Borrow-A-Bookshop invites you to live out your dreams of running your very own bookshop in a historic Deveonshire harbour village . . . for a fortnight. ~ Opening of The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday
Imagine being able to borrow a bookshop for two weeks. To live, breathe and work in one. Jude Crowley does just that, having booked a stay at The Borrow-a-Bookshop Café in the harbor village of Clove Lore, a dream vacation for her and her boyfriend, philosophy professor Mack. Only, Mack turns out to be a liar and a cheater. Jude take as chance and decides to go alone to heal her broken heart. It turns out she won’t be alone, however. Evidently the mysterious and brooding Elliott has booked a stay there too. Jude wonders if anything else could go wrong.
Jude has always played it safe. She lives with her parents, just graduated from college, and takes care of her grandmother. But with her grandmother moving into an active residential home and her parents moving away and selling their business, her life is up in the air. She’s quick to jump to conclusions, which I did not always think was fair. Elliott, on the other hand, seems to be hiding something—and from someone. A veterinarian by trade, Elliott gets on Jude’s every last nerve—in the beginning.
The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday was a charming and fun read. I especially liked getting to know the townspeople and the village itself. I would love to visit a place like that. Jude and Elliott seem an odd match at first but I was happy to see them come together—they both deserve happiness.
Dev Deshpande knows the exact moment he started believing in happily ever after. ~ Opening of The Charm Offensive
I do not like reality dating shows. I have seen maybe one or two, but the whole concept makes me cringe. Especially knowing how manipulated they tend to be (one of my coworkers was on a house remodeling television show—and I heard the stories). Still, when I read the description of The Charm Offensive, I got excited and knew I wanted to read it. I may not like the reality of these types of shows, but I enjoy them in a fictional setting.
Some background: Dev is a believer in fairytales and his job is to make sure they happen on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. While his own love life may not be what he dreamt of, he wants to make dreams come true for his contestants. In walks Charlie Winshaw, a disgraced businessman in desperate need of image rehabilitation. He proves to be quite the challenge--someone who does not believe in true love and is rather stiff and extremely uncomfortable in front of the camera. Off camera, Charlie seems stand-offish and cold on the surface. Dev pulls out all the stops to try and create a love connection between Charlie and his female contestants. He just needs Charlie to try a little harder. As the two men work together and learn more about each other, they soon find themselves in a not-so-planned romance—one that could jeopardize the entire show.
I still do not like reality dating shows. However. This is one of my favorite books of 2021. I fell in love with the characters and never in a romance novel have I rooted for a couple as much as I did Dev and Charlie. I really appreciated the author tackling the issue of mental illness head on as well, which added an extra dimension to the novel I hadn’t been expecting but was grateful to see. There were tears and laugh out loud moments, even a bit of swooning. I was all smiles by the end.
So much about the world baffled Dr. Trisha Raje, but she was never at a loss for how to do her job. ~ Opening of Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors
Another of my favorite books read in 2021, this was my first Sonali Dev novel (although I own several). Why did I wait so long to read this one?!
Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s top neurosurgeon, but it does not seem to be enough for her influential Indian immigrant family who descended from royalty. She disappointed her father greatly years ago and nothing she does seems to please him. Chef DJ Caine gave up his well-reputed job when he learned his sister had a tumor. He is desperate to get the job the Rajes offer—it would help bring in the money he and his sister need. Sparks fly from the moment Trisha and DJ meet—and not necessarily in a good way. Trisha’s arrogant and quick to judge.
There was so much more to this novel than I expected. Romance plays an integral part, although at times I wondered how the author was going to bring such strong-willed characters as DJ and Trisha together. I admit I was not a huge fan of Trisha at first, but like for DJ, she grew on me. And the more I got to know her under the arrogant exterior, the more I came to like her. Both DJ and Trisha carry past baggage with them which they must work through if they want their happy ending.
Sonali Dev does not shy away from issues of race and class, which is not a surprise given the tie in to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (at least in terms of class). She did not gloss over anything, but addressed these issues head on. Trisha and her family are Indian immigrants while DJ and his sister are a mix of Indian and Rwandan. Their experiences in life have been very different on that front, but also because one was born with privilege and wealth while the other has faced poverty and homelessness.
Julia Wickham . . . Because of course there has to be a Wickham character. I loved Trisha’s family and look forward to learning more about the various members in future books in the series. I found myself especially drawn to Trisha and her father. He is more stubborn than she is, and honestly, I felt his anger and disappointment in her was misplaced. I will not go into detail about the role Julia plays in the story, but, like in the original Pride and Prejudice, the character is more out for herself than anyone else.
While the novel does have similarities to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, it is also very much its own story. A reader does not have to be familiar with one to appreciate the other. But those who are familiar with the original, will have fun picking out the similarities, including the role reversals.
I went in expecting to like Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors and was even more pleased when I came away loving it.
Have you read any of these novels? If so, what did you think?
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