The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa

The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 33. A bilingual character

Other Possible Prompts: 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings (for now!), 15. A five-syllable title, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 50. A person of color as the main character, 52. Published in 2022

Again, this was not my favorite, but I think The Wedding Crasher is a huge improvement over The Worst Best Man. People seem to like Mia Sosa’s voice, and I’d have to agree there. She writes a warm hug of a book, that’s for sure.

After witnessing the bride profess her love for another man in a stairwell minutes before the ceremony, Solange stops a complete stranger’s wedding to keep them from a big mistake. Embarrassed and feeling indebted for the inconvenience, she ends up helping the groom, Dean, fake a relationship so that he can help onboard a new lawyer for his firm – and finally make partner.

And as with any fake relationship, somebody has to catch feelings. Unfortunately for Dean and Solange, Dean is committed to his job and his no-emotions romantic plan, and Solange is destined to leave the city at the end of the summer with no strings attached. Can they keep it light and fun while it lasts?

This book started so strong, but really lost me around the middle. It just got a little wild for me, I think, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. There’s a lot going on here, but it’s not a bad story or a bad romance. In fact, the chemistry between Dean and Solange is some of the best I’ve read in a long while. I liked the “forbidden romance” aspect of it, driven by the fact that the pair have polar opposite romantic aspirations, but it did get a bit repetitive after a while – a bit like beating a dead horse.

I really liked Solange’s character. She was sweet and charismatic, smart and giving, and I think she and her family really make this story. She is a magnetic heroine; you can’t peel your eyes away when she’s on the page. She seems like the kind of girl even us super quiet, introverted types will befriend. Solange, combined with her huge Brazilian family, take over the pages and make every character feel like they belong amongst them. The infusion of that culture and family into this novel is a great one.

I didn’t like Dean *as much*, but I understood him at least. That, I guess, is definitely a strength of this book: it’s one of the most realistic romances I’ve read in awhile. Both characters are stubborn and faulty, but if they were real people, I think they would well and truly fall in love. They’re both likeable and I root for them!

I think what it boils down to is a preference thing. This was a huge improvement over The Worst Best Man, I just don’t think it was for me. And that’s totally fine – it may be for you, though, and I will still recommend it to romance readers! And I think I will likely pick up Sosa again, even just one more time.

Big thanks to the publisher for providing an advance readers copy of The Wedding Crasher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I hope you all have the most fabulous week. 🙂

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Howdy! This week I read Jasmine Guillory’s newest in The Wedding Date series: While We Were Dating. The more Jasmine Guillory I read, the more disillusioned I become with its quality. I enjoyed While We Were Dating, but it didn’t blow others out of the water.

Anna Gardiner is on a mission to get herself back to the Oscars. After a year facing anxiety and panic attacks, she’s getting back on the horse with an advertising campaign led by Ben Stephens, a sweet and funny flirt who also happily drives celebrities hundreds of miles in a family crisis. Their flirtation quickly blossoms into friendship and hookups.

When her manager catches their chemistry, he suggests a plan to help Anna launch back into stardom: the two should fake date in the months leading up to a huge movie premiere that will heavily influence the future of her career. It’s just what Anna needs…and maybe Ben is, too.

I have to say, I noticed last night that there were a lot of times where I genuinely laughed, like it was just too funny to keep inside, or how often I smiled at how sticky sweet the dialogue was. With the exception of Royal Holiday (review here, I’m sure you’ve all picked up how much I hate this one), this is what Guillory excels at: her characters are real, and feel real to the reader. Their emotions are accurate, not overstated. Their problems are legitimate. This book, in spite of being about celebrities, is genuine, grounded in reality, and lovely to read.

Like I said, it just didn’t blow me away is all. It’s a fun story! I love the de-stigmatization of mental health issues, and the healthy relationship behavior displayed throughout this book, too: too often you read romance and there’s at least one really problematic element that just makes you cringe, but Guillory is so good at covering all her bases. Even when behavior is unhealthy, her characters call it out and change. Their growth throughout the book makes the romance stronger, and their story feel more real. I love it. It feels grounded in truth and actual experiences even when the story is fantastical and whimsical like this one; for example, Guillory writes Anna with anxiety in this book. Her panic attacks sound like real panic attacks to me, a haver of panic attacks, lol. Her responses to the way people treat her in regards to her mental health also sound like real responses. I have a whole other level of appreciation for romance books where the characters have lives outside of their loves lives, and Guillory nails that time and time again. Ben and Anna both have their own set of issues that they’re working through, but it’s clear throughout that they’re stronger together, and make better decisions when they have each other to reflect with.

Even with that sticky sweet dialogue that made me smile as I cringed, I also must say that Anna and Ben’s chemistry was cute and didn’t feel forced. They have an easygoing friendship from the start, in part because of the way they both interact with other people. They’re both open and friendly, so there’s never any ice to break. They’re both very warm characters, and their dialogue was fun and humorous. I liked them both a lot (maybe not as much as Nik and Carlos, or Maddie and Theo, but quite a bit).

The more I write, the more I realize I just don’t have anything bad to say. It’s not a bad book! It’s just not my favorite. I don’t know if I love Guillory’s books as much as I used to, but after reflecting on my reading experience I still couldn’t tell you exactly why that is. Any other readers who have been around since the beginning starting to feel that way, or is it just me? Nothing wrong with tastes changing, I just couldn’t tell you exactly what it is that changed for me. I still like and recommend Guillory’s works. But I’m not knocking down the library door to read them anymore. You know?

So I feel comfortable giving While We Were Dating just 3.5 stars. Didn’t love it, definitely didn’t hate it. Would I recommend? Maybe. Depends on whether you’re a casual romance reader or if you’re like neck deep in all these new releases and new authors now like I am. I’ll let you make that call.

Happy reading friends. 🙂

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a five-star-worthy romance!! I picked The Love Hypothesis up at the Innisfree Bookshop the other day (last month, by the time you read this…) and the very next night I started it, and then accidentally finished it at 3am. Needless to say, I was home alone that weekend, because you can spit on one end of my apartment and hit the other wall – so leaving that many lights on until the witching hour is super unusual in this house. Because, you know…sleep.

To convince her best friend that she’s over a guy she dated for .2 seconds, Olive kisses the very first man she sees…who just happens to be biology professor Adam Carlsen. Professional ahole. Surprisingly cute.

When things spiral out of control, Olive and Adam must embark on a fake relationship: for Olive to preserve her best friend’s delicate new relationship with the guy Olive is over, and for Adam to convince Stanford he’s not at risk of leaving the university to unfreeze his grant funds. And so, the most comical laundry list of uncomfortable fake dating things ensues: in public.

This book actually had me laughing out loud right beside my cringing. This one is just an absolute zinger. I wish I had picked it up sooner. As I read I couldn’t help but chuckle at just how many tropes and stereotypical moments Hazelwood covered. Literally every cringey, hilarious fake relationship thing you can think of, just written out in every chapter. Hysterical.

The cover of my copy reads “Contemporary romance’s unicorn: the elusive marriage of deeply brainy and delightfully escapist.” (Christina Lauren’s sweet words of recommendation). This could not be more true, and this is the romance novel I totally gravitate towards. The humor and wit written on another level altogether really reminded me of You Deserve Each Other or Get a Life, Chloe Brown. Both of which I also gave five stars. All three now come highly recommended by me.

Olive is the epitome of the strong female heroine. In a graduate program? In a STEM field?? Taking care of her friends, beloved by all??? I love that Olive not only feels genuine but that she’s a gals’ gal, a badass with a mission. Her mission is most certainly not compromised by a man. He’s merely an added addition. That’s what I love about that smart, feminist contemporary romance: there’s far more happening than a woman’s love life, and we not only acknowledge that, but cheer them on when they succeed in the other aspects of their lives.

I feel like this is a great opportunity to plug the very thought provoking article I read a couple months ago about contemporary romance books getting really YA-looking covers as of late. It’s been going on for a while now, but I think part of what kept me from picking this amazing book up in the first place is just how young this cover looks! Don’t get me wrong, the art is very cute. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, except that this book is not for teenagers. The recent trend in illustrated, more juvenile looking covers in romance books is drawing additional readership, but also points to some major issues with sexism and what’s considered valuable reading, according to the article. I really encourage you to read that article and ponder it! I’m curious to hear your thoughts, and whether you’re one of the readers who helped increase romance sales by over 31% this last year as a result.

Please, please read The Love Hypothesis!! I’m obsessed. Can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

Have an absolutely wonderful week, friends. Pray for me and the sleep I lost bringing you this review. Send coffee. ❤

Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher

Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Again, totally underwhelmed! Before reading my review of Not That Kind of Guy, I’m going to highly recommend returning to my review of Not the Girl You Marry to see where I’m coming from on this, because I’m going to kind of base my feelings off of that (and if you didn’t read Not the Girl You Marry, you’re not missing anything).

Bridget Nolan has a past riddled with reasons not to get involved with a guy, ever again. Her ex royally screwed her up for love, and her mom abandoned her family when she was just 13. So she’s not looking to like Matt, the rich heir of billions who’s interning for her at the Special Prosecutions Bureau.

Matt, in contrast, is immediately swept away by Bridget’s looks, stubbornness, and whip-smart attitude. Though he, too, recognizes this relationship is a bad idea, he can’t stop himself once his internship ends – and things go horribly wrong, and what happens in Vegas did not stay in Vegas.

What I will say for Not That Kind of Guy is that it is a major improvement over Not the Girl You Marry. I reread my review before writing down my thoughts on this novel, and I can say that I definitely believe this novel came out better. But like, not much better. Christopher doesn’t do much better at tackling the “insta-love” problem – Bridget and Matt’s “attraction” is forced and uncomfortable, again. “Sparks” do nothing for me if I can’t see the real reason for attraction. For what we know about Bridget at the beginning, her desire for Matt makes little to no sense. Matt’s feelings for Bridget make only slightly more sense, in her being extremely similar to his (actually terrible) mom, which, you know, speaks for itself… However, I will say that it’s clear Bridget and Matt are more compatible than Hannah and Jack. Hannah and Jack take the stage in this book, too, for brief moments here and there, and they actually fit together better as supporting characters than they did in their own stories. Like, where was that magic when I was drudging through all 320 pages of Not the Girl You Marry?!

Christopher, again, failed to move the plot along quickly. The drama is sooooo drawnnnnn outtttttt that she loses me! Quickly! And it took me a week to make my way through this book. Her characters review the same problems again and again, turning them over for the reader repeatedly yet never making progress towards changing themselves, or towards the climax of the story. I honestly believe nothing came to a head until about 90% of the book was behind me (sorry, I read on Kindle here…). For a romance, I really think that’s a drag for the reader. Christopher’s romantic scenes also fall flat, so there’s nothing to carry you from point A to point B, and it gets boring fast.

I think it’s time to take a break from Christopher’s novels. Not to say I won’t return to them later, but I need her to work out the very evident kinks in the storytelling happening here. I think I’ll sit back and see what other reviewers are saying next time she releases a book!

So unfortunately, again, skip Not That Kind of Guy. Just not worth your time. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and it was published April 14, 2020.