Book Review

ARC Book Review: Do I Know You? by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: January 24th, 2023
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When a couple starts to feel like they’re married to a stranger, a flirtatious game of pretend becomes the spark they need to reignite their relationship.

Eliza and Graham are anticipating an anything-but-sexy, weeklong getaway to celebrate their five-year anniversary. Nestled on the Northern California coastline, the resort prides itself on being a destination for those in love and those looking to find it. For Eliza and Graham, it might as well be a vacation with a roommate.

When a well-meaning guest mistakes Eliza and Graham for being single and introduces them at the hotel bar, they don’t correct him. Suddenly, they’re pretending to be perfect strangers and it’s unexpectedly…fun? Eliza and Graham find themselves flirting like it’s their first date, and waiting with butterflies in their stomach for the other to text back.

Everyone at the retreat can sense the electric chemistry between Eliza and Graham’s alter egos. But when their scintillating game of roleplaying ends, will they still feel the heat?

Thank you to Berkley Romance for the eARC.

ABSOLUTELY LOVED.

You know what got me off on the perfect foot with this book? That Graham and Eliza weren’t two bitter, mean characters where you didn’t even want to cheer them on to fix their marriage. These two LOVE each other and WANT deeply to make things work and that made me love them immediately and want the best for them.

I thought it was a fun idea to kind of “role play” to get out of their own way. It led to some good banter and to some moments that truths could be revealed. For a book set at only a resort I thought there were ample opportunities for activities that didn’t feel forced and allowed major character development.

Side note to David? CAN HE HAVE HIS OWN BOOK PLEASE? I loved him so much and how good of a friend he was! He was the perfect side character touch that brought some lightness and helped Graham by being someone he could talk too.

Eliza took the most time to really break down some barriers. What I loved though is that Graham talked and approached things with such love. There was no condemning and call outs. He voiced his thoughts and Eliza started to truly reflect on how she handles conflict and tough situations. Same went for Graham’s growth. Once Eliza was aware of what was happening for him, she went out of her way to make obvious remarks to build his confidence. I LOVE THAT SO MUCH.

There’s a beautiful focus on the fact marriages aren’t perfect, but two people who want badly enough to try and work together and stay open to communicating can make it perfect. I loved many of the dialogue surrounding communication and asking questions and finding new ways to keep loving the person that changes over time with you.

This is there best adult book yet.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: two brief open; low explicit
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: strained familial relations

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: With and Without You by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ★★☆ (2.5)
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: April 19th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

#Wibbroka is back with another swoony YA–this time tackling long-distance relationships, in a novel based on their own romantic history.

If high school seniors Siena and Patrick were a superlative, they’d be the Couple Most Likely to Marry. They’ve been dating for three solid years, and everyone agrees they’re perfect for each other. But with college on the horizon, Siena begins to wonder whether staying together is the best idea. Does she really want to be tied down during possibly the most transformative years of her life? So she makes a decision to break up with Patrick, convincing herself it’s for the best. Before she can say the words, though, he beats her to the punch: his family is moving out of state. Caught off guard by the news, Siena agrees to stay with Patrick, believing their relationship will naturally fizzle out with time and distance. But over a series of visits throughout the school year, Siena begins to see a different side of Patrick–one that has her falling in love with him all over again. 

Thank you the the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

LETDOWN.

I am a huge fan of Wibberley and Sigemund-Broka. Read and enjoyed all of their previous books. This is the first time I have felt truly MEH about how this entire book went.

This relationship in crisis trope did not play out well. Siena complained entirely too much and kept pitying Patrick at every turn when she should have just BROKEN UP WITH HIM. Stop making ridiculous excuses. It also really bugged me that rather than communicate (since they’ve been in a relationship for 3+ years), she instead decides she wants to sleep with him for the first time even when she acknowledges she’s not in a good place for it. I could give you a list of more instances of Sienna making me want to toss my kindle.

Some of the second half was better. I’ll give it up to that. A few times there was some good communication. And I liked Patrick a lot! There wasn’t enough build up around his character so often he felt very bland, but he seemed sweet and I liked that we got some passion out of him by the end.

There’s more ridiculous miscommunication issues in the last quarter and I can’t say I was even all that happy with the ending. I felt there were enough red flags on both sides that I fell off the wagon of being behind this relationship.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: complete closed-door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gaslighting, gray-area cheating

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: January 25th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

They were cowriting literary darlings until they hit a plot hole that turned their lives upside down.

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the eARC.

HARD FOUGHT HEA.

I find myself having a hard time writing this review. Even though I really enjoyed this book. From the get-go I wanted to know what happened between Katrina and Nathan. The slow unveiling of their history and magnetism pulled me in.

This book isn’t ooey-gooey romantic. No fluff, no adorableness, nothing of the sort. Fair warning because I was expecting something with a bit more of any of those listed above. It’s deep and intricate. It felt very adult (not in an explicit sense, but the context). Things really played out very real world. I found that I was thinking often on these kinds of situations and how the nuances of life can create breaking points and new connections.

Nathan and Katrina could have definitely used a sit down, drag out conversation (which admittedly, would have severely shortened the book). The way they expressed themselves through writing was intense. And that pinnacle moment where things were at last said pulled at my soul. Two people who had to fight for themselves as individuals and together. The title is very apt and the story inside far exceeds the idea of the roughest draft.

A bit heavy, but a hard won happily ever after. I loved getting a chance to read this duo’s first adult romance and look forward to what they write next. I didn’t want to speed read this at all because every single word seemed to matter. Every paragraph played into the novel. The engrossing nature had me finishing it in a day.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: one brief/vague open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gaslighting, brief cheating (an unreturned kiss), depictions of anxiety, divorce

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: April 20th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

An academic enemies-to-lovers YA with all the nerdy drama, high school antics, and heartpounding romance of the Netflix original series Never Have I Ever

Since high school began, Alison Sanger and Ethan Molloy have competed on almost everything. AP classes, the school paper, community service, it never ends. If Alison could avoid Ethan until graduation, she would. Except, naturally, for two over-achieving seniors with their sights on valedictorian and Harvard, they share all the same classes and extracurriculars. So when their school’s principal assigns them the task of co-planning a previous class’s ten-year reunion, with the promise of a recommendation for Harvard if they do, Ethan and Alison are willing to endure one more activity together if it means beating the other out of the lead.

But with all this extra time spent in each other’s company, their rivalry begins to feel closer to friendship. And as tension between them builds, Alison fights the growing realization that the only thing she wants more than winning…is Ethan. 

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

MY FAVORITE TROPE.

This was a fun ride! I enjoyed this one much more than their last (but not as much as my favorite, If I’m Being Honest).

I am always here for an enemies to lovers trope and this brought the heat in that department. The snarky banter and high-jinks that Alison and Ethan got into just to prove a point had me both laughing and eye-rolling. Oh teenagers! I liked how their relationship progressed once they finally started to admit some feelings. I wish it had happened sooner because it was adorable after that point.

There were some missed opportunities for character growth, especially for Alison. Dealing with her sister being home and trying to be the best at everything I was hoping to see some understanding and maybe relaxing a little on her grip. By the VERY end I could see that change starting. It would helped me love Alison’s character more if this had started sooner and we got to see that play out in her interactions.

The competitive nature was almost too far to come back from and I’m glad it ended when it did. It did create some clear tension and heat between Ethan and Alison. I liked that at times, it did deviate from the expected and some exploration of self was occurring. Honestly, I think it would be fun to follow these two to college to see what happens next. I enjoy that these books have clear teenage characters who are growing into themselves and make mistakes and remind me of that time in my life too.

And I always love a good run-in with old characters!

Overall audience notes;

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses, heated make out (with some clothing removed)

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