I finished THE ROAD TRIP during my honeymoon, late one night when I couldn’t sleep. I then started and blazed through THE ROYALS NEXT DOOR while hanging out in the hot tub, almost all in one sitting. I knew I’d manage to finish a book or two while I was out there enjoying the scenery! Here are the two reviews for this books – both were review copies that had already published.
I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Published by Penguin on June 1, 2021
Also by this author: The Flatshare, The Switch
Format: eARC (400 pages) • Source: Publisher
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Two exes reach a new level of awkward when forced to take a road trip together in this endearing and humorous novel by the author of the international bestseller The Flatshare.
What if the end of the road is just the beginning?
Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry's enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven't spoken since.
Today, Dylan's and Addie's lives collide again. It's the day before Cherry's wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland--he'll never get there on time by public transport.
So, along with Dylan's best friend, Addie's sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart--and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.
I’ve really enjoyed the first two books I read by Beth O’Leary – they’re unique and charming stories with fun characters. I even got past the horrible internal monologue/writing style in THE FLATSHARE because of how much I loved everyone. This book was generally pretty cute and mostly enjoyable, but not at the same level as the previous two books.
I didn’t root for the main couple very much. They met and quickly fell for each other over one summer, have a weird and mostly shitty relationship for a couple of years, and break up. When they see each other again a couple of years later and end up having to road trip to a mutual friend’s wedding, sparks fly again.
There were so many weird and complex elements to their love story and I didn’t feel like the chemistry was even there from the beginning, so why bother rooting for them to overcome their issues at all? Sure, they grew up a little bit by the “present day” chapters, but I still didn’t exactly care. There weren’t a lot of reasons to LIKE them together.
The book had major lessons about forgiveness and growing up, both with friends and romantic relationships. I liked some of those plotlines but there were just too many things to “get over” and I couldn’t. I often wanted to punch people in the head and therefore didn’t care much about their growth and character arc.
Deb, the MC’s sister, was an excellent character – I’d be happy to read more about her! All in all, this story was readable and often enjoyable, but not my favorite by any means.
I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Published by Penguin on August 31, 2021
Format: eARC (336 pages) • Source: Publisher
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An ordinary summer goes royally awry when a prince and princess move next door, bringing their handsome bodyguard with them, from New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle.
Piper Evans: elementary school teacher by day--avid romance reader and anonymous podcaster by night. She lives a quiet, reclusive life, taking care of her mother, who struggles with mental illness, avoiding her regrettable ex, who bartends in town, and trying to make inroads in the tight-knit island community that still sees her, five years in, as an outsider.
And she's happy with how things are--really--until British royals rent the property next to hers and their brooding bodyguard decides she's a security threat. Piper quickly realizes that one person's fairy tale is an ordinary woman's nightmare as a media frenzy takes over the island and each run-in with Harrison Cole is hotter and more confusing than the last. But beneath Harrison's no-nonsense exterior lies a soft heart, one that could tempt a woman who's sworn off attachments into believing in white knights.
But when Piper finds herself smack in the middle of a royal scandal that rocks the island she'll need more than Harrison's strong arms to shield her--she'll have to do a little rescuing herself. With careers, hearts, and friendships on the line, Piper and Harrison will have to decide what they're willing to give up for a chance at their own happily ever after.
I’m starting to warm up more to Royal-related romances and it was really fun that this was more about the bodyguard than the actual Royals. It’s clearly a riff on the Harry/Megan situation and I enjoyed that more than I would have it were a copy of Kate/Will.
The MC, Piper, lives with her mother on a gorgeous island in Canada. They live in what used to be the guest house of a big mansion. When the Royals come to hide out for the summer, they (and their staff/bodyguards) pick the house directly next to Piper’s. She’s a school teacher by day and romance podcaster by night, dealing with her mom’s mental issues and her own troubled past in relationships.
There was honestly a LOT going on here between Piper’s job, her ex fiance, her podcast, her mom’s issues, the bodyguard and his issues, the romance, the Royals… etc. The list goes on and on Lots of things happening, so it never felt to me like anything to enough page time. Certain elements were THERE but somewhat glossed over until they eventually factored in later on. Her romance podcast was discussed and a big piece later, but still managed to feel like a major afterthought.
The romance between Piper and Harrison was pretty good and enjoyable, with not a lot of issues to overcome. The major conflicts in the end of the book were about some of the side issues, so that was refreshing. The location of a beach/island town in Canada was great and needed more page time. It’s the kind of place I love to read about in companion series, where the shops and restaurants are explored more and more with each book in the series. This book, unfortunately, primarily showed the downsides to small towns (gossip, rumors, “outsiders are the worst,” and everyone-knows-everyone).
Overall, this was a fun Royal-related romance and I blazed through it in just a couple of sittings. It was breezy despite some heavier subject matter. I wish there was a little less going on so more things could get page time, but it was good overall.