Spotlight – The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: June 14, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

A twist on the classic The Parent Trap, The Beach Trap has two best friends from camp, Kat and Blake, finding out that they’re actually half sisters. Their friendship crumbles and they reunite fifteen years later when their father suddenly dies and leaves them both an inheritance – a run down beach house in Florida. Blake wants nothing to do with the house, while Kat wants to fix it up and keep the house. Both decide to fix up the house with the intention of Kat buying out Blake at the end of the summer.

Will these two end up learning more about each other and mending their rocky relationship while they work to fix up the house together? With a charming beach town and a bit of romance for each sister mixed in with their family drama – Blake and Kat may just end up learning how to become sisters by the end of the summer.


SYNOPSIS

Two best friends torn apart by a life-altering secret. They have one summer to set the record straight.

When twelve-year-olds Kat Steiner and Blake O’Neill meet at Camp Chickawah, they have an instant connection. But everything falls apart when they learn they’re not just best friends—they’re also half-sisters. Confused and betrayed, their friendship instantly crumbles.

Fifteen years later when their father dies suddenly, Kat and Blake discover he’s left them a joint inheritance: the family beach house in Destin, Florida. The two sisters are instantly at odds. Blake, who has recently been demoted from regular nanny to dog nanny, wants to sell the house, while social media influencer Kat is desperate to keep the place where she had so many happy childhood memories.

Kat and Blake reluctantly join forces to renovate the dilapidated house with the understanding that Kat will try to buy Blake out at the end of the summer. The women clash as Blake’s renovation plans conflict with Kat’s creative vision, and each sister finds herself drawn into a summer romance. As the weeks pass, the two women realize the most difficult project they face this summer will be coming to grips with their shared past, and learning how to become sisters.

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Spotlight & Excerpt Out of the Clear Blue Sky

Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Kristan Higgins newest book – Out of the Clear Blue Sky – is the perfect beach read! Heartwarming and funny, this book follows Lillie, recently divorced after her husband dumps her for another woman. With a grown child now in college, Lillie isn’t quite sure what to do with her life. Soon she’s bonding with people in her life that she never thought she’d get close to. Maybe this isn’t the end of life for Lillie, but rather the start of a new chapter?


SYNOPSIS

From New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins comes a funny and surprising new novel about second chances–and why the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous.

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn’t…heartbroken. She’s furious.

Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife and nurse-midwife, she’s used to caring for other people…not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband’s wedding, dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.

She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she’s had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in of all people Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie 20 years ago. And then there’s Ophelia, her ex-husband’s oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.

It’s the end of Lillie’s life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you…out of the clear blue sky.


EXCERPT

From OUT OF THE CLEAR BLUE SKY published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2022 by  Kristan Higgins.

When the waitress came to ask if we wanted dessert, Brad said no. “I’ll have the coconut cake,” I said, because speaking of joy . . . Pepe’s had the best coconut cake on earth. “We’ll split it,” I added, since we always did. One of our marital habits—Brad always pretended he didn’t want dessert, then shared mine. Denial.

“No, no. All for you,” Brad said, and for a second, I could’ve sworn he glanced at my midsection. He himself was lean. I was not.

Brad was nursing a second glass of malbec. That was funny . . . I’d never seen him order red wine, not even with steak. He said it gave him headaches, but here he was, sniffing it like he was a bloodhound, swirling it, savoring it. Before I said something snarky, I decided this was the moment.

“Honey, I have something to tell you,” I said. I took a breath and tried to get into the romantic mood. The candlelight made Brad look even more handsome. His blond hair, still fairly full, that WASPy, almost delicate bone structure. His amazing cerulean eyes. He looked younger, the gift of candlelight. I hoped I looked equally beautiful. “It’s pretty exciting.”

“Really? I have something to tell you, too,” he said. “Also exciting. But go ahead.”

I paused for dramatic effect. “We’re going to Europe! I booked us a trip!”

Brad’s face didn’t change. He didn’t smile. He barely blinked.

“Oh,” he said. “Uh . . . when?”

“October seventeenth. Venice, then a train ride up into the Alps for a few days, and then . . . wait for it . . . Paris! Surprise!”

Brad didn’t say anything.

“Honey?” I asked.

“Yes. Um . . . well.”

Not the reaction I was hoping for. Brad loved traveling. “Aren’t you excited?” I asked. “You don’t seem excited.”

He drained his wine. “Actually, Lillie, I . . . uh . . . I was thinking it’s time we . . . divorced.”

“Here’s your coconut cake,” said the waitress, a pretty girl with dark hair. “Two forks, just in case.”

“Thank you!” I said. “Dig in, honey, before I lay waste to this whole thing.”

“This is hard for me,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but I’m sure.”

“About what?” God. The cake melted in your mouth. Melted.

“Did you hear me? What I just said?”

“Did you hear me? We’re going to Europe!”

He looked away sharply. “No. We’re not. I want a divorce, Lillie. That’s why I took you here. To discuss our future at this natural split in the path.”

I snorted. “Oh, please. We’re not getting divorced.” God, this cake was so good.

“I’m serious. Please listen and don’t infantilize me, Lillie.”

“Brad. Honey. Is this because Dylan’s graduating? It’s normal to feel blue. But we’re happy. Not like everyone else.” There had been a rash of divorces among our crowd lately, and suddenly my skin felt a little too tight. “We’ve been talking about how fun being empty nesters will be.” Hadn’t we? No, we had. Just not recently.

“I’ve met someone.”

“You know, this trip is going to be perfect,” I said. “Change of scenery, new places, new food, different languages all around us. You can practice your French! Our son is going to college in Montana, and we’ve both been melancholy. I’ve looked at so many pictures of Venice, I already feel better.”

Wait . . . what was that he’d just said? It wasn’t about Europe. I felt a flush starting in my chest, creeping up my neck.

I took a sip of water. Glanced around the restaurant. 

“Lillie?” Brad said.

“We’re going to Europe,” I said again, more loudly this time. “We deserve it.”

“Are you even listening to me?” he said.

“Are you listening to me?” I snapped. “We’re not getting a divorce! Are you crazy?” Heads were starting to turn. I lowered my voice. “Look. I don’t think . . . you didn’t mean what you said, honey. I know it’s a strange time, and it’s natural to do some soul-searching, but we’re in this together. It’s going to be great! We’ve been talking about all the things we want to do.” I smiled. Yeah. Keep smiling, Lillie. “And we will do them.” That last line came out as a command.

He didn’t look at me. “I haven’t been happy in some time, and . . . well, as I just said, I’m in love.”

There was a buzzing sound in my ears. “No you aren’t.”

“Lately, I just feel dead inside.”

“No you haven’t. This is idiotic.”

“I’m sorry if this hurts you,” he said, “but I’m sure.” 

Suddenly, my plate was in my hands, and I was squishing the coconut cake on his head. “How dare you, Brad Fairchild! How dare you!”

Spotlight – Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman

Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: May 17, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

In Abbi Waxman’s newest novel, Adult Assembly Required we meet Laura Costello – a New York native who is trying for a fresh start in Larchmont, Los Angeles. Abbi Waxman brings us back into the same world where we first met Nina of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

All too soon, Laura discovers that adulting isn’t as easy as she thought it would be. She finds herself homeless and eventually adopted by the local bookseller. Will Laura find her bearings to make it work in this new life?

Adulting is never easy and Abbi shines a light on themes of isolation, connection and mental health in Adult Assembly Required.


SYNOPSIS

A young woman arrives in Los Angeles determined to start over, and discovers she doesn’t need to leave everything behind after all, from Abbi Waxman, USA Today bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

When Laura Costello moves to Los Angeles, trying to escape an overprotective family and the haunting memories of a terrible accident, she doesn’t expect to be homeless after a week. (She’s pretty sure she didn’t start that fire — right?) She also doesn’t expect to find herself adopted by a rogue bookseller, installed in a lovely but completely illegal boardinghouse, or challenged to save a losing trivia team from ignominy…but that’s what happens. Add a regretful landlady, a gorgeous housemate and an ex-boyfriend determined to put himself back in the running and you’ll see why Laura isn’t really sure she’s cut out for this adulting thing. Luckily for her, her new friends Nina, Polly and Impossibly Handsome Bob aren’t sure either, but maybe if they put their heads (and hearts) together they’ll be able to make it work for them.

Spotlight – At Least You Have Your Health by Madi Sinha

At Least You Have Health by Madi Sinha

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: April 5, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

In Madi Sinha’s second novel, At Least You Have Your Health she tackles the difficult topics of race, class, beauty standards and how to be the “perfect mother.”

When Dr. Maya Rao is given the unexpected opportunity to work as a gynecologist at a concierge wellness clinic – she is ecstatic! This is the opportunity for Dr. Rao to showcase all of her talents. Except that not everything is as perfect as it seems. Soon Maya is left racing to find cures for mysterious ailments and uncovering secrets that even she has been trying to hide.


SYNOPSIS

Behind the wholesome veneer of a wellness clinic lies a dangerous secret in this compelling women’s fiction novel from the author of The White Coat Diaries.

Dr. Maya Rao is a gynecologist trying to balance a busy life. With three young children, a career, and a happy marriage, she should be grateful–on paper, she has it all. But after a disastrous encounter with a patient, Maya is forced to walk away from the city hospital where she’s spent her entire career.

A new opportunity arises when Maya enrolls her daughter at an exclusive private school and crosses paths with Amelia DeGilles. Amelia is the owner and entrepreneur behind Eunoia Women’s Health, a concierge wellness clinic that specializes in house calls for its clientele of wealthy women for whom no vitamin infusion or healing crystal is too expensive. All Eunoia needs is a gynecologist to join its ranks.

Amid visits to her clients’ homes to educate and empower, and occasionally to remove crystals from bodily orifices, Maya comes to idolize the beautiful, successful Amelia. But Amelia’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems, and when Amelia’s teenaged daughter is struck with a mysterious ailment, Maya must race to uncover the reason before it’s too late. In the process, she risks losing what’s most important to her and bringing to light a secret of her own that she’s been desperately trying to keep hidden.

ARC Review – Book Lovers

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.


REVIEW

Nora Stephens loves her job as an agent in the publishing world. She works hard for her clients and is always in their corner when they need her. While Nora is happy in her professional career, she feels like the bond between her sister is not as strong as it used to be. With two little children and a third on the way, Nora’s sister Libby decides that they need some alone time together before the newest baby arrives. Libby suggest a month (!) away and Nora isn’t quite sure she can be away from work for so long. But in the end she decides to take the time off to get some girl time in with her younger sister. They decide to journey out to Sunshine Falls – an idyllic small town that one of Nora’s authors centered a previous book on.

Libby has a list of items she wants them to do together. A few including Nora going on a date with someone in the small town and helping to reform a failing business. Nora isn’t quite sure of all the things on the list, but she goes along with it anyway. This is where Nora runs into Charlie Lastra. The editor whom Nora met once and turned down a book because he didn’t think it was good enough. Every checklist that Nora tries to complete ends up with Charlie running into her. Soon they find themselves working together on a book. The more time they spend together the stronger their feelings grow. Will they be able to stay away from one another? With both of them not looking for a relationship, their convictions start to waver the longer they are in each others orbit.

Book Lovers is a story about love, family, the bonds of sisterhood and grief. I will admit that this book started off slowly for me. I wasn’t quite sure what the point of going to Sunshine Falls was and how the relationship between Nora and Libby felt so off. But the more I read the book the more I realized, that’s the way I was supposed to feel. Because when you love someone and they hide things from you – it feels stilted and you feel that hurt deep.

I loved loved loved Charlie Lastra so much! He was funny (so funny), sarcastic, a little bit jaded – but always so sweet. The chemistry between him and Nora was always so evident from the very first time they met and I was always looking forward to when these two were on the page together. I loved Charlie’s background and what made him him. In a lot of ways his grief was also similar to Nora’s and they shared the same love for publishing and big city living in New York. While their families tried to push them to the charming small town life – deep down these two knew that they’d never be happy living a life just to make their families happy.

Emily Henry has a way with words and there’s no denying that she did it again in Book Lovers. I have so many passages highlighted that either made me laugh or brought tears to my eyes. While Book Lovers started off slowly for me it picked up momentum and I couldn’t stop reading the book when I got more invested in the characters. Overall I’d give Book Lovers 4.5, but round to 5 stars because these characters will stay with me for a long time to come.

ARC Review – Part of Your World

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction

Heat Level: 🔥

Release Date: April 19, 2022

Publisher: Forever

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

The New York Times bestselling author of Life’s Too Short delivers a refreshingly modern fairy tale perfect for fans of Casey McQuiston and Emily Henry.

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?


REVIEW

Alexis Montgomery has her life mapped out in front of her. Coming from a family of physicians she is the last one left to carry on the Legacy. Daniel Grant runs his family’s bed & breakfast which has been passed down from generations. He loves the memories attached to the old home and will do anything to keep the house in the family. What happens when a chance encounter between these two turns their lives upside down?

Part of Your World was such an angsty/swoony romance. I loved both Alexis and Daniel and their chemistry was undeniable from the very first time they met. I will admit that while I’m not a usual fan of age gap, the age gap between Daniel and Alexis (he’s younger) was addressed and woven throughout the book well. It definitely did not make me love Alexis and Daniel any less. This couple was pulling on my heart strings hard and definitely had me crying on more than one occasion.

Abby always does a wonderful job with serious and tough topics. Not only does Abby tackle the topic of an age gap, but also the very difficult topics of abusive relationships, depression and childhood trauma. The secondary characters in Part of Your World were so important to the story and I loved that I felt like by the end of the book I knew each and every one of them.

I highly highly recommend Part of Your World – definitely worth a pre-order!

Spotlight – Seoulmates by Jen Frederick

Seoulmates by Jen Frederick

Series: Seoul #2

Genre: Womens Fiction/Romance

Release Date: January 25, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

In the sequel to Heart and Seoul, Hara Wilson finds herself in Seoul on her way to find her birth mother. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love…with her stepbrother. This multicultural romance explores the topics of forbidden romance, cultural identity and adoption.


SYNOPSIS

A Korean-American adoptee fights to be with the one she loves while coming to terms with her new identity in this enthralling romantic drama and sequel to Heart and Seoul by USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick.

When Hara Wilson lands in Seoul to find her birth mother, she doesn’t plan on falling in love with the first man she lays eyes on, but Choi Yujun is irresistible. If his broad shoulders and dimples weren’t
enough, Choi Yujun is the most genuine, decent, gorgeous guy to exist. Too bad he’s also her stepbrother.

Fate brought her to the Choi doorstep but the gift of family comes with burdens. A job in her mother’s company has perks of endless company dinners and super resentful coworkers. A new country means
learning a new language which twenty-five year old Hara is finding to be a Herculean task. A forbidden love means having to choose between her birth family or Choi Yujun.

All Hara wanted was to find a place to belong in this world—but in order to have it all, she’ll have to risk it all.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jen Frederick is a Korean adoptee living in the Midwest with her husband, daughter, and rambunctious dog. Under the psuedonym Erin Watt, Frederick has co-written two #1 New York Times bestselling novels.

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships ARC Review

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction

Heat Level: Closed Door

Release Date: November 23, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

Sometimes a yacht, a bold bucket list, and a kiss with a handsome stranger are all a person needs to dive into the deep end of life.

For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things she wants to accomplish by her birthday. Jo has almost everything she’s ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she’s the youngest resident by thirty years) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.

Jo is on track until a family tragedy turns her life upside down, and the list falls by the wayside. But when her two nieces show up unannounced with plans to stay the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping Jo finish it. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in twelve weeks, Jo takes on the challenge.

When she summons the courage to complete item number five–kiss a stranger–and meets Alex Hayes, all bets are off. As her feelings for Alex intensify and Jo’s inability to confront difficult emotions about her family complicates her relationships, she must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses what matters most.


REVIEW

Yacht stewardess Jo Walker is on a mission – to complete a 30 before 30 bucket list! She’s checked off so many of the items on her list and only has a handful of things left to do. But recently Jo hasn’t felt much like celebrating or ticking items off of a list. She lost her young nephew and she now feels lost and not so sure what brings her joy.

But Jo’s summer is about to turn upside down because her nieces are coming to visit for the summer! And they are adamant that Jo completes her list. One of the items on Jo’s list is kissing a stranger and Jo soon realizes that the stranger she ended up kissing would be no other than the yacht chef Alex or hot yacht chef as he wants to be known (lol!). As Jo and Alex grow closer, will she let down her guard and let him in or keep everything on the surface as she has been since her nephew passed.

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships was such an emotional read for me. Sarah’s writing was so poignant and she truly writes beautiful prose. I would stop reading a passage just to reread it again. I felt Jo’s pain as well as the pain of her nieces and even her sister after losing a prominent figure in their lives. And while yes, the heavy parts of this book could be really heavy – I also found myself laughing or grinning like a fool at the antics of Jo and her nieces, or Jo and her best friend Nina or Jo and Alex (swoon)!

While LL&FS crossed over more to women’s fiction, the romance aspect was definitely prominent. I was longing for Alex and Jo to find their way to one another. They both had to get there on their own though and I loved their respective journey’s.

I highly recommend Love, Lists and Fancy Ships and can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

CW: death of a loved one, grief, parental neglect, cheating (not main character)

ARC Review The Wedding Ringer

The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥 Closed Door

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

A woman who wants nothing to do with love or friendship finds both in the unlikeliest ways in this hilarious and heartwarming debut by Kerry Rea.

Once upon a time, Willa Callister was a successful blogger with a good credit score, actual hobbies, and legs that she shaved more than once a month. But after finding her fiancé in bed with her best friend, she now spends her days performing at children’s birthday parties in a ball gown that makes her look like a walking bottle of Pepto Bismol. Willa dreams of starting fresh, where no one knows who she used to be, but first she needs to save up enough money to make it happen.

Maisie Mitchell needs something too: another bridesmaid for her wedding. After a chance encounter at a coffee shop, Maisie offers to pay Willa to be in her bridal party. Willa wants nothing to do with weddings–or Maisie–but the money will give her the freedom to start the new life she so badly desires.

Willa’s bridesmaid duties thrust her into Maisie’s high-energy world and into the path of hotshot doctor Liam Rafferty. But as Willa and Maisie form a real friendship, and Liam’s annoyingly irresistible smile makes her reconsider her mantra that all men are trash, Willa’s exit strategy becomes way more complicated. And when a secret from Maisie’s past threatens to derail the wedding, Willa must consider whether friendship–and romance–are worth sticking around for.


REVIEW

At one time socialite and social media darling Willa Callister had it all. A thriving career, blog & Instagram followers, a fiancé, a best friend who she shared everything with – a seemingly perfect life. Until one day Willa walked in on her fiancé and best friend in bed together. Now her life is nothing like it was before The Incident. Willa finds herself living with her sister and her family while she decides how to move forward with her life. When a chance encounter with a woman at a coffee shop has the potential to turn Willa’s life around – will she take the opportunity to let herself feel again? Or is she bound to harden to heart so that it never gets broken again?

I cannot put into words how much I adored this wonderful book. The Wedding Ringer took me by surprise, but in the best way. Right from the beginning the writing captivated me and had me laughing out loud and at the same time feeling the hurt and anguish that Willa goes through when she sees her ex best friend at a birthday party. The way Kerry Rea brings all of these emotions out and lets us feel them alongside Willa is amazing.

Friendship is such a key component in The Wedding Ringer. Friendships can be amazing; they can lift us up when we’re feeling down, help us with a should to lean on when we need it the most or just be there when we want to vent. But Willa has lost that with her best friend and the loss is profound. So I can see why Willa has such a hard time opening up to friendships especially with a whirlwind like Maise. Maise is the ray of sunshine that Willa didn’t even know she was missing in her life. I loved their friendship so much and how they were truly there for each other when they didn’t think they could rely on anyone else.

While the friendships were front and center in The Wedding Ringer, I loved the romance between Willa and dark and sexy Liam. The banter, the playfulness – gah! They were so damn cute together and I loved the way they slowly came around to one another.

I highly recommend The Wedding Ringer! This is Kerry Rea’s debut and I can’t wait to read more of her books!

CW: Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Cheating (off page/not MC)

ARC Review The Heart Principle

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Romance/Women’s Fiction

Series: The Kiss Quotient #3

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: August 31, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

A woman struggling with burnout learns to embrace the unexpected—and the man she enlists to help her—in this heartfelt new romance by USA Today bestselling author Helen Hoang.

When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.


REVIEW

Violinist Anna Sun is a YouTube sensation. Not only does she have a viral video of herself playing the violin, but she also has a great boyfriend. On the surface it looks as though her life is idyllic. But Anna is struggling. Struggling with her violin practice, struggling to always appease her older sister and her parents and now she’s also struggling with her relationship. When her boyfriend suggests they have an open relationship, Anna is hurt. But if he can see other people then she can too. Anna turns to the most recent dating app to help her with her predicament.

Quan hasn’t dated or been with anyone in some time. After a recent health scare, Quan doesn’t feel completely like himself. When his cousin Michael suggests Quan date or even casually see someone, Quan decides to try his luck with dating apps. Soon Anna and Quan are chatting via the dating app. And what starts as a one night stand suddenly turns into more. Will these two be able to see themselves in a long term relationship? 

I enjoyed the relationship between Anna and Quan. There’s was an unconventional love story. From their chats to their first meeting, I loved how patient they were with one another. Both Anna and Quan are at a point in their lives, where they are trying to figure out who they are. Their respective worlds have recently been turned upside down and they feel as though they have a common link and person who grounds them. I liked that they both go through this process together even though they started as strangers

After reading both The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test, I couldn’t wait to get to Quan’s story! He is definitely one of my favorite characters in the series. Be forewarned though that The Heart Principle isn’t a light read. Although there were definitely moments that had me laughing (Quan + Michael + Khai are the best!), there were definitely a lot of heavier topics discussed. There is definitely something to be said about an author that can make me feel so much. There were moments where I was so angry on behalf of the characters and also moments that had my heart hurting. 

While I did enjoy The Heart Principle, I do feel like I wanted more of Anna and Quan together. I completely understand that Anna is fighting her own battles and so is Quan, but I really loved their scenes together and wanted more of them. 

I appreciate Helen’s representation of autism. As with The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test, I feel as though I am more knowledgeable about the spectrum. Helen’s note at the end of the book was touching and definitely gives us more of an insight to Anna’s character and Helen’s feelings while she was writing this deeply emotional book.