what I’m reading: act like it by lucy parker.

The play that Lainie Graham is acting in on the London stage is not doing well. Despite having hot actor Richard Troy as one of its leading men, ticket sales and attendance are down. Could it be because of Richard’s arrogant and playboy public persona? When the producers concoct a plan to bring more publicity to the show, Lainie is on board, until she realizes it means staging a fake relationship with Richard. Lainie is a good actress but even she can’t pretend to be in love with someone she hates. However as the two are forced to spend time together, their relationship slowly changes from hate to love…

I love a romantic comedy and I thought this book was super cute! I enjoyed how the relationship between Lainie and Richard moved from them hating each other to becoming friends and more. It was a slow build, which made it all the more believable.

At first, I was hesitant and wondered how the author was going to make such a grouchy and grumpy character likable, but she did. Richard definitely redeems himself in the end and the relationship that formed between him and Lainie was charming and delightful.

There was a lot of British slang in this book and plenty of banter between the characters. Good banter always makes me smile and this book was a fun read.

This is Lucy Parker’s debut romance novel and I’m absolutely looking forward to reading more from her.

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what I’m reading: on second thought by kristan higgins.

Half-sisters Kate and Ainsley have never been close. But when devastating events bring them together, they are forced to lean on each other to survive. When after only 4 months of marriage, Kate finds herself unexpectedly a widow and Ainsley’s boyfriend of eleven years decides to break up with her instead of proposing, the sisters turn to each other for comfort.

This is an emotionally compelling story about family, love, and marriage. There is a lot of laughter, a lot of sadness, and of course, romance.

The best part of the book was the relationship that grew between the sisters. Kate is older than Ainsley and the two have never been close. They feel that they don’t have a lot in common because they don’t really know each other. Kate is the more serious of the two, while Ainsley is more carefree and energetic. After Ainsley’s boyfriend breaks up with her, she ends up moving in with Kate and as the two work through their own versions of grief and move on, their relationship grows. There are some great side characters, as well. I found the character of Gram-Gram hilarious and enjoyed her dating excursions as an octogenarian.

I adored the book’s setting, the fictional New York town of Cambry-on-Hudson. I have to confess I was bummed when I found out it wasn’t real. It seems like a fun little place to live.

I did feel the ending of the book was a bit predictable with everything wound up in a nice little bow. Still, it was an enjoyable trip to get to the end and I enjoyed it very much.

what I’m reading: meet me at beachcomber bay by jill mansell.

When Clemency sits next to Sam on an airplane, she thinks she may have just met the man of her dreams. Until Clem discovers he’s married. Three years later Clemency has moved on and is living in the seaside town of St. Carys when Sam re-enters Clemency’s life as her stepsister Belle’s boyfriend. Belle doesn’t know that Sam and Clemency have already met and Clemency soon finds herself in the midst of a love triangle.

I didn’t love this book as much as I’ve loved other Jill Mansell’s books. I felt that a couple of the storylines were a bit far-fetched and I found myself rolling my eyes at how nicely everything was wrapped up. There was also one character that I wasn’t especially fond of. I felt that her redemption happened a little too fast to be believable and that her happy ending was a little too easy.

The setting of the book, however, was excellent. The town of St. Carys contains many quirky characters who are all dealing with their own problems. Some of the topics Mansell touched on include unrequited love, adoption, cancer, and race. I did like the character of Clemency. I found her to be funny and relatable and I really enjoyed her relationship with her co-worker Ronan. They have such a genuine and close friendship which really comes across in their interactions and banter.

As with all her books, Jill Mansell has the ability to draw you into her story. Her writing is entertaining, easy to read, and I spent multiple hours engrossed in this book. St. Carys was quaint and the descriptions of the people and community made me want to visit to see more of this idyllic town. I definitely want to meet all the background characters and hear more of their stories.

Overall, this book is not a bad read; however I’ve read plenty of Jill Mansell’s books that I’ve liked better.

what I’m reading: my not so perfect life by sophie kinsella.

This book was so fun! I’ve been a fan of Sophie Kinsella’s books since I read the first Shopholic novel. Although I got a little burnt out on the Shopholic books – I get it, she likes to shop – I really enjoy Kinsella’s stand-alone novels. This one did not disappoint.

Katie “Cat” Brenner lives in a fabulous flat in London, has wonderful adventures in the city, and works in a great job. At least, that’s what she wants you to think based on her Instagram feed. Actually, Katie spends a good chunk of her day commuting to work where she has to deal with her crazy boss, shares a tiny flat with some interesting roommates, and is often too broke to engage in any sort of social life. When she is abruptly fired from her job, Katie is forced to move home and help her family with their fledgling glamping business.

Katie is such an entertaining and fresh character. She is smart and resourceful. She made me laugh and empathize with her. Throughout the book Katie struggles to figure out who she is – the city girl who lives in London? Or the girl who lives in the country? There’s a little bit of romance, but it’s not the main focus of the book.

An enjoyable and entertaining book!

what I’m reading: maybe in another life by taylor jenkins reid.

You know that Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors? The one where she is racing to make the train and the movie veers off into two different storylines – one storyline if she makes the train and one storyline if she doesn’t? Well this book is just like that movie.

Hannah Martin has just moved back to Los Angeles and is staying with her best friend Gabby and her husband. On her first night back she goes out for a welcome home party and at the end of the night, her old boyfriend offers to give her a ride home. What happens if she leaves with him? What happens if she leaves with Gabby? This book examines the two possibilities that could happen depending on which choice Hannah makes.

I thought this was a cute book. The two storylines are told alternatively, with each chapter switching off between the two realities. There’s a lot going on in this book but each storyline was easy to follow.

Maybe in Another Life is basically a “What if?” book. It made me think about how our lives are shaped by our choices and how one simple decision can change everything. It also deals with fate and the question of whether a person can have more than one soul mate.

I’m not sure which outcome I liked best. I did like that there were constants through each storyline, such as Gabby and the storyline concerning Hannah’s parents. However I felt that both endings were too perfect. I suppose the endings were appropriate but I guess I was left wanting something more.

The other thing that bothered me about this book was all the repetition of Hannah’s quirks. I get it, Hannah loves cinnamon rolls and talks about them constantly. She also always wears her hair in a high bun. I felt like I was told at least once in every chapter that Hannah likes cinnamon rolls and she’s got to get her hair in a high bun. It was a little bit of overkill. (Although truth – I totally went and got a cinnamon roll from the donut shop when I was done reading this book.)

what I’m reading: sleepless in manhattan by sarah morgan.

I started reading Sarah Morgan’s books last year and she is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors. Sleepless in Manhattan is a yummy little cupcake of a novel. It was fun and sweet and just hit the spot.

Paige, Eva, and Frankie are childhood friends who live in Manhattan and work together at the same events planning company. Paige is driven and hard-working and after all three friends are let go from their jobs on the same day, Paige comes up with the idea to start their own events planning and concierge business. Paige’s brother Matt and his best friend Jake decide to help the girls out. The issue? Paige has been in love with Jake since she was a teenager, and as the two work together to plan the perfect party for Jake’s company, they start a relationship but are forced to hide it from Matt.

This was a cute friends to lovers romance. I loved the great sibling relationship that Paige and Matt have. I also loved the friendships between the three ladies. I did have to roll my eyes at the enormous success their business had after just one event; I thought it was a little unbelievable. If only every start-up business had instant success, right?

This book is the first in the From Manhattan with Love series, so there is plenty of sequel bait. Paige has two best friends so we know each one will have their own story. Hopefully they will be just as entertaining as this one.

what I’m reading: then came you by jennifer weiner.

then-came-youThen Came You is the story of 4 women whose lives become connected by chance. India Bishop wants to get pregnant in order to secure her standing in her older husband’s life (and bank account). After she learns she is unable to carry a child, India decides to use a surrogate and a donated egg. Jules, a bright college senior, has sold her eggs and plans to use the money to help her father fight his addictions. Annie is a young housewife who agrees to become a surrogate to financially help her family and because she loves being a mother. Meanwhile, India’s step-daughter Bettina is convinced India is a gold-digger and sets out to unearth all her secrets.

This book was my book club’s pick from last month. I had read a couple others of Jennifer Weiner’s books so I knew what I was getting into. This book is pretty much the definition of chick-lit. Issues about modern women? Check. Issues about female friendships? Check. Humorous? Check. Romantic entanglements? Check.

All the characters were developed and had a lot of back-story. The more I read about India, the more I kept changing my opinion of her. There were a couple of reveals that I thought were a bit anti-climactic and I really couldn’t stand the Bettina character. She was unhappy and bitter and I’m not sure I bought her redemption arc at the end.

However, while the core of the story kept me entertained, I thought the ending was a little woo-woo and a bit unbelievable. I’m skeptical that all the problems could be fixed and tied up in a big bow as they were presented in the book. Most of my book club felt the same – the book was okay but the ending was unrealistic.