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Oct 06

Never Have I Ever by Lauren Blakely Review

5 SMOOCHES!

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SYNOPSIS:

Falling for the enemy has never been so deliciously complicated in this standalone romance where a sexy single dad meets his unexpected match! Get ready for all the feels!

Never have I ever been so infuriated by a man I wanted to kiss.
They say opposites attract, but I beg to differ. Combust is more like it. Because every single time I talk to Zach Nolan, I see red.

The too-good-looking, too-smart, too-effortlessly charming single dad who works down the hall from me has turned getting under my skin into a sport. Call it the battle of wits between the wedding planner and the divorce attorney.

Trouble is, when we’re forced into closer quarters planning an engagement party for our best friends, I start to see his other sides.

And I fear I’m falling for the enemy.

***

I’m not out to make friends. My goals are simple — fight till the end for my clients, and my family.

The last thing I need is a vibrant, outgoing, snarky, and surprisingly big-hearted wedding planner to spend my precious free time with…except, watching Piper bond with my daughter just might break down the cinder block walls I’ve built around my heart these last few years.

Second chances don’t come around for guys like me…or do they?

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REVIEW:

I’m going to be honest here, I haven’t met a Lauren Blakely novel that I didn’t love. An all-time top favorite of mine, she is one of the very few authors whose books are automatic buys for me. It’s not even necessary for me to read the blurb because regardless of what the premise of story is, what trope the plot is based upon or who the characters are, I already know Blakely’s special brand of storytelling is going to entertain and amuse me. This isn’t something I say off-handedly, lightly or often—this particular personal list of mine is extremely short. It is simply a statement of fact for me, born of years of reading her work and consistently being entertained and amused by it. She’s managed to surprise me over and over again with her plots, characters and passionate love stories while never letting me down in the execution of them, and as a result, she’s earned this spot as a go-to author for me.

But even saying all of that, sometimes there are those stories that float to the top of the pile of favorites. The ones that mark me, that move me, the ones I know will linger in my thoughts long after I’ve finished them and picked up the next book. Never Have I Ever was that kind of story for me. Don’t be fooled by the whimsical sounding name, this book was chock full of emotion—the good kind. Lauren Blakely doesn’t do unnecessary drama and heavy, heart-breaking angst, but instead she masterfully portrays the couple’s conflicts with enough genuine emotion to keep the reader engaged as they work through their issues, you know, like two adults. It’s pretty darn refreshing, actually, and it’s yet another reason why she’s a favorite of mine.

I love the enemies-to-lovers trope, and it seems that lately I’ve been reaching for these types of stories when I’m choosing what I want to read next. Never Have I Ever looked to be a promising rendition of this favorite trope, and I was looking forward to experiencing it, Lauren Blakely style. There’s just something about that initial push and pull between the characters that just does it for me. They say that love is the other side of the coin to hate, and these kinds of stories highlight those opposing feelings in a rewarding way. Blakely did a fantastic job skirting that line here, with a seemingly opposite-in-every-way couple chasing after a surprise second-chance.

Zach is a somewhat jaded, shark of a divorce attorney who is also a widower and a single father of two. Piper is a wedding planner with a positive outlook, an upbeat personality and friendly nature. Their history goes back to college, and while they both still run in the same circle of friends, they’ve never really gotten along. This is where Blakely works her magic. This pairing at first glance was all wrong for each other, but as she pulled back the layers, as we got to know them, they became a couple I couldn’t help but root for to get it together and just get together. The pacing of their romance was perfect. At times their need for each other was fiery and voracious, the kind of red-hot, heart-racing desire that cannot be denied. While at other times, when it was important, when it really mattered, they took it slowly, maturely and thoughtfully. It felt like they both entered into this relationship mindful of what was happening between them, knowing where the relationship could go and what they could become. I loved that—it felt like a choice, as if they were choosing love with each other. As a reader, the lack of angsty uncertainty freed me up to just feel all the hopeful, heart-warming, urgent feels of two people consciously falling in love.

I’m not even going to beat around the bush, Never Have I Ever is one of Blakely’s finest contemporary romances to date. Lofty praise indeed, considering Blakely’s extensive back catalog, but well earned, I promise you. Zach and Piper were completely endearing, and their romance was exactly the kind of sexy, swoony, sigh-inducing and magical story that I love to get lost in. This book had layer upon layer of emotion and heat and heart with perfectly timed pops of humor, and I simply didn’t want to put it down. THIS, this kind of story right here, is exactly what I’m looking to experience when I reach for a contemporary romance. A home-run on all counts, Never Have I Ever by Lauren Blakely gets five smooches from me.

~Danielle Palumbo

 


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