Monday, March 18, 2024

Isn't It Romantic?

The Happiness Blueprint
 by Ally Zetterberg
Published by MIRA on April 2, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Klara and Alex are having trouble connecting, but at least their calendars are in sync.

Klara—who’s always thought of herself as a little different, a sneaker in a world full of kitten heels and polished boots—is feeling a disconnect these days. She has type 1 diabetes, currently works in a dead-end job, and is in desperate need of a change. When her dad falls ill, Klara begrudgingly agrees to help run his small construction company while he recovers, even though it means moving back home and pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone to the extreme.

Alex has been a shell of himself since his brother died in an accident. He’s unemployed, has bills piling up, and is distant from friends and family. His therapist is encouraging him to keep things manageable by setting up a calendar, checking off tasks each day, and looking for work to help get him back on his feet. When an ad pops up for a carpenter position at a small construction company, he jumps at the chance to take a step forward.

Klara's and Alex’s stories unfold through a series of miscommunications in this clever and witty novel from debut author Ally Zetterberg that’s about finding acceptance and even love in unexpected places.

Both Klara and Alex were struggling in different ways, but things started looking up when they found each other.

I honestly wasn't sure what I was expecting, but this was such a fun, sweet, and touching tale. Let me get this out of the way, the shared calendar was wonderful! What an interesting way for a couple to communicate and connect. Some of the entries were precious while others created some rather laughable moments. Regardless, it was a unique and standout part of this story for me. 

All that aside, Klara and Alex really were the stars of this tale. I instantly wanted to hug and protect them because it was easy to see both were kind of stuck and experiencing some personal difficulties.

Klara had moved from Sweden to England with many aspirations, but the pieces had yet to fall into place for her. When her family asked her to return to Sweden while her father underwent chemotherapy, Klara really had to go outside of her comfort zone. This effort paid off in a big way for Klara as she discovered a lot about herself and grew tremendously. I was so happy for her and proud of everything she accomplished. It was not easy, but Klara succeeded in more ways than she could ever have imagined.

One of the benefits of being back in Sweden was meeting Alex. He had been battling his mental health issues since his brother's death. Getting a job was the first of many steps in the right direction, and the universe worked some magic when it brought him to Klara's business. Though it was a bit rocky at first, a beautiful friendship grew between Alex and Klara. It was really wonderful the way Alex embraced the whole of Klara and delighted in her quirks. Klara finally found someone worthy of her, and I simply adored seeing these two grow fonder of each other.

The story was packed with lots of smile-worthy rom-com moments which were made even better with a great cast of characters. Zetterberg also did a lovely job incorporating heavier topics without weighing down the story. The combination of heavy and light was perfectly balanced resulting in a fun and fantastic reading experience.

Overall, I am so glad I had this opportunity to travel to Sweden with Klara. It was a pleasure rooting for her as she pushed beyond her boundaries which resulted in self-discovery while also leading to her finding love and clarity for her future.

Old Flames and New Fortunes
 by Sarah Hogle
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on April 2, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Fiction, Romance

From the celebrated author of You Deserve Each Other and Just Like Magic, a steamy second-chance romance about a magical florist’s unexpected reunion with her high school sweetheart as she fake dates his soon-to-be stepbrother.

A small, magical town tucked away in rural Ohio, Moonville is the perfect place for flora fortunist Romina Tempest to expand her shop, where she uses the language of flowers to help the hopeful manifest their love lives. After giving up on her own big romance eleven years ago, at least she can bask in the promise of others’.

So, when the shop’s potential financier shares news of his wedding, Romina jumps on the opportunity to discuss buying the business. What better place to negotiate a deal than at a wedding, even if she has to fake-date her chaotic colleague Trevor to get an invitation? But all hell breaks loose when she discovers Trevor’s soon-to-be stepbrother is none other than Alex her high school sweetheart. Her greatest love. The boy who, eleven years ago, broke her heart, and who now thinks she and Trevor are dating.

What starts as an innocent misunderstanding becomes a week-long fake dating scheme, as Romina resolves to make Alex pay for breaking her heart. The only issue? She can’t deny their still-burning connection. Caught between proving to Alex what he lost, and coming clean and risking her business, Romina must decide whether giving Alex another chance means going back on herself, or finally releasing her hold on the past.

Romina had returned to Moonville over a decade ago with a broken and hardened heart. Though she no longer believed in romance, she had made a career in the love industry as a flora fortunist - telling fortunes via flowers. When, Alex, her first love returns to Moonville, Romina found those long dormant love flutters return, but is Romina willing to put her heart on the line again?

This book was such a delight! Maybe my summary up there sounds a bit gloomy, but I feel confident in calling Old Flames and New Fortunes a rom-com. There were laughs and smiles galore while some parts of both Romina and Alex's past give the book some emotional heft. Hogle did a beautiful job weaving these elements together resulting in a tantalizing tale. 

The Tempest family was a definite highlight for me. The three sisters along with Romina's niece had a great dynamic. There were the usual family antics, but I could also feel the love. These ladies were there for each other and supported one another as they built a successful business together. It was a pleasure getting to know them all.

One plot point revolved around the expansion of the family business - The Magick Happens. This shop had been in the family for many years, and the girls grew up there watching their grandmother share her "magic" with others. It was fantastic being in the shop, and I relished learning about all the Tempest magic and the services and products they purveyed.

It was this expansion plot that lead to the fake dating between Romina and her friend/boss Trevor. I would say that some of the best rom-com moments in the book were a direct result of Trevor and Romina's fauxmance. Trevor was already hilarious on his own, so over the top, but add in a pretend relationship and two exes, and there was plenty of comedy gold to be mined.

The fake dating trope was lots of fun, but I was really here for that second chance romance. Romina and Alex's love story, as well as its demise, was shown via flashbacks, but the whole story wasn't revealed until Alex and Romina actually discussed it. They were young, it was sad, but the best part was that they still had such strong feelings for each other, and here they were, both unattached and maybe ready to embark on something together. And there was the wedding week which was packed with fun activities and provided the perfect backdrop for their reunion to unfold. I am sure Hogle fans will appreciate the initial sparring while also getting a thrill out of seeing the sparks fly between these old flames.

I would be remiss in not mentioning how wonderful Moonville was. I instantly fell in love with this charming little town. Lovely in its description and filled with some fabulous characters, the town was the perfect setting for this second chance romance.

Overall, I had such a wonderful time seeing Alex and Romina reconnect and reignite their love for each other. Great characters, fun rom-com moments, and a bit of magic made this a brilliant and heartwarming read for me. I am crossing my fingers that we will get a chance to return to Moonville, as each of the Tempest sisters deserve their HEA.


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  1. I haven't read Hogle in awhile, but this one sounds cute - I love that there are two separate romance tropes in it!

    1. Other than that holiday book that was a little weird, her books have been solid for me. I really liked this one.

  2. While the magical element means the Hogle book is probably not one for me, I like the set-up of The Happiness Blueprint. My dad has been in my thoughts a lot lately and he had his own construction company. Just that connection is piquing my interest.

    1. This Hogle book had the least amount of magic. The sisters are "witches", but there's no magical stuff in the book really. I hope my talk about The Happiness Blueprint evoked good memories. It was a great book for me.

  3. Hogle's book sounds good! I've only read one of hers (Twice Shy) and I've been meaning to try more. Maybe this will be it! I will be checking my library.

    1. Hogle's books are pretty solid for me. Ended up LOVING the first one, the holiday one was a little weird but not bad, but this one is probably my favorite.

  4. I haven't picked up a Hogle book since Twice Shy, but it sounds like it might be time to pick up another one. And I can never get enough of the fake dating trope.

    1. This was so much fun. It's not as magical as her last book (two books?) Just the bit of witchy stuff that's in the store. The dating situation was hilarious because Trevor was such a trip

  5. Sign me up for small magical towns this week Sam!