Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: Well Met

Well MetWell Met by Jen DeLuca

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Thank you to Goodreads and Berkley Publishing for the opportunity to read this ARC of Jen DeLuca’s first (of what will hopefully be many!!) novel, Well Met. I loved this rom/com set around a small-town Renaissance Faire from the word go. Emily is a delightful heroine with an intelligent sense of humor and a wounded heart that just makes you recognize her and want to root for her. But it is Simon with his deep emotional scars and lost sense of self that combined with his swaggering, swashbuckling alter-ego makes for a not only swoon-worthy but relatable hero.
Emily and Simon’s early encounters – even before the start of the faire – crackle like a cross between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and Benedick and Beatrice. And if their dialogue crackles, then their love scenes absolutely sizzle.
Nerd that I am, though, I believe that it is all made better by the Ren Faire setting and the many allusions to Shakespeare. I only wish there had been more scenes from the fair in the last chapters because I enjoyed Emma and Captain Ian’s banter so much.

I’m a sucker for a well-written romantic comedy like Well Met with intelligent, relatable characters.  If you are too, I recommend the novels of Kelly Harms – I particularly enjoyed The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane – and Louise Miller whose The Late Bloomers’ Club was one of my favorite reads from last year.  If you enjoy the modern-day meets historical setting of the Renaissance Faire, I loved Shannon Hale’s Austenland.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: Bidding for Love

Bidding for Love Bidding for Love by Katie Fforde

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Katie Fforde’s romantic chick-lit novels may not be the most well-written, and the plots may be formulaic, but they are sweet and a little sexy – just what you need sometimes, especially in summer. I particularly enjoy the rural English settings which always make me feel cozy and more than a little envious. Bidding for Love, like most of the other of Fforde’s novels I’ve read feature a spunky young woman trying to make it on her own in an unfamiliar setting. In this case, Flora has inherited more than half of the family auction house from a distant relative.
Flora, despite a rocky start, and a less than warm welcome, makes friends and starts to settle into the small village, her cozy cottage, and eventually the business. Until she realizes she’s falling in love with her stuffy, unavailable business partner. It is, as expected, a sweet, easy, breezy read. However, and maybe this is just because I’m an average American, but I kept getting hung up on the fact that Flora and Charles are cousins even though the distance of that relationship was reiterated often throughout the novel. It didn’t bother me enough to stop me from enjoying the story and the setting though.

I just love British Chick-Lit and I’m always looking for a new author in the genre (so if there’s someone you enjoy reading, please pass it on!) but for now Katie Fforde is my go-to writer for a gentler romantic comedy thanks to those cozy rural settings, spunky heroines, and sweet romances.  I particularly enjoyed Artistic License, Stately Pursuits, and Highland Fling.  

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: I Owe You One

I Owe You OneI Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel, I Owe You One, – which I want to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review – is the story of Fixie, a young woman who would do anything for her family and the house good store she, her mother, and two siblings inherited when her father died. She lives by her beloved father’s motto of family first and her family takes advantage of her devotion sometimes to the point of cruelty.
I Owe You One holds a great message about balancing the needs and demands of those you love with your own happiness, and about standing up for what you value while valuing others. It is also a sweet romantic comedy. Fixie’s dedication to being the family doormat wears thin quickly as does her naivete when it comes to her longtime crush, Ryan. I was often angry while reading I Owe You One because of the way Fixie is treated by her siblings, Ryan, her uncle, and even, to an extent, her mother. This only meant that I cared about Fixie, no matter how annoying I sometimes found her. I also recognized myself in her as I’m certain many readers, especially women, will.
The romance storyline is lovely but the message is the reason I would recommend I Owe You One, which is not Kinsella’s best but still enjoyable.

If you enjoy Kinsella’s style of Chick-Lit with a dash of romance, I recommend her My Not so Perfect Life, which has a similar message as I Owe You One but with a more entertaining story.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance, World Literature

Review: Unmarriageable

 

UnmarriageableUnmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What would happen if you moved Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to 21st century Pakistan? You would get Soniah Kamal’s Unmarriageable, which I got the opportunity to read thanks to NetGalley.

Reading Unmarriageable is not about the story. If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice, you already know the story – a man and a woman from different classes meet and thanks to their ingrained prejudices, take an instant dislike to each other, a dislike she maintains as he falls grudgingly in love with her.  That story will always be great, it is the execution that often fails.  Unmarriageable is not a particularly great adaptation of Pride and Prejudice – Alys is no Elizabeth Bennett, Mrs. Binat is even more annoying than Mrs. Bennett, some of the dialogue is just awkward, and the writing tends to be repetitive.  Instead, for me, the joy of reading Kamal’s interpretation was in learning about Pakistani culture about which I’ll admit I was totally ignorant.

Chick-Lit, which is what this novel and its Austen ancestor is, often gets a bad wrap but, while it is important to learn about the history and the hardships around the world, I think it is equally important to learn about the ordinary, everyday lives that show us not only the cultural differences but how we are alike and Chick-Lit whether it is set in the US, the UK or Pakistan, does that.

If like me, you enjoy a good Pride and Prejudice update, Shannon Hale’s Austenland and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible are two of my favorites.  Austenland is a fun romp through a vacation experience that places the Austen-obsessed protagonist into Austen’s world with the promise of a happy ending straight out of one of Jane’s novels while Eligible, part of The Austen Project is truly a modernization of Pride and Prejudice.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: The Accidental Beauty Queen

The Accidental Beauty QueenThe Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read Teri Wilson’s new novel, The Accidental Beauty Queen. This story of bookish Charlotte who gets roped into filling in for her beauty queen twin, Ginny, when an allergic reaction sidelines her last chance at the crown that their mother won is everything most people expect from a rom/com (in fact Miss Congeniality is mention many, many times). It is light and somewhat predictable yet sweet and, at times, wise. Many of the things Charlotte expects to go wrong do but she hadn’t predicted connection with the other pageant girls or falling in love with one of the judges – a Darcy-quoting good guy.
The simple story only works because it is short yet the writing still tended toward repetition and some over-explanation. The biggest flaw for me was the ending which was rushed an tacked on, reading more like an epilogue than a conclusion. Still, it was a fun, light read.

Since Chick-Lit is one of my favorite genres, I could recommend any number of reads like The Accidental Beauty Queen, but if you’re looking for a really great romantic comedy, I recommend the books of Kristan Higgins.

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