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A Book That Had A Lot of Room to Grow: Review of Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey

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Do you ever set a book down and think to yourself, “Damn, I really wish those characters would have gone to therapy?”

Summary

Teddy Phillips never thought she’d still be spending every day surrounded by toys at almost thirty years old. But working at a vintage toy store is pretty much all she has going on in her life after being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend. The one joy that she’s kept is her not-so-guilty pleasure: Everett’s Place, a local children’s show hosted by Everett St. James, a man whom Teddy finds very soothing . . . and, okay, cute.

Teddy finds the courage to write to him, feeling slightly like one of the children who write to him on his show. He always gives sound advice and seems like he has everything figured out–and he pretty much does: Everett has a great support system, wonderful friends, and his dream job. But there’s still that persistent feeling in the back of his mind that something’s missing.

When a woman named Theodora starts writing to Everett, he is drawn to her honesty and vulnerability. They continue writing to each other, all the while living their lives without meeting. When their worlds collide, however, they must both let go of their fears and figure out what they truly want–and if the future they want includes each other.

Review

This review will contain light spoilers.

Instead of being proposed to, Teddy gets broken up with. That’s how Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey Opens. I thought that this was a great opener, I like romances where a character splits from a long time partner because it usually leads to the character realizing that their “idyllic” relationship was anything but and they learn a lot about themselves and their new partner in the process. The characters spend time healing and learning they deserve better and I love these types of books. I think that this is what was supposed to happen to Teddy but I don’t know that the lessons she learned ever fully sunk in for her.

So I’ll just say it. Teddy’s ex was a dick. He spent years taking advantage of her kindness and squashed her down into becoming not a partner, but a caretaker instead. He expected her to come running when he called her and it physically hurt to watch Teddy continue to fall for it, thinking that his neediness equated to love. It’s eventually revealed that much of Teddy’s lack of confidence stems from childhood trauma and her parent’s divorce. She has spent almost her entire life trying to please everyone else in order to avoid conflict and in doing so, she’s lost her way. This is a story I can relate to and I know how difficult it is to realize you need to change and it’s even harder to begin to make those changes. Knowing how much of this story needed to be based around self-discovery and healing had me questioning how much the romance played into everything. And ugh, I just wish Teddy would’ve gone to therapy because she really, really needed it.

As the story unfolded it was a constant back and forth with herself over if it was okay to make her own decisions and questioning everything she did because “what if it’s the wrong thing”. It was nice to see her grow a bit but I have to say that I think this story leaned a little too far into “a relationship can fix things” and “the right person can make everything better” type of story.

Before I finish with my thoughts on the plot, I do want to talk about our other main character, Everett. Now Everett is lovely, he’s creative and hard-working, he’s close with his family, and he’s passionate. But his passion for his job, a children’s TV show called Everett’s Place, borders on obsessive. Essentially, he’s the opposite of Teddy. Teddy has no idea what she wants to do with her life, while Everett only wants to do this one thing and he can’t wrap his head around why other people have issues with his inability to step away from his work. There were a few times when other characters began to call him out for his poor work-life separation but no one really fully went there to tell him what the issue was. It was hinted at a few times that people in his life had made sacrifices over the years and simply accepted that Everett was unable to set his work aside but I don’t know if he ever truly realized how unhealthy it was. This aspect of Everett’s personality is what had me going back and forth on what I really thought of his and Teddy’s eventual relationship.

So Everett’s TV show is Teddy’s comfort show. She reaches out to him via email and the two strike up a friendship. Their emails were funny and vulnerable and I thought that they had almost instant chemistry. This book takes place over the course of only a couple months and I think that I would have enjoyed this more if the timeline had been longer. I was surprised that they met so soon in real life and I do think that many of my critiques about their relationship would not apply as much had they not met when they did. The arc just didn’t feel as complete as it could have been. Teddy had really just gotten out of this long-term relationship only to quickly fall into a new one with Everett despite the personal journey she really needed to go on. While there were moments where she was learning and growing and setting boundaries and standing up for herself, I was uncomfortable with what the pair went through in this short timeline. This especially applies to the main conflict that was due to Everett’s inability to have any sort of work-life separation. I was proud of Teddy stepping away from this relationship when she saw that it was potentially going to be harmful for her, but I think that they could have stayed apart from each other longer than they did. To me, Everett didn’t fully learn the lesson that he needed to and I felt like Teddy really still needed to grow more on her own. There were too many parts of this that leaned into what I saw as “love fixing things” it didn’t seem like either character were truly being themselves outside of this relationship and that the relationship only added to who they were.

And I do know that other people may not look at this story at all and think that the message is that a relationship can fix a person, but it makes me nervous nonetheless. You can absolutely be in a relationship while you work on yourself, people can work together to be their best selves and support each other in that process. This book may have benefitted from a little more inner dialogue from Teddy as she learned to be strong as herself. I liked seeing her set boundaries and make her own decisions but absolutely hated how she continued to justify her behavior when she let people walk all over her. I really do think this could have been a lot stronger of a story than it was.

Very Sincerely Yours is a closed-door romance with only a handful of kisses on page. It’s cheesy as hell and I loved that about this book. I liked the email component of Teddy and Everett’s relationship and would have loved to see more of this incorporated. While I did have issues with Teddy’s characterization, I don’t think that everyone will hold my same views. If you’re looking for a sweet romance with a quirky cast of characters set in a small town, I’d definitely recommend picking this up.

Final rating is three stars.

Links For Places to Find This Book

Save it on Goodreads here.

To purchase a copy you can find it at the following:

Bookshop // Libro.fm // Book Depository // Barnes & Noble // Kobo

Other Places You Can Find Me:

Goodreads profile linked here.

Twitter: @nihilisticactus

Readerly: @sideofadventures

If you’d like to buy me a coffee, my ko-fi is linked here.

For review requests and inquiries: adventuresandespresso@gmail.com

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A Wholesome Holiday Novella: Review of Wrapped Up in You by Talia Hibbert Review

I actually have another post about a Talia Hibbert book coming up soon but I had to get this one posted before Christmas had passed so just ignore that these are posted out of order please and thanks 😉

Oh! And Merry Christmas to those who are celebrating and happy Saturday to everyone!

Wrapped Up in You
Image: Cover of Wrapped Up in You by Talia Hibbert

Synopsis

William Reid is nothing special, except for his billion-dollar acting career and his, you know, face. (Apparently, it’s a good one.) Winning ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ was nice, but this Christmas, he has more important goals in mind… like finally winning over his best friend’s little sister, the super-smart and kinda-scary Abbie Farrell.

When a blizzard leaves Will and Abbie alone at Grandma Farrell’s house (if bunking with 27 pets counts as ‘alone’), it’s the perfect opportunity to pull off a Christmas miracle. Convincing clever, frosty Abbie to give Will a chance will take more than mistletoe, but hiding his lifelong crush on her is no longer an option.

Review

Okay, I want to start this off by saying that I think the synopsis doesn’t quite represent what this story is about. There is a blizzard but it plays into the story a lot less than I expected it to and I assumed that they would be the only characters at Abbie’s Grandma’s house but they aren’t!

Now, with that being said, I adored this novella. Abbie and Will were such a cute pairing and I wish I could have seen more of them. I do think that this could have (and maybe should have) been a full length novel but I did enjoy the story that we were given. There was a depth that I wasn’t expecting and while I loved that aspect, I would have loved it even more if we had been able to see it play out in a longer narrative.

Abbie and Will (and Abbie’s twin brother) have been best friends since childhood and when returning to the UK for Christmas, Will has a hairbrained scheme to get Abbie to fall for him. Will had moved to the US to work as an actor in a Captain America type role. He’s got the personality of a golden retriever and his crush on Abbie was endearing. Abbie has become jaded to romance after having removed herself from an abusive marriage years prior. This was a slow burn back and forth between the pair as they both try to communicate to each other what they’re feeling and why.

I enjoyed the honesty that this couple had. It was nice seeing how Will did what he could to reassure Abbie that his feelings were true and that he cared about her and never wanted to do anything that could hurt her. To give her peace of mind after everything that she had been through was a priority for him and he was willing to have whatever type of relationship with her that she would allow. That was really lovely to see, that he was willing to set aside his own feelings in order to make her comfortable.

Following Abbie and Will as they were the first two to arrive at Grandma Farrell’s house, I found so many parts of this story humorous as they danced around each other. Another reason that I wish this would have been a novel is because I wanted to see more of the family interactions. Books where families are close are some of my favorites and I especially love eccentric grandmas which is exactly what Abbie’s was.

Wrapped Up In You was a cozy and sweet holiday romance novella and I enjoyed every second of it. With a lovely friends to lovers plot and some healthy doses of comedy I highly recommend this read. I would have enjoyed a longer version especially considering this was a slow burn but it was a story I’ll come back to again and again for some cozy feelings. I rated it five stars.

Place You Can Get the Book

You can add Wrapped Up in You on Goodreads here.

And this is a Kobo original and you can find the e-book linked here.

Other Places You Can Find Me

Twitter: @nihilisticactus

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I Understand Why Everyone Loves This Book Now: Review of Radiance by Grace Draven

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I am on such a romance kick right now, specifically fantasy romance. I’ve been struggling a lot mentally (thanks uni!) so diving into some books that give me all the warm and fuzzy feelings I could possibly want has helped immensely.

I’ve seen so many people talking about Radiance by Grace Draven recently so I checked it out from my library because I wasn’t sure how I’d end up feeling about it but let me tell you…. This was PHENOMENAL and I completely understand why everyone who talks about this book raves about it.

Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1)
Image: Cover of Radiance by Grace Draven

Synopsis

The Prince of no value
Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

The noblewoman of no importance
Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

Review

Radiance is a friends-to-lovers romance following Idilko and Brishen, two individuals pledged to marry one another in a strategic political move for their respective kingdoms. They’re both close enough to the throne to warrant an arranged marriage, but far enough away that their feelings were never considered before being betrothed. This was such an intriguing start to a book, these two kingdoms are vastly different, one isn’t even inhabited by humans, and I couldn’t wait to see where it went. Ildiko is human and Brishen is from a race of human-like creatures called Kai. The Kai have gray skin, sharp teeth and claws, and large dark eyes that better suit them for their nocturnal existence. I thought that this aspect of the story brought so much humor to the plot. I loved how they were both disgusted with each other in the beginning in terms of appearance and the fact that their insulting descriptions quickly turned into terms of endearment was amazing. The humor that Draven laced throughout this book really brought it to a new level from what I expected it to be. I won’t spoil anything but there are a few scenes where Ildiko and Brishen tried foods from the others kingdoms and oh boy, I actually laughed out loud reading about Brishen trying this particular human food.

Something else that I thought Draven did well with this book was the honesty that she fostered between the couple. It was refreshing and downright adorable at times. I swooned on more than one occasion while reading because I couldn’t handle how sweet Brishen and Ildiko were together. Brishen was respectful and caring and he complemented Ildiko perfectly. With the honesty that they harbored the chemistry was evident from their first on page interaction. It was such a joy to watch their relationship develop. Friends-to-lovers is such a joy of a trope to read!

Radiance is the first book in a series, the first three books are currently out. I thought that this gave a great set up to the story. I could see it being read as a standalone, however, the epilogue immediately had me wanting to pick up book two (I’ve got about a two-month wait before I can get a copy from my library). The reason that I do say that it could be read as a standalone is because it gave me everything I would want in terms of a fantasy romance. It set up the relationship and had some conflict that did largely get resolved and with the exception of the epilogue there was a happy conclusion but I am very excited to get absorbed into this world some more. Draven has written a superb romance with this book and I recommend picking it up if you’re looking for an engrossing fantasy read with a sweet couple and a healthy dose of humor. A five star read for me.

Y’all, I think that I’m realizing how much more I enjoy fantasy romance compared to contemporary romance because I can’t get enough of these types of stories. Since the stories are romance centered, the fantasy elements sometimes take a backseat but I think that’s why I enjoy them so much. I love to get immersed into these fun plots where fantastical events occur but I don’t always have the brain power to read intense fantasy tomes. I have another review that I’m hoping to post soon for The Bridge Kingdom duology by Danielle L. Jensen. Same vibes and I loved them. And with that I’ve got to get back to studying!

You can add Radiance on Goodreads at this link.

Or if you’re interested in picking up your own copy you can find it at the following:

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Audible

Other places you can find me:

Follow my reviews or add me as a friend on Goodreads here.

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