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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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

The City Baker's Guide to Country LivingThe City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a good foodie novel and Louise Miller’s The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is the sort of foodie novel that warms your heart like a wood fire in a little cottage – or an oven in a cozy kitchen. Olivia is a world-class baker whose life is currently a recipe for disaster. After a catastrophe at her job in Boston, she runs away to the open arms of her friend in the small rural Vermont town of Guthrie. When a job opportunity arises at the local B&B, Olivia feels like she has no other choice than to take it no matter how unwelcome the inn’s stern owner, Margaret, makes her feel.
It isn’t long before Vermont’s magic begins to work on Olivia’s heart, bringing back tender memories of her father. Her heart is also warmed by a connection with Martin, the son of Margaret’s best friend, and his family who welcomes her with open arms giving her the feeling of a family she never knew she was missing.
When it looks like her new found family will not welcome her as she’d imagined, Olivia does what she always does. She runs away. Once again she turns to baking, and it is baking and friendships that help her to find her way again.
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a romance and Martin was pretty swoon-worthy, but it is Olivia’s journey of healing and the wonderful female friendships that carry this story. And the details that thrill the senses from the mouth-watering descriptions of Olivia’s bakes to the crispiness of the autumn leaves and the smell of the woodsmoke. Vermont is a character in this novel, leaving me to wish I’d read it in winter rather than the height of summer.

If you, like me, enjoy a good foodie novel with a touch of romance, please read Ruth Reichl’s only foray (so far?) into fiction, Delicious!which not only has food and romance but some history and lots of wonderful characters.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: Carrie Goes Off the Map

Carrie Goes Off the MapCarrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Phillipa Ashley’s Carrie Goes Off the Map is a mostly disappointing British Chick-Lit/Rom-Com, which is usually my favorite combination. The writing is mediocre, the dialogue is weak, the chemistry between the romantic leads seems forced, there isn’t much comedy (or romance for that matter), and the hero isn’t quite swoon-worthy (which any romance fan can tell you is very important). Matt should have been a dream – a charity doctor, generous, caring, intelligent, and, of course, gorgeous – but his dreaminess doesn’t break through his actions or the dialogue. The story, however, was just good enough to keep me reading to find out how the two would get together. Though, in the end, I was left wondering if they should have. Oh well. It was free.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews

Review: A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out

A Lady's Guide to Selling OutA Lady’s Guide to Selling Out by Sally Franson

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

When I read the synopsis of A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out, an ARC I received through, it sounded a lot like Laura Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada so I was definitely expecting a fairly light chick-lit. In many respects, the two novels have plenty in common. Like the earlier novel, Sally Franson’s work centers around a twenty-something woman who gets what job she can after earning her degree in English – in this case working at a marketing firm – then loses her way and her moral compass with the help of an accomplished, powerful yet ultimately corrupt female boss before finding her way back, her true calling, and (potentially) love with the help of some truly good friends.
A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out is much more than Casey Pendergast’s story of navigating the sometimes morally questionable world of advertising though. The novel explores how a well-meaning (most of the time) but sheltered young woman could lose her way, how this intelligent (but not always smart) woman can end up in any number of compromising situations, how the world – especially in today’s world of social media, memes and YouTube videos – can judge so harshly with no evidence and the double standard by which they judge men versus women, the power of friendship, and why our past determines the decisions – good or bad – that we make. Casey, though not always likable, represents all women as she makes mistakes, comes to terms with them with the help of those who love her, starts to be true to herself, and learns that she will continue to make mistakes.
This book held so many important truths about women, work, relationships, society, and most of becoming the best person we can be. Reading A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out was often exhausting like having a needy, selfish friend (like Casey). It wasn’t the characters and their endless drama that sap my reading energy but rather the mirror the book held up to my life and society as a whole and the lessons it taught me.
A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out can at times ramble as Casey’s inner monologue gives voice to her fears and rationalizations and the lessons she’s learned. And Casey is often really not likable. But I think that there are so many important passages and the story truly is a good one that I highly recommend this novel.

A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out is like so many other urban-life chick-lit novels yet completely unique so I could write a whole list of recommendations – Copygirl by Anna Mitchael and My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella for instance – but nothing I’ve read yet is exactly like this novel.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: Easily Amused

Easily AmusedEasily Amused by Karen McQuestion

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

At its beginning Easily Amused shows some promise as an enjoyable chick-lit novel with a heroine I’ll admit I identified with at times, a familiar but likable plot, and several potentially lovable characters. However, the main character didn’t always stay true to herself, the author made some weak word choices and gave away the ending pretty early on when she described a male character using the title of the book (not to mention the naming of the main characters – Holmes, Watson, & Moriarty – pretty much told you how it was supposed to be), and the development of the central relationship felt forced. Perhaps if McQuestion had dedicated more scenes to Lola and the man she’s meant to be with, it would have felt more natural. While there are a lot of flaws with this, the story is still pretty enjoyable.

If you enjoy Easily Amused or if you like stories where the heroine finds true love right under her nose, I also recommend Allison Morgan’s delightful romance, Can I See You Again?
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