Book review: Some Sort of Happy by Melanie Harlow

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Skylar Nixon tried so hard to be an actress.  She moved to New York right after high school, and although she went to countless auditions, they never panned out.  Her last effort was a reality show called Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) – and the producers had a very specific role they wanted her to fill.  Her performance was edited to make her seem even worse than she was, and now nobody wants to hire her.  Not even after she moves back home with her tail between her legs.

Sebastian Pryce was his high school’s typical weird loner. He was super smart but constantly made fun of for his OCD. He, too, moved to New York after high school.  He became a powerful attorney and got engaged to a real city girl.  But he didn’t want that life.  He didn’t like that life.  He pushed his fiancee away and quit his job.  He moved back home for a simple, quiet life.

On one of the worst days of her life, Skylar literally faceplants on the beach in front of Sebastian. At first, she doesn’t recognize him, but he recognizes her.  After all, Skylar was Sebastian’s secret crush for a good decade.  When Skylar realizes that this beautiful man is that Sebastian Pryce, she’s intrigued.  She wants to get to know him better.  But why does he keep pushing her away?

I flew through the first 50% of this book without regard to time (and was consequently very tired at work the next day).  I loved both characters and I thought it was so great that Harlow chose to portray a hero with mental illness as someone not only worthy of the heroine’s affection, but also someone that she would fight for!  I appreciated the depictions of Sebastian’s anxiety and OCD.  So often, romantic heroes are these infallible, perfect gods.  So, in that way, Sebastian was very refreshing to read about.

The second half was good, but not great.  It felt like Harlow was unsure of where to take the plot, so Skylar and Sebastian just had a lot of sex.  And don’t get me wrong – this book is very hot.  Like, where-are-all-the-fans-in-my-house hot and can-I-crank-the-air-conditioning-up-a-bit hot.  Harlow knows her way around a sex scene, that’s for sure.  But there’s a chunk of chapters in this middle of this book that basically consisted solely of sex, and it got a little tiring, even for me.

Still, I loved this book, and I just wanted to take Sebastian and protect him and his insecurities and his poetry and his list of things that will be hard for him that he’s still going to do so that he doesn’t become a slave to his anxiety or his compulsions. Even though he’s this buff, beautiful lawyer, he still feels like that awkward, weird kid that everybody made fun of and my heart just broke for him.

As a side note to any readers of Frenched, Lucas and Mia play a fairly big role toward the end of this book, and I might have actually squealed with delight when they showed up.

I have some more unread Melanie Harlow books on my shelf, and once I finish my new wave of ARC’s, I am so excited to fall in love with more of her characters.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-me authors of 2016

Whoa, it’s been months since I last did a Top Ten Tuesday!  I happened to scroll down while I was preparing a list of my top new (to me) authors of 2016 and saw that I’d flagged this topic as one I absolutely had to do.  What are the chances that the timing would be so perfect?

So, without further ado, here are ten authors (listed alphabetically) that I read for the first time in 2016 and will, without a doubt, continue to read in the future:

  • Melissa Chambers.  I read Chambers’ The Summer Before Forever and was actually pretty surprised to find a young adult book that really delicately handled a romantic relationship between stepsiblings.  I’m really curious to see what she’ll come up with next.
  • Rebekah Crane.  Of all my Kindle First picks, Crane’s The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland is one of my favorites.  A motley crew of teenagers helping each other overcome their problems at a picturesque summer camp?  That’s just my kind of story.
  • Melanie Harlow.  BookBub often alerts me to free erotica, and nine times out of ten, it’s absolutely awful.  Harlow’s Frenched was a great exception to the rule, and I’ve already got an eye out for more of her work.

  • Aaron Hartzler.  When What We Saw came out earlier last year, my Goodreads feed was flooded with positive reviews.  It took awhile for my library to get it, but it was absolutely worth the wait.  Now I am waiting patiently for more of Hartzler’s work to show up.
  • Hazel Kelly.  Kindle Unlimited is a tricky thing.  There’s an awful lot of books available, and an awful lot of them aren’t very good.  But sometimes, you find a really good author whose books are well-written and don’t just feature the same plot over and over with different characters.  Kelly is one of those authors.
  • Robin Roe.  I haven’t yet reviewed Roe’s A List of Cages, but it hit me hard.  This story of a young boy with an abusive uncle and his friend who struggles to help him ripped my heart out.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
  • Tiffany Truitt.  Seven Ways to Lose Your Heart still stands out as one of the cutest (and also sexiest) books I read this year.  I fell in love with the characters and world created by Truitt.
  • Danika Stone.  If you’re looking for a good book about nerd culture, look no further than Stone’s All the Feels.  I have yet to read another book that so clearly captures the level of obsession I can get with a fictional universe.
  • Siobhan Vivian. I read two of Vivian’s books this year and was pleased with both.  The one I particularly liked was her new release, The Last Boy and Girl in the World.  I am so excited to see what she releases next.
  • Francesca Zappia. Saving the absolute best for last, Zappia’s Made You Up is one of my all-time favorite reads.  I absolutely adored the characters that she created, and I loved that we never quite knew whether what was happening was actually the truth.  I have so much respect for her as an author and I know she’s going to go on to do great things.

Which authors, if any, did you fall in love with this year?

Book review: Frenched by Melanie Harlow

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Mia is heartbroken when her fiance Tucker leaves her just one week before their wedding. After days of brooding in bed and crying over what might have been, her friends finally convince her to go on the honeymoon by herself. So Mia packs her bags and heads to the most romantic city in the world – Paris – alone.

Mia’s all set to have the worst time of her life. She doesn’t even try to enjoy it. But then she meets Lucas, a professor who splits his time between Paris and New York, who offers to be her tour guide for the day. This wasn’t in Mia’s plans. But neither was being sad, single, and alone in Paris. So she agrees.

Lucas is nothing like she expected. He doesn’t fit into her description of an ideal man. But as he shows her around, telling her stories about landmarks and historic locations, she feels herself falling for him. It doesn’t hurt that Lucas is 100% focused on her. Not on his job, not on other things he should be doing, and certainly not on himself. He’s the polar opposite of her ex-fiance, and Mia soon realizes that she has real feelings for this man.

Frenched is a cute romance filled with lists, jokes, and more steamy scenes than I knew what to do with. This is a light, fluffy book that isn’t going to make you cry, isn’t going to make you tear your hair out, and isn’t going to make you want to throw it across the room. It’s just a great escape from real life.

Melanie Harlow is definitely an author to watch.

Final rating: ★★★★☆