contemporary romance

When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

Director:

Rob Reiner

Writer:

Nora Ephron

Starring:

Billy Crystal

Meg Ryan

Carrie Fisher

Bruno Kirby

Blurb:

Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.

Thoughts:

When Harry Met Sally… is one of the best romance movies ever made. So many of the movies I’ve watched recently haven’t aged particularly well, but that wasn’t the case with When Harry Met Sally… Yeah, it would have been nice if college Billy Crystal hadn’t been so obsessed with sex, but it was a pretty good representation of a specific section of college man. Maybe not the same group as originally intended, but I’m sure many college guys still believe that men and women can’t be friends.

Watching the evolution of Crystal and Ryan’s relationship is awesome. It could have so easily been too dramatic, it’s the type of story that would work as a straight drama, but the comedy makes it the fantastic movie it is.

Both characters are filled with quirks, but I wondered if Ryan’s character was on the spectrum. Her whole putting the envelopes in the mailbox one at a time and how the sheets had to be a certain way when she slept seemed at least a bit OCD. The way she ordered her food takes picky to the extreme, and yet she had a freaking coconut cake at her wedding. That is one of the meanest things you can do to wedding guests. I will never forget the disappointment I felt as a child after suffering through a horribly long wedding ceremony only to be given yucky coconut cake. It was an unforgivable betrayal.

Crystal plays the same character as he does in most of the movies I’ve watched him in, but he grows. He goes from the college bro who doesn’t believe men and women can be friends to being good friends with a woman. Eventually, yes, their feelings change, but they are friends for a while before that happens. Friends to lovers is one of my favorite tropes. I married my best friend, so I love reading it happen to other people.

When Harry Met Sally… is famous for a particular scene involving Ryan in a delicatessen. I can’t listen to this scene. I don’t consider myself a prude, but it makes me so uncomfortable that I have to either fast-forward or mute it while it’s happening. I try, but it’s too intimate and makes me embarrassed, so I can’t watch.

On the other side of things, when Crystal has his declaration at the end, I’ve got a big stupid grin on my face, and I can’t look away. There’s a reason this film is on all the big lists. Not just romance lists, either. It is all around a great movie.

Accidentally Engaged

Accidentally Engaged

By:

Farah Heron

Blurb:

Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.

But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.

As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.

Review:

There is soooooo much food in Accidently Engaged, and I love it. That’s an automatic star for me. The pretend couple trope is also a fun one. This time around, I found it a bit silly and not in a good way, though.

Reena has a slight inferiority complex and definite family issues. If she didn’t have so many issues with her family, her life would have been a lot easier. Of course, then there wouldn’t be a book. Still, their issues were lack of communication which is always a pet peeve of mine. There are so many secrets and fears of judgment from everyone in Reena’s family.

Nadim is clearly instantly attracted to Reena. He has his own family hang-ups but has no problem with his father trying to marry him off to Reena. What makes him a great hero, though, is that when she is firm on not marrying him, he doesn’t push. He’s there, and there’s flirting, but he never steps over the boundary she sets.

As a couple, they’ve got tons of chemistry, and it’s clear from the beginning that they’re great together. Reena is resistant to the point of stupidity when it comes to that happening, though. It reached eye roll levels on several occasions. I enjoyed Accidently Engaged, but it was annoying how hard she resisted. I don’t like doing what I’m told either, but when an obviously good thing comes along, set it aside.

3.5/5

First Comes Like (Modern Love #3)

First Comes Like (Modern Love #3)

By:

Alisha Rai

Blurb:

Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?

Review:

First Comes Life is the third book in the Modern Love series, and the books have remained consistent. I wouldn’t say I love the series, but I do like it. The problem I have is with the endings. They don’t fulfill the need I have with these kinds of books, though, First Comes Like did better than Girl Gone Viral. I wasn’t missing out on revenge; I missed out on what comes after the happy ending.

Jia is an influencer, a career that a lot of people get flack for. Some of them rightfully so, but I feel the career as a whole is panned because it’s a female-led industry. Women make up most influencers, and they’re often made fun of for being vapid and manipulative, among other things. Jia is older at twenty-nine, and her popularity is starting to decline.

Meanwhile, Dev is trying to make the move from Bollywood to Hollywood. He’s suffered two losses in his life when family members he has complicated relationships died. He’s now raising his niece and doing everything he can to be a good parent. He’s sweet if not kind of boring.

The catfishing only plays the part of getting the couple together and starting the fake dating relationship. It’s clear from the beginning, though, that it’s not really fake. They’re both attracted to each other, but lack of clear communication and understanding has things taking a little longer. Jia often acts younger than she is, in my opinion. She’s never had a romantic relationship, so I guess I should give her a pass, but it was sometimes hard to remember that she was almost thirty.

Their relationship developed quickly, quicker than most books, but it never progressed to anything physical until the end. They didn’t even kiss, which was a bit too chaste for me, but understandable considering Jia’s religious beliefs and Dev’s general conservativeness.

There were parts of First Comes Like that I enjoyed and parts I didn’t. It was a solid three-star book. If there’s another installment in the series, I’ll read it, but I’ll stick with getting it from the library.

3/5

Enjoy the View

Enjoy the View (Moose Springs, Alaska #3)

By:

Sarah Morgenthaler

Blurb:

River Lane’s acting career is tanking fast. Determined to start a new career behind the camera, she’ll will take whatever job she can get, including filming a documentary about the picturesque town of Moose Springs.

When mountaineer and Moose Springs local Easton Lockett sees a woman walking down the road looking lost, of course he offers to help. The last thing he expects is to interrupt a film shoot and earn River’s wrath. But Easton has an idea to make it up to her: he can take River’s crew up the local hidden gem, Mount Veil. When bad weather strikes, putting the film crew at risk, it takes all of Easton’s skill to get them back down safely…and to keep River in his arms.

Review:

So the Moose Springs, Alaska series is one of my favorite series of the last year. It’s hilarious and sweet. I devoured the first and second books and fought to put off reading the third. Each time I worry that I won’t enjoy the new book as much as the last, and each time I’m given a story as good as the previous.

Enjoy the View is about Easton, the gentle giant of Moose Springs. He’s a mountain climber and tracker. River Lane is a thirty-year-old actress that is trying to make the move to directing. They’re an unlikely pair, but the chemistry is instant.

Initially, River is trying to make a documentary of the town, but we now know the townspeople do not like outsiders. Since her documentary is for the Alaskan Tourism Board, they’re even less welcoming. So she decides to change her focus to the nearby mountain. She loves climbing, so it’s a natural choice.

The closest I’ve come to climbing a mountain is walking up Clingmans Dome in the Smokey Mountains. It is not a passion of mine or anything I ever have any desire to do. Enjoy the View further cemented my opinion of mountain climbing. It sounded beautiful, but there were moments where I was scared for the characters.

You’d think it would be hard to write a romance where the two characters spend most of their time bundled in thick layers of clothing, but it’s a testament to the chemistry between them that they had no problem on that front. I don’t mean they had sex on the mountain. That would be unrealistic. I actually appreciated that Morgenthaler didn’t go that route. I mean that their banter and longing looks were so well presented that it was clear how they felt about each other.

As always, at this point, I’m looking forward to the next story in the Moose Springs, Alaska series.

5/5

Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters #3)

By:

Talia Hibbert

Blurb:

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

Review:

I’ve been curious about Eve Brown since the first book in the Brown Sisters series. She seemed quirky and sweet, and I wanted to know more. Finally, getting to read her book was fun, though it did take me a couple of chapters to get into it. Her mind is a bit too much like my own, and it was kind of stressful. She’s very anxious, for obvious reasons, and it wasn’t until we got to Jacob’s first chapter that I started to really enjoy it.

Eve isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life, and she’s terrified of failure to the point that she doesn’t settle on one thing. When she starts to get any kind of success, she runs away. It’s her coping mechanism, and it’s not till she meets Jacob that someone finally knows how to talk to her about it.

Jacob is awesome. He’s gruff and demanding but so understanding and accepting. He is just honestly perfect, and I love him. He knows what he wants and isn’t able to settle, but he doesn’t push people to be what they aren’t. Eve drives him crazy, but he understands her better than anyone else. She has developed coping strategies for how her mind works, and he accepts them or finds alternatives that work for both of them.

One of the things I loved the most is that Eve is a plus-size heroine, but it’s not the main focus. It’s barely even mentioned. The way that Jacob describes her isn’t pandering to plus-size people. The words used are—honestly, I’m having a hard time thinking of a way to describe it. Often when the heroine is plus-size, you’re very aware of it during sex scenes, but that is not the case in Act Your Age, Eve Brown. It’s refreshing, and I hope more books take this lead.

I enjoyed Act Your Age, Eve Brown, a lot. There were a couple of characters introduced that I’m hoping to see books about. However, this is the last Brown sister, so I’m not sure what will happen next. Still, I’m looking forward to what Hibbert writes next.

5/5