I’m Reading: The Match by Sarah Adams

Evie works for Southern Service Paws, helping clients with disabilities match with highly trained service dogs. When she gets an email to meet with the father of Sam, an eleven-year-old girl with epilepsy, Evie is especially eager to help someone with her own diagnosis find independence. The problem is that the email setting up the meeting didn’t come from Sam’s incredibly hot, incredibly rude father. It came from Sam.

Jake has been living in constant fear since his daughter’s epilepsy diagnosis. As a single dad, he’s terrified of getting the everyday parenting gig wrong, on top of keeping Sam safe during her seizures. There’s no room in his life for complications like love, especially after Sam’s mother walked out of their lives and never looked back. When a beautiful woman storms their table in a coffee shop insisting she has a meeting with him, Jake finds out his daughter conspired to bring them together. Evie is too vibrant, too attractive, and Jake needs to make sure she never wants to see him again.

The Match is a feel-good wholesome rom-com an abundance of heart. I’m personally a fan of heavy steam in my romance, and I was surprised to fall so deeply in love with a book that never goes further than make-out sessions on the couch. For me, the characters sell the book. We fall absolutely in love with Jake as parent of the year. He stresses adorably over single-dadhood and doing right by Sam. Evie is a messy, disorganized do-gooder with high competence and a strong uge to help others despite her upbringing among the self-centered elite. Sam is a well-written kid with devious smarts, relatable fears, and a giant heart that pulls the two main characters together. The secondary characters are smart, funny, and adorably bawdy, with strong voices of their own.

There are a few under-developed moments and threads (the antagonists in particular), but overall I found the plot highly satisfying and the characters endearing. It’s earned a high spot in my re-read pile. I’m glad I gave it a chance, despite its high ranking in the “clean and wholesome” category. It proves once again that a good story transcends categories, and we should never put our tastes in too narrow a box.

(I DESPISE the use of the term “clean” to describe books without sex, but that’s a rant for another day.)

Content notice: Book contains emotional abuse by the MC’s parents, including gaslighting and attempted emotional and financial coercion into a non-consensual relationship. Very brief on-page sexual assault (unwanted kiss).

I read The Match (book one of It Happened in Charleston) on Kindle Unlimited. Check with your local library, or visit Sarah Adam’s website to find this and her other work.

I’m Reading: Verity by Colleen Hoover

If you’re a fan of the classic gothic romance Rebecca, this modern Indie romantic suspense will give you all the steamy thrills and chills you’re looking for, with polished, sophisticated prose and sympathetically broken characters.

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling author who travels upstate to the gloomy home of Verity Crawford, a famous author who is unable to finish her bestselling series after a tragic car accident. Tragedy has followed the Crawfords, who lost two children in the years before the accident. A sympathetic Lowen must fight her attraction to Verity’s husband, Jeremy and do the job she came for, but the discovery of a secret manuscript of Verity’s life revealed that tragedy may not be all that it seems.

Hoover plays beautifully with the gothic tropes, but in a way that will appeal to the sensibilities of modern readers. The melodrama is brought with a light touch. The twists and turns are deeply satisfying, deliciously dark, and dripping with atmosphere. I did think the ending could have used some tightening, but the effect was there and left us questioning everything we thought we knew.

I thought I’d struggle with the darker themes, with so much darkness in the world right now. Instead, I found myself tearing through the book, riveted. I finished it in a single sitting. None of the darkness felt gratuitous to me, and the pacing helped sell it as an organic part of the story development. The writing itself is excellent, with small touches of imagery and symbolism that thrill the senses of readers who enjoy the play of language. The deep POV flirts hard with elements of unreliable narrator and gaslighting essential to the gothic atmosphere.

There’s a reason why this Indie book rides so high in category rankings. It deserves its place!

Available through Kindle Unlimited. Check your local library, or visit the author online for purchasing options at https://www.colleenhoover.com/portfolio/verity/

Content notices for child abuse, trauma, neglect, death, murder, and ableism. This is a dark book with dark themes. If you have questions about any potential trauma triggers in the book, please reach out to me here or via Twitter DM @JoGeekly and I’d be happy to give you more info to make an informed consent decision on whether or not to read.