Monday, June 26, 2023


You With a View
 by Jessica Joyce
Published by Berkley on July 11, 2023
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Two high school enemies must reunite for a road trip inspired by their grandparents’ broken engagement in this electric debut romance.

Noelle Shepherd is unemployed, living with her parents, and grieving the loss of her beloved grandmother when she discovers decades-old photos of Gram and a smitten man, tucked alongside a love letter. She creates a TikTok to search for the mystery man, which goes viral, and she’s shocked when his grandson responds—a man who happens to be her high school nemesis, Theo Spencer.

Noelle refuses to let Theo’s annoying accomplishments in adulthood—or his sexy smirk—stand in the way of meeting his grandfather and unlocking the secrets he knew about her gram as a young woman. When she learns that their plans to elope were thwarted, Noelle decides to take the honeymoon road trip they planned but never got to carry out. There’s a catch, though: Paul, Theo’s grandfather, asks to come with her, and he insists that Theo join them.
It’ll be a miracle if they make it through the trip without Noelle throwing Theo out of the moving car—or the bed they end up sharing. As the miles tick by, the tension simmers hotter between them…until she discovers that Theo’s hiding a secret that could cause their tenuous relationship to end before it can restart.

Full confession: I did not read the synopsis for this book before requesting or reading it. That said, I found the plot to be a rather wonderful surprise. I even posted a reading update at about 15% where I declared myself "all in". With my penchant for grief and loss books, I knew I would at least love that part of the story, but I truly adored it all!

Noelle's world went dark when she lost her beloved grandmother, and from there, other parts of her life began to crumble. No job, no boyfriend, and living in her childhood home, Noelle found a sort of purpose when she came across a photo of her grandmother with a man who was NOT her grandfather. She did what all people do when they are looking for information - she asked the internet, specifically, TikTok. Imagine her surprise when someone recognized the man, AND that person happened to be her high school rival. This delighted me to no end.

I can't even explain how much fun I had traveling with Noelle, Theo, and Paul. Paul was a sweet and gentle man who reminded me of my own beloved grandfather, and the affection he had for Theo was lovely. Between Paul and Noelle's recollections of her gram, I found myself missing my own grandparents. I have a soft spot for grandparents, and these relationships were so beautifully drawn. It really tugged on my heartstrings.

The road trip was also fantastic. I had recently done a vacation out west and was giddy when I recognized many of the places they visited. But it wasn't all about where they were, but rather, how they all grew closer as they learned the details of Paul and Gram's love story. The romance between Theo and Noelle was a fun one too. I always love when characters have history, and these two had plenty between them.

I can sit here all day and recap my favorite bits, but I would rather you discover them yourselves. In summary, I had a fantastic time reading this book. It made me laugh, smile, swoon, and it touched my heart. I hope it does the same for you.

Hello Stranger
 by Katherine Center
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 11, 2023
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary

Love isn’t blind, it’s just little blurry.

Sadie Montgomery never saw what was coming . . . Literally! One minute she’s celebrating the biggest achievement of her life—placing as a finalist in the North American Portrait Society competition—the next, she’s lying in a hospital bed diagnosed with a “probably temporary” condition known as face blindness. She can see, but every face she looks at is now a jumbled puzzle of disconnected features. Imagine trying to read a book upside down and in another language. This is Sadie’s new reality with every face she sees.

But, as she struggles to cope, hang on to her artistic dream, work through major family issues, and take care of her beloved dog, Peanut, she falls into—love? Lust? A temporary obsession to distract from the real problems in her life?—with not one man but two very different ones. The timing couldn’t be worse.

If only her life were a little more in focus, Sadie might be able to find her way. But perceiving anything clearly right now seems impossible. Even though there are things we can only find when we aren’t looking. And there are people who show up when we least expect them. And there are always, always other ways of seeing.

Could you imagine being a portrait artists and suddenly suffering from acquired face blindness? That was what happened to Sadie. Due to swelling following brain surgery, Sadie was unable to recognize faces. Not only did this pose great difficulties in her professional life, but it also presented some challenges in her personal life.

If this story wasn't told with Center's signature humor and warmth, I may have spent a lot of time shedding tears for Sadie. It's that double edged sword where I understood this surgery was necessary to save her life, but at the same time, it robbed her of such a vital resource.

While Sadie was wallowing (a bit) and trying to figure out how to get her contest entry completed, she met some men who brought a bit of brightness and welcomed distractions to her days. Luckily, she had support from her neighbor, her best friend, Sue, and Sue's parents. They were all so fabulous with great quirks that endeared them to me. Most importantly, they gave Sadie the affection that was lacking from her own family.

Even before her post surgery issues, Sadie was struggling. She had lost her mother in her teens and it had rippled through her life. Sadie tried hard to embrace pieces of her mother's life, and in the midst of it all, she failed to really find herself. Losing an ability that was always part of her had Sadie taking a harder look at herself. She had to figure where her mother ended and she began. This led to many important discoveries for Sadie, and I appreciated her personal journey.

Overall, this was a wonderful and heartwarming tale. A sweet romance, a fierce friendship, and some self discovery made this a fun and feel-good read.


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  1. These were obviously both big hits for you! What a terrible condition Sadie found herself dealing with (one I've never heard of). I can't imagine how disorienting that would be. Between that and her other issues, it sounds like she had quite a journey.

    1. I have read one or two books with face blindness - Jennifer Niven's comes to mind.

  2. I've had trouble connecting with Center's books, but I'm glad this was a hit for you!

  3. Center's book was so unique. I'm glad we both liked it!

  4. I cannot wait to start reading You, with a View! It sounds so good. I had such a great time with Hello Stranger and couldn't imagine dealing with face blindness like she had to.

    1. Carole, it was so fun and sweet. I hope you love it. Glad to hear you enjoyed Center's book too

  5. I'm looking forward to both of these so I'm thrilled you loved them!

  6. Replies
    1. I liked it a lot. The whole situation was so stressful and Center made it meaningful and lovely

  7. I just finished the Katherine Center book and thought it was wonderful. Definitely a condition I've never read about before so I was entertained and I learned a lot at the same time. :)

    1. It felt a bit different from some of her previous books, but still had the warmth and charm I expect. Jennifer Niven had that condition in one of her books, and it was in another book I read that I cannot recall right now

  8. Glad you enjoyed Hello Stranger and found it to be heartwarming. I'm looking forward to it.