Tag: romance

Dec 15

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

Romance 3

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

I’m a bit of an impulse shopper when it comes to books on sale. I mean, a friend tweets that something they loved is on sale for $1.99 and I am THERE. Lightening quick one-click purchase. At least, I was. I try to be a little more careful these days, because I kind of accidentally purchased a romance novel on my company’s Amazon account. WHOOPS! Luckily, my bosses were super cool about the whole thing. They were barely phased, honestly, probably because they’ve been dealing with my shenanigans for over a decade. I was embarrassed for a hot minute, but after I cancelled the order, repurchased the book on my personal account, and read it? I haven’t a single regret. Because let me tell you something. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev was an absolute treat.

abollywoodaffairMili Rathod is a married woman in the least conventional sense. To start, her marriage took place when she was a mere four years old, and she hasn’t seen her husband since the event took place 20 years ago. The situation is less than ideal, to say the least. Still, Mili’s marital status has afforded her opportunities almost unheard of for girls in her village. She managed to convince her grandmother to allow her to leave India and study in the US for 8 months in order to mold her into the perfect modern wife. You know, so she can lure her childhood husband back. It’s complicated.

Samir Rathod is a playboy Bollywood director, the toast of the town… Who is not above running halfway across the globe in order to secure a divorce for his older brother, who is in no shape to do so himself. Samir isn’t worried about convincing a simple village girl to sign the paperwork, even if he does have to go to Michigan to track her down. Instead of a naive girl or a gold digger, Samir finds Mili, a fiercely loyal, intelligent, and kind woman. Before he knows it, Samir is pulled into Mili’s life in ways he never imagined.

Right. So, yeah. This book is totally 100% a romance novel. A sweet, charming, inventive, and cheeky tale of love despite ridiculous circumstances and seemingly insurmountable odds. I loved every bit of it. Every tasty morsel. I couldn’t put the book down and I’m downright swoony over it. I mean, it was deliriously romantic AND a learned a whole bunch of interesting stuff about modern India and Indian culture. Just a pleasant reminder of why I adore books so darn much. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a whole world of Bollywood romance novels I need to explore.

Talk to me Bookworms! What is the swooniest book you’ve ever read? I could use some romance recommendations. 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 26

The Brazilian Husband by Rebecca Powell

Cozy Lady Fiction, Romance, Tear Jerkers 5

Olá Bookworms!

You know that thing where you do or say or think something only to realize later that it was a dumb thing to do or say or think? That’s basically my life, to be honest: I’m in a constant state of revision. But, among the dumb things I’ve done or said or thought as it pertains to this blog was that I would not accept pitches for self published books. It was snobby and shortsighted of me. I’m sure there are a lot of self published books out there in which I have zero interest, but there are a lot of traditionally published books that fall into that category too. So. I’m wrong a lot. To nobody’s surprise. All this is to say that I received a pitch from a self-published author I was completely unfamiliar with (which is totally different than reading a book written by a blogger I already love, though that has happened) and I accepted a review copy. Are you ready to hear about The Brazilian Husband by Rebecca Powell? *Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration from the author. The following review reflects my honest opinions.*

brazilianhusbandDetermined to honor her husband’s final request, Judith embarks on a trip from London to Brazil with her reluctant daughter in tow. The trip turns out to be a bit more than Judith bargained for as she begins to uncover secrets to her husband’s past. She soon encounters Ricardo, the dreamboat/human rights lawyer/activist who helps Judith unravel the tangled web of her husband’s life in Brazil. All of this is set against the backdrop of Brazil’s favelas, corrupt city officials, and familial drama.

I can’t recall having read another book set in Brazil, so I was a little concerned a book about Brazil written by a British woman wouldn’t be terribly authentic. I needn’t have worried. A quick review of  Ms. Powell’s bio revealed she spent a year in Brazil working for a women’s shelter, so she knows a little something about the country. Plus, since the protagonist is a British woman visiting Brazil, it was the ultimate “write what you know” scenario. Although, I sincerely hope that the author’s story doesn’t totally mirror this book, because while it was a page turner, it was also heartbreaking.

It reminded me a little of Kate Morton’s work (The Forgotten Garden in particular), the way historical elements were revealed in snippets and the reader discovered the truth of the narrative right along side the protagonist. If you’re into family sagas with a bit of romance, a lot of secrets, and a smattering of tears, definitely give The Brazilian Husband a read. It’s a good one, I promise.

Talk to me Bookworms! I want to read more books set in Brazil. Bonus points if they’re written by Brazilian authors. Recommendations?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. You’ll also be supporting an independent author, which is pretty great. Given the fact that the editing and formatting were on point, I imagine a professional editor was involved as well, so you’ll be supporting THAT person too. Just in case you needed to feel warm and fuzzy about indulging in the written word.*

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Feb 10

What I Love/Hate About Romances in Books

Romance, Top Ten Tuesday 27

Hello Bookworms!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is a great topic, and perfectly appropriate for Valentine’s week. The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have challenged us to list what we love and/or hate about romance in books. Hoooo boy, I’m excited about this one!

romanceinbooks

I’m a softy, really I am. I do love romance in books. However, I can be a little picky about it. I’m going to start with a list of a few things that drive me bonkers in bookish romances. And follow it up with what I love. Ending on a happy note is important, no?

The Hate List

1. Insta-Love: I am firmly in the Elsa camp on this one. No, little sister, you are NOT going to marry the dude you just met today. You are NOT in love with this person after 10 minutes and a musical interlude. You do NOT abandon your entire life to follow your latest infatuation. Just. No.

2. Girls without Identity- I like my romantic heroines to be a little spunky. I’m not saying that every heroine has to know exactly who she is, but girls with no sense of self who just throw themselves into crazy relationships and morph into femme-bots who only like what their boyfriends like? Not cool. (I’m throwing some serious shade at you, Ana Steele. Hmph.)

3. Poorly Executed Love Scenes- Book Riot put together a list of some hilarious (and horrible) euphemisms used in romance novels to describe human anatomy. It’s pretty much the best thing ever. If a love scene makes me giggle, it’s not a good thing. (Well it kind of is a good thing, because I like laughing, but it’s unlikely that’s what the author intended so… Yeah.)

4. Secret Keeping- I read a romance novel once in which the male character tried to convince himself not to get too close to the female character because (get this) there was a CHANCE he had an incurable (but non contagious) blood disorder. He’d basically convinced himself he was going to die without getting confirmation from a doctor and therefore couldn’t selfishly start a relationship. REALLY? “We can’t be together because SECRETS” is a terrible plot device. Stop using it, please! (The character in question turned out NOT to have said disorder, he married the heroine and I think they had babies. I didn’t want to leave you in suspense.)

5. Gorgeous People Who Seem Unaware of their Hotness: I’m all for humility, but the prevalence of women who find themselves revolting despite hoards of men falling at their feet are tiresome. Nobody is that deluded, unless they have serious psychological issues. If that’s the case, they shouldn’t be in a romance novel, they should be getting the fictional help they need from a fictional therapist. Sheesh!

allyouneedislove

 

Well, now that I’ve got that vitriol off my chest, let’s talk about some of the things I love about love in books. Loooove!

The Love List

1. Awkward People Finding Love: Some of my favorite love stories are all about the weirdos. Suave debonair gentlemen with all the right lines bore me. Give me a cantankerous bookseller with a heart of gold or a case of verbal diarrhea on a first date. That’s the good stuff.

2. Witty Banter: Inside jokes, pop culture references, and trivia make my world go round. Having had a number of these sorts of goofy conversations with my husband, I realize they don’t often translate easily (I’m pretty sure nobody would find our nonsense charming who wasn’t us) but I appreciate the effort. Yay for witty banter!

3. Well Executed Love Scenes: I’m not a prude when it comes to love scenes. I enjoy them when they’re thoughtfully put together. I’m not sure there’s a great way to define what separates the cheesy from the steamy, and it’s likely all in the opinion of the reader. Still. When done well, love scenes can be a great addition to a novel.

4. Love for the Non-Traditional Body Types: Rainbow Rowell has written some of the best plus size romantic heroines ever. I just get really happy when someone who isn’t the media standard of beauty finds love. Tall, short, heavy, thin, buxom, tattooed, birth-marked, pale, and what have you. Real people in normal life aren’t usually breathtakingly beautiful. That doesn’t mean they aren’t appealing, and that sure doesn’t mean they shouldn’t find love.

5. Historical Romance: Wait, did I just admit to digging bodice-rippers? I might have. And it might be true. Eeep!

Talk to me Bookworms! What do you love and hate about romance in books?! 

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Jan 05

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion!!!

Humor, Romance, Science 14

Oh Hey Bookworms!

It’s been FOREVER, hasn’t it? I know, I was off merry making and being lazy but I’m BACK and I’m pretty stoked to discuss today’s book. Remember last year when we read The Rosie Project (review) as a crew through The Fellowship of the Worms? There’s a sequel! And I read it! Eeeep! If you haven’t read The Rosie Project, stop reading right here because the whole premise of the sequel is a big fat spoiler for the first. So. SPOILER ALERT, Y’ALL! Now, let’s talk about The Rosie Effect! *OH yes, I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration from the publisher through NetGalley. I still have integrity, swearsies.*

rosieeffectWhen we last left them, Don and Rosie were fast tracking it to happily ever after in NYC. Rosie is double fisting it in academia working on her Psychology PHD AND Medical school, while Don is doing his genetics thing at a prestigious university. They also mix cocktails a few nights a week, for old time’s sake.

Happily Ever After seems attainable until some complications come into play… Namely? Rosie has some “something to celebrate” with Don. If you can’t guess the big news, it’s got a lot to do with zygotes and cell division… If you recall any of Don and Rosie’s adventures in dating, you’ll know that any big news probably won’t run the most smoothly.

Alright folks, let’s get down to the dirt. A lot of people are probably going to think The Rosie Effect is inferior to The Rosie ProjectFor me, as is the case with all sequels, once I’m attached to the characters I cannot wait to see what sorts of shenanigans they’ll get up to next. I love Rosie, I love Don, I love Gene and all the assorted weirdos that find their way into the story line. I thought The Rosie Effect was a fun read. If you’re not too cynical about sequels, I recommend you give this a shot.

Talk to me Bookworms, what makes you pick up a sequel? Do you have high expectations for them?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 23

The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen

Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Flowers, Romance 20

Greetings Bookworms!

The weather is changing and it’s making me miss my flowers already. I still have mums out, but it’s not the saaaaaaaame. Shortly after having to pull out my summer annuals, I was perusing NetGalley (a dangerous pastime under the best of circumstances) and ran across The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen. I saw comparisons to Sarah Addison Allen and Alice Hoffman and simply could not help myself. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration. May I be stricken with a wicked case poison ivy if I lie in the following review.*

The Night Garden by Lisa Van AllenIs there anything better than an enchanted garden? Lisa Van Allen draws a gorgeous picture of pastoral upstate New York. Pennywort Farms boasts a lovely garden maze that seems to be imbued with magical properties that give visitors clarity on their problems. A little magical realism never hurt anyone! More likely to hurt someone is the beautiful and enigmatic Olivia Pennywort.

Olivia has SECRETS. Despite welcoming boarders into her farm as a matter of course, Olivia keeps everyone at arm’s distance. Her decision to remain aloof becomes more difficult when her childhood friend and adolescent flame Sam Van Winkle comes back to town. The two are (of course) drawn to each other, but there are some significant barriers (and histamines) standing in the way of their happy ending.

You guys, I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down, and I stayed up far too late to finish it. On a work night. Thank heaven for coffee, AMIGRIGHT? Magical realism can be very hit or miss for me, but the combination of love story, garden-y goodness, and mystical whimsy hit all the right notes. I particularly liked some of the weird science/magic fusion elements that went on. I don’t want to spoil it all for you, but if you’re at all interested, take a trip into The Night Garden!

Talk to me, Bookworms. The Night Garden spends a lot of time talking about the garden maze’s ability to provide visitors with clarity on their problems. What helps you work out your dilemmas? Asking for a friend…

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Jun 12

Pirate Booty! (The Windflower by Laura London)

Romance, Trashy Romance Novels 26

Ahoy, Bookworms!

Who’s up for a little romance on the high seas? You’re not? Well, TOO BAD! A few weeks ago, I ran across an article on NPR books discussing the re-printing of a well loved romance novel from the early 1980s called The Windflower. After that kind of review, I couldn’t NOT read this, so  I downloaded a copy for myself. I must recommend reading this digitally as the cover art is so far beyond cheesy it may as well have Fabio photo-bombing the background. Don’t be fooled by the cover, though. This book was pretty fantastic.

windflower

I make no apologies for the cheesiness of this cover. At least it isn’t Fabio.

Merry Wilding lives in Virginia with her spinster aunt in 1813. The British are still kind of ticked about the whole Revolutionary War thing and are stirring up another fuss. Merry’s patriotic heart causes her to join her brother on a little scheme to help the cause when she accidentally meets with a band of pirates. Being the charming little thing she is, Merry manages to escape the situation with no more harm to her dignity than having had her first kiss (a not so chaste one, at that!)

A few months later, however, Merry’s Aunt April decides that going back to England would be the safest option for them with conflict looming. On the eve of their departure, however, Merry is kidnapped by that very same band of pirates, with the issuer of that scandalous first kiss becomes her warden.

Devon (Mr. Kissyface) and Merry spend as much time sparring as trying to deny their attraction to each other. While the two are on the outs, Merry has a chance to meet and endear herself to the rest of the pirate crew, the jolliest lot of rapscallions ever to tipple a bottle of rum.

Readers of Outlander, take note! While there are no sci/fi elements and a great deal less political intrigue, The Windflower offers the same sort of breath-catching romance that makes Outlander readers’ hearts go pitter-pat. Sure, it’s a bit ridiculous with the pirate element, but my word, I LOVED some of those pirates. Cat and Raven and Cook?! If I were ever to sail the seven seas, I’d want those scallywags on my crew!

If you have ever enjoyed a historical romance, you simply must read The WindflowerOr walk the plank. Take your pick, you scurvy dogs!

Talk to me, Bookworms. Who’s got a favorite romance? Who is willing to admit indulging in the occasional bodice ripper? Who thinks Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow was a hottie? 

 

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May 01

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Romance, Science 22

G’day Bookworms,

Remember back to Valentine’s Day when I crowd sourced a Top Ten Tuesday list of bloggers’ favorite romances? One of the suggestions that came from Sarah of Sarah Says Read was for The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clare. I made a mental note to give it a whirl, and not long afterward it showed up as a Kindle daily deal, so I snapped it up.

themadscientistsdaughterIt’s the future. Some sort of apocalypse has come to pass leaving the human race rather depleted. To make up for the lack of people to keep the world operating, science supplemented with androids. Of course, there’s going to be a rogue scientist somewhere trying to push the envelope of android manufacturing. This led to the creation of Finn, the most human-like robot ever created.

Cat’s father brought Finn home to their little cottage in the woods when she was 5. Her eccentric scientist parents weren’t keen on sending her to the local public school, so they enlisted Finn as Cat’s personal tutor.

Cat grows up with Finn as not only her teacher, but also as her closest friend. As she grows up things get… complicated. Kind of hard to have a straightforward love story when half of the equation is mechanical, you know?

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter was certainly an unconventional take on a love story. It brought up all sorts of issues to do with discrimination and the difficulties with loving someone you’re not supposed to love.

I wish I could say this book didn’t creep me out on some level, but it did. Maybe it’s just because it reminded me so much of that awful Robin Williams movie, Bicentennial Man… Maybe it’s because Finn was less engaging than Iko, the robot BFF of CinderMaybe it’s because I watched that weird episode of Jack Van Impe where he blamed “robits” for the fast approaching End of Days. LOL, nah it’s not that. Still, it wasn’t quite my cup of tea. That said, it could be yours. If you dig science fiction romance or scandalous forbidden love, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter may just be your new favorite love story.

Tell me, Bookworms. Anybody else think the last time Robin Williams was fun to watch was in Mrs. Doubtfire ? Anybody else think the sequel they’re working on sound like a horrendous idea?

 

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Jan 06

Adé by Rebecca Walker

Contemporary Fiction, Romance 17

Greetings, Bookworms!

I’m not immune to peer pressure, but you already knew that. I kept seeing Adé by Rebecca Walker around the blogoshpere and I simply had to give it a try. I read one of Rebecca Walker’s non fiction books (Baby Love) way back before I started blogging, so I had to see what all the hubbub was about.

ade

The main character and her best friend decide to take a few years to travel through Africa after graduating college. They galavant through Egypt for a while and eventually end up on a small island off the coast of Kenya. Love blossoms when our narrator meets a young wood carver named Adé.

Adé  and our narrator soon become an item, and get so serious that he decides she needs a culturally appropriate name. The narrator is thus dubbed “Farida.” It’s interesting to watch Farida’s attempts at assimilating into Adé’s culture. Though her Ivy League feminism remains in certain aspects of her life, Farida slowly begins to accept the more traditional aspects of life on the island. I was a little surprised at how readily she adapted to wearing traditional head scarves and robe-like coverings, but love has the ability to make us all do things we never thought we would. Heck, I never thought I’d have a case full of transformers in my basement, but there it is… (Grimlock is the coolest Dinobot, FYI.)

Adé and Farida’s love story is complicated by tradition, bureaucracy, political unrest, and malaria, but it is beautifully rendered. The prose is quite lovely. Unfortunately, having read Walker’s earlier non-fiction proved to be a detriment for me. I was thrown by this book because Farida’s life had SO MANY parallels to Walker’s. Farida is the biracial child of divorced parents who live on opposite coasts. Her white father is Jewish, her African American mother is a writer. I don’t necessarily have a problem with authors writing “what they know” so to speak, but this was awfully specific. I felt like Walker was describing her own life, which REALLY bothered me, because I kept trying to rectify this with details I already knew from Walker’s non fiction… Also, I kind of wanted to shake Farida, because I’m not sure any amount of love would entice me to stay on an island where you’re expected to do laundry using only three cups of water. (Unless, of course, I were drawn back in time and the love in question involved a dashing redheaded Scotsman…)

In all seriousness, this book is short and thought-provoking. Just because it didn’t ring all of my bells, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work out well for you. If you’re in the mood for something a little heavier but don’t want to commit to a chunkster, this might be just the ticket.

Let’s talk about love an sacrifices… What have you done for love that you never thought you would? (It doesn’t have to be person love either. If you spoil the crap out of your dog, that counts too.)

*If you make a purchase of Adé through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jan 02

Lost and Found by Chris Van Hakes

Chick Lit, Romance 16

Salutations Bookworms,

Most of the time when I pick up a book, the author is a faceless figure to me. I’m rarely up to speed with the goings on of the literary community, and I pick up a lot of books by authors who are new to me. Half the time I don’t even know if the author is a male or female, what with the use of initials and such. This book is a bit of an exception. Lost and Found is the first novel released by author Chris Van Hakes (the pen name of a blogger I’ve always enjoyed, Shalini of Reading and Chickens.)

Shalini and I have had a few conversations on twitter and traded comments on blogs, but I wouldn’t call us besties or anything. (Unless you want to be, Shalini. Because we have SERIOUSLY bonded over THE TWITTER. There will always be a place for you at my imaginary slumber party.) I’m telling you all of this because I’ve never known an author I’ve reviewed before, and I think you’re supposed to disclose that sort of thing… What’s also important to mention is that Shalini did NOT ask me to review her novel. I went and bought it with my own dollars because I was curious. I’m a curious sort of gal.

lostandfound Lost and Found is a sweet little piece of chick lit, and it totally satisfied my craving for a romance novel. Delaney has just moved back to her hometown of Park Glen (which is SUPPOSEDLY in a Central Illinois college town, which I obviously assumed to be based on Peoria. Because I’m self centered and Peoria is MY Central Illinois college town. We have tons of old Victorians that have been converted into apartments, many of them in dodgy neighborhoods.) Anywho, Delaney has moved back home after a breakup with her long term boyfriend/douche nozzle (term employed liberally in book) named Cliff. She ends up living across the hall from a cantankerous doctor named Oliver who is a pretty big douche nozzle himself. The key there is that he’s a douche nozzle with layers, see?

I have to admit, I never completely warmed up to Oliver- he was kind of a jerk for most of the book. Also, Delaney was sweet, but maddeningly doormat-ish. Delaney suffered from vitiligo, which is a skin condition that leads to white, discolored patches of skin. She’s super sensitive about it, though nobody else seems to notice it. Obviously, the two fall in love, and there are complications, and also pie. (Delaney likes to bake.) It’s a romance novel, so there’s nothing spectacularly groundbreaking about the subject matter, but the way it’s written is so doggone cute. The characters have pithy dialogue, the group of gal-pals is squeal-worthy, AND Delaney is a librarian. It’s certainly an impressive inaugural effort for a blogger turned author. If you enjoy romance or chick lit, I recommend giving Lost and Found a shot.

Bookworms, let’s talk about insecurities… Delaney is freaked out by her vitiligo, but she seems to be the only one who fixates on it. We’ve all got a thing. I get that way when I have a breakout. What about you?

 

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Nov 11

Strange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie: Every Bit as Saucy as it Sounds

Chick Lit, Romance 22

Happy Monday Bookworms!

I can hear you groaning at my greeting. I know, Mondays suck. They don’t suck if you can win prizes though, which you totally CAN right now from a crap ton of literary blogs. You’ve got until Wednesday to enter- get on with it! (Here. Click it. You’ll thank me.) Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s talk about my latest read. A while back I was turned on to the romantic stylings of Jennifer Crusie. I really enjoyed Bet Me and Getting Rid of Bradley was a great little palate cleanser for me after a run of more serious reads.

I spent October mired in zombies, vampires, and nightmare scenarios of all variety. It’s safe to say I needed a break, so I pulled up the Jennifer Crusie bundle I’d purchased for my Kindle. BTW, Amazon, I’m so onto you. Bargain-schmargain, all these books are dated re-releases of Crusie’s Harlequin titles. Ah well. Four books for $9.99 is still a deal.

strangebedpersonsStrange Bedpersons is a sweet little story about a girl raised on a hippie commune who falls for the yuppiest lawyer in all the land. Tess and Nick are our star-crossed lover. He is a straight laced pillar of the community while she is a thrift store diva who works for minimal pay tutoring underprivileged kids. The book takes place in the early 90s, a fact I can corroborate based on a handful of references. Nancy Reagan and Marilyn Quayle’s fashion sense comes up (and for anyone international and/or who doesn’t give a fig about the wives of US politicians, that means a lot of shoulder pads) and the classic Julia Roberts film Pretty Woman is alluded to on a number of occasions… Particularly the scandalous scene with the piano. Bow-chicka-bow-wow.

That sound means that this book most certainly contains some sexy-times, so if you’re offended by that sort of thing I wouldn’t recommend this book. Of course, in the grand scheme of love scenes, I found these pretty to be pretty tasteful. My eye rolling was very minimal. I am really digging Jennifer Crusie. Her heroines are always spunky and typically not damsels in distress. Her books read like rom-coms. They’ll never win Nobel prizes, but most romantic comedies aren’t Oscar contenders either. Crusie managed to bring to life one of the most God-awful awkward dinner parties I’ve ever witnessed in all its cringe-inducing glory. To that, I award her a slow clap… And I snap a jewelry box in her general direction.

Since this book was so delightfully rom-com, what are some of your faves? You KNOW you’ve a guilty pleasure movie, own up to it, Bookworms!

*If you’re interest in purchasing your own copy of Bet Me, Getting Rid of Bradleyor Strange Bedpersonsplease consider using these links. Any purchases referred to Book Depository from my blog net me an eensy weensy commission.*

 

 

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