A SWEET MESS by Jayci Lee – Release Day Review and Giveaway

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A SWEET MESS

by

Jayci Lee

 

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A Sweet Mess_coverKorean-American author Jayci Lee delights with A Sweet Mess, a delicious and light-hearted romantic comedy that readers will devour and ask for more.

Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see the gorgeous Korean hunk again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.

When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as possible…by sharing a villa.

When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart.

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250621108

 

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Asian-American main characters, lots of hunger-inducing food descriptions, and classic romance tropes. How can I turn that down? That’s essentially what I write too.

I like the choice of having the Korean leads be beautiful people in successful occupations–an influential food critic in Landon and a talented baker in Aubrey. I like that this story is light, focusing on the travails of a romantic relationship instead of societal struggles that minorities face in the US. We have too many of those stories and not enough of this kind. The angst comes from the yearning, the risking of professional reputation versus personal desires.

While there’s instalust, the sex scenes are sweet and not explicit. The food scenes are sumptuous, so don’t read this hungry. Friendships are tight and mothers are honored. Overall, Ms. Lee’s storytelling is enjoyable. She handled one of my most disliked tropes quite well and the push-and-pull was just enough to cause tension but not too much to make me give up on the couple.

As the title suggests, this book is both sweet and a little bit of a mess. In the early copy I read, there were several times when the transitions between Aubrey’s and Landon’s points of view weren’t smooth and the time jumps weren’t clear. Also, the dual daddy issues were too much and the cover, while cute, didn’t reflect the ethnicity of the lead characters. These are minor issues and don’t stop me from recommending A Sweet Mess to Romance readers who are looking for books that reflect the diversity of the society we live in today.

Three-half-stars

 

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Jayci Lee_Photo Credit Nichanh Nicole PhotographyJAYCI LEE writes poignant, sexy, and laugh-out-loud romance every free second she can scavenge and is semi-retired from her fifteen-year career as a defense litigator. She loves food, wine, and travelling, and incidentally so do her characters. Jayci lives in sunny California with her tall-dark-and-handsome husband, two amazing boys with boundless energy, and a fluffy rescue whose cuteness is a major distraction. She is the author of A Sweet Mess.

Website: https://jaycilee.com/
Twitter: @authorjaycilee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjaycilee

 

 

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Macmillan is giving one of my followers a digital copy of Jayci Lee’s A Sweet Mess. All you have to do to enter is Follow @carpediemchronicles on Instagram and Like my bookstagram of the book. Comment there or return here to let me know you’ve entered. I will draw the winner on Tuesday, July 21 at 12 noon Central time.

 

BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ By Jodi Thomas: Review and Giveaway

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BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ

A Honey Creek Novel

by

Jodi Thomas

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 336 pages

 

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Synopsis

BATHCC cover embellishedFrom Jodi Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Mornings on Main and Indigo Lake, comes this heartwarming new novel set in Honey Creek, Texas—a small town where family bonds and legends run deep, and friendship and love are always close at hand . . .

Piper Jane Mackenzie, mayor of Honey Creek, won’t let a major scandal rip her quirky hometown apart or jeopardize her dream of one day running for higher office. So she’s willing to welcome undercover detective Colby McBride, hired to help solve the mystery behind her wannabe fiancé’s disappearance. Colby’s cover? That he is an old boyfriend now begging Piper for a second chance—always when there are plenty of townsfolk around to witness his shenanigans.

Piper hardly knows whether to laugh or cry, especially when she finds herself drawn to the handsome rascal. He’s not the only newcomer she has to deal with. There’s a new interim preacher in town, Sam Cassidy. Drifting from one assignment to another since his one love died, Sam isn’t sure he’s the right fit for Honey Creek. But as Piper knows, this is a place chock-full of surprises. And if she can keep her town—and her heart—from going completely off the rails, there may be a sweet, unexpected future in store . . .

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This was a hoot, a zany, funny light read that’s sure to entertain readers who like romantic fiction that’s set in a small town and that contains a little mystery to liven things up.

Breakfast at Honey Creek Café tells the intertwined stories of three couples – Piper and Colby, Sam and Anna, and Pecos and Kerrie. All different, all romantic in their own way.

Piper is the mayor of Honey Creek whose rumored boyfriend went missing and is now under suspicion of foul play. Colby is a trooper who was sent by her Texas Ranger brother to investigate the case and also to protect her. The cover story they came up with has Colby posing as an old suitor so that he can get the townspeople to talk to him. Both have bad experiences with relationships in the past that made them wary about their attraction to each other. With the entire town looking on, their pretend courtship soon turns oh-so real.

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Sam is a former firefighter and former soldier who takes up the position of temporary preacher originally meant for his deceased father. After the death of his girlfriend, he found himself drifting along without any real purpose until he came to Honey Creek. There, he realizes that preaching isn’t for him, but Anna, the feisty world-saver definitely is. Their snappy banter made me laugh out loud.

The third story–told from the point of view of Pecos, the graduating high school student who wants to leave town to be somebody–is the one that touched me the most. Pecos has the most tremendous growth of all the POV characters. He made me tear up with this line: “That living through any storms with her was better than facing the world alone.”

Jodi Thomas described a setting that’s quirky enough to be fictional, but also familiar enough to be realistic. There’s a lot of named characters necessary to paint a complete picture of a community. My favorite is the generous Mr. Winston.

This book is a different style from what I’ve read of Ms. Thomas’s work before. It’s more comedic and less angsty. It’s still her usual heartwarming story and I love that. My only critique is in the inconsistency of the tone. It started really serious with the mystery of the missing boyfriend but as the book went on, the graveness was abandoned in favor of attempts to elicit laughter from the reader. Also, the ending was a tad rushed, with the villain’s motivations not fully fleshed out. But all of that is minor compared to my overall enjoyment of the book. How could I not when this quote from Anna expresses my carpe diem motto exactly?

“We don’t know what the future holds, but we want to step into it together. It’ll take some work, but we’ll fit each other in our lives.”

4 out of 5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Jodi Thomas 2With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the eleventh writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITAs to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Thomas was honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and served sixteen years as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

When not working on a novel, or inspiring students to pursue writing careers, Thomas enjoys traveling with her family, renovating an historic home, and “checking up” on two grown sons and four grandchildren.

 ║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter  ║
║ Instagram ║  Amazon  ║ BookBub ║
║ Pinterest  ║ Goodreads ║

 

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ONE WINNER: One signed copy of Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café
MAY 12-21, 2020
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FOR SPACIOUS SKIES By Nancy Churnin: Book Blog Tour – Review and Giveaway

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FOR SPACIOUS SKIES

KATHARINE LEE BATES AND THE INSPIRATION FOR “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL”

by

Nancy Churnin

illustrated by Olga Baumert

Picture Book Biography / Women’s Suffrage / Woman Poet
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Synopsis

FSS book coverAs a little girl growing up during the Civil War, Katharine Lee Bates grew up to become a poet, professor, and social activist. She not only wrote “America the Beautiful” but gave this anthem to America as a gift. A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a suffragist who stood up for a woman’s right to vote and lived to cast her ballot in presidential elections, Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference. In “America the Beautiful,” her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.

 

PRAISE for For Spacious Skies: 

“Churnin tells that story in a spare and lively text beautifully complemented by double-page spreads highlighting Baumert’s gorgeous panoramic illustrations . . . A handsome volume befitting its subject.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The story ends on a high note in 1920, with Bates casting her ballot after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to women . . . The richly colored, nicely composed artwork will help children visualize the period setting while enjoying the portrayals of Bates and beautiful landscapes. A picture-book biography of a notable American.”—Booklist

“Nancy Churnin has written a delightful book that helps children understand the many dimensions of my great-aunt Katharine Lee Bates. This book does an excellent job conveying her ardent passion for equal rights and for her country. She was a poet, a professor, and a world traveler, but she was first and foremost a citizen who loved America, in all its beauty and diversity.”—Katharine Lee Holland

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Exquisitely illustrated, inspiring, and educational, For Spacious Skies is a gem of a picture biography I would strongly recommend elementary school librarians, Reading teachers, and parents of school-age kids purchase right away.

Growing up in the Philippines, I’ve heard of the song “America the Beautiful” but haven’t known anything about the writer who penned the tribute to this country’s wonders from coast to coast until now. Along with my fifth-grader son, I learned of Katharine Lee Bates’s feminism and her drive to make a difference through her words. We felt an affinity with her when she beheld the marvelous sights from the top of Pikes Peak, a place we’ve visited and lived close by.

FSS bookstagram 2Touching on major events that happened during the lifetime of Miss Bates, from the Civil War to Lincoln Assassination to women’s suffrage, this book teaches history to children in a way that appeals as well as informs. My son was particularly shocked upon learning that there was a time when women didn’t have the right to vote. His reaction made me think that girls would be inspired by Miss Bates even more and all kids who read this would seek to follow in her footsteps in speaking up for women and the poor, and advocating for peace in the US and the world.

With its artful cover and instructive content, For Spacious Skies is a worthy addition to any library.

4 Four-half-stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

ChurninNancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies with a ninth due in 2021.

Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick that will be featured at the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee in May. The William Hoy Story, a Texas 2X2 pick, has been on multiple state reading lists. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award and a Junior Library Guild selection. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable.

Nancy graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master’s from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats.

Website ║ Blog ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram
Goodreads ║ Amazon Author Page ║ BookBub

 

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ONE WINNER receives signed copies of both
For Spacious Skies and Beautiful Shades of Brown 
TWO WINNERS each receive a signed copy of For Spacious Skies
April 16-26, 2020
(US only for signed copies; international winners via Book Depository)

 

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

4/16/20

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4/16/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
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4/22/20 Author Interview Tangled in Text
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A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR by Laura Trentham – Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

A Highlander cover photo

A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR

by

Laura Trentham

 

SYNOPSIS

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The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland comes to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same…

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?

Buy-book link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250315021

 

ABOUT LAURA

Trentham Author PhotoLaura Trentham is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, including Then He Kissed Me and The Military Wife. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

 

Follow Laura here:

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REVIEW

A Highlander Walks Into A Bar is a fun, light double romance I thoroughly enjoyed for its themes of family, friendship, and community.

The main characters Isabel and Alasdair are well-suited to each other with similar caring for their respective parents and uncertainties about their careers despite their different backgrounds. I like the slow build-up of their romance through proximity and their quick acknowledgment of their mutual attraction. There was no push-and-pull that usually ticks me off.

I also appreciate that the deceptions (Gareth’s hiding of his title for self-protection and Alasdair’s mistake on getting his loathsome co-worker and boss interested in the Buchanan’s property) didn’t play out too long and after a proper grovel, especially on Alasdair’s part, Izzy and her mother Rose forgave their men.

I adore the idea of a small town where people work together to embrace and celebrate their cultural heritage. As an immigrant, I relate to this incredibly well. Highland, Georgia sounds like a fun place to visit during the games as described in this book.

Well-balanced story telling, likable secondary characters (especially Anna and Holt) who were interesting enough without overpowering the leads, smooth pacing, and  an intriguing tease for the next book are the reasons I’m giving this book four stars.

4 out of 5 stars

 

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One US reader will receive a paperback copy of A Highlander Walks Into A Bar from St. Martin’s Press. To enter, like the post and leave a comment below. I will draw a winner on Tuesday, August 6, at 12 noon Central time.

 

 

 

 

CHASING HOPE by Dana Wayne – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

Chasing Hope Tour Cover

CHASING HOPE

by

DANA WAYNE

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Date of Publication: June 10, 2019
Number of Pages: 295

Scroll down for giveaway!

 

Synopsis

Chasing Hope Book Cover

Max Logan longs for the joys of home and family he missed growing up in foster care. He fills that emotional void by becoming a kick-ass Marine, and for eighteen years, led his band of brothers from one hellhole to another…until the one that nearly destroyed him. Sixteen months of therapy and rehab put his body back together, but some wounds can’t be seen. Some can’t be healed.

Skylar Ward dreams of a life that includes someone beside her. Someone to share her life with, to be a father to her young daughter. But if she learned anything from her failed marriage it was that you don’t rush into a relationship. Options in her small town are limited, and those who approach her lack appeal. Only Max Logan sparks her interest. But the handsome, brooding war hero remains aloof.

Intelligent and intuitive, seven-year-old Maddie overhears a neighbor tell her mother she needs a male companion, so she Google’s it to see what it means. Convinced her mom needs a boyfriend and Max needs a girlfriend, Maddie sets out to make it happen. He needs a family. They need him. If she can make them see that.

Can one precocious child be the catalyst that heals a wounded warrior’s soul and brings joy back into her mom’s heart?

Or will ashes of the past bury hope once and for all?

PRAISE FOR CHASING HOPE:

“The pace was fast, the love was simple yet energetic, and the dialogues were lively enough to make me want to know more about the characters. To say that I loved this novel is not enough! Absolutely beautiful. It deserves these 5 stars.” – Readers’ Favorite

“I could not put Chasing Hope down! From the first few sentences, I was hooked and read over half of it the first night finishing it the following night. The main characters, Sky and Max, intrigued me right off the bat but feisty little Maddie wormed her way into my heart immediately! What a breath of fresh air.” – Mary McCormack, ARC reader

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As a reader who has a close connection with the US Armed Forces (Air Force husband, Marine Corps father-in-law), I can be quite critical of military romantic fiction. Errors in terminologies and ranks and exaggeration of the protagonists’ abilities peeve me. With Dana Wayne’s Chasing Hope, I found nothing to annoy me and everything to love. The story of how wounded Marine veteran Max, struggling single mother Skylar, and adorably precocious Maddie became a family is truly heartwarming. It’s an affecting and satisfying read. I smiled, teared-up, and loved along with these sympathetic characters as they slowly drew close to one another with the help, and sometimes hindrance, of the members of their small community.

Chasing Hope TeaserMax and Sky are easy to root for because they are regular people with real-life problems, who deserve their happily ever after. Maddie is a star. She’s the little cupid who brought her mother and their next-door neighbor together. I love the parts she played in making sure Max and Sky address their feelings honestly and clear up their misunderstandings right away. I also love the other secondary characters like Big John and Ruby, Logan and Anna. I even appreciate Cade for providing the conflict that tests Max and Sky’s developing relationship.

If I have a favorite quote, it’s this: “Blood doesn’t make a family. Love does.”

Excellent writing, fantastic story, snappy dialogue, involving characters. I enjoyed Chasing Hope so much, I’m giving it five hope-filled stars. I won’t hesitate to say, “Buy this book!” Buy it now.

5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Dana Wayne

Dana Wayne is an award-winning author and 6th generation Texan. She resides in East Texas with her husband (and biggest fan) along with a Calico cat named Katie, three children, and four grandchildren. She routinely speaks to books clubs, services organizations, writers’ groups, and other organizations on writing and publishing, and is a frequent guest on numerous writing blogs.

“I grew up listening to my father read passages from the stack of paperback westerns beside his chair. I was fascinated at how someone could paint a picture with words so vivid, I saw it in my mind. That’s when I knew that one day I would be a writer. It wasn’t until I retired in late 2013 that I was able to devote the necessary time to achieving my goal. I published my first book in 2016 and never looked back. My stories are heartwarming, a little spicy, and all about the romance because I believe romance is more about emotion than sex, and the journey is more important than the destination.”

A staunch supporter of new authors, she is a member of Romance Writers of America, Texas Association of Authors, and Writers League of Texas as well as several local writers’ groups.

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SECOND PRIZE: eBook Copy of Chasing Hope
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THIRD PRIZE: eBook Copy of Chasing Hope
+ $5 Amazon Gift Card
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July 9-19, 2019

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THE PERFECT DATE by Evelyn Lozada – Book Blog Tour Review

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THE PERFECT DATE

by

EVELYN LOZADA

with Holly Lörincz

 

SYNOPSIS

The Perfect Date cover

When a single mom ends up playing an unwilling fake girlfriend to a charming playboy baseball player, love suddenly turns everything upside down in this fun, heartwarming multicultural romance.
Angel Gomez has never lived by the book. A Bronx-based unwed mother by the time she was sixteen, Angel’s personal mission has always been to show the world that a Puerto Rican girl is not to be messed with—especially by a man. The only thing that matters to Angel, now, is providing for her son and earning enough tips at the club to complete her nursing degree along the way. Love is nowhere on her agenda.
Caleb “The Duke” Lewis is a star pitcher for the Bronx Bolts whose romantic escapades make delicious fodder for gossip columns. But lately he’s been trying to keep a lower profile—so much so that when he meets Angel, first while she’s in her nurse uniform and the next time behind the bar, she has no idea who Duke is, fails to fall for his obvious charm, and ends up throwing a drink in his face! She is the perfect woman for Duke … to fool the tabloids into thinking he’s finally settling down. But what begins as a charade soon has Duke and Angel hurtling into a full-blown romance that rocks each of their worlds and begs the question: Is this the real deal—or are some love stories just too good to be true?

Buy Link:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250204882

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Copy of Evelyn Lozada

EVELYN LOZADA is a high-profile Latina-American reality television personality, entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. She is best known for her role on VH1’s hit series Basketball Wives (2010-present), OWN’s hit series Livin’ Lozada (2015), author of the first installment of the book series: The Wives Association: Inner Circle (2012), and creator of Healthy Boricua (A Puerto Rican Lifestyle Guide to Healthy Living). Evelyn has become a national trendsetter, a “go to” fitness export, jewelry designer, fashion and beauty maven, social media royalty, and a stimulating voice and proactive supporter of causes that effect women and girls through the Evelyn Lozada Foundation. Evelyn is a Bronx native, mother of two (Shaniece Hairston and Carl Leo Crawford), who currently resides in Los Angeles.

Copy of Holly Lorincz

 

Holly Lörincz is a successful collaborative writer and owner of Lorincz Literary Services. She is an award-winning novelist (Smart Mouth, The Everything Girl) and co-author (best-selling Crown Heights, and How to Survive a Day in Prison) living in Oregon.

 

 

 

REVIEW 

When St. Martin’s Press’ publicist offered me an advance copy of The Perfect Date to review, I readily accepted after seeing the cover and the name of a PoC author. I was like, “Yay for representation and inclusion.”

I had high hopes for this book as I love some of its elements: multicultural main characters, placing a priority on education, desire to rise up from poverty. I thought I would be able to relate to the heroine since I also have a little boy. I thought there would be strong family support and solid female friendships.

I thought wrong. The Perfect Date did not live up to expectations. The writing is unpolished, the pacing is uneven, and the editing is unsatisfactory with plenty of grammatical errors and head hopping points of view. The main characters are unlikable and the many sub-plots are too heavy and angsty without let-up.

I cannot even consider it a proper romance since the main focus of the book was not Angel and Duke getting together to form a loving relationship. Each went about their own way – Angel to deal with the creep of a doctor she works for while studying for her exams, and taking care of her sickly son; Duke to return to playing baseball while hiding his injury and warring with his blackmailer of an ex-girlfriend. Their association was forced, their meetings combative. They never had a perfect date, so the title doesn’t fit.

Only Angel’s friend Gabrielle and her son Jose are positive representations of people of color. The rest, including Duke, are abusive, drug addicts, amoral cheaters and blackmailers, and in the case of Angel, whiny and hot-tempered.

Contrary to the blurb, The Perfect Date is not fun. It’s a soap-opera drama better suited to a reality show on TV. If you’re a fan of that, this book might be for you. Sadly, it is not for me.

 

Two-half-stars