Tuesday, May 30, 2023

REVIEW: Once More With Feeling by Elissa Sussman



Man oh man did I enjoy Once More With Feeling--it hit lots of my favorite things: Broadway, musicals, and lots of angsty history between our two main characters: Kathleen (Katee) and Cal. We get to know why they're so antagonistic towards each other through the flashbacks woven throughout their present day narrative. We learn that they were young, touring popstars that had incredible chemistry, which was problematic since Kathleen was dating Cal's bandmate, Ryan. One night blows up all of their relationships and Kathleen's career, explaining why she's so suspicious and angry with Cal when he shows up years later to offer her a shot at Broadway; he walked away from that disaster fairly unscathed and she was the pariah of the popstar community, ruining any chances she had to move from popstar princess to a more mature performer.

Since this is more than a short story, obviously she takes him up his offer and over a series of months their run ins with each other are pretty ugly and show us a side of Kathleen that isn't great. She comes off as snarky and stubborn and sometimes just ridiculous--all things that I actually really appreciated. She's far from perfect and I found her reactions and actions to be really relatable in that many of us would feel and do the same things she did, even when it seemed to be so self-sabotaging. I felt like her pain and hurt and suspicions were accurate and anyone would've felt the way she did--so her acting out seemed right and made her transition into someone a little softer and more open to being vulnerable with Cal that much more rewarding. All of that being said, even though Cal didn't always stoop to her level of shenanigans, he also came off as arrogant and smug which doesn't exactly make him a shining star. Getting to understand him a little more through his dialogue and the flashbacks helped make their getting together make more sense, as well as made him seem less like the dick I originally thought he was. 

This was such a fun novel to read--the slow burn, the intensity of their feelings, the evolution of their characters from young adulthood to adulthood, and the behind the scenes look at a Broadway show coming to life made this an entertaining and very quick read. I'm looking forward to reading more of Elissa Sussman and can't wait to see what she does next. 

BUY IT: https://amzn.to/41xKOyi


A former pop star finds herself back in the spotlight—along with an old flame from her past—in this friends-to-lovers meets enemies-to-lovers story from the bestselling author of Funny You Should Ask, the sensational TikTok romance!

Then. Katee Rose is living the dream as America’s number one pop star, caught in a whirlwind of sold-out concerts, screaming fans, and constant tabloid coverage. Everyone wants to know everything about her and her boyfriend, Ryan LaNeve, the hottest member of adored boy band CrushZone. Katee loves to perform but hates the impossible demands of stardom. Maybe that’s why she finds herself in the arms of another CrushZone member, Cal Kirby. Quiet, serious Cal, who’s always been a good friend to Katee, is suddenly Cal with the smoldering eyes and very good hands. One unforgettable night is all it takes to blow up Katee’s relationship with Ryan, her career, her whole life. 

Now. Kathleen Rosenberg is okay with her ordinary existence and leaving her pop star image in the past. That is, until Cal Kirby shows up with the opportunity of her dreams—a starring role in the Broadway show he’s directing and a chance to perform, the way she’s always wanted. The two haven’t spoken since the joint destruction of their careers, and each of them blames the other, making their reunion a tense battle of wits and egos. Kathleen reluctantly agrees to the musical, as long as she keeps her guard up around Cal. But rehearsals are long, those eyes still smolder, and those hands are still very good. Despite everything, Kathleen can’t deny the chemistry between them. Is it ever a good idea to reignite old flames? Especially if you’ve been burned in the past?

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

REVIEW: Salt in the Wound by Sierra Simone



OHMYGOD. Ughhhhh. I hate it when I do this. 

I knew going in that the minute I finished reading this novel, I'd be dying for the next installment and SURE ENOUGH I NEED IT NOW. Just a while ago I finished Salt in the Wound and I feel salty at the idea of having to wait until September to get my hands on the Isolde, Mark, and Tristan. (and I have zero doubt that I'll be feeling the exact same way at the end of each of the books in this trilogy...I also suspect that I'll get to the end of the trilogy and feel like I want more and more and more) 

I'm writing this review more for myself than anyone else (all two of you who read these reviews), to help me remember all the things I'm thinking, feeling right now and because of that there may be spoilery things so just do with that what you will. 

First plot things: Isolde is put into an arranged marriage with Mark because her dad wants the family bank's legacy to continue and Mark had leverage on people to continue the bank's tradition. Mark gets street cred (I guess....I'm not really sure what he gets from this other than Isolde) for his powerful, kink club Lyonesse that he's the owner of. Isolde initially feels completely sold out (as she should) by everyone because she wants to take vows to be a nun once she goes to college (solely to make her dad happy) as a major in art and finance/business. Her cardinal uncle convinces her that agreeing to the arrangement will put her in the room with powerful people who have secrets that she can leverage for the church and when the time is right, he'll help her annul her marriage and she can become a nun. ALLLLLLL of this is so fishy and all of the men in her life are so sketch. They treat her like a chess piece that they can just move around as they see fit. And bad ass that she is with her classes in karate (?-is that what it is?) and her powers of observation, I hope that all of these idiots have underestimated her. 


At the end of this prequel, Isolde has just finished college, has a job with her uncle, and hasn't seen her soon to be husband since he acted like a cowardly bastard (so practically two years ago). It's on this very last page that we meet Tristan (read the myth if you want the back story to these three). This last page is dripping with all sorts of foreshadowing between these two and god, I can't wait for this disaster to happen.

Feelings: these men are garbage. All of them. Her dad-gross. Her uncle-manipulative. Her fiancĂ©-coward. I know we're not supposed to like them very much so A+ 100 on that one Sierra Simone. Mission Accomplished. I'll be very curious about how you go about deepening these feelings or eliminating them--which means I'll have to be all twisted up inside as I'm reading and I'd be lying if I didn't say I love to hate that feeling. 

Isolde-I appreciate that she's observant and a badass fighter and yet she's also unwilling to use her powers of observation on herself...or maybe it's more fair to say she's just young and unable to feel the feelings and use them to empower her, instead she suppresses them and tries to hide from them (and when does hiding from our own feelings and fears and curiosity ever really work?!). By the end she tries to make her hurt into armor to shield her from her feelings about her soon to be husband (and I'm assuming her father and whatever is going on with what happened in Rome and her uncle) but I think we all know that at some point there will be a crack in that armor. All that to say that I'm looking forward to her toughness and seeing her power moves....and also to see how Tristan plays into all of this. 

What happened to Isolde in Rome?
How long will it take us to see behind Mark's facade (we all know he really meant all the things he said that night in her father's home)?
How/why did Mark even come to want Isolde? 
What does he gain from being with her, other than power? (and eventually, love)?
How much does Mark know about Isolde and her uncle's plans?
Will her father play into much of this or will he fade into the background and why did he turn into such a dick?
Is her uncle as manipulative as he seems or is he salvageable?
How will this work with Tristan and how do they not all get hurt?
Who will try to bring them down? And how?
How long will she be able to be mad and resist Mark and how long will Mark try to ice her out?
How many times do we get to see her be a badass (hopefully a lot)?
How long will it take for her to fully renounce her wish to be a nun--will she use it as her constant plan B?
What is she doing with all the information she's gathering, besides giving it to her uncle...surely we can make her more of a baddy than that.

I can't wait to see where all of this goes next....



The first time I meet the devil, he knows my name.

The second time I meet him, the truth becomes clear: Mark Trevena is to be my husband.

No matter that we don't know each other. No matter that he's older than me; shameless and sinful; the owner of a secret club where the powerful come to play. My father has spoken, and I'll be the devil's bride the minute I graduate from college.

Except my future husband has one condition for this arranged marriage: we have to pretend it’s real.

He’ll teach me, he says. How to pretend to be his in pain and pleasure both. How to pretend to arch and writhe under his touch. But his lessons are teaching me something else entirely…

…that Mark Trevena wants me in a way that's not pretend at all.

And no matter how I might fight it, the devil will have his due.

Monday, May 22, 2023

REVIEW: Dark Succession by Katee Robert


 The O'Malley's is a brand new Katee Robert series to me; I know it's been out there for a while but I totally missed it the first time around. I requested it on NetGalley and when my wish was granted I jumped in blind. For those, like me, who are new to this series, it appears that each book follows an O'Malley sibling as they inevitably fall in love. This family is a crime family in the Boston area and all of the siblings feel the obligations that come with being an O'Malley.

In Dark Succession, we mainly follow the arranged marriage of Teague O'Malley and Callie Sheridan. Their fathers have arranged this union to unite their families against a third crime family, in the hopes of keeping a stranglehold on their areas. This union is the second attempt at marrying Callie off and when this arrangement is announced it begins a war with the family she was first promised to (I feel so icky typing those words). The rest of this novel follows these two and shows us how different they are from their fathers, how even surrounded by bad deeds, they want to do good ones, and of course, it follows their inevitable descent into love, despite the strangeness of being married off. 

This novel seems to be the set up novel. We get a lot of information about the families and their dynamics, the hint at the histories of the dislike exchanged between families, and it basically gives us the lay of the land for the next several books. Even with all of this, the story wasn't bogged down with too many details and it moved at a nice pace. It was also interesting with how many points of view we got--at various points we got to peek in the thoughts of not only our main characters but the characters who will likely be our main characters in book two, James and Carrigan. I wasn't expecting it and it was a pleasant surprise. 

I've not read every single thing Katee Robert has written, but I've read quite a bit and this was a little different than what I expected. Not bad different, just different. It definitely read like something that was written many years ago and not because it was not well done, just that the sensibilities of that time in the romance world are very clear now that we're years away from that time (if that makes sense?). Anyway, it was a good read that provided days of escape from the insanity that is our world today. 


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert begins a smoking hot new series about the O'Malley family-wealthy, powerful, dangerous and seething with scandal.

Teague O'Malley hates pretty much everything associated with his family's name. And when his father orders him to marry Callista Sheridan to create a "business" alliance, Teague's ready to tell his dad exactly where he can stuff his millions. But then Teague actually meets his new fiancée, sees the bruises on her neck and the fight still left in her big blue eyes, and vows he will do everything in his power to protect her.

Everyone knows the O'Malleys have a dangerous reputation. But Callie wasn't aware just what that meant until she saw Teague, the embodiment of lethal grace and coiled power. His slightest touch sizzles through her. But the closer they get, the more trouble they're in. Because Callie's keeping a dark secret-and what Teague doesn't know could get him killed.

BUY IT: https://amzn.to/3HPaLB4

Monday, May 15, 2023

REVIEW: Pretend You're Mine by Lucy Score



This is only the second Lucy Score novel I've read and just like the first one, I was immediately hooked and entertained. In Pretend You're Mine we meet a spitfire named Harper and Mr. Reticent to feel anything, Luke. Their meet cute is amusing, despite the seriousness of the incident that causes their meeting, and Harper's filterless mouth and general outlook on life made it so that not only could Luke not resist her charms, I couldn't either. She's just got this kind and sunny disposition; she can take any crappy situation and somehow find the silver lining. Given her personal history, some may find her outlook on things to be surprising but I find it refreshing. In so many contemporary romances our main characters who've suffered through tragedies can't seem to get through them to a happier place and somehow Harper does. It's not that she doesn't see that bad things happen or exist, and she definitely doesn't try to minimize the hurts or pain of a situation, she just seems to have a knack for looking at alternative ways to see the situation and somehow comes to the conclusion that life is for living and embracing, not for hiding and eschewing. Her polar opposite, Luke, is the perfect example of allowing a truly horrific event determine his emotional availability and not only does he suffer for it, but everyone who cares about him suffers as well. She manages to sneak in past his defenses, though, and begins to show him how to live again. Their relationship isn't without its rough spots--mainly Luke's inability to articulate what was going on in his head and Harper's plowing right ahead, head first, into everything-- but there are plenty of sweet and funny spots too.

There were a few things that I had to just kind of accept--that his mom would buy into him meeting a girl and quickly moving her in after years of no real relationship, or how quickly some other things happened, or how a subplot just cropped up toward the end--but none of those things distracted me from the pure entertainment of this story. While there are some heavier issues, they never really are delved into and while some may find the exploration of those issues shallow or dismissive, I guess I saw them more as a vehicle to push the plot along, not as the main focus. Whether that's a good thing or not is for other more thorough reviewers to tackle; this reviewer has much more serious life things happening right now and escaping into this sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, sweet romance was exactly the thing I needed this weekend.


I only wanted to protect you…

Luke Garrison is a hometown hero, a member of the National Guard ready to deploy again. He’s strong, sexy, broody. The last thing he’s looking for is a woman to ruin his solitude. When the wildly beautiful Harper stumbles into his life, though, he realizes that she’s the perfect decoy. A fake girlfriend to keep his family off his back until he’s deployed.

So what if kissing her sends his mind to wicked places? He can control himself. 
Can’t he?

Harper was on her way to starting a new life… again. But something about Luke makes her want to settle down in this small town and make his house a home. When she’s in his arms, she finally knows what it’s like to feel safe. 

One night of sharing a bed turns into something much, much more… and soon Luke can’t keep his mind off Harper’s wide gray eyes or his hands off her luscious curves. He never thought he’d feel this way about a woman again. But he knows that he can’t tell her the truth about his dark past. And she can’t reveal what she’s running from.

At least this isn’t a real relationship. It’s only for a month. It’s only pretend. 
Until it isn’t…

Monday, May 8, 2023

Mini-Review: A Little Too Wild by Devney Perry



                                                OUR REVIEW:

 A Little Too Wild is the third novel in the Madigan Mountain series--a series where each book was connect through three brothers and each written by a different author. In this novel we meet Crew, a professional snowboarder, and Raven, coordinator of the ski school at his family's resort. These two grew up together--he was her brother's best friend. Before you think it's an unrequited love situation--it's not. She wasn't really interested in him when they were growing up; he was interested in her but it seemed more like a passing curiosity. When Crew comes home for a family wedding 12 years after he left town, these two decide to have a one night stand that somehow goes on for weeks, much to Raven's chagrin. She was hoping to have fun and get him out of her system, move on with her life, and find a nerd boy to settle down with (she's been burned by athletes all of her dating life). Crew also thought it would be a night of fun but surprisingly found that he was hooked on her and begin finding reasons to extend his stay. 

A Little Too Wild was fun because of the secrecy, their inability to stay away from each other, and the fairly low angst involved. It was also interesting to see what the other Madigan brothers were up to. And, honestly, it was fun to read a Devney Perry novel that didn't have the mysterious, mildly threatening plot line that many of her novels feature. 

A good weekend read. 

BUY IT: https://amzn.to/3Z7XRUI

Crew Madigan is a snowboarding legend. He’s gorgeous, rich, famous and every woman’s dream. Well, except mine. I’ll take a nerdy guy with a clumsy streak who wouldn’t know what to do with a pair of skis to save his life. Superstar athletes? No, thanks. World champions? Hard pass. Crew? Definitely not.

It’s been over a decade since Crew set foot on Madigan Mountain. Instead of sitting with his family during his brother’s wedding, he takes the chair beside mine. ESPN really doesn’t do that chiseled jaw justice. The cameras miss the flecks of gold in his eyes. When he invites me to his hotel room after the wedding, I break all of my own rules for just one night.

But here’s the problem with just one night. Crew is impossible to forget. And he’s not the only one who loves a thrill. The crash, the broken bones, are inevitable. Because together, we’re a little too wild.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

REVIEW: Runaway Love by Melanie Harlow


Surprising to no one, least of all me, I thoroughly enjoyed Melanie Harlow's latest novel, Runaway Love. It's a fast paced, fun (and funny), romance that I read in a blink of an eye. In Runaway Love we get the grumpiest grump, Austin, and the sweetest sunshine, Veronica in a single dad/nanny love story. 

Austin has got to be one of the most stubborn men I've read in a while; he drove me absolutely bananas with his refusal to own up to his *real* feelings, stuffing them down or hiding them behind other things. And yet....I completely identified with him because I am very similar. I recognized his fears and stubbornness as annoying qualities that I have and while I wanted to throttle him, I also wanted to hug him. 

Veronica, on the other hand, was open and kind and yearning for that sense of family and belonging that had been missing from her life for a while. I really liked her sense of self, her strength and persistence, and her overall joie de vivre. 

Together these two were a hot mess and I loved every second of it--the chemistry they desperately tried to ignore, their easy banter, the way she called him out and he begrudgingly admitted it--it all just worked. I adored his family and their unsolicited advice, their easy acceptance of her, and their overall dynamic. While Veronica did have a few friends, this really felt like the story of Austin and his family, which I'm hoping against hope means that all of the sibs will get their own book. 

All in all, a fantastic escape from the craziness of the world; and as always, I enjoyed it so much that I'm sad I'll have a while to wait for the next Melanie Harlow book, but wait patiently I will because her books are always worth it. 

Runaway Love by Melanie Harlow is now live!

Yes, I'm a single dad who needs a nanny for the summer.

But hire the stranded runaway bride who shows up on my doorstep in a wedding gown with no references, no skills, and no experience?

No one is that desperate.

Except within twenty-four hours, down-on-her-luck Veronica Sutton manages to charm my kids, my family, and half the population of Cherry Tree Harbor into believing she's perfect for the job.

And for me.

It's not that I can't see the appeal-those baby blue eyes? The endless legs? That mouth made for trouble? But I've got enough on my plate, raising two kids on my own and keeping the family business alive. I don't have the time or the inclination to fall for an outspoken city girl.

So I should have kept my hands to myself.

Holding her in my arms was a big mistake. Even worse? Spending the night together. She ignites a possessive fire in me that I'm finding hard to snuff out.

But the most unforgivable? Growing attached to the sound of her laugh, the scent of her skin, and the way her body wraps around mine in the dark.

At the end of the summer, she'll be gone.
And if I'm not careful, she might run away with my heart.

Download today or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: https://bit.ly/4069HPP

Amazon Worldwide: https://mybook.to/RunawayLove

Audible: https://bit.ly/3LpSivU

Narrated by: Sebastian York & Sophie Daniels


Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/3ZUcdJy



Meet Melanie

USA Today and #1 Amazon bestselling author Melanie Harlow writes sweet, sexy, feel-good romance. She likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. If she's not writing or reading, she's probably at Orangetheory or watching Schitt's Creek again. She lifts her glass to readers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.

Connect with Melanie

Website: www.melanieharlow.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7095467.Melanie_Harlow

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Melanie-Harlow/e/B00DXOYC1S

Facebook: harlow.pub/ap

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/351191341756563

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melanie_harlow/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@authormelanieharlow

Bookbub: harlow.pub/bb

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

REVIEW: Beyond the Thistles by Samantha Young


Beyond the Thistles is the first book in a new series, The Highlands Series, that is a crossover from the Adair Family series. It features Sloane, an American transplant, and Walker a super badass commando, both of whom work on the Adair estate. He's working security and she's working as a housekeeper--hiding away from her dangerous ex-boyfriend (and father of her child).

This novel was immediately interesting -- it starts with the backstory of Sloane and her daughter and then jumps to the present day. We get to see how hard Sloane works to balance her work, her daughter's needs, and the side business she has a baker. Sloane's struggle as a struggling single mom isn't romanticized and feels so exhaustingly real. As we get to know her, we quickly learn that she has a huge crush on Walker and has signaled to him that she's interested in a few occasions, as they run in the same social circles. 

Walker, mister quiet and grunty growly type, is also interested in Sloane but he's convinced himself that she's too young and that mixing friendship with pleasure isn't a good idea. But as awful things begin to happen that involve all of them, Walker finds that he can only resist his desire for so long, and eventually he capitulates to it. It's during this time that we slowly begin to learn why he's so relationship resistant and it has nothing to do with Sloane's age or that they share a friend group; it's easy to understand why he feels the way he does, and yet it's so frustrating to see him continually pull her in and then gently refuse to connect in the way really wants. 

Thankfully this is a romance and while there are some tense times, Sloane and Walker get their HEA and I'm now hooked on this series. I have my guesses as about who will fall in love next but I'll patiently wait to see if I'm right.

Fast-paced, steamy, action-y read that is a fun weekend escape.

A grumpy vs sunshine, age-gap, romantic suspense set in the Scottish Highlands.

Beyond the Thistles by Samantha Young is now live! 

It's been a long time since Walker Ironside left behind Scotland and the memories that haunt him. Yet after years of traveling the world as a bodyguard, Walker misses his homeland enough to return. To a village in the Scottish Highlands that plays host to an exclusive members-only club, Ardnoch Estate. If not happy, Walker is content working with the elite security at the club and maintaining his bachelor lifestyle. What he doesn't need is distraction in the form of the enticing but too-young newcomer, single mother Sloane Harrow.

Sloane never imagined she'd get pregnant at sixteen. Or that a decade later she'd escape from California with her daughter, Callie, to start over in the Scottish Highlands. Hidden and safe from Callie's dangerous father, Sloane is satisfied with their new lives. Her daughter is happy. Sloane has a stable job, a quaint cottage, a passion for baking that might just be turning into a business, and a huge crush on brooding security guard Walker Ironside. Unfortunately, the grumpy Scot seems immune to Sloane's charm, but she can't help but try to seduce him with cupcakes and baked treats whenever the opportunity arises.

However, when someone arrives in Ardnoch intent on destroying Sloane's life, Walker is the first to step forward to protect her and Callie. Even if it means giving into temptation and awakening his own demons. Because in doing so, Walker faces failing not only to shield Sloane from her past, but to safeguard her against his own.

  Download today or read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3CKi5Ml

Amazon Worldwide: https://mybook.to/BeyondtheThistles

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3rAzSik


Monday, May 1, 2023

REVIEW: Pas De Don't by Chloe Angyal


Some of my favorite authors are raving about this novel so, of course, when I had the chance to read it, I didn't hesitate. Pas De Don't follows the stories of Heather Hays, a world renown professional ballerina, and Marcus Campbell, a member of an Australian ballet company who's recovering from a potentially career ending injury. Heather ends up in Australia as a visiting performer after her cheating former dance partner makes her life in New York miserable; she needs a breather and a chance to regroup and show the world that she's the fantastic dancer she always has been--not her ex-fiance's pity choice as a partner. Meanwhile, Marcus is just hoping to get back on stage to show himself that he can still be the dancer he knows he can be, despite a year of being off the stage and in active injury recovery. 

Heather and Marcus get thrown together when the director of the ballet company has Marcus show Heather around Sydney on her first few days in town. Within in minutes the chemistry between these two is evident and their struggle to not acknowledge it was huge. It seems obvious why them acting upon their lust is not a great idea, right? She's coming off a terrible break up. She's not going to be there long. And if things go wrong, all hell could break loose--making things uncomfortable for everyone. But even more than that, their boss has made it clear to all members of the company that romantic relationships are not allowed and anyone engaging with them will be immediately fired. A no-brainer, right? Apparently not. 

These two try to resist and despite the high stakes of getting found out, they decide to sneak around. They come up with a plan that will keep everyone in the dark and as happy as they are, there's also an undercurrent of tension. If they get caught, the damage to their careers would be unthinkable. He could lose his livelihood and her reputation could be in tatters. And yet. The pull between these two is just magnetic and they cannot, for the life of them, resist it. They lie, sneak, and live in a bubble of happiness until the bubble bursts and all hell breaks loose. 

Pas De Don't had humor, passion, and interesting commentary on work place harassment. The secondary characters and plot enhanced the primary plot and helped provide that little something extra and the pacing made reading this so easy, I felt like I was done before I even started. 

BUY IT: https://amzn.to/3Fwf3w3

Heather Hays finally has everything she's worked for—she was promoted principal dancer and is engaged to her forever crush, ballet royalty Jack Andersen. But after Jack is caught cheating, Heather's near-perfect life comes crashing down. Determined to prove that she rose to the top on her own merits, she accepts a guest position from the only company that will hire her without Jack: the Australian National Ballet.

There she meets Marcus Campbell, who has had the most hellish year imaginable. When he shredded his Achilles tendon onstage, he lost every chance of his dad seeing him perform before he passed away. Marcus has spent the months since in physical therapy, worrying he'll be too old to dance by the time he's fully recovered. Now he's supposed to play tour guide for the company's new arrival.

But as they tour Sydney together, Heather and Marcus discover an immediate mutual attraction—one they absolutely cannot act oc. ANB has a strict no-dating policy, and even a hint of romance could cost them both their jobs.

Still, Heather has followed the rules her whole life . . . maybe it's time to break one.

REVIEW: The Daydreams by Laura Hankin


Honestly, I don't really know what drew me to this book on NetGalley but I'm glad it did. It was part flashback to behind the scenes of what I imagine to be the makings of a teen sitcom/dramady on what I imagine to be on something like the Disney channel and part present day-13 years later. We come to learn how they came to be and how they came to cease to exist and somehow end up doing a reunion show. 

The characters: Summer, Noah, Liana, and Kat are all given at least a 'soliloquy' to allow us into their heads, but really, this story is told through the eyes of Kat (Katherine) who is now a lawyer and was the most resistant to doing any reunion show at all; it's only her enormous guilt that obligates her to do it. We learn through the weaving of past and present how all of them contributed to their ultimate failure and it's what makes the behind the scenes so interesting. You get to know them and see them form fast friendships and then as the attention and fame gets unevenly spread, you get to see how jealousy and hurt feelings and things that never get said seem to grow and grow until their big moment gets ruined. It was that friendship and tension and then the aftermath, years later, that I think many will find interesting. I suspect many of us have that one thing we did (or didn't do) that still haunts us all these years later and to have a chance to try to rectify it the best way that you can seems pretty appealing (and daunting). 

The Daydreams gives us that chance to live through characters who attempt to 'make things right' and shows us how even when our guilt doesn't really change, we do, and that can make our fantasies of forgiveness or repentance that much harder to achieve. While the exploration of their youth was entertaining, it was the examination of them now that was so relatable and interesting. 

BUY IT: https://amzn.to/3WIO9ax

A deliciously entertaining novel about the stars of a popular teen show from the early 2000s—and the reunion special, thirteen years after their scandalous flameout, that will either be their last chance at redemption, or destroy them all for good.

Back in 2004, The Daydreams had it all: a cast of innocent-seeming teenagers acting and singing their hearts out, amazing ratings, and a will-they-or-won’t-they romance that steamed up fan fiction forums. Then, during the live season two finale, it all imploded, leaving everyone scrambling to understand why.

Afterward, the four stars went down very different paths. Kat is now a lawyer in Washington, DC. Liana is the bored wife of a famous athlete. Noah, the show’s golden boy, emerged unscathed and is poised to become a household name. And Summer, the object of Noah’s fictional (and maybe real-life) affections, is the cautionary tale.

But now the fans are demanding a reunion special. The stars all have private reasons to come back: forgiveness, revenge, a second chance with a first love. But as they tentatively rediscover the magic of the original show, old secrets threaten to resurface—including the real reason behind their downfall.

Will this reunion be a chance to make things right? Or will it be the biggest mess the world has ever seen? No matter what, the ratings will be wild.

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