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Week Twenty-Three: It Happened One Midnight (#ARC, Publication Date: 12/28/2021)

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from Zebra Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Bottom Line: If you are in the mood for a over-the-top-adorable romance with some magic and a trio of meddling witches, this is the read for you.

I was talking today with some friends about my tendency to grab some books just because the cover draws me in, and that was certainly the case with this book. I have since learned that this is part of a larger universe featuring some of the same characters…and had I known that, I might have passed. The author did a decent job of explaining who all the players were in the beginning, but it was still a little like coming late to a party in full swing.

CAN YOU SKIP THE STORYBOOK BEGINNING…

Novelist Juniper Blossom has romance down to a science in her bestselling books. But she’s not about to settle for just any man—a happy ending looks different for everyone, and she needs to find the guy whose idea of forever matches her own. Try telling that to her adorable, meddling grandmothers, though. If she doesn’t find a man soon, they’re going to find one for her. Which is why Juniper has prepared for a trip home to Ever After by fibbing that her sexy, smart, sweet best friend Tomas is her fiancé! He doesn’t believe in love at all, but that doesn’t matter if they’re just pretending…

ON THE WAY TO THE HAPPY ENDING?

Divorce attorney Tomas Rivera is as proud of Juniper’s authorial success as she is, but that doesn’t mean he buys into her books’ premise. His career is proof enough that true love is the real fairy tale—and everyone knows fairy tales aren’t real. But he can never say no to gorgeous Juniper, and an “engagement” might move him one legal brief closer to partner at his old-fashioned firm. Yet playing the part suddenly starts to mean feeling it, especially when a kiss just for show turns up the heat between them. Is happily ever after possible for two people who aren’t on the same page when it comes to love?

The Good: I liked the main characters a lot. Juniper and Tomas have been friends since they were six, and best best best friends at that. Except for about three minutes at a party once, they have never seriously considered crossing the line into something more, but they do have a ‘if we are single at 34, we’ll marry each other’ pact. They obviously loved each other fiercely and I liked that their emotional connection was shown rather than just talked about. I was rooting for them from page one.

So, the setup is that they are going home for a wedding, and to keep their meddling family from trying to interfere too much, they will pretend that they have finally come to their senses, and are engaged. I found this deception more believable than some—who hasn’t pretended to be dating someone to get someone else off their back? I know I have, and I’m sure that many people have.

The Less Good: I liked the meddling Moms very much, but add in three meddling Grandmothers and a meddling town, and it was a little much for me. Also, the grandmothers were…they were a lot. Their bickering could have been cute, but it took over the story in parts, and I found myself skimming over exchanges that I am sure were supposed to be the promised hilarity…but were, in fact, just grating. Tone down these fairies and they are more effective.

The weird: I thought that the sexual content in the book was inconsistent with its tone. Do not mistake me—I like a 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 book quite a bit. The steamier the better is usually my motto…but this is a light fantasy, and the trips into erotica were…just odd. When you are trying to one up your best friend at dinner, ‘let’s have explicit sex in the bathroom’ is not the first dare that comes to my mind.

So, enjoyable. Funny, cute, steamy, likeable characters…but with a few weirdly-off elements that kept it from getting a higher rating.

5 thoughts on “Week Twenty-Three: It Happened One Midnight (#ARC, Publication Date: 12/28/2021)

  1. Oh Dear. I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, but it sounds like the author might have gone too far in this one. Thanks for the warning about the sex scenes. I will definitely be skimming those.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review. I love a good steamy sex scene but if the rest of the book is all very rom-com Disney then it needs to be very carefully built in otherwise it just feels inappropriate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great way to put it—it was just a little bit too much, all around. I mean, it wasn’t bad…just about 10% weirdly off. 🤦🏻‍♀️

      Like

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