Amanda Reads: A Dash of Love

Happy day before Valentine’s Day, internet people! This year, I had the pleasure of reading of Valentine’s Themed romance novel, Liz Isaacson’s A Dash Of Love. (Full disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review).

Dash of Love coverYou may have heard that Hallmark now has its own publishing division, producing books in the same spirit as the movies some of us have been watching for years. A Dash of Love is one of those books. It’s based on the Hallmark Channel Original movie of the same name. I was interested in reading it not only because I’ve never read a Valentine’s Day themed book, but also I’m a sucker for books that have cupcakes on the cover, and as you can see, this one definitely delivers in that area. Plus, I love a good cheesy Hallmark movie every now and again and I wanted to see if it translated to the page.

I have mixed feelings about whether it did. It was interesting being inside the minds of characters when I’m used to seeing them on screen. I enjoyed getting a better sense of character motivations, and the choice to alternate perspectives between the two protagonists of our love story certainly added a different feel. In spite of these tweaks, they did in fact drink hot chocolate and have a near-miss kiss. For those reasons, it both did and didn’t feel like watching a Hallmark movie.

There were some deliciously cheesy lines, such as my personal favorite (post hot chocolate because of course): “While the hot chocolate had been delicious, the real treat had been him.” The epilogue even includes a proposal, because of course. In that way, the book definitely fulfilled exactly what I wanted it to, providing a light-hearted, sweet love story.

One thing I’m still pondering is that while there was definitely a character development arc for the male main character, I’m not entirely sure whether the female protagonist really had that much growth. At the end, she has her own restaurant, but one that her now fiance bought with his money. She got back her reputation… because he talked to some people he knew. I would’ve liked to see more agency in the main character rather than having outside forces act on her the whole time. I’m all for a kiss (and even a proposal) at the end, but I also like to see a little bit more depth in the main character’s arc.

In all, I’d say definitely pick this one up if you’re interested in a lighthearted book about people who love food falling in love with one another.


Amanda Reads: Surprise Me

Hello, internet people! We’re almost to February already, so I’m bringing you a review of Sophie Kinsella’s forthcoming novel, Surprise Me, which comes out February 13th, 2018.

(Full disclosure: I received an eGalley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my Surprise Me Sophie Kinsellahonest review.)

When I got the email inviting me to read a new Sophie Kinsella novel, I was ecstatic. I adore Kinsella’s writing and couldn’t wait to dig in with another book. When I opened it up and started reading, though, I was a little surprised–the book opens with the main character already married!

If I recall correctly, some of the later Shopaholic books also feature non-meet-cute plots, so this may be less surprising to more robustly read Kinsella fans than myself. But personally, I don’t often read about married couples, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue.

Surprise Me wasn’t quite the typical romantic comedy I’m usually looking for when I read Sophie Kinsella, but I did enjoy the story.  The main character has a nice arc and changes by the end, which was a relief because I was a bit annoyed with her at times. I was equally in-the-dark about the biggest surprise of all as Princess Sylvie herself was, so the curiosity momentum definitely kept me reading. It was nice to read a love story that didn’t have as predictable a plot, even if picking up in the middle of a marriage robbed me of my beloved meet-cute.

I suspect I’d have enjoyed this book a lot more if I was seeking stories about how married people’s love lives can still have surprises, too. As it was, I enjoyed the book but don’t know that I’d have picked it up on my own based on the synopsis. So, I recommend this book for anyone looking for a love story that isn’t boy meets girl so much as it is man and woman with kids try to keep the spark in their marriage alive and surprise one another along the way.