contemporary romance

Second First Impressions

Second First Impressions

By:

Sally Thorne

Blurb:

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.

Review:

I thought the premise of Second First Impressions was cool. A twenty-five-year-old woman who dresses like she’s closing in on one hundred meets a biker tattoo artist, and a romance goes from there. It is a nice concept, but I’m not sure how much I ended up liking the book.

Ruthie has anxiety because apparently, either the hero or heroine or both has to. She grew up in not the most loving household where her father was a reverend and was very hard on her. I’m not a fan of religion in books, and for a minute, I thought things were going to veer too far into a Christian book territory, but thankfully it never did. Sex scenes were pretty tame, and there were occasional mentions of her old church, but a discussion never came up.

Teddy was described as a womanizer, but I never got that vibe from him. His past conquests were mentioned, and one even showed up at some point, but he came off as more of a flirt and fun person. That may be because the story was from Ruthie’s perspective, and she didn’t think of him that way. He had his own family issues, but they ended up being resolved.

An issue I had with the ending is that Ruthie never got her big resolution with her family. There was one line in the epilogue that mentioned them and that they no longer believed she’d let $10k get stolen when she was a child, but that was it. I was crying when Teddy got his big talk with his sister, but there was nothing from Ruthie. It was very disappointing.

Second First Impressions ended up being a bit lacking for me. The support characters ended up being much more interesting than the heroine. After having to DNF Love at First and then not enjoying Second First Impressions, I’m bummed. Hopefully, my next read is good.

3/5

Much Ado About You

Much Ado About You

By:

Samantha Young

Blurb:

At thirty-three-years old Evangeline Starling’s life in Chicago is missing that special something. And when she’s passed over for promotion at work, Evie realizes she needs to make a change. Some time away to regain perspective might be just the thing. In a burst of impulsivity, she plans a holiday in a quaint English village. The holiday package comes with a temporary position at Much Ado About Books, the bookstore located beneath her rental apartment. There’s no better dream vacation for the bookish Evie, a life-long Shakespeare lover.

Not only is Evie swept up in running the delightful store as soon as she arrives, she’s drawn into the lives, loves and drama of the friendly villagers. Including Roane Robson, the charismatic and sexy farmer who tempts Evie every day with his friendly flirtations. Evie is determined to keep him at bay because a holiday romance can only end in heartbreak, right? But Evie can’t deny their connection and longs to trust in her handsome farmer that their whirlwind romance could turn in to the forever kind of love.

Review:

I am not a big Shakespeare fan. I’ve read a few of his plays and thought they were okay. I even wrote a research paper on Othello in college, but I can’t remember anything about the play now. Maybe if I went back and read them now, I’d enjoy them better? I should probably do that, actually. If Much Ado About You has Shakespeare Easter eggs, I have no idea, so keep that in mind with my review.

Evie has a lot of hits happen in quick succession and decides that it’s time to step back and revaluate her life. Does she want to be in a relationship? Does she like her career? What is she doing with her life? She decides that she’s always wanted to go to England and has never been. She happens to have some savings, so she decides why not. When she comes across an ad where you run a bookstore in a small English town, she jumps on it.

On her first day there, she saves a dog, meets a gorgeous farmer, gets drunk, and tells everyone that she doesn’t date men who are rich or younger than her. She made an impression. Evie ends up poking her nose into all the ongoing feuds and tries to fix everyone’s relationships. She gives good advice and comes across as empathetic and intelligent, but her rules for herself don’t make sense. Honestly, they’re stupid.

The twist is obvious, so the ending was a letdown. Evie finds out what everyone else already knows and reacts poorly. I was annoyed by how much she fixated on the age difference. It was not that big, and even after they’d made up, it was something she was still clearly hung up on.

 Much Ado About You is a sweet book, but ultimately it felt underwhelming.

3/5

The Intimacy Experiment (The Roommate #2)

The Intimacy Experiment (The Roommate #2)

By:

Rosie Danan

Blurb:

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.

Review:

I have a complicated relationship with religion. I thought it was limited to Christianity, but I’ve learned it’s most religions at this point. I find it difficult to look past certain things. I know hardly anything about the Jewish faith, so that helped. However, I was tense for a lot of this book. It wasn’t the book’s intent and was all because of my own personal feelings, but it made it difficult for me to enjoy The Intimacy Experiment as much as I enjoyed The Roommate.

Naomi is a boss bitch. She’s built walls to protect herself after being hurt badly in high school. She has friends and people she’s close to, but she keeps a distance from even them. She is all about work and her image. I wouldn’t say she has a chip on her shoulder, but she’s had to put up with a lot, so the conclusions she sometimes jumps to are understandable.

Ethan is a borderline absent-minded professor. He’s the rabbi of a synagogue that’s not doing so good, and he’s been tasked with building membership. His life is the synagogue, and everything else comes in second place.

Naomi and Ethan don’t make sense together, and that’s the point. She’s a former porn star, and he’s a rabbi. However, the chemistry is obvious from the beginning. They’re both career-minded individuals, but they decide to set that aside and try to have a relationship. Obviously, issues arise. The career ones don’t take up as much time as the emotional ones on Naomi’s side.

I liked them as a couple, and The Intimacy Experiment was as well-written and hot as the previous book. However, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the last book because of my own issues. I still plan on reading any future books in the series, though.

3/5

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