Book Review: The Proposal

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

3/5 Stars

October 30, 2018–Expected Publication Date

Berkley Books

I received my review copy thanks to Netgalley

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I really enjoyed Jasmine Guillory’s novel The Wedding Date and was very excited when I learned she would be writing another novel following a side character from it. I finished this book and decided I’d take some time to allow my thoughts to piece themselves together before typing them up. It’s been a few weeks now, so here goes..

Plot Summary:

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn’t come as a surprise–or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

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My Thoughts:

First and foremost, Never sneak a peak at reviews for your current read on Goodreads while in the middle of it! I made this mistake while reading The Proposal which lead to those reviews overshadowing my thoughts, which is why I decided to give it time before I wrote a review of my own.

I gave The Proposal three out of five stars which for me means the book was okay. After finishing Guillory’s The Wedding Date, I wanted to throw it into the hands of anyone I could, to get them to read it.  I didn’t feel that way about this one.

The novel starts out intense and with a bang! Nic and her at the time boyfriend are at a baseball game, when he proposes. His proposal is in front of everyone at the baseball stadium and the whole world watching the game on television. The couple hadn’t been dating long, and he didn’t even spell her name right on the big screen. Nic turns him down which causes him to start a scene before storming away. Nic is soon approached by news reporters and shortly after, Carlos and his sister Angela come save the day, pretending they know her and have been looking for her to take her away from the craziness.

Like with The Wedding Date I really love how friendship runs deep in Guillory’s novels. Nic has two really close friends in this story and I found myself at times preferring the scenes with them over her scenes with Carlos. It is so refreshing to see the representation of three strong, successful women doing well for themselves with a friendship and support system that means so much to them.

The scenes with Alexa and Drew (from The Wedding Date) didn’t overwhelm me, and I must admit, when I read their scenes I realized how much I missed them. I became really interested in Carlos in The Wedding Date and wanted to know more about him, so when I saw that he would be the love interest in The Proposal, hands down it was the top reason I wanted to read it. Carlos though, worked my nerves a bit in this story. I understood the why, behind how he acted at times, but it was still too much.  Carlos lost his father, so understandably, he wanted to step up and be the back bone for the women in his family. At times with them and Nic, his take charge personality came across possessive to me. The first couple times, I thought, okay this is cute, but eventually it caused the side eye. There is a scene toward the end of the story where his sister sets him straight and I lived for EVERY moment of it.

Yes, this story had things that I liked and things I didn’t like but what dominated my thoughts while reading this book, causing it to just feel okay once finished, was that I didn’t feel the chemistry in the romance between Carlos and Nic. They start hanging out after the proposal disaster which was cool. There were a few times that Carlos and his overbearing ways annoyed Nic, and she never really addressed them. Carlos is a doctor which Nic is hesitant about. Apparently she had a really bad dating experience with a doctor in her past which I felt was kind of brushed over. There would be hints of how their relationship went and later on in the story you learn this relationship really caused Nic to not believe she could love and all I kept thinking about was how if this was serious enough to make her feel this way, I need more of a back story. I didn’t buy that the few hints we were given were enough to swear off all doctors. Carlos and Nic have plenty of sex, and sadly I finished this book thinking that was really the only place their chemistry lied.  Carlos and Nic literally were hanging out cooking dinner, laughing when he gets summoned to the hospital, and when Nic, trying to help out, shows up hours later with food, Carlos is Annoyed! And this is towards the end of the book. All I kept thinking was, “You were just hanging out with her at your house, laughing having a great time, but you’re annoyed she bought you and your family food!?”

All in all, I think this was an okay book. I think I’d like something different from Guillory next, or maybe this one just fell into the curse of the second book category. I’ve seen discussion about having to read her previous novel first. I don’t think it’s a must. Alexa and Drew weren’t constants in this story–there won’t be a bunch of confusion if you haven’t read it. At this point though, I prefer The Wedding Date way more than The Proposal.

 

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My Thoughts: Fierce Fairytales

Hello Friends! I hope all is well with you. Today I want to share my thoughts on Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill.

I have read one other collection by Nikita Gill and I really enjoyed it. So I was very excited when I learned about this collection coming out, and immediately ran to the bookstore to haul it.

I hear so many readers admit that poetry isn’t their thing and I get it. I hear so many readers admit that short stories aren’t their thing, and I get that too. So for Gill to put out a collection that consists of both, I felt it very brave and was all over it.

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This collection hits on some important topics which I appreciated. You can’t read Nikita Gill and not feel like she doesn’t have your back. She is very empowering and I love that. I love that she chose to do a collection of poetry and short stories with a twist–focusing her writing on retelling fairy tales. Fairy tale retellings are a pretty big deal in certain corners of the reading community and I can understand why. Some of them a truly fascinating, and it is even more fascinating to see how much the story changed as it was passed down through the ages and went from culture to culture.

I had high hopes for this collection. I wanted to love it with every bit of my soul.. but I didn’t.

There were some hard hitting passages. There were some sentences that took my breath away..

“I exist. Outside of being a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, I exist. I exist as a human first, as a being that experiences joy and suffering, beauty and learning, life and tragedy. I exist because the universe chose to put me here for a purpose higher than my relation to men. I exist because a wise old woman gave me a gift and now magic runs through my veins. So the problem is not my existence as half dragon, half girl. The problem is how you perceive it as so small, you do not believe I can exist at all apart from through my bonds with men.”

I found myself preferring the poetry over the short stories at about halfway through the collection and then to go a little deeper, at a little over halfway, I found myself getting tired of reading the same things over and over.

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This just started to feel very repetitive. I felt like I was being hit over the head.. which maybe that was what she was going for. There are people who need to get their hands on this collection and be hit upside the head a few times with the topics discussed, but I hit the point where I just wanted it to be over.

I think this collection would’ve worked a lot better if Gill would’ve made it a straight poetry collection, or a collection of short stories. I loved the poetry but I think it would’ve been just as awesome as a short story collection where she could’ve flushed things out a bit more and the focus was on writing in on format versus the back and forth.

I will continue to support Nikita Gill’s work. I think she has a distinct voice which deserves all the recognition, especially in today’s word where poets can be underappreciated. I think she is a force to be reckoned with. I think she has found her niche and is sticking to it. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I feel a tad bit more connected with the rest of her work than I did with this one.

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5 Stars: The Devil’s Heart by Candace Osmond

Hello Friends, I hope all is well with you today. I have been reading quite a bit lately and honestly just about everything I have read, has been wonderful. Gradually I will find ways to share my thoughts about everything. I wanted to quickly share with you my thoughts on Devil’s Heart by Candace Osmond which is the first book in the Dark Tides Trilogy.

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The Devil’s Heart (Dark Tides Book 1) by Candace Osmond

Published February 19, 2018 by Guardian Publishing

I read via Kindle, 233 Pages

Rated 5/5 Stars

 

Plot Summary:

Find the witch. Return to the future. Don’t fall in love with the devil…

When Dianna Cobham accidentally breaks an enchanted ship-in-a-bottle she’s washed away to 1707 Newfoundland and taken prisoner aboard a pirate ship captained by the infamous Devil Eyed Barrett. Dianna fights to survive by proving herself indispensable to the crew, all the while forging a secret plan to get back home.

But when Dianna learns of the Devil’s vengeful mission to seek and kill her ancestors, her hopes for returning to the future transform into an elaborate plot to save her lineage. Can she charm the Devil’s heart and change his mind before it’s too late? Or will she sacrifice herself to save the man hidden underneath it all?

Fans of OUTLANDER and PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN give praise for The Devil’s Heart! Grab your copy and start the epic adventure today!

 

Why I Loved this Book..

Before I start, I have to forewarn you that there are some typos and grammatical errors out there for those of you who are insistent on a perfect, grammatical book..I was honestly able to overlook them because they were few far and in between and didn’t trip me up while reading. If I was to have a gripe about this book, that would be it, but I’m not griping about them.

  • I honestly started this book not knowing what to expect. I read up on it enough to haul the entire trilogy at once due to my interest in it, but once I started reading it I don’t think I had any expectations. You spend the first couple of chapters getting to know Dianna and understanding the significance of her loss. She has recently lost her Father and her Mother has been dead for years. She essentially is alone until she returns home to sort her Father’s affairs out and figure out what to do with everything left to her and links back up with an Aunt. She comes to the realization that this Aunt has always had her back, and Dianna really pushed her away. All of this was a great set up. I know how important the beginning of books can be, but sometimes I honestly find them a bit boring. Reading the first few chapters of The Devil’s Heart however, I was hooked. All I kept thinking was, “What am I being set up for?”  I was on the edge of my seat from the very beginning because you wonder what choices will Dianna make? She doesn’t want to be back home, but soon learns her boyfriend back in the city has been cheating and although she has this awesome job opportunity she’s worked really hard for, she questions does she even have a reason to return back there? You are presented with this character who in the midst of her grief is presented with so many other turns in the road that you become invested in her and what she may decide to do.
  • One “trope” that I see quite a bit in historical fiction and time travel novels is the use of “objects,” being what causes the character to travel back or forward to another place in time. Dianna is going through her Father’s belongings when she comes across a chest which could’ve only belonged to her Mother. Dianna remembers her Mother being fascinated with the past. She loved History and she adored the sea. In the chest, Dianna comes across a journal written by a young man named Henry. Henry lay witness to the murdering of his parents by a ruthless female pirate named Maria and her husband before being taken captive by them. Maria began to use Henry as her pet, psychologically messing with his mind by making him do sexual things with her and forcing him to kill or be the deciding factor of how she should kill people. He hates her. Dianna becomes obsessed with reading Henry’s journal and then one day his entries just stop.. I as the reader, wanted to know what the heck happened to Henry! What became of him? Was he able to stop Maria and her husband from wreaking havoc, or did he finally make her mad enough that she killed him?
  • I loved Dianna back in time. I appreciate when a character travels back in time and is able to decide when to speak up and when not to. You have to find your footing. You are in a completely different time than your own. Dianna is treated pretty terribly by the pirates she is rescued by once back in time..a woman on the seas is a bad omen. She has to gain their trust and prove herself worthy to still be on the ship. I liked how she was able to use her strengths and things she is good at to make herself a valuable asset to the day to day ship operations.
  • The romance! When two broken people, who have lost it all, find each other and fall in love, I can’t help but root for them. The romance was slow building. The two obviously had to learn each other and build that trust. Dianna was hesitant however because her romance was with someone out to kill an ancestor of hers–which would’ve been great, but would killing this ancestor mean that Dianna wouldn’t be born? It was interesting to see Dianna navigate that and bring that dilemma to the forefront. And the sexy times between the two! Whoo. So well done, I am swooning just thinking about them.
  • Lastly, the family secrets. I love well written family secrets. As I was reading this book, I kept thinking, Wow! Candace Osmond really put some thoughts into this. It was as though she asked herself how could she make this story as complicated as possible? I love it when a character learns a secret about a family member and has that “oh that makes so many things make sense,” moment. There is one big family secret in the forefront of this book and I am interested to see how things play out in the rest of the trilogy because of it!

 

This book was gripping, so fast paced and had me on the edge of my seat. It is less than 240 pages long and every page had depth to it. The ending! I wasn’t ready for the ending. My heart was racing the last 15 pages, and when it was over I was so overwhelmed with anger that I had to remind myself I have book two, it’s okay!

I definitely think this is a trilogy worth looking into if you are interested in time travel, fantasy, romance and pirates. It was wonderful!

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First 2: Magical Bookshop Mysteries

Hello Friends! I am here today with my thoughts on the first two books in another cozy mystery series, The Magical Bookshop series by Amanda Flower. This series, I came across literally on a whim while browsing the shelves at Barnes and Noble. I saw the cover to the first book out of the corner of my eye and did a double take. The covers pulled me, but after reading the summaries on the back I knew I had to read them.

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Book one in this series is called Crime and Poetry.  In this one we are introduced to Violet, who lives in Chicago but is originally from a village in upper New York State called Cascade Springs. At the beginning, Violet’s Grandmother, Daisy, calls her pretending she is dying and that Violet needs to rush home. When Violet arrives, she finds Grandma Daisy in perfect health. She knew that was the only way Violet would return home. Violet soon learns that it is her time to take over Charming Books, the bookshop owned by her Grandmother and that she is to become a “caretaker.” Shortly after arriving, the gentleman that Grandma Daisy has been dating, is found dead outside of the bookshop in his horse and carriage wearing one of Daisy’s scarves. Violet finds herself trying to prove to the police that her Grandmother isn’t the killer.

What I like about this series thus far is that the books really do have minds of their own. With this being a mystery series, the books have their own way of helping Violet clue wise when she finds herself stumped. Or when a customer is stumped on what book to haul, this series gives truth to, “let the book find you.”

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Book two in this series is Prose and Cons and I really loved this one. There were times in the first book where Violet aggravated me a bit, but in this one, I didn’t feel that so much. Prose and Cons gave me all the small town October vibes I needed. The small town of Cascade Springs has an influx of tourists in town for their annual Food and Wine festival. Grandma Daisy hopes to draw attention to Charming Books. Grandma Daisy asks Violet and the Red Inkers, the local writing group, to read some Edgar Allen Poe on the shop’s front porch.

Moments before the reading, one of the writers is found dead in the shop and after, the shop magically informs Violet that she needs to rely on Poe’s writing to solve the murder.

I can’t even begin to express how much fun I had breezing through these two mysteries. I have almost been tempted to just re-read them to get the fix I need since having read them. I am on the prowl though for something close to it while also reading what I already own until the next one releases.

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If you are a cozy mystery reader, share with me the last series you loved!

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First 2: The Book Retreat Mysteries

Hello Friends, I hope all is well with you. I hope your Autumn of 2018 is going amazing. In continuing with this week’s theme of discussing the first two books in the different cozy mystery series I’ve been reading, I want to share my thoughts on The Book Retreat Mysteries by Ellery Adams.

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This is a mystery series made for book lovers. The series follows Jane, the resort manager of Storyton Hall which is located in the rolling hills of western Virginia. Jane has an idea for boosting her numbers which is to host a Murder and Mayhem week at the resort where lovers of the mystery genre can come together for some role playing and fantasy crime solving.

Jane soon learns that one of her guests actually is a murderer, when Felix Hampden, the winner of the scavenger hunt, is found dead and the book he won as a prize stolen.

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Murder in the Mystery Suite was so delightful to read, which sounds crazy, being that there is a murder in it, but I had so much fun reading it. I highly recommend seeing if your library as the audiobook because it is fantastic to listen to.

I love the community Jane lives in. Everyone loves literature and reading. The love of reading is such a prominent theme throughout the book. I like how in this book we see the dynamics of Jane and her family. She is a single mother of two boys. Jane and her boys Fitzgerald and Hemingway live with her Aunt and Uncle. I love her Aunt and Uncle’s love for each other. I found myself adoring the scenes with them.

This was a great first book in the series. The murder happens fairly quickly which I appreciated. I felt Ellery Adams did a great job at introducing all the key characters just enough to interest me but still leave some intrigue. Towards the end of the book, Jane learns that she has inherited a very important, secret job. For some, this is honestly make or break. When chatting with friends about it, it completely turned them off but I loved it! I felt it added an even more awesome twist to an already awesome story.

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I jumped immediately into Murder in the Paperback Parlor after finishing Murder in the Mystery Suite. This one was a pleasant surprise! In this second mystery, Jane is hosting yet another themed event at Storyton Hall. The theme this time around is for romance readers with Valentine’s Day coming up.

One of the most celebrated authors, Rosamund York, is murdered before the guests even really get settled in. Jane and her book club, The Cover Girls (I love their book club name!)  must figure out who would want to kill Rosamund, who had just as many enemies as she did fans. The possible list of who done-it’s consists of jealous/fellow authors, a former lover and angry fans.

I loved Murder in the Paperback Parlor even more than I did the first book in the series. I think while reading it, I was getting a little homesick for some romance. So I remembering being thrilled at the idea of reading this novel which centers around romance readers. It filled the void.

This was written fantastically! Ellery Adams wrote a very realistic feeling story showcasing what you would imagine a catty romance author beef to look like. You don’t know who you can trust. It honestly wasn’t until the last few chapters that I began to piece things together and really feel like I had it figured out and once realized who it was, it made absolute sense!

This series thus far has been a lot of fun. I am liking how each new story has a new themed event taking place in Storyton Hall. It is an interesting way to introduce a cast of new characters while all the while, Jane and her secret is looming in the background.

 

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First 2: Hat Shop Mystery Series

Hello Friends! I hope all is well with you. I have been in such the mood lately for cozy mysteries. Over the past six or so months, I have been hauling them like crazy with the intentions of binge reading them this fall. So far, I have made my way through the first two books in three different series. Sounds crazy, I know! Why not just binge read an entire series? Well, although I have the physical copies, I have also been listening to them on audiobook thanks to my library, but with that, I do have to wait for holds to come in. So that is why I have sort of jumped around with them. I am here though to recommend the first two in my first three cozy mystery series to you all. In this post, I will focus on The Hat Shop Mystery series by Jenn Mckinlay.

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The first book in The Hat Shop Mysteries is Cloche and Dagger which I really enjoyed. In Cloche and Dagger you meet Scarlett who lives in Florida and has recently went through a very public, humiliating break up (finding out your boyfriend of two years is ENGAGED kind of humiliating!) To add fuel to the fire, there is a video circulating the internet of Scarlett throwing cake at him as she crashes his engagement party! Her cousin Vivian lives in London and phones Scarlett saying she should fly over and help her with the hat shop, Mim’s Whims,  both girls inherited from their grandmother. Scarlett decides to take Viv up on her offer but upon her arrival, Viv is nowhere to be found. A few chapters later, a very important woman with a special made hat by Viv is found dead, naked wearing nothing but the hat.

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Book two amped things up with some family drama that I lived for every minute of! In Death of a Mad Hatter Scarlett and Viv are hard at work creating hats for an upcoming Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea which is a fundraiser for a local children’s hospital.  The hosts of the tea are the Grisby family and the girls are delighted to fit the family who are hoping to raise enough money to name a wing of the hospital after their patriarch. When the heir to the Grisby estate is found dead with traces of poison on the hat created by Scarlett and Viv, the police become curious about their involvement.  The girls have to put their thinking caps on to figure out who the killer is.

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I am absolutely enjoying this series so far. My favorite aspect to this series is the diverse cast of characters and the friendship between them. I love the moments where Scarlett is having dinner with Andre the photographer or his life partner. There is also a gradually building romance between Scarlett and Harrison, a gentleman the girls grew up with and Scarlett turned down when they were young.

There are cozy mysteries of all sorts, but when I saw that this series follows hat shop owners I had to get it, because I hadn’t seen anything else like it. If you enjoy stories that take place in London and are looking for a fun series with a strong friendship holding the characters together, I highly recommend giving this series a try!

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Book Review: Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

Published Jul 28, 2016 by William Morrow

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Listened to on Audiobook, Narrated by Christina Traister

 

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Hello Friends! After recently finishing Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs, I wanted to tackle the other novel by her that has been sitting on my shelf for a while. Family Tree  had elements to it that took me a while to get used to, but at the end of this story I was thoroughly satisfied. It was such a joy to read. I highly recommend checking out the audiobook from your local library being that the narrator did a fantastic job!

Plot Summary:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a powerful, emotionally complex story of love, loss, the pain of the past—and the promise of the future.

Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. A single cell, joining with another. And then dividing. And just like that, the world changes. Annie Harlow knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Los Angeles home they share. And now, she’s pregnant with their first child. But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a yearlong coma, she discovers that time isn’t the only thing she’s lost.

Grieving and wounded, Annie retreats to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, a maple farm generations old. There, surrounded by her free-spirited brother, their divorced mother, and four young nieces and nephews, Annie slowly emerges into a world she left behind years ago: the town where she grew up, the people she knew before, the high-school boyfriend turned judge. And with the discovery of a cookbook her grandmother wrote in the distant past, Annie unearths an age-old mystery that might prove the salvation of the family farm.

Family Tree is the story of one woman’s triumph over betrayal, and how she eventually comes to terms with her past. It is the story of joys unrealized and opportunities regained. Complex, clear-eyed and big-hearted, funny, sad, and wise, it is a novel to cherish and to remember.

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My Thoughts:

It took me a while to get used to the chapters jumping from present day to flashbacks in Family Tree. I tend to love when a story is structured in this way but I think my love for this kind of structure causes me to also not always feel like a story needs to have it. This is how I felt for probably the first half of the book but after reaching a little over halfway through, it grew on me and I began to appreciate it for what it was. This kind of structure helped really fill in the gaps.

In the first half of the book, Annie, our main character is recovering from a year long coma. We as the reader witness the moments when she is trying to open her eyes, trying to speak, all the way to the moments of her taking her first steps and eventually trying to remember her life. She kind of had it all. She was the behind the scenes of a hit television cooking show where her now ex husband Martin was the star. She comes from a loving family back in Vermont, and she learns that she is pregnant. Then the accident happens. A piece of machinery falls on her head sending her into a coma that no one believes she will recover from. Her husband files for divorce and flies her home to her family.

Where the flashbacks come in are with Fletcher. Fletcher is Annie’s first love. From the moment we meet Fletcher, you just feel that these two are meant to be together and Susan Wiggs did such a fabulous job of making me feel nostalgic for that young, reckless love when you felt that the two of you would be together forever. You really feel that with the younger versions of Annie and Fletcher. Things happen though. Fletcher’s Dad has an accident and Fletcher is set on ensuring his dad sees justice and is taken care of so he refuses to leave their small town. Annie has a scholarship to a college off in the big city and really wants to pursue her dreams but also considers staying in their town of Switchback for a year to be with Fletcher. The two really try and figure out ways to put their lives together.

This story shows Annie and Fletcher multiple times trying to be together and things just getting in the way. It really captured that frustration and confusion that comes with chasing your dreams, which may cause you to separate from the one you love because their dreams are different than yours. It captures how for some, part of their dreams are staying put while the other half’s may mean going away. And poses the question of, at what point do you just give up or find a way to have both? The dream and the one you love.

In this novel, Annie’s Gran has already passed away but I loved her love for her Grandmother. I absolutely adore my Grandmother and can’t imagine my life without her, so reading about how close Annie was with her Gran was such a joy.

I loved how important the role of food in this story was. As Annie’s memory starts coming back to her, her love for cooking and how food brings people together was one of the first things that came to her. She cooked a lot with her Grandmother while growing up and I loved how that is something her Grandmother was able to pass down to her. Literally, some of Annie’s meals in this book made my stomach growl.

Annie gets her Happy ever After but another character did too. Annie’s parents! I didn’t expect that small twist in the end but I thought it was well done and it made me so happy.

Having survived her accident and trying to piece her life together, Annie really wants to be her own woman. Her ex husband took so much from her–while they were married, he would take her ideas and not give her credit. And he knew she’s out star him so he ensured she was the behind the scenes girl. Understandably, Annie really wants to find herself and make her own way. This book really solidifies that sometimes you have to start from scratch, and that’s totally okay.

I think this is the perfect book to add to your fall tbr. All the descriptions of making and eating maple syrup with the mountains in the background put me in such the fall mood. Anytime of year is good for a sweet, cozy romance like this one but there is something about all the food descriptions and family that made me think this will always be a contender for rereading in the Autumn.

Give it a try.

 

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