I’ve been fortunate to get lost in some really good books lately.
He’s Come Undone Romance Anthology by Adriana Herrera, Emma Barry, Olivia Dade, Ruby Lang, and Cat Sebastian. Here’s a little about each of the stories in the order they appear in the book.
Appassionata by Emma Barry– This story is about a pianist and a piano tuner. It was so heavy on the piano world that I kept getting hung up on things that I didn’t understand. It was taking me days to get through this story so I decided to just move on. I normally love Barry’s voice and have read almost everything she’s written, just this story wasn’t for me.
Unraveled by Olivia Dade– The love interests are both teachers, this is set in the same world as Teach Me. This was probably my favorite story in the anthology. Simon is so sure he is right about things and then he meets Poppy. Poppy changes everything for Simon in the best ways. Poppy is an art teacher and she also makes murder dioramas. I was so intrigued by this. More weird hobbies and occupations in romance.
Caught Looking by Adriana Herrera– Best friends falling in love is one of my favorite tropes. Especially when one has been pining for the other after a while. With this being a short story, it is hard to show years of pining, but I think Herrera captured an appropriate amount of pining for my liking. Watching Yariel and Hatuey come to terms with their feelings was great. This is one of the sexier stories in the anthology.
Yes, And by Ruby Lang– Darren is living a rather boring life. Joan’s life is hectic as she is caring for her ailing mother. They develop a friendship that turns into more. This was one of the emotionally heavy stories as Joan is really struggling as the primary caretaker for her mother. Darren becomes a support for Joan and it was lovely. This story is connected to another of Lang’s series but can be read as a stand alone.
Tommy Cabot was Here by Cat Sebastian– I saw a tweet thread about this book by Emma Barry and she used a gif from Dead Poets Society and that is what stuck in my head. I imagined Robert Sean Leonard (character: Neil Perry) and Josh Charles (character: Knox Overstreet) as who had a secret love affair at school and then reconnected as adults. That is the visual I had the whole time while reading this story. It was angsty and sweet and sexy. I wanted the two main characters to figure out how to make it work.
Beach Read by Emily Henry– The folks in one of my reader groups have been raving about this book, so I finally picked it up. I loved it. January is grieving her father’s death and coming to terms with the fact that he was not the perfect father she imagined. She’s a writer and she is blocked. She goes to the cabin she didn’t know he had and figures she will cure her writer’s block and write her new novel. Her neighbor is a grumpy grump called Gus. They know each other from college. Gus is also a writer struggling with his latest novel. They made a bet on who can sell their next book first. Queue up the adventures.
Along the way they both discover things about themselves, each other, and more. It was an incredibly engaging story. It had me hooked from the beginning. January was sassy and sweet. Gus was grumpy, sexy and absolutely does not believe in love.
There was some meta discussion about romance novels vs women’s fiction vs literary fiction that was interesting to read. Throughout the novel January labels what she writes as “romance”, “women’s fiction”, and “romcom.” I think the lines can be really blurry on what makes up books with those descriptions so I thought it was very fitting that this book will be described as all of the above. In my opinion it leans more toward women’s fiction with a strong romantic element because January’s growth arc was the main focus.
This book covers some heavy topics, grief, death of a parent, parent with cancer but I thought were incorporated well into the story without being sensationalized.
As Gus and January become friends there is a sort of epistolary aspect where they write notes to each other on paper and show them to each other from their respective houses. I loved it. As Gus learns that he is lovable and can love, I was practically swooning.
This is a recommended read from me.
Ghosting: A Love Story by Tash Skilton (pub date 5/26)
I loved Fame Adjacent by Sarah Skilton last year and she teamed up with Sarvenaz Tash for this book. The premise is that the love interests work as ghostwriters for competing dating agencies. It was a super cute premise and the execution was decent.
My biggest gripe off the bat is that both characters felt much younger than they were described. Both were late 20’s early 30s but they just seemed younger to me.
There is great banter between them as they go from enemies, to enemies who unknowingly fall in love, to friends who realize they are in love. Zoey is new to NYC. Miles has lived her forever. He is recovering from a bad breakup and she is trying to find her place in the city. She has some anxiety issues about travelling in the city. They meet when they are both trying to get free food at a cafe.
The story is told in alternating POV which was great to be in both of their heads. Almost every chapter started with an “email” from their respective bosses that was kind of cute but also taking them out would have made the story shorter. It lagged in a few spots.
Even though I had some issues with their perceived age and it being a little too wordy at times, I was overall very invested in this book and their relationship. I also had some formatting issues with the book that I hope were corrected by publication, specifically in how some of the text exchanges were just mashed in with the regular text and it made it hard to parse out if it was a text exchange or dialogue.
If you like books that deal with online dating, I think you will enjoy this one.
Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson– I wanted to love this book. I have been wanting to read it since it was first announced. And maybe I set my expectations too high. It was a real let down. The first two chapters were info dumpy. And the overall story was SLOW as heck. I made it to 50% and it felt like they were just starting to even recognize each other as potential love interests. I think I was also let down by not actually seeing Jesse knit. It was mentioned that he does knit but I wanted to see (read) that in action not just be told about it.
Also, as Angela mentioned in her review, the hero has an overnight stay at the 25-30% mark that is not the love interest and that made me really unhappy with him. He didn’t do anything in the next 25% percent that made me feel warm and fuzzy towards him and their ability to be a good couple.
I decided to DNF this. I am still interested in the series and would be willing to try the next one.