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Thursday, May 28, 2020

'The Happy Ever After Playlist' by Abby Jimenez

From the BLURB: 

Two years after losing her fiance, Sloan Monroe still can't seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a 'take me home' look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker's owner reaches out. He's a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: he wants Tucker back. 

Well, Sloan's not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can't deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There's no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: with his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

'The Happy Ever After Playlist' is the second romance novel by Abby Jimenez, and a loose sequel to 'The Friend Zone.' 

I did not enjoy this ... and in my heart of hearts it's a 1.5/5 rating.

I'd been excited for this book because I loved last year's 'The Friend Zone' so much. I thought it had a really progressive message and portrayal of a heroine with chronic-pain and fertility issues, and even though that book let down the bulk of its messaging by instigating a convenient "barefoot and pregnant" twist at the very end - I still enjoyed the ride and kept thinking about it long after I'd finished.

'The Friend Zone' also set-up the premise for 'The Happy Ever After Playlist' by depicting the death of a character - Sloan's fiancee. So I was invested in this follow-up because the set-up in the first book had been so gut-wrenching and I really wanted closure.

I'll say ... the first thing that put me off 'Playlist' was a really early reference to duck-hunting, and game-hunting generally. It's actually a minor plot-point in the book that Sloan's deceased fiancee was a hunter, the new guy she's falling for is from Minnesota and is big into hunting and she herself used to run a food blog called 'The Huntsman's Wife' which is all about cooking game.

Now. It didn't help that I read this coinciding with duck-hunting season starting up again in Victoria, when it really should be banned because it's dangerous and cruel. And I get that in America hunting generally is maybe more ... accepted? Normal? But it's not to me. I'd say it's not to majority of Australians. And it just *really* threw me off that with that pretty pink cover and a blurb all about falling for a musician - hunting of wild animals ends up having quite a few pages dedicated within. Ughghghgh. Ew.

The other thing that annoyed me in this book was the second-half - I'll call it - lollygagging. That's the only word I can think of for the really repetitive "we have to break up, I don't want to break up, but what if we break up, but what if I push you away, but what if I stay, but what if you deceive me in order to push me away, but what if I don't believe you and I stay ..." it went on and on and on. I felt dizzy the number of times the hero and heroine spoke about not being able to stay together, and the various convoluted deceptions. It was ridiculous.

This book frustrated me no end and I'm actually shocked I kept going with it (eh. I bought it in lockdown, it took forever to get here because I'd pre-ordered it and then there were quarantine delays...) I will say; after 'The Friend Zone' I thought I'd found a new auto-buy author for myself, but after 'Playlist' I think I'll have to sit back and really decide if other books by her are worth my time.


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