I do so love bringing y’all a group of three absolute banger ARC reviews. It gives me such joy, like I’m so good at picking what books I read. And I’m delighted to inform you, that’s precisely the kind of reviews you’re getting today: my thoughts on three books I really, really enjoyed! First up is Pas de Don’t by Chloe Angyal set largely in Sydney, Australia, which was such a cool place to spend time. Then Jana Goes Wild by Farah Heron is set largely in Tanzania, which was absolutely incredible. I really enjoyed that as a setting. And then finally, Single Dads Club by Therese Beharrie (out in June) is set in a small town in South Africa. A huge shout out to Netgalley for the privilege of receiving these three books as ARCs. I read the e-ARC of both Pas de Don’t and Single Dads Club, but actually purchased the audiobook of Jana Goes Wild (which I would recommend!). Anyway, let’s talk about the books in detail now, shall we?
Pas de Don’t by Chloe Angyal
If you love ballet, I would recommend this book for the ballet alone. If you love books where a woman leaves a toxic relationship and falls in love, but is a little scared by that, then I definitely recommend. I really adore books about women finding themselves if I’m honest and the combination of that with the ballet was just a really perfect combination for me. That said, there were a couple of pacing things and just the way that the book wrapped up rather quickly that kept this from being a full five stars. But I cannot believe this was a debut and I cannot wait to read more from Angyal!
Essentially, this book follows Heather Hays, prima ballerina, who breaks up with her fiancé after finding out that he’s cheating on her. The problem is that he is also a ballerina and is also cheating on her with someone in the Corps, which makes the work situation pretty awful. Heather winds up taking off to Sydney (Australia) to dance Giselle for the Australian National Ballet and meets Marcus, an injured ballerina, who is also dealing with grieving his father, and the two of them feel an immediate connection.
I really need a follow up book about Carly because she deserves to find love of her own and a book about Alice too. I am so excited to follow Angyal’s career and hope we have a lot more to look forward to.
Jana Goes Wild by Farah Heron
Jana Suleiman grew up trying (and usually succeeding) to do the Right Thing all the time. She was a good girl. And in her mind, the one time she really just followed her heart and fell hard and fast into bed with a man, she got pregnant and found out that she was actually “the other woman” in this situation. Unfortunately, the repercussions of this cost her a job. So even though Jana adores Imani (her daughter), she cannot help but be extremely bitter that her society has not punished Anil (baby daddy) in the same way at all. So when she winds up shoved together with Anil and Imani at the wedding of two of her best friends, some of that resentment starts to be aired out.
I probably shouldn’t focus so much on the bitterness, but honestly, for me, that is one of the most pertinent parts of this story. Jana is mad. Rightfully so, but it’s also fascinating because Anil really is so likable, it was hard to be mad at him. This book is a follow up to Kamila Knows Best and I feel like I should have read that one first in order to be more sympathetic to Jana (not that I wasn’t, but I was also like, everything was complicated! Not really his fault! and that just doesn’t feel fair…). All this to say though, this book felt really unique and fresh to me. I loved the setting so much. I loved the conflict here because even if I didn’t always understand Jana, I felt like she was so real and honest in her emotions. And Imani is a precious bean whom I adored.
Also, now I want to go on a safari. I would also like to have people protect me like they did Imani and never mention the fact that some people go and hunt REALLY FREAKING AWESOME animals for sport. I just do not understand and I also do not like it. But anyways, setting that aside, I really enjoyed this book so very much and I look forward to picking up more from Heron, hopefully soon!
Single Dads Club
by Therese Beharrie
I need to start this review by letting you know that I cried through approximately 70% of this book. Do I know why? I mean… not really, honestly. It is not a sad book. But there’s something about Beharrie’s writing in this book that gave me some of the same feelings that Love at First by Kate Clayborn did. There’s this crippling sense of loneliness in Rowan that he almost doesn’t seem to recognize? And then, Delilah has this sense of inadequacy that she is trying so hard to just keep doing to cover it up. There’s talk of therapy and that talk of therapy was incredible. There is friendship in so many forms here. There is so much about dysfunctional family relationships too and repairing some relationships that you think have been broken.
Also, the mother of Rowan’s child is in this book and they are friendly and they live together and it is essentially not a big deal in terms of Rowan being able to have a relationship with Delilah. The fact that Beharrie wrote a family unit like this into this book? Incredible. Oh and while it didn’t impact me the way I imagine it would a parent, Rowan spends so much time worrying about whether or not he’ll be a good dad. Whether or not he is a good dad. How to parent. Is it always this hard? And that’s where Delilah introducing Rowan to her brother comes in and thus the Single Dads Club. I just… Y’all. This book is amazing. The character work is incredible and I loved it so much.
If you want to know the plot… Well, there really isn’t much of one? It’s just small town living. A slice of life. I mean, there’s a festival and things, but it’s not really a plot heavy book. Oh, and I used this book for Anti Hero on the #SpringIntoLoveBingo board because Delilah really seems to think that she is always going to be the problem, but also, Rowan seems to feel that way a little bit too? I didn’t absolutely adore the end section of this book because the conflict felt a little too… silly for me, but aside from that, I loved everything about it even if I did feel emotionally destroyed after finishing it.
I really, really adored these three books! Do you plan to read any of them? Have you already? Let me know your thoughts!!