Kerry Winfrey, Not Like the Movies
Chloe has always indulged in a bit of flirty banter with her boss, Nick. In fact, her best friend, Annie, has just written a screenplay based on that banter and their (alleged) romantic chemistry — and now the screenplay is set to become a blockbuster movie. As the film gets more publicity, Chloe finds herself viewing Nick differently, but she has no interest in pursuing a relationship; she’s too busy caring for her dad, who has Alzheimer’s, and trying to finish her degree. She’s adamant that her real life isn’t a rom-com — but the more time she spends with Nick, the harder it is to deny her feelings. I really adored Annie’s story, Waiting for Tom Hanks, and was excited for this sequel featuring Chloe. Overall, I enjoyed it, though Chloe’s total refusal to acknowledge her feelings for Nick got pretty frustrating! I also wish we’d gotten some chapters from Nick’s POV, but instead we only see him through Chloe’s eyes, and he’s a bit too perfect and forbearing. Still, it’s a good read for romance fans, and Winfrey is an author I definitely plan to keep seeking out.
Mary Kelly, The Christmas Egg
A few days before Christmas, a former Russian countess is found dead in her London apartment, and her valuables — including a priceless Fabergé egg — are missing. Inspector Brett Nightingale and Sergeant Beddoes are on the case, and they suspect a particular gang of professional thieves. But the dead woman’s grandson can’t be ruled out, nor can the owner of a jewelry store who was allegedly trying to buy some of her treasures. I liked the writing style of this book and found the characterizations interesting, but I felt like there was a lot of backstory between Nightingale and Beddoes (and also between Nightingale and his wife) that I was missing. Apparently this is book #3 in a series, so maybe those relationships are fleshed out more in previous books. I also don’t think the book works particularly well as a mystery; it’s more of a thriller, with the police planning to trap the bad guys and things going wrong — but it’s not particularly thrilling. Still, I’d try another book by this author if I came across one.
Lynn Painter, Better Than the Movies
This YA contemporary romance is narrated by Liz, a quirky teen who loves romantic comedies. They’re deeply personal to her because they were her late mother’s favorite movies, and now that Liz is a high school senior, she’s hoping to experience her own film-worthy romance. When her childhood crush, Michael, moves back to town, Liz is convinced that he’s her romantic hero. But to get closer to him, she needs the help of Wes, her neighbor and long-time prank war nemesis. As Liz stumbles her way to romantic enlightenment, she also deals with grief and family/friend conflicts. This is a light, fun read in which each chapter begins with a quote from a rom-com. It’s extremely predictable, and Liz’s obtuseness and bad behavior can get frustrating, but I did think the book was cute overall. I’m interested in trying one of the author’s adult romances at some point.