Thursday, October 22, 2020

Isn't It Romantic?: Outside the US Edition

Love Your Life

Sophie Kinsella
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Dial Press
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of I Owe You One, an utterly delightful novel about a woman who ditches her dating app for a writer's retreat in Italy--only to find that real love comes with its own filters

"As close to perfect as romantic comedies get."--Jenny Colgan, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop on the Corner

Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers' retreat in coastal Italy. She's determined to finish writing the novel she's been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.

At the retreat, she's not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by "Aria," meets "Dutch," a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.

But then their real identities--Ava and Matt--must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there's the prickly situation with Matt's ex-girlfriend, who isn't too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can't love each other's lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?
While on a writing retreat in Italy, Ava and Matt embark on a baggage free holiday romance. Upon learning that they both lived in London, they decided to continue their relationship, but would it survive outside their vacation bubble?

After twenty books, I am happy to say that Sophie Kinsella still delights me. Once again, she has presented me with a quirky and lovable heroine, who I could not stop rooting for. At times, Ava could be a bit flighty and maybe blind to the truths that were standing right before her, but she had a heart of gold. 

I was very excited for her when she met and hit it off with Matt, but it was obvious that things were not going to be easy for these two. The exploration of the difficulties of merging two lives was honest, but in a hilarious way. I laughed a lot, while still realizing how truthfully this represented relationships. They are hard and require work to be successful. There were many ups and downs for our couple, but also a lot of growth as they learned about each other and themselves. 

A Kinsella book always has a great supporting cast, and both Ava and Matt had some fantastic friends (extra points for the stupendous dog). I was filled with glee, when they started playing a larger role in this tale, and I adored getting to know them. They were a big component in the "heart explosion" part of the story. If you have read any Kinsella books, you know what I am talking about. It's that part of the story, where the gloves come off, and Kinsella hits you hard in the feels. I found myself doing that crying laughing thing, and I am getting a bit emotional just recalling it right now. It was THAT wonderful! 

Overall: An adorable and amusing romance, which took a look at the challenges of blending two lives successfully and filled me with glee. 

The Boy Toy

Nicola Marsh
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A woman ready to give up on love discovers that age is truly just a number in this heartwarming and steamy new romantic comedy by USA Today bestselling author Nicola Marsh.

For almost a decade, successful 37-year-old Samira Broderick has used her bustling LA practice as an excuse to avoid a trip home to Australia. She still resents her meddling Indian mother for arranging her marriage to a man who didn't stick around when the going got tough, but now with a new job Down Under, she's finally ready to reconnect with her. And while she's there, a hot international fling might be just what she needs to get out of her recent funk.

Aussie stuntman, Rory Radcliffe, has been hiding his stutter for years by avoiding speaking roles. When a job he can't refuse comes up as a reality show host, he knows he'll need some help for the audition: a dialect coach. But he finds himself at a loss for words when he discovers it's the same sexy woman with whom he just had a mind-blowing one-night stand...

Samira can think of many reasons why Rory is completely wrong for her: he's ten years her junior, for one, and he's not Indian--something Samira's mother would never approve of. Even if things were to get serious, there's no reason to tell her there?
While temporarily back in her hometown after a long absence, Samira engages in a delicious one-night stand, which turns into more. When things get complicated, Samira must decide if this man who seems so wrong for her on paper can actually be her Mr. Right. 

This was a delightful read for me. The relationship started off with a BANG, and though they seemed like such an unlikely pairing, I adored Samira and Rory together. The story did take a turn, which changed the tone of the book a bit, but I enjoyed the way Marsh used it to move the plot forward. 

A big thing for me was really wanting everything good to happen for Samira. She had been pushed into a marriage and it went up in flames. The experience left her scarred, and therefore, I was excited to see her meet a man, who was not only attracted to her, but made her feel wanted, needed, and special. That little not-so-surprising twist sweetened the deal for me. Even if I saw it coming, I loved it, and I appreciated the way it was used to explore multiple issues. 

I am also all for these May-December romances, where the heroine is the December. I always feel like I am reading romances featuring characters in their 20s or very early 30s. It's refreshing to see a heroine pushing 40 and finding love, with a man ten years her junior, none-the-less. I also liked that she had a successful career and was independent. But, mostly, I was happy to see Samira open herself up to the possibility of love. It didn't hurt that she and Rory had great banter, chemistry, and lots of heat between them either. 

Overall, I had a wonderful time seeing Rory and Samira heal and find forever together. This low drama romance packed quite an emotional punch, and the ending left me in a rather celebratory mood. 

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

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  1. That Kinsella dives into the difficulties of Matt and Ava's relationship, coupled with a healthy does of humour just want to read that all the more. And Samira and Rory are ❤️

    1. Kinsella's books are alway full of good humor with these sweet and tender moments woven within. I'm a fan

  2. I just finished the Kinsella book today and thought it was pretty good. I was a huge fan of Matt and Ava's friend groups. The way they all handled Maud cracked me up.

    1. I love Kinsella's humor, and I think that's why her books are always such hits for me. I also like English humor, so I wonder if some American readers are not fans of it. She just always works for me.