Continuing with my year-end wrap-up of books that I didn’t feel like reviewing earlier, this post will feature three “sequels” to books I have previously read and reviewed.
First up, Well Played. Truly, a disappointment. I was so looking forward to this one, a follow-up to last year’s fun and charming Well Met.
Still set in the weird little Maryland town that obsesses over a summer Renaissance Faire, this time we focus on Emily and Simon’s friend Stacey, who worked as a pub wench with Emily in the last book. She’s looking for love and constantly regretting the fact that she still lives at home (in an apartment over her parents’ garage) and missed out on her big chance in New York when her mom got sick a few years ago. She has a fling with a hot, kilted singer during the Faire, and then drunkenly emails him when his band moves on to the next town.
Stacey and “Dex” start to email back and forth, flirting and getting to know each other. Soon enough, Stacey really thinks she might be in love with Dex and can’t wait for him to come back to town.
And here’s where I’m going to spoil this book:
Stacey is not emailing with Dex. She is emailing with his cousin, Daniel, who is in love with Stacey, and pretends to be Dex all year long. This is a crappy premise and I didn’t care for it.
Honestly, I only finished reading to see how the whole nonsense was going to be resolved, and to see if Daniel would admit that what he did was not OK. He didn’t really, so big miss for me.
However, I am a glutton for punishment, and I will most likely read the third book, Well Matched, when it comes out this year.
Next up, a delightful sequel to an ok book from last year .
Not Like the Movies takes everything I really didn’t love about Waiting for Tom Hanks — Annie, her obsession with romantic comedies, her movie star boyfriend, her career — and ditches it for a real human being with real problems, Annie’s friend Chloe from the coffee shop.
Because Annie is the worst, she has written and sold a screenplay about Chloe and Nick (her boss at the coffee shop who clearly is into Chloe), which is so obviously about them that they both start to wonder if the screenplay is right, and if they are supposed to be together.
Annie has other things going on too — her dad’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, her brother has suddenly returned to Ohio from Brooklyn after years away, her serious attitude toward her business classes and her dream to open up her own bakeshop. She doesn’t really have time to worry about whether or not she and Nick have good banter or who is flirting with who.
I really like Annie and Nick as the leads here. They are normal, sensible, regular human beings. They mess things up before they figure out how to fix them and move forward. They talk and they learn things about each other. Their relationship plot has a lot more going for it than a simple meet cute, spill coffee on a movie star plot.
I still rolled my eyes every time Annie popped in to the story, but the writing is so fricking charming that I didn’t really mind.
Lastly, here’s where I should have known better. Not really a sequel, but sort of — Recipe for Persuasion is about Ashna Raje, a minor character in last year’s Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors. Ashna is a chef who grew up living with her cousins from the last book — her father and their father were brothers who grew up as Royalty in India.
Ashna is obsessed with saving her father’s restaurant, which has fallen on hard times since his death 12 years ago. Her friend China (who I’m sure will be the star of book three) is a producer for The Food Network, and convinces her to be a contestant on a new show about cooking with celebrities, which will be hosted by DJ, Trisha’s boyfriend from the last book.
Ashna gets paired with Rico Silva, the most famous footballer in the world. And, her first and only love, who she hasn’t talked to in twelve years. Rico only signed up for the show in order to get closure with Ashna, as he hasn’t been able to love anyone like he loved her since then.
WHY DID I THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?
One reason only: I am a sucker for anything related to Persuasion. You can take your Darcy and your Tilney. I am 100% #teamwentworth.
But guess what? This story, while sort of following the plot of Persuasion, really isn’t a retelling of that story. And the only time it even references Persuasion, when China tells a little joke about Captain Wentworth, it is followed up with a quote from Sense & Sensibility and then China says OOH I LOVE PERSUASION and I got so mad I could’t see straight.
Apparently, I expected all of the issues that I had with P&P&OF (AND DON’T FORGET THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE) to have magically disappeared and self-corrected.
Spoiler alert: They did not.
1 star for Well Played
3.5 stars for Not Like the Movies
1 star for Recipe for Persuasion.
5 stars for Captain Wentworth.