Book Review

ARC Book Review: Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 23rd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


Sometimes a yacht, a bold bucket list, and a kiss with a handsome stranger are all a person needs to dive into the deep end of life.

For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things she wants to accomplish by her birthday. Jo has almost everything she’s ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she’s the youngest resident by thirty years) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.

Jo is on track until a family tragedy turns her life upside down, and the list falls by the wayside. But when her two nieces show up unannounced with plans to stay the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping Jo finish it. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in twelve weeks, Jo takes on the challenge.

When she summons the courage to complete item number five–kiss a stranger–and meets Alex Hayes, all bets are off. As her feelings for Alex intensify and Jo’s inability to confront difficult emotions about her family complicates her relationships, she must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses what matters most.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the eARC.


I called a five-star from chapter ONE. That’s how convinced I was this was going to be a great read and y’all, IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. It gave me allllllll the Below Deck vibes minus without being over the top dramatic (like the show). I am here for the romance between a stewardess and a Hot Yacht Chef.

There were many themes at play here and they interconnected beautifully throughout Jo’s story. Jo is working through the grief of losing her nephew. When her two nieces show up for the summer she struggles to approach the topic and discussions surrounding him. Jo made some mistakes in this arena, but also really grew as a character. The dialogue and open apologies had me tearing up and loving Jo all the more.

Jo is approaching 30 and has a difficult time opening up and letting in others. Allowing herself to love and be loved as she deserves. ENTER ALEX. From kissing a hot stranger in a bar to finding out he’s your co-worker, BRING ON THE FORCED PROXIMITY. The tension from these two are wild. I don’t know how many times I shouted to KISS HER ALREADY. Then I got one of those arguments turning into confessions of love and I am swooning. Absolutely done for. There’s no spice and I didn’t miss it for one second. Alex and Jo were this charming, real-life couple I dream for. Did I mention Alex is a single Dad to an amazing teen Greyson? I loved this duo and how seamlessly they fit into Jo and her nieces lives.

Y’all. I couldn’t get enough of this South Florida love story. Weaving many plot lines together that had me laughing, tearing up, and devouring this story. Consider this a must add to your TBR. I am off the roof excited for the next story!!!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: death of a teen (off page, but is discussed often), loss of a parent (prior to book, but again, discussed), parental abandonment, intense guilt, depictions of grief and depression

Instagram || Goodreads

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