Saturday, April 8, 2023

Isn't It Romantic?


The Last Word by Katy Birchall

Published by St. Martins Griffin on May 2, 2023
Age/Genres: ContemporaryRomance

The Hating Game meets Beach Read in Katy Birchall's enemies-to-lovers romcom The Last Word, about a young journalist who puts her career (and her heart) on the line when her former work nemesis is hired in her newsroom.

Harper Jenkins is at the top of her game. A brilliant, determined journalist with a well-known knack for getting tight-lipped Hollywood stars to open up to her, Harper loves her job as Celebrity Editor at a newspaper’s glossy weekend magazine and has the best contacts in the business.

But when her awful boss hires talented reporter Ryan to be the new Features Editor, Harper is furious. Because the two have met before: a decade ago, they were interns at the same publication, where they fell into a whirlwind romance…until Ryan betrayed Harper, and they never spoke again.

Thrown together in a busy newsroom, their dynamic is a disaster from the start. They can’t agree on anything and bicker constantly—Ryan can’t bear how chaotic and messy Harper is; Harper finds Ryan’s condescending nature infuriating. They clash over who’s writing what article, and fight over who’s going to which event.

Yet as they’re forced to spend more and more time together, Harper realizes she may have misjudged Ryan and can’t help but feel a spark growing between them. Long buried feelings start to resurface and, when they’re thrown together on a romantic press trip abroad, their chemistry comes to a head.

But all is fair in love and magazines, and with the news that layoffs across the department are imminent, Harper is left to wonder: who will get the last word?

Katy Birchall continues to dazzle me, and I was utterly delighted by The Last Word.

Ryan betrayed Harper many years ago, and since then, she had guarded her heart and focused on her career. I am all for a second chance romance, and I liked that these two had those years apart to grow as people. Older and wiser, but still professionally driven, there were sparks every time they were near each other. They couldn’t seem to escape professional competition, however, I will admit I greatly enjoyed being in this part of their world.

Birchall wrote in so many interesting and entertaining situations with celebrities and star studded events. It was through these interactions that I saw a side of Harper that I adored. She was amazing at her job, and the kindness in her heart really shined during those moments. Ryan was an actual doll, and my opinions about him and their shared past changed quite a bit when I learned his side of the story.

Just a warning, the romance doesn’t really take center stage for quite a while, but it was well worth the wait! Harper and Ryan had a fabulous opposites-attract type thing going which was punctuated with lots of humor, swoons, and heat. Another great one from Birchall!

Meet Me at the Lake
 by Carley Fortune
Published by Berkley Books on May 2, 2023
Age/Genres: ContemporaryRomance

A random connection sends two strangers on a daylong adventure where they make a promise one keeps and the other breaks, with life-changing effects, in this breathtaking new novel from the New York Times and #1 Globe and Mail bestselling author of Every Summer After.

Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in Toronto. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn't.

At thirty-two, Fern's life doesn't look at all how she once imagined it would. Instead of living in the city, Fern's back home, running her mother's Muskoka lakeside resort--something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, her ex-boyfriend's the manager, and Fern doesn't know where to begin.

She needs a plan--a lifeline. To her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late, with a suitcase in tow and an offer to help on his lips. Will may be the only person who understands what Fern's going through. But how could she possibly trust this expensive-suit wearing mirage who seems nothing like the young man she met all those years ago. Will is hiding something, and Fern's not sure she wants to know what it is.

But ten years ago, Will Baxter rescued Fern. Can she do the same for him?

When I finished this book, there were tears streaming down my face and my heart ached. Don’t worry though, that ache was due to the fact that my heart was bursting with joy! Meet Me at the Lake was one of my most anticipated releases of 2023, and Fortune did not disappoint. Once again, she showed how she can make my emotions ebb and flow and overflow with her gorgeous storytelling.

Fern and Will spent one day together and had vowed to meet at the lake one year later. The day came, but Will did not. A decade later, Fern returned home following her mother’s death to find the family resort struggling. And to her surprise, Will had been previously hired by her mother to help turn things around.

My heart was all in from the very beginning of this story. My penchant for second chance romances is not secret, and how could I argue when the universe saw fit to lead these two back to each other after so many years! I am trash for such things, and getting to see them “then” and “now” made me cheer even louder for this union. There was a bit of mystery regarding why Will didn’t show and the secrets he was still keeping, but I promise you will love Will even more when you learn his story.

Fern and Will’s romance may have been the main event, but there were several side stories that captured my heart. It was fantastic to see the themes of love and forgiveness echoed in the supporting characters’ stories. They made this already beautiful and emotional story even richer for me. I loved my time at Lake Muskoka, and I reveled in every moment of this story.


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