This is a big release day and I’m so pleased to have some book reviews to share with you as you decide where to spend your money! Or your library’s money, which I support just as much. Anyway, today I’m sharing reviews of The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron, Until the End by Juno Rushdan, and Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner. I would recommend each of these to the right reader so hopefully I can help you figure out if these books are right for you. Oh, and before we get started, I was lucky enough to snag the first two books by requesting them from Netgalley, so thanks to Carina Adores and Sourcebooks Casablanca for those, and I grabbed Something to Talk About when Berkley made it available on Edelweiss. Okay, now let’s talk about books!
The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron
The Girl Next Door follows Iris as she moves home to a small town in Maine from Boston. She’s not even remotely enthused about this move back home and feels like a failure. Nevertheless, she is determined to stay at home long enough to save up enough money and find a job so she can move back to Boston. And then there’s Jude. Jude lives next door in the home that belongs to her parents. She’s in stasis, still grieving something (check my Goodreads review if you need more details). But as the book moves, we get to see Jude start to open up and Iris start to fit back together the pieces of herself.
You definitely need to be in the mood for a slow burn going into this book, because it takes a while for the two of them to admit to each other that there are feelings there. But they both spend a good amount of time pining. I think the book reads really slowly because it doesn’t feel like it adheres to romance pacing, but at the same time I enjoyed that. I feel like we really got to know Jude and Iris. I also felt like the ending seemed right, although I still have logistics questions, which is just a thing I seem to spend too much time thinking about. I also really liked Iris’ parents and the fact that her dog’s name is Dolly Parton. Overall, I think I would recommend if you like slow burns and character development to be at the forefront of your romance.
Also, quick aside, it turns out I really like books with home renovation in them so… That’s new and weird.
CW: grief, discussion of high school difficulties with being out and rumors and bullying
Until the End by Juno Rushdan
I waited too long to read this for the amount of time necessary to fully process this story and give you a totally fair opinion. So I’m going to tell you this: This book made me have a lot of feelings. I think Juno Rushdan needs to teach a masterclass on how to write a suspense novel. This book felt like it leaned into the suspense a whole heck of a lot, but I guarantee you suspense readers would still say the opposite. And now, I shall try to give you an actual review.
This book picks up a few months after the events of Nothing to Fear and it starts off with quite a bang. Literally. There are a few people killed right at the beginning of the book, which sets up the high stakes. I’m still not sure if I enjoyed the ride with those high stakes. Anyway, we follow Kit, a rich heiress and founder of a group of hackers called the Outliers, and Castle, a field officer for a government agency not meant to exist. You definitely cannot read this book as a standalone, in my opinion, because there is too much plot. I think with romantic suspense sometimes it seems like the couple comes together too quickly and I will admit that I feel that way about this one a little bit.
I really need Sourcebooks Casablanca to stop holding out on us and start announcing whether or not I’m getting more books in this series, because I need more books in this series.
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Essentially, the plot is that Jo is a Chinese American Hollywood writer now, but she rose to fame as the only non-white cast member of a very popular show. She’s now up for writing an action movie and people have some feelings. So Jo takes her assistant Emma to the SAG Awards to basically be a buffer. I will admit to being like, “Taylor takes Tree to basically every awards show ever,” but apparently that’s different because Tree stays to the background? Idk. Anyway, unlike that, Emma winds up going onto the actual Red Carpet with Jo and they’re photographed in a way that has everyone convinced they’re dating, which causes quite a stir. Over the next several months, Emma and Jo kind of work through the rumors and coming to terms with their growing attraction to one another.
This book probably isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s another title that feels like it straddles the line between women’s fiction and romance, although in my opinion, falls clearly on the side of romance. But it moves incredibly slowly and that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It is, however, something that I thought leant it an air of authenticity because of course you would move slowly if you cared as much as Jo does about making sure that you don’t create a work environment where sexual harassment could happen. I liked the slow progression, though at points I wanted to be like JUST TELL HER ALREADY to both of them. But ultimately, I felt like the way the book was written was respectful of the power dynamics between them and allowed us to really get to know the characters. And perhaps that’s why this epilogue knocked it out of the park for me. It was so perfect, the way that it makes you feel like you’ve really read something complete. And it’s the first time I’ve ever really been anxious to have fanart of something once I’m finished with a book. Like, I need this. Someone who can draw, please!!!
Anyway, the writing was strong and I look forward to reading Wilsner’s next book, but I will admit I’m hoping it’s not a slow burn (at least to this extent).
CW: sexual harassment in the workplace and a toxic relationship with a parent
So if you like slow burns, you’ve got two really well written ones to pick up! If you don’t like slow burns and you like action, I think you should definitely read the Final Hours series in order, but Until the End is solidly not a slow burn. At least in my opinion after reading the other two! Anyway, have you read any of these? If so, what did you think? If not, are you planning to? Let me know!