Lea, Amy. Exes and O’s (The Influencer #2) by . Berkeley, 2023. 400 pp. ISBN 978-0593336595 $16.99.
Art imitates life when a bookstagrammer who writes romance novel (author Amy Lea) writes a romance novel about a a NICU nurse who moonlights as a romance novel bookstagrammer. Tara needs a new roommate when her current roomie gets engaged, and her bestie’s fiance’s best friend Trevor happens to have a room available. Their meet-cute is her discovering him banging a one-nighter over the kitchen island, but they bond over Cheetos and homemade cupcakes. Desperate for a date to a Valentine’s Day fundraiser, Tara decides to revisit all of her exes to determine if any of them are worthy as a second chance romance, a la High Fidelity‘s Rob Gordon. Trevor is in on the plan and stays updated on her progress; meanwhile she tries to get the stalwart Boston firefighter to open up about his love life and past. They settle into blissful co-habition.
The pacing and structure is excellent: Tara’s sometimes-crazy journey to reconnect with her ex-boyfriends is paralleled with her social media posts (presented in script form) that define various romance tropes–it’s a very clever introduction to those not in the know (and for Trevor, who expands his reading with thrillers). they both grow as characters and complement one another really well.
I received a free advance reader’s copy of #ExesAndOs from #NetGalley.
Armas, Elena. The American Roommate Experiment. Atria, 2022. 400 pp. ISBN 978-1668002773 $18.00
This is a sweet, sultry international flavored romance that I liked a little better that it’s prequel. While Lina is on her belated honeymoon, her apartment is a natural refuge for her best friend when Rosie’s apartment is uninhabitable. But Lina’s cousin Lucas is in town as a tourist on the last weeks of his visa, and Lina promised him a place to crash. Rosie, a closet romance writer, has been harboring a secret crush on Lucas ever since she started following his Instagram after they failed to meet at the Lina’s wedding due to his barely disclosed surfing accident that has taken him off the national circuit. Lucas must be feeling some vibes too, because he suggests Rosie crash with him, and offers to help Rosie through her writer’s block through a series of dates designed to take them from acquaintances to lovers.
Not so much an enemies to lovers romance, there is an initial meet not-cute when Rosie thinks Lucas is breaking into Lina’s apartment. Frankly, there might be more deception here than in the Spanish Love Deception: Rosie with her crush and new career, both with their feelings and pasts, Lucas with his injury, and hiding their relationship from Lina.
Still, the romance novel plot while not unique is well-done, the writing is good, and the tension palpable. Spanish culture and the New York setting round out the details through language, food, familial expectations and geography. This is a solid spin-off.
A tiny quibble: the last book by this author was The Spanish Love Deception… why isn’t this called The Spanish Roommate Experiment, since it is a Spaniard encroaching on an American’s territory? Why isn’t the Spoiler Alert series called Guardians of the Gates? Why I am not making a lot of money working in publishing instead of moonlighting as an unpaid reviewer? The world will never know.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #TheAmericanRoommateExperiment from #NetGalley