All I Ask by Corinne Michaels– I picked this up at the recommendation of my good friend Estelle, publicist at Forever Romance. She told me it was a second chance romance between single parents who are 35 ish. I felt like I needed to read this and then had really high expectations.
(CW: widower hero, grief, ailing parent)
The heroine, Teagan, is struggling to get by. She runs her parents antique store. She is raising her teenage daughter alone. One day the school calls and Teagan’s daughter is in trouble for bullying. Teagan gets to the school and finds out that her daughter was fighting with the daughter of her long lost love. Teagan and Derek used to be best friends in high school (after a rocky start) and she loved him more than a friend. But she never told him. He is back in town because his wife passed away. The angst in this book is high.
Corinne was on the Forever IG account talking about this book. She mentioned that it had some similarities to Gilmore Girls. It actually had a lot of similarities to GG. I didn’t really enjoy the similarities. Probably because I wasn’t really enjoying the story.
It is hard to pinpoint one big thing that I didn’t like, rather a bunch of little things. Like the continued use of the word “bitch” to describe teen girls (13ish). I get that teen girls can be mean, but more than once Teagan referred to Derek’s daughter as a bitch. Also the characterization of Derek’s deceased wife bordered very closely to villainization. Both of those things get a hard pass from me.
My biggest annoyance was what I thought was a lack of the development of a grown up relationship. They reconnected and spent all their time talking about how they were as teens and early 20s. That was not enough for me to believe in them as a long term couple. They’ll be a marriage in trouble soon enough when they realize that they are grown-ups and can’t sustain a relationship on the same things they loved about each other when they were 18.
Perfect Distraction by Allison Ashley (pubs 3/23)
This blurb sounded intriguing to me. The heroine thinks the hero is too attractive for her. I feel like this is a thing we see a lot, but it isn’t always so front and center. The attractiveness of the hero quickly takes a back seat as their initial meet-cute is followed up by a second meeting when Lauren is the oncology pharmacist treating Andrew for Hodgkin Lymphoma.
(CW: cancer, discussion of grief, sick/dying children)
The story started off to be cute, it is a SLOW burn. They get to know each other and it was enjoyable. But then in the 14th chapter at approximately 62% in comes the sneaky Jesus. Y’all might know by now that I really dislike it when God/faith/religion makes an appearance after the 50% mark. The hero is battling cancer, a perfect time to introduce his faith is perhaps when all that starts not at 62% when he is saying God brought them together. Insert eye roll moments. At that point I was just skimming it.
There is also a line about how the heroine views sex and it bothered me-
”Um, Will was… my first, and when I realized it meant nothing to him, I was devastated. After that I thought maybe I’d wait until I was married, because then I’d know I wasn’t being used, and that the man I was with wanted me for more than my body.”
The heroine’s first boyfriend and sexual partner was using her. I understand being hesitant to move forward with a physical relationship, but also it read a little to Puritanical to me. And this was after the sneaky Jesus so I was already annoyed by this book.
All in all, I can not say I enjoyed this book. The premise was interesting, but disappointed me with the sneaky Jesus and weird to me portrayal of waiting for sex.