ARC review: America’s Sweetheart by Jessica Lemmon

America’s Sweetheart by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Real Love #5
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Source: ARC from publisher (via Netgalley)

Old flames burn bright. When a disgraced starlet returns home to lick her wounds, she discovers that her high school sweetheart is just as tempting as ever.

Allison: When I left for California, I gave myself a new name and never looked back. Now my carefully crafted good-girl image is getting torn to shreds in the press thanks to my Oscar-winning A-hole of an ex-boyfriend. So I escape to the only safe haven I know and trust—my hometown—to take a breather while I plot my triumphant Hollywood comeback. However, when I arrive at my parents’ house, Jackson Burke answers the door instead. And suddenly the past comes rushing back. . . .

Jackson: First kiss. First time. First love. Yep, Allison Murphy and I shared a lot of firsts back in the day. When she left, she took half my heart with her. Now she’s back in town, and even though I swore I’d keep my distance, her parents hired me to remodel their house, and I’m going to finish the job. But one hot kiss later, suddenly the press is calling us the next big celebrity couple. Sure, I’ll play the part, for Allison’s sake—but I refuse to let her close enough to break my heart all over again. . . .

At this point, I think I’ve lost track of how many of Jessica Lemmon’s books I’ve read. I know that this is the fifth book in her Real Love series, a series that I had been more or less enjoying… until now. I’m not sure what exactly it was about this book that bothered me so much, but I found myself rolling my eyes all the way through.

To start, I guess that the premise really isn’t my favorite thing. I love a good second chance romance, but this book almost had too many tropes for me. Not only is it a second chance romance, but it’s got some fake dating, a small-town girl who became a famous actress, a misunderstanding that turned into a scandal, some agents meddling in their clients’ lives… it was too much.

And not only that, but I couldn’t get over the push and pull between Jax and Allison. Do you want to be together or don’t you? Is it a bad idea or a good one? Are you pretending to date or dating for real? Are you dating other people or not? Make up your mind! You’re grown adults.

And finally, the POVs. I am totally fine with multiple POVs in my books, but it needs to make sense. Alternate every chapter or every couple chapters. Don’t just do the first 45% from one character’s POV only to randomly switch to the other’s. And if you’re going to randomly switch like that, maybe just leave it? Don’t randomly switch back in the middle of a sex scene. It was so disorienting and there wasn’t even so much as a character’s name at the top of the chapter to warn me.

I’ve really enjoyed many of Jessica Lemmon’s previous books, but this one just didn’t do it for me.

Previously: Eye Candy • Arm Candy • Man Candy • Rumor Has It

Have you read America’s Sweetheart? Are you a fan of Jessica Lemmon?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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ARC review: Rumor Has It by Jessica Lemmon

Rumor Has It by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Real Love #4
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 14, 2018
Source: ARC from publisher (via Netgalley)

This is one bad boy who’s fit to print. A notorious jock tackles life—and love—after football with a type-A journalist in this sexy standalone from the author of Eye Candy.

Barrett: As a former pro football star, I’m used to playing the field. After injuries cut my NFL career short, my second act as a broadcaster ended on live television when a hot mic picked up a little verbal . . . indiscretion. But this latest publicity stunt might just land me back on top—much to the chagrin of Catarina Everhart, the prissy, beautiful journalist who’s been assigned to date a bad boy (i.e., me) and write about it. Catarina swears I’ll never touch her, let alone kiss those full lips of hers. Based on our chemistry, I’m not buying it. . . .

Catarina: Barrett Fox seems to be doing everything in his power to make me hate him. The cocky egomaniac is infamous for his bad behavior, and now, thanks to my boss’s harebrained schemes, he’s apparently my problem. As one fake date leads to another, I start to see a different side of Barrett. He’s close with his family. He does volunteer work. And, okay, he kisses like a dream. Am I really dating Barrett Fox? Or is he playing me? Because suddenly I’m risking my reputation—and my heart.

I’m a big fan of Jessica Lemmon’s Real Love series, so I was excited to be approved for an ARC of its latest installment, Rumor Has It. I remember Barrett Fox from Man Candy, the third book in the series, where he was Dax’s brash best friend. I didn’t love Man Candy as much as the other books in the series, but I remember wanting to know more about Barrett.

At first glance, Barrett is a huge jerk. He’s the former “bad boy of the NFL,” best known for berating a female referee to the point that he lost his job as a commentator. Now, in the hopes of bolstering his public image, he’s agreed to a publicity stunt that involves fake dating a prissy reporter, a woman who is his complete opposite in every way.

Catarina Everhart is poised, prim, and proper. She’s very rigid, always doing things by the book, never really taking the time to enjoy anything just because. Catarina and Barrett clash. After her boring experience with her (also prim and proper) ex-boyfriend, fake dating Barrett is a culture shock. It’s even more of a shock when Barrett drops the bad boy act and reveals that he’s a total teddy bear.

Overall, I really enjoyed the fourth book in the Real Love series. There were some things that put me off a little bit (Barrett’s initial behavior, his insistence that Catarina is “not like other girls,” the big conflict at the end) but for me, this was a solid four-star read. Davis Price still goes down in history as my favorite love interest in this series, but Barrett Fox and Catarina Everhart made a great pair.

Previously: Eye Candy • Arm Candy • Man Candy

ARC review: Arm Candy by Jessica Lemmon

Goodreads   Amazon

Davis Price is a well-dressed stock analyst with a thing for blondes. Grace Buchanan is a feisty bartender who knows what she wants and when she wants it. They’ve had a steady stream of banter for months now, but it’s not like Grace is oblivious to Davis’ non-stop parade of one night stands. When Grace dares Davis to take out a non-blonde, she certainly didn’t think he’s set his sights on her, but she’d also be lying if she said she didn’t want him too.

I absolutely fell in love with Davis in Eye Candy, the first book in the series. In that book, he was Vince’s best friend, the guy who stuck around through all of the drama and heartaches in Vince’s life, the guy who pushed Vince into the best relationship of his life, and the guy who mysteriously clammed up around redheads. Sure, Eye Candy was a good book, but I was just counting down the days until I could read about Davis.

Though this book is technically a standalone, you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice by skipping the first book in the series. Davis and Grace might be secondary characters, but if you pay attention, you’ll see their relationship start to develop in the background.

This book is, like every Jessica Lemmon book I’ve read, cute and well-written. Lemmon knows how to build her characters so that you’ll not only care about what happens to them but so that they’ll also feel like real people. I feel like I could hop over to a local bar and meet Davis and Vince. They’re not caricatures. They’re not unrealistic.  They aren’t multi-billionaires with their own private islands and castles and fleets of expensive cars.  They’re regular people, and I love that about her books.

Okay, so let’s talk about Davis. If he were a real person, I would quite literally leave my current life for him.  In a heartbeat. Without a second thought. He rivals all other men (real and fictional) for a place in my heart because he is just such a good person. You should see my Kindle notes. Every time that Davis did something sweet or cute or wonderful I have comments like, “swoon” or “heart eyes” or “Where do I find my own Davis Price.”

I’m not sure what’s up with me and fictional men lately, but it’s getting to be a thing.

Now, all the love in the world for Davis cannot make up for the distaste that I had for Grace. She’s not awful.  Not at all.  She’d probably actually make a great friend.  She’s just so immature and wishy-washy when it comes to relationships. And I get it, really, I do.  Especially at the beginning, and sometimes even after a few years, relationships are scary. You have to push past your own self-imposed barriers to get to bigger and better things.  The problem is that whenever Grace feels an emotion, she shuts down. In one particular scene, she described herself as a pinata filled with terror, and that’s about when I stopped taking her seriously.

All of these contemporaries involve the characters separating and getting back together, so I don’t think it’s really a spoiler to mention that it happens here. I’m being purposely vague, but I don’t think that Grace deserved her second chance at the reunion. She made her choice and I don’t honestly care if she was crying in the back room of the bar over it. You’re an adult and once you’ve made your choices, it’s your job to own them and deal with them.

Honestly, Davis deserved the world and I’m not sure that he’ll get it with Grace. (But, as long as this fictional character is happy with his fictional girlfriend, I’m happy.) If it doesn’t work out with Grace, though, I’m not afraid of commitment. Just sayin’.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC!

Final rating: ★★★★☆