I’m Reading: The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

(contains spoilers)

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez has been taking the Romance world by storm, and for good reason. It starts with the perfect meet-cute involving an adorable lost puppy, and fulfills all our sighs and yearning for a solid romance from there.  The biggest reason this should be in your TBR pile is the craft. The author writes solid, complex, engaging characters with strong voice, vivid description, and evocative emotions. Sloan’s tragic backstory is dealt with sympathetically without melodrama, and even the antagonists get dimensions.

As some reader reviews mention, the book does feel a little like it’s in two parts, with a solid HFN halfway through. The second part is interesting as it addresses the “after” in the “happily ever after.” The characters must adapt, compromise, draw boundaries, grow as people, and decide how to be a team under stress. I love seeing this extra depth in what would otherwise just be a well-crafted, light romcom. What I don’t love is the classic romance trope of “I’m leaving you for your own good.” It sets my eyes on fire with rage every single time I read it, because it is the opposite of romantic for me. It is dehumanizing, infantilizing, arrogant, and abusive. It is my number one most hated trope in all romance arcs.

That said, in this case, the actual writing craft, the lovable and complex characters, and the dog, all conspire to make me forget about the hated trope and keep this book on my re-read pile.  Especially for the dog. Tucker is SUCH A GOOD DOG.

Visit Abby Jimenez online for links to purchase the book, or check your local library.

I’m Reading: Saddled, by Linda G. Hill

I’m finding myself more and more drawn to light, uncomplicated, wholesome reads. When everything around me is bleak, I want my fiction to be escapism. That’s why Saddled was such a refreshing read, both as a beta reader and a purchaser.

A woman executive at a condom manufacturing company falls hard for a new temp. But she’s responsible for the no-dating policy at work, and to complicate things, she discovers his alter-ego. By day he’s a talented, aspiring public relations rep. By night he’s Saddle McFleshbomb, a professional stripper.

Delightfully feminist, unabashedly raunchy, and sex-worker positive, this romance is a perfect weekend retreat into a gentler, wholesome world of ridiculous co-workers and happy endings. Best of all, you can leave your hat on.

Saddled is available on Amazon.