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5 Stars / Contemporary / Review / Romantic Comedy

Review: Romance by the Book by Sarah Ready

Book-loving librarian Jessie has loved Gavin Williams for practically her whole life. So when a psychic predicts that Gavin is Jessie’s one fated soul mate, she’s ecstatic. There’s just one itty bitty little problem.

Gavin’s engaged to marry another woman. What’s a book lover to do? Easy. Check out dozens of romance books, study the (totally realistic) way characters fall in love, and make a foolproof plan on how to win her soul mate (in one week).

Meet cute? Check.
Dance under the stars? Check.
Kiss in the rain? Check.
Romance books don’t lie – it’ll all go perfectly.

Except, there’s another problem. Gavin’s twin brother: William Williams IV.
Jessie has hated William for as long as she’s loved his brother. William is grump to Jessie’s sunshine, stand-offish to her extrovert, cold to her warm. And when William learns of Jessie’s plan to derail his brother’s engagement he swears that he’ll do anything to stop her.

But after William and Jessie (unwillingly) share a dance…a romantic dinner…a kiss…Jessie starts to wonder, is William actually her soul mate? Or is this just another one of his games? She can’t tell, because this romance definitely isn’t going by the book.

Title:Romance by the Book
Author:Sarah Ready
Series:Soul Mates in Romeo (Book 3)
Pages:196
Category / Genre(s):Contemporary
Trope(s):Enemies to Lovers
Unrequited Love
Billionaire Romance
Librarian Romance
Point of View:First Person, Present Tense, Dual Viewpoint (H & h)
Location:Romeo, USA
HEA:✔️
Release Date:14th September, 2021
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My heart skipped a beat

I’m always on the edge of my seat with anticipation when it comes to a Sarah Ready story – she always writes such fun, sexy and deliciously warming romances. I am so happy to say that this one exceeded even my lofty expectations. I just adored it.

This is the third book in Ready’s Soul Mates in Romeo series. Each book stands completely alone and while characters from previous books do pop up in this one (mainly the heroines as they’re friends with Jessie) this one is complete with its very own HEA. And what an HEA it is – but more on that later.

Jessie has been in love with Gavin since she was 8 years old, so she’s thrilled when the town’s resident love-predictor psychic lady (who has never been wrong about people’s matches) pairs them together. So she puts together a plan to throw herself into the arms of Gavin and make him realise he’s madly in love with her, too. Such a shame that his odious, yet annoyingly gorgeous brother, Will, seems to be there to thwart her at every turn.

Jessie is a delightfully likeable character who I immediately felt a kinship with. Despite her sad childhood, she remained upbeat and I always love a girl that knows what she wants and goes for it full force – even if I didn’t want her to! I liked that she was ultimately honest with herself about how she felt and that the ‘desire’ for Gavin didn’t go on too long or get silly.

“…made my heart skip a beat and those butterflies jump in my tummy.”

But it is Will that stole my heart 100%. William Williams IV is the poster man for my perfect hero. He’s a suit wearing, slightly stuffy, workaholic, closed off hero… with the soul of a broken, unloved little boy who just needs a hug. Catch me – I’m about to swoon! There’s also something else about Will that makes him absolute perfection – but I don’t want to ruin the heart skipping moment it’s revealed in the story. But it’s so my jam that I wonder if Sarah Ready has farmed my brain.

As Jessie uses the lessons she’s learnt from romance novels on how a couple fall in love – catching a clumsy heroine, kiss in the rain, the long stare etc. – we really get to know and love Jessie and Will – individually and together. And we get to see the chemistry and feelings between the two that made my heart skip a beat and those butterflies jump in my tummy. Every time that our couple came closer, I got more and more giddy with excitement and anticipation. And extra points for the throw her up against the wall, must have her now, kiss that was just…well, perfection!

The book is fairly low angst but we do have the misunderstanding that the couple have to overcome to find their way back to each other. While the reason for the estrangement was surmountable, luckily everyone involved quickly realised that they wanted to fix it and took steps to do just that. Which led to the most perfect of endings that was just the right kind for our couple and I was left feeling happy, a little bit sniffly and completely satisfied. Then I turned the page and saw the cute little line drawn graphic on the last page and it was so delightful that I may have cried happy tears.

Sarah Ready has quickly become one of my go-to authors for a wonderful and satisfying read infused with feelings, romance, sex, humour and characters you’ll just adore. Her writing style is light, absorbing and engrossing and you almost forget you’re reading you’re so far into the story. This book is down as one of my best of 2021 and I highly recommend it – I hope you love it as much as I did. 5 stars.

Author Sarah Ready writes contemporary romance and romantic comedy.

Her books have been described as “euphoric”, “heartwarming” and “laugh out loud”. Her debut novel The Fall in Love Checklist was hailed as “the unicorn read of 2020”. She loves to write fast-paced, emotionally compelling romances about quirky, smart women and the men who love them.

Before writing romance full-time Sarah had lots of fun teaching at an Ivy League. Then she realized she could have even more fun writing romance. Her favorite things after writing are adventuring and travel. You’ll frequently find her using her degree at a dino dig site, crawling into a cave, snorkeling, or on horseback riding through the jungle – all fodder for her next book. She’s lived in Scotland, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and NYC. She currently lives in the Caribbean with her water-obsessed pup and her awesome family.

You can visit her online at www.sarahready.com

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Excerpt

I fell in love when I was eight years old, and it was the best and the worst day of my life. My mom always said, in a town like Romeo, you’re guaranteed to find your true love, it’s not a matter of if, only of when. For me, the when happened early.

Some (okay, everyone) might say I live in a fantasy world, that no one can find their soul mate when they’re eight years old. But I did. And Miss Erma is about to confirm it.

That’s right. Romeo, New York’s number one star, Miss Erma, official soul mate psychic, finally saw my true love.

I always promised myself that if Miss Erma ever predicted my soul mate, I’d pursue him with a single-minded passion. I’d do anything for that kind of love. Romeo, the town where I grew up, inspires this kind of thinking. We have more happily matched couples and true love than any other town in the Western Hemisphere. Our small town has a Cupid festival, a Valentine’s Day parade, a Sweetheart’s Day baking contest, and a 30, 40, or 50 year wedding anniversary practically every week. If the cobblestone streets, the overflowing flower baskets, and the cute stone bridge over the river doesn’t convince you, then our charm will—Romeo, Official Town of Love USA, is the place where true love finds you.

Needless to say, I’ve been dreaming of this moment for practically my whole life.

“You’ve seen him?” I ask Miss Erma.

She gives me a smile that on anyone below twenty I’d call mischievous, but Miss Erma is over eighty, so I’ll call it conspiratorial. “I have,” she confirms. “I saw him this morning.”

My stomach does a flip and I clasp my hands together to keep from jumping up and down and shouting in glee. We’re in a library after all. Miss Erma is here for the class I teach, a seniors’ computer skills class. There’s no jumping around or shouting in libraries.

But still. This, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for.

Miss Erma told my friends Chloe and Veronica their soul mates in the last year, and I just knew my time would be coming soon. Well, if not knew, then hoped.

Miss Erma adjusts her silk shawl over her shoulders. It has pink cherry blossoms on ivory colored fabric. Then she leans back in her computer chair and beams at me.

“I’ve finished the internet search assignment. I looked up travel plans for New York City. Wanda and I are planning a trip,” says Erma.

What?This is the most important moment of my life and she wants to talk about the computer class assignment? I look around the library community room. It’s a big, bright room, with a long table filled with computers and comfy desk chairs. The walls are painted cream and the carpet is sage green. Everyone in the class is still at work, ignoring my conversation with Erma.

“Miss Erma, please. My soul mate. Who is he?” I ask, and then I hold my breath.

But a horrifying thought enters my mind. What if she says William?

No.

Please not William. Please not William. Please not William.

Please don’t say William Williams IV.

Please not—

“It’s that Williams boy.”

The breath I was holding shoots out in a loud exhale. I cough and hit my chest.

Wanda, Erma’s best friend, looks over from her computer. “Are you alright, dear?”

“Fine. Fine.” I wave at her.

Everyone else in the class is absorbed in their internet search assignment. They haven’t noticed Erma and me talking.

I cough again and clear my throat. My stomach feels like it’s on a roller coaster, it’s being tossed around and I can’t get off the ride.

“The Williams boy?” I ask.

Please be Gavin. Please be Gavin. Please be the boy I’ve wanted since I was eight years old, not his awful, horrible brother.

“That’s right,” says Erma. She winks at me and then digs around in her purse. It’s on the floor next to her chair. When she comes up she’s holding a cookie tin. She opens it and holds it in front of me. “Have an oatmeal raisin cookie. I baked them this morning.”

I look down at the pile of cookies in the red tin. How can Erma offer cookies at a time like this? My stomach is still looping around my abdomen. Doesn’t she realize there are two Williams boys? One is perfect and wonderful and everything I’ve ever wanted and the other is…Will.

She waves the tin under my nose, and the scent of cinnamon and raisins wafts up to me.

“Um, alright. Thank you.” I take a cookie chock-full of raisins from the top of the pile, then I force myself to take a bite, chew and swallow. “Mmm. Really good. Thank you.”

I set the cookie down on the table, there’s no way I’ll be able to force myself to swallow another bite. Not until I know. Is my soul mate the man I’ve always believed it was, or his awful, horrible, rotten brother.

“Miss Erma? Which Williams boy? There are two of them.”

“Hmm. Are there?”

She puts the lid back on the cookie tin and pops it into her purse. When she comes back up, her black hair is messy. She pats it down and re-straightens her shawl. She’s fine boned and petite, and some people say she looks like a little bird. She definitely has the energy of a bird. And I’m beginning to see why Chloe always insists her great aunt is full of mischief.

“Yes. There’s Gavin and there’s William.”

My stomach rolls again and I press my hand against it. Please don’t say William, please don’t say William. She couldn’t, she wouldn’t.

“He just came back to town,” she says.

“Yes. Which one? Which one is my soul mate?”

Miss Erma studies me as if I’m missing the point. She gives me the same look that Chloe gives me when I can’t visualize one of her greeting card illustration ideas. I’d laugh if I weren’t so frustrated.

“Jessie. Dear. You already know who your soul mate is.”

“I do?” I try to swallow down the dry cookie crumbs still sticking in my throat. “Does that mean…?”

Miss Erma nods. “Your soul mate is the Williams boy you’ve loved since you were a little girl.”

Not William Williams IV. Not Will.

Thank you, God. Thank you.

It’s Gavin. His twin.

Soul Mates in Romeo Series:

Book 1
Book 2
Book 3
Book 4

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