Thursday, December 21, 2023

In a Nutshell Review - The Library Loan Edition

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.



Mom Com
 by Adriana Mather
Published by Blackstone Publishing on November 14, 2023
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
four-half-stars
Goodreads

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Adriana Mather comes a heartwarming tale of love, family, and pastry perfection.

Maddi DeLuca is coming home for the holidays with her nine-year-old son, only it’s not the triumphant return she might have hoped for. She recently broke down on a reality TV baking show, letting the entire country know she feels like a colossal failure. And she can be certain her mother will remind her of all the ways she hasn’t lived up to expectations over the years.

Ten years ago, all Maddi dreamt of was running her father’s beloved bakery in their tiny coastal town of Haverberry Cove, MA. Her best friend, Wilder Buenaventura, had his own dream—a life with Maddi. And for one brilliant moment when they were seventeen, those dreams collided. They baked together. They loved each other insatiably. But like a fallen souffl√©, their relationship imploded, taking their lifelong friendship with it.

If she had her way, Maddi would have stayed in California, hiding her head in its beautiful white sands. But at her mother’s request, she has returned to her hometown to help deal with an urgent matter concerning her father’s will and his nostalgia-filled bakery. What Maddi doesn’t know is that this issue also mysteriously involves the one person she’s spent forever trying to forget—Wilder. Now she finds herself forced to make an impossible give up her father’s bakery and her lifelong dream, or find a way to coexist with Wilder without murdering him with a cookie cutter.

Maddi had fled Haverberry Cove almost a decade ago for LA. Following a stint on a reality baking show where she committed the crime of TMI amidst a public breakdown, she returned home to recover. Forced to confront her past, Maddi was facing huge life decisions regarding her future and her place in her father's legacy.

I am a B I G fan of Mather's young adult books, and I am over-the-moon to report that her adult debut was a smashing success for me. Though I felt it was light on the romance, I did find Maddi's personal journey compelling and satisfying.

Haverberry went from being one of her favorite places, to a source of so much pain and a reminder of all the ways she failed. Life once seemed perfect when she was helping out in the bakery, and her relationship with her best friend Wilder evolved to romantic love. But things fell apart for Maddi her senior year. Being dumped by her first love and becoming a teen mom were not part of her plan, and she was driven from her home due to so much shame. My heart broke for Maddi for so many reasons. When she left Haverberry, there was a lot left unsaid and so many loose ends. She abandoned her dreams and found herself on her own with so many unknowns.

Mather did a nice job filling me in on Maddi's history via flashbacks that were interwoven with current day events. There were these "triggers" that forced Maddi to reflect on these past events, and Mather really built up some tension and anticipation as I awaited the full story.

As the past came to light, Maddi was becoming reacquainted with her hometown and old friends. The most notable reunion was with Wilder. He was a tough read. But I was all over this being a second chance for them, an opportunity for them to gain closure on their past and forge a future together. There were a bunch of obstacles, and Maddie was left grappling with some HUGE choices which I was very invested in learning about. I knew what I wanted for Maddi, but I also understood why the decision was not so clear cut.

Overall, this was a wonderful story of second chances, family, and love which was filled with humor warmth, and the kind of emotion that tugged at my heartstrings. Oh, and there were baked goods. Lots and lots of baked goods, so be prepared.




The Rom Con
 by Devon Daniels
Published by Berkley on November 7, 2023
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
four-half-stars
Goodreads

A modern battle of the sexes about a journalist who hatches an elaborate plan to take down her industry adversary, from the author of Meet You in the Middle.

After a particularly brutal breakup, Cassidy Sutton has had it with dating. So when her grandmother gives her a 1950’s dating guide entitled 125 Tips to Hook a Husband, she decides to turn the retro advice into an ironic “What not to do” article for Siren, the popular online women’s publication she writes for. And who better to secretly test the old-fashioned tips on than Jack Bradford, chauvinistic creator of rival men’s site Brawler? She’ll write an article that will entertain female readers everywhere and embarrass their sexist nemesis at the same time. Two birds, one stone.

But her perfect plan soon proves to be anything but. Those vintage courtship tips Cassidy was so quick to poke fun at? They actually seem to work, calling her most closely-held beliefs into question. Even worse? Jack isn’t falling for any of her tricks—and it’s not long before their ‘fake’ relationship starts to feel like the realest one of her life. As her cat and mouse game starts to spiral out of control, Cassidy has to decide if she’s playing to win, or if she’s willing to lose it all for love.

Cassidy set out to use her grandmother's vintage dating advice to make a mockery of men. But when she set her sights on Jack, she found he didn't fit the idea of the man she thought he was.

This book took me by surprise. I was sure I would like it, but it surpassed my expectations in the most delightful ways. All the How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days stuff was fun, but what I really loved was the way Jack and Cassidy connected with each other.

Cassidy was an always-a-bridesmaid-never-a-bride who really had a lot to offer. Jack was able to see that even through her 1950s "Betty" shenanigans. And, Jack. He really broke my heart between his family situation and his hesitance to trust that people liked him for himself. I wanted something real for him. Seriously, Jack was a gem of a man, and he and Cassidy were an amazing pair.

Overall: I had a fantastic time watching Cassidy and Jack fall in love. Great supporting character, fun rom-com hijinks, heartfelt moments, and an applause worthy ending made this one a great read for me.


Favorite workplace romance?
Let us know in the comments!

14 comments:

  1. Not a book related workplace romance, but I always loved Jim and Pam on The Office.

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    1. I never really watched the show, though I know who they are (at least)

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  2. Looks like both of these were a win for you. I do like seeing that they were able to take you by surprise. That is always the best feeling when you pick up a book.

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    1. It is nice to be surprised in a good way. Enemies to lovers is a tricky trope for me, but I enjoyed it in Rom Con

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  3. I need to get on reading The Rom Con. It sounds fabulous!

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    1. It was fun! I will actually allow the rom-com moniker on this one

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  4. Ha, these titles are such tongue-twisters! Love the sound of The Rom Con - I loved How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days!

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    1. When I saw their titles, I knew I had to feature them together. There is a nice nod to How to Lose a Guy for sure, but it may have been sweeter

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  5. I have both of these and I plan on reading them (hopefully) very soon. I'm trying really hard to get through my 2023 arcs. I'm so happy you loved both stories!

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    1. I do hope you get a chance to read them. I really enjoyed them. I was not sure about the Daniels book after the way people reacted to her last one, but it was great.

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  6. Well you have two winners Sam! Now I want to read Mather books as she is one of your fav and it's also amazing when a book surpasses our expectations! Sorry I am now catching up with your posts!

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    1. Mom Com was so different from her two YA series, so it was surprising to see how well she executed it. Nothing to be sorry about, Sophie.

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  7. These both sound like fun rom-coms, Sam. I like your reviews and especially enjoy a second chance romance.

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    1. Second chances keep me hopeful, and they are my favorites! Glad to hear you enjoy them too

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