominic’s manager leaps on it, suggesting the pair pose as exes and host the show together, despite having never dated…and it’s all downhill, sparks flying from there.

I didn’t think I would like this one, to be truthful. It rode around in my car so long that the emails started coming from the library (yes, the library I work at) pleading with me to bring it back. But finally, I started it, and I honestly couldn’t put it down. I tore through half of it in an evening, and the rest it of it every moment I could over the next few days. I loved Solomon’s writing and sweet representation of her characters. It was a breath of fresh air.

I felt that Shay was really well developed as a character: her experiences with her dad dying, her relationship with her mom, her changing friendship, and her struggle to truly “grow up” were both relatable and very well written. I feel like Shay’s the kind of gal I’d be friends with in real life. She overworks, she thinks pets will fix her problems, and she has a strong dislike for people who waive their master’s degrees around. Dominic, on the other hand, was not as developed, but I think that derives from only having Shay’s perspective. We’re in her head, while Dominic we only get from her interpretation of him. Honestly, though, they’re the most complete people I’ve read in a romance in a while, and I liked that there was more at play here than their love story. Family drama and reckoning with their loneliness as a result of their jobs and lifestyle was a great cultural tie in that I think we all need to read sometimes.

The one thing about this book I wasn’t *really* digging was all the radio talk. Felt like a lot. I’m not a podcast person, and podcasts play a pretty big role in this book. I actually feel like I missed some character development I would’ve picked up on if I knew more about the subject matter. It was still unique, cute, and definitely latches onto a trend of the moment though, and I didn’t mind it!

All in all, a great read I would recommend. The romance is just too cute, and the storyline too fun. A copy of The Ex Talk was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (For clarification, I received the ARC but ended up reading my library’s paperback copy). Check it out!!

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Eve Brown may not be my favorite Brown sister, but Talia Hibbert’s wit and sweet-as-pie characters are still irresistible. This earned a solid four stars from me.

Eve is tired of being the perpetual disaster – after another failed attempt at entrepreneurship, her parents tell her it’s time to settle down and pick a career. But this feels like the ultimate affront to Eve, who has never truly loved any of the career paths or educational opportunities she’s taken. Upset, she takes to the road, drives and drives, until she pulls over in a quaint little town and sits right down for an interview as a chef at a bed and breakfast.

Jacob, the bed and breakfast’s owner, is unimpressed. Eve is sporadic and doesn’t take things seriously. Then, of course, she hits him with his car…so there’s that.

Despite his distaste for her, she does cook well, and he needs her to cook for a food festival coming up to draw more patrons to his B&B. Hopefully, she can make it before she flakes.

Talia Hibbert’s voice when she writes feels like a friend talking to me. The flowery language of Get a Life, Chloe Brown is what I fell in love with in the first place. To be truthful, Dani has been the sister I relate to the most, but I’ve loved all their stories for their unique voices. I just don’t feel like other romance writers are consistently writing with this adorable wit and humor.

As far as the story goes, again, it’s one of my favorite tropes: enemies to lovers, there’s a bed and breakfast involved, AND there’s baking?? I’ll take ten. And Talia does a great job with it, and a great job with character development centered around this scenery. I can see increased confidence in them, see increased self awareness, that makes the characters feel warmer to me.

I also love to see characters with autism represented in this light. I love characters typically misrepresented to be shown as human to begin with, obviously, but Talia has been so good at this throughout her series: fibromyalgia, anxiety, and now autism. Her characters are real and human, and they’re treated as such. None of these things become the focus of the person or their story, but just one of many things that makes them unique and who they are: just like it should be. Not a dominating character trait or a fault to the romance, but one of many pieces of the characters we know and love.

Overall, a solid four out of five stars from me. I’m hooked on Talia’s writing, and now that the series is over, I can’t wait to see what she does next. New to the Brown sisters? You can check out my review of books one and two here. Highly recommended, *chef’s kiss* series.

A copy of Act Your Age, Eve Brown was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Unfortunately, Hogle’s second novel did not live up to the first! I laughed out loud, cried real tears, and devoured You Deserve Each Other in a single night (see my review here – it was actually my first on this very blog!). I’m starting to suspect every romance author’s first book bleeds authentic feelings because it’s based somewhere in truth. That novel is probably one of the best I’ve read in the genre because it was hilarious, but also terribly real.

Maybell Parish hates her job, and daydreams her way out of it hour by hour. She dreams of a man that doesn’t exist, a cafe in the sky that plays Fleetwood Mac, and the perfect escape to a manor of her childhood. Then, she inherits that very manor.

Unfortunately, she’s not the only one. The groundskeeper, Wesley, has also inherited the manor, and has very different ideas about what the old run down home should become. It’s an endless battle for both as they make some Frankenstein version of bed and breakfast/farm, while the sparks are flying and the anger brews.

Twice Shy doesn’t hit home quite the same way Hogle’s first work did. I loved the premise: it’s one of my favorite tropes, and the little details were very well done. I still cried, don’t get me wrong. But I just don’t think the arc of this romance made for as good of storytelling as the traditional arc…let me explain.

One of my biggest issues with this book was the lack of the falling apart. Every romance reader knows, when the pages in the right hand start to dwindle, when your kindle says somewhere around 83%, when things start to feel too good…it’s going to hit the fan. It’s about to go down. Hogle…skipped this part? I got to my 83%, 87%, 93%… and I was still waiting. Not to be accused of dishing spoilers, but problems are minor, and the response even less underwhelming. The part of the book that usually brings me gut-wrenching anxiety was missing, and I was surprised to find myself craving it anyways. This story just didn’t sit as well with me without the challenge.

I will, of course, still pick up Hogle’s books in the future! I think she’s got a lot of wit and creativity, and I want to see more like You Deserve Each Other. This was still a cute, quick, light read full of dreamy scenes and imagination. It’s the perfect escape. It just didn’t live up to the full potential I hoped it would have.

A copy of Twice Shy was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m back with another week of rewinds. 🙂 I read The Worst Best Man on my spring break and I wanted to talk about it, because it’s a pretty dang cute read!

Carolina Santos is a currently unwed wedding planner. She would’ve been wed, if it weren’t for her future brother-in-law opening his mouth and convincing her fiance to run away on their wedding day. But whatever, that was years ago, and she’s over it now.

Until her big break as a planner comes around, and it now means working with said ex-future-brother-in-law: Max. Convinced by her friends, she knows she needs some closure, and maybe to even the playing field a bit. But Max has some other plans. He needs this contract to break out of his brother’s shadow and get his mother’s attention, but he may just get that attention another way, like winning Lina’s heart.

I thought the concept behind this book was real cute, and the execution was also fabulous. Sosa has a very sweet writing style that’s hard to put down. It only took me a couple hours to finish this novel!

I love that Sosa focuses into Brazilian culture as part of her storytelling; I love that that’s a trend right now and that I get to step into these character’s world and learn something new when I read these stories. 🙂 Lina’s Brazilian background took a front seat for some of this book and it was just lovely to read.

Pulling on that same thread, Lina also has her own agenda, similar to what I mentioned last week’s post (in case you missed my review of Love Her or Lose Her). I have so much more respect for a romance book that can make the women seem real, and have real ambitions and lives. The whole reason the romance takes place centers around Lina’s career as a wedding planner, at which she’s extremely successful. Throughout the book, the path the romance takes follows her career. I like that Lina doesn’t lose sight of that success even as she begins to fall for her coworker.

The romance itself, unfortunately, lacked that special SPARK that I’m just endlessly searching for! There are very few books that can capture my love like that, so I don’t fault Sosa for it. It’s enemies to lovers, which is usually my favorite trope, but it falls flat this time. Their romance is cute, but it’s not totally for me. Which is all good. I still recommend you give it a read.

The Worst Best Man is out now!

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

So, I totally had another review scheduled for this week, but lo and behold, couldn’t control myself and went and bought Undercover Bromance. And read it in a day. Again.

So here we are!

Liv is a pastry chef working for celebrity chef Royce Preston…who also happens to be a huge jerk. When nightclub owner Braden Mack gets Liv in trouble with Royce, she discovers a huge secret of Royce’s, landing her fired…and decides to take him down, with the help of Mack and the Bromance Book Club.

And as much as they hate one another, Liv and Mack make a pretty good team, if they could only get past their sarcasm and the masks they hide behind.

What I really loved about this story, and the last story (check out my review of The Bromance Book Club here) was all the FEMINISM. And dissection of feminism. Like these characters will just stop at any moment to call out sexism in either direction. So good. So pure.

I also really like the growth of the characters. Both Mack and Liv overcome some serious doubts about whether they’re worthy of love, releasing negativity from toxic relationships that have tainted their worldview. There’s something much more complex about that than your typical romance, especially when the back stories of these two are so well explored through this and the previous book. I felt like I really knew them and was rooting for their success and emotional well-being. ❤

Lyssa Kay Adams writes an awesome slow burn. Not only did I feel like Liv and Mack connected, but they were friends, too. In fact, I would even go so far as to say the story focuses less on their romance and more on the plot to take down Royce Preston, which is also AWESOME. I really liked this subplot, it’s greater meaning to the book club, and the commentary it provides. And the girl power. I just love that we’re exploring the topic of harassment in the workplace in a human way where people’s actual emotions and responses are explored. I think that’s an important dialogue, and I think a romance novel is an awesome way to start that conversation. The romance that appears to take a back seat to this actually grows bigger in the background, and I loved that, too.

I really liked this book, but I admittedly still prefer Gavin and Thea’s story. I’m seeing that a lot with other reviewers as well. And it’s not that Liv and Mack’s story is lacking, or that Adams didn’t do as good a job this time around. It’s still a fantastic book with the same humor and wit as Bromance Book Club. It just wasn’t as much for me. I connected with the characters, but less than I did with the Scotts. So it was just a preference thing! This sequel is still fantastic.

Highly, highly recommend this series for fans of the genre! It’s too cute for words, and I haven’t gotten this hooked on an author in a while. I can’t wait to read the next book! Have an awesome week everyone!

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was so hesitant to read this book simply because of the premise – love at a Renaissance fair. I know nothing about Renaissance fairs, really, and it seemed pretty specific and niche to me. I was pleasantly surprised by DeLuca’s approach, and the genuine-ness of the characters that came out of it!

Emily Parker has just left behind a bad breakup in order to take care of her sister and niece in small town Willow Creek. Her sister, April, has been in a bad car accident, and now needs someone to help her and her daughter Caitlin get through day to day life. Emily sees this as the perfect opportunity to get away: until she’s made to sign up for a Renaissance fair that Caitlin wants to participate in, and she’s forced to deal with the cranky and brooding Simon.

Simon feels an obligation to the Ren fair – his brother started it ten years ago, and he must keep it running exactly as is. But it’s not fun anymore…until he meets Emily. Soon their Renaissance characters Captain Blackthorne and Emma are endlessly flirting, and Emily doesn’t know what’s real anymore.

After reading Well Met I can assure you the Ren fair backdrop is not a plot ruiner. In fact, I found it real fun and unique, giving the story’s plot a major hand but also adding to the whimsy of it all. I’ll even admit, it kind of made me want to go to one. 😉

Simon and Emily had a lot of that good enemies-to-lovers tension. I really liked their relationship and interactions in the way that they clearly cared about one another, but were letting their biases stand in the way of having a positive relationship. Through their ren fair characters, they were really able to open up, pretending there wasn’t barriers to being with one another – the characters they played were merely sub-parts of themselves, but when they let out these positive, unflawed personalities, their relationship blossomed. That’s why it became really difficult for Simon and Emily to understand where the line was drawn for Emma and Captain Blackthorne – where did they end and Simon and Emily begin?

I loved the backdrop of Emily’s life as well. As she’s growing from her breakup and taking care of her sister, she’s forming bonds with April and Caitlin (who are wonderful and supportive additions to this cast that made me smile!), making new friends with the Ren fair cast, growing as an employee when taking a job at the bookstore, and learning to call Willow Creek home. It was a feel good plot line for someone who clearly had a lot of growing to do after her past, and for her story alone, this book is worth the read.

What really kept me from loving this book to a five-star rating was Simon and Emily’s fight – the climax of this story. All romances have these points where the new relationship is being tested – either by an outside force they have to weather together or by a fight internally. It’s the story arc of the genre, but I almost didn’t think Well Met was going to have one! I kept seeing the progress on my Kindle creep closer toward the end and they still hadn’t fought. I thought I was in the clear: they have the perfect relationship! They were tested by overcoming their disdain for each other in the beginning! Everything is good now!

Not so much. Their blowup was a rough one. Some may say, irredeemable (it’s me. I’m “some”). I just couldn’t get over some of the things that were said during this climax, even after it seems as though they come to a resolution at the end with apologies (is it really a spoiler if we all know it’s going to happen?), I wasn’t left satisfied. Both of their points were so valid, I didn’t think they were a good match anymore. All it did was reveal some of the problems in their relationship, with no noticeable fix.

All in all, I would still tell any contemporary romance reader to pick up a copy of Well Met when it’s released next week. You’re going to love it. 😉

An advance copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley. Well Met will be released on September 3, 2019!

Coming Up Roses by Staci Hart

Coming Up Roses by Staci Hart

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I have read no shortage of Staci Hart books in the last year, as college days render my brain too numb to process anything beyond a good romcom (Red Lipstick Coalition, anyone?). And Staci Hart tends to deliver – light-hearted romance with strong heroines that don’t lack ambition or a life, with a healthy dose of drama – is her specialty. I have to say, I particularly enjoyed Coming Up Roses, if only for the Austen-related storyline.

Tess Monroe has been working in Longbourne Flower Shop since she was sixteen. After her losing her mom to cancer in high school, Mrs. Bennet, the owner of the shop, takes her under her wing and provides her with the stability of a place to call hers and a passion for flowers. But the shop is going under, after years of ignoring all the signs of failure, and every single Bennet child is back to save it – including Luke Bennet, the player who forgot he kissed Tess in the first place.

As Luke works to revive Longbourne, he discovers his mistake in ever letting Tess go (even if he doesn’t remember doing so) and they slowly test the waters of the feelings that have been stirring between them since.

I’m just a sucker for anything Pride & Prejudice related. Mr. Darcy is the dream. The whole dynamic is what led me to discover my favorite romance trope in enemies-to-lovers to begin with. I liked Hart’s play on it, in that the themes were all the same, and there were not so subtle nods in the way she named things, but she really took her own direction with it. It was just cute.

Longbourne Flower Shop really provided the perfect backdrop to Tess and Luke’s story. It was sweet and whimsical, and Hart delivered scene descriptions that just made my heart swell at the thought. She has a talent for that: some of my other favorites have been in libraries, in bookstores… it speaks to me. 🙂

Of course, I can’t offer Coming Up Roses that fourth or fifth star. That fifth star is reserved only for those who can deliver something fresh and original, a plot I haven’t read a thousand times before in an effort to drone out business lectures. Coming Up Roses didn’t cut it on that one. If you’re looking for a sweet and relaxing read in a beautiful setting, look no further. But I’ve read plenty of contemporary romance with a lot more wit, character, and originality… to which I am also happy to drop the names of.

In particular, my biggest complaint, and the reason I dropped my rating even further, was with Tess and Luke’s characters. They lacked depth, as they often do in these situations. I felt the same about Piece of Work, also by Hart. It’s like, yes, you can write the connection between two people beautifully, but why are they even connecting? Coming Up Roses provides no context or common ground for friendship between Luke and Tess, except that their temperaments fit together. They lack a sense of humor that scratches the surface (romcom was a complete lie here), and quite frankly, they’re polar opposites. It’s nothing I’d buy into beyond the pages of this story. Contemporary romance and romcoms authors like Jasmine Guillory and Sally Thorne and even Tessa Bailey have raised the bar far beyond this superficial stuff, and it’s like I’m left slightly disappointed after I read one that doesn’t measure up.

Just fair warning! I’m not going to steer you clear of this book, but I can definitely point you towards better. 🙂 Happy reading!

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Rating: 5 out of 5.

AAAAAH!! The Hating Game has finally met its match, and it’s in Naomi Westfield and Nicholas Rose of You Deserve Each Other.

Naomi and Nicholas have been engaged for almost a year, and their wedding date is fast approaching. Naomi tunes out rather than deal with how unhappy she is, and she has no clue Nicholas has been suffering the same – until they trip over this realization and end up in a battle of who can hang on the longest? Winner doesn’t have to deal with the pushback from friends, gets their pick of their shared stuff, and doesn’t have to pay back the hundreds of dollars Nicholas’ overbearing mother has spent on the wedding they didn’t want (TRUST ME, SHE’S THE WORST!! A necessary evil to tell this story, but boy is Mrs. Rose cringe-y!).

But in their effort to push one another away, they discover the parts of themselves they never brought to the relationship to begin with: a fire and a passion, even if it’s for messing with each other. With each new hilarious stunt, the lines blur and neither knows what the game is anymore…though their wedding date still approaches.

I tend to read a lot in this genre, but I haven’t discovered a title with this much wit and character depth since I read The Hating Game! I actually laughed out loud, at approximately two a.m. when I should’ve put the book down hours ago. I read it all in one sitting. That was not the plan, it just sort of happened…Hogle’s writing was just superb and original! It was difficult to put down while laughing like a maniac (a bit about a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, in particular, had me absolutely in stitches… you will see…). The character depth and development really sprouted from the humor of it: their jokes were revealing of their true selves, but also of their true feelings. I loved this approach, and that it felt like legitimate humor Sarah herself was sitting somewhere laughing about while she wrote it – rather than forced for the sake of “giving characters a humorous personality”.

Nicholas and Naomi’s real battle was getting stuck in this rut of not being friends anymore. They have routines, they avoid each other, and they both know it. They forgot the joy of connecting, and Hogle infused plenty of humor and adorable, smile-like-an-idiot at the pages moments to get them back there. The story itself takes on a unique element when you consider that Naomi and Nicholas are already together – so it lacks the meet-cute that tends to shape and guide this genre, replacing it with a fresh situation that revives the story and the characters. The circumstances of their love story allow you to replace awkward dates with ruthless pranks, and the stories rings out more authentic for it, heartwarming in a new way. Sometimes, I feel like the authors that write the popular contemporary romance books have never actually been in love… but Sarah Hogle gets it. Hogle does not underestimate the value of whole days spent playing video games together, cooking disgusting meals together, or teaming up against the parents. It didn’t feel like a recycled version of every book I’ve ever read that falls under “contemporary romance”, and I loved that.

I cannot stress it enough: if The Hating Game was your thing, You Deserve Each Other is also, 100%, totally, exactly your thing. You won’t regret checking it out, unless you also went to bed at four in the morning after staying up all night reading it…then having to go to work the next morning. 🙂

You Deserve Each Other will be released on April 7, 2020. A copy was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for review.