Girl Gone Viral & Beach Read – Two romance reviews for the price of one

I am back on my consistent romance reading habit and I could not be more happy about that. Today’s mini-reviews for two romance reads that had both some and bad to them, so when you even it out, I ended up not feeling any strong way about them. Besides for one element in Beach Read that got me annoyed, but we’ll talk about that in a bit.

Alisha Rai - #1 Girl Gone viralTitle: Girl Gone Viral

Author: Alisha Rai

Publication date : April 21st, 2020

Publisher : Avon Books | Harpercollins

Genre : Adult | Romance

Page Count: 400goodreads

Synopsis : OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings [eyes emoji]

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a hot guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire episode with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae is the new hashtag-du-jour. The problem? Katrina craves a low-profile life, and going viral threatens the peaceful world she’s painstakingly built. Besides, #CafeBae isn’t the man she’s hungry for…

He’s got a [peach emoji] to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard, friend, and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to his family’s home. Alone in a remote setting with the object of her affections? It’s a recipe for romance. But after a long dating dry spell, Katrina isn’t sure she can trust her instincts when it comes to love—even if Jas’ every look says he wants to be more than just her bodyguard… (from goodreads)

*I received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

CW: PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, talk of emotionally abusive parent and death of a parent.

(No Spoilers)

I love Alisha Rai’s romances, so naturally Girl Gone Viral made my most anticipated books’ list, especially considering the fact that I loved Katrina in the first books and that this is a slowburn bodyguard romance. And in those aspects in delivered. For the most part.

There are a few things that I love about Alisha Rai’s writing and that is consistent across all of her books. And one of my favorite ones is that although the romance is the central focus, it’s never the only element of the story. I especially love when she includes messy and complicated family dynamics as it is the case here. On the one hand, we have Jas’ family who get on each other’s nerves with every other word but would ultimately kill for each other. On the other hand, we have Katrina’s family, which is found and not blood, Jas being part of it. And this just makes the characters more real.

Katrina is biracial thai and white, keeps herself sheltered because of her panic disorder and is a softy and hopeless romantic at heart. This book only made me love her more as a character, she’s the type of woman who has a quiet strength to her, who would do anything for the people she loves and for the right thing, even it challenges her and i loved that about her. I also loved that. I don’t about other readers, but the way she talked about her attraction read very…grayromantic to me, I related to it very much.

On the other hand, we have Jas *deep sigh*, this man is the sweetest kindest man in existence, if only he weren’t fictional. He’s Indian, Sikh and has PTSD from his years in the military. He’s very much not assertive and shrinks himself as to not bother other people with his feelings and as such, keeps everyone at arm’s length. I loved him start to open up, not only to Katrina but to his family as well as other men with whom he slowly becomes friends. We rarely see books showcasing that kind of dynamic.

This is where I hear: but why didn’t this one win you over completely? Well. To put it simply, I wanted more from the romance, especially in the first half. I wanted more pining and yearning, because there was barely any of that and for people who are supposed to have had feelings for each other for years, I just didn’t buy it, it didn’t translate quite as well on the page without those elements. I needed more to be able to properly root for them, more of them physically together but also being stuck in each other’s heads lol.

Furthermore, the romance took a bit of a background role in that first part of the book, while we were dealing with the aftermath of Katrina being shipped with a stranger and going viral on the internet. Which is an element I liked in the story. We rarely think about how invasive social media is, and people often forget that these are people and people’s lives they’re toying with when displaying them on the internet. And Alisha Rai explores just that through someone livetweeting and making up a whole fictional story about Katrina’s interactions with a random man.

Something that I also found refreshing in the story is how both Jas and Katrina were relatively inexperienced, so they learned from and with each other while being completely comfortable doing so. The enthusiasm was also super cute.

Do I recommend?

Yes! Even though I wanted more from the romance it was still sweet and the overall book was really good.


Emily Henry - Beach ReadTitle: Beach Read

Author: Emily Henry

Publication date : May 19th, 2020

Publisher : Berkley | Penguin Random House

Genre : Adult | Romance

Page Count: 368goodreads

Synopsis : Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really. (from goodreads)

*I received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

CW: parental death (stroke), adultery, talk of cancer, emetophobia, talk of domestic and parental abuse, description of a car accident.

(No Spoilers)

Okay, okay, okay. I can do this. I am so conflicted about this book and here is why: For the first 50%, I did not care, not about the romance, not about January as a main character, not about anything happening. Then at the 52% mark exactly, I got invested not only in the romance, which was slowburn but well-developed, but also in the characters’ individual journeys. At the end I thought I loved it, but then the more I thought about it the more annoyed I got. But let’s start with the positives.

I did not particularly care for January as a main character, which I think is one of the reasons I was so disinterested in the book for such a big chunk, I sympathized with her and her circumstances but didn’t really like her. Both characters felt very much like read people but I was much more interested in knowing who Gus, the love interest, is. So Beach Read only got good for me once they started really hanging out and getting to know each other, and my hunch was right. He was so much more compelling and his hesitancy towards love and trusting that anyone would love him enough to stick was very well done and hit a soft spot in my heart.

Once things got going I was 110% rooting for them, I loved the way they supported each other in their craft, the way their sarcasm and banter fed off of each other and even the tentativeness between them has me melting. The whole situation where people want to be together but they have so much personal history that makes them hesitate speaks to me. I also loved the slow build up as well as the way the author was able to display intimacy in the most simple ways that had me even more invested in them because I could see they just…worked. And they put the work into making things work, because with both of them carrying their own baggage, they have to work on their own shit.

Don’t let this or the cover fool you though, this book is NOT fluffy. By all means, the romance is cute but the book as a whole is not, it deals with some heavy topics such as loss of a parent, cheating, grief, domestic and parental abuse and even talk of religious cults, so be cautious going in lest it slaps you in the face. They’re well handled and all but I feel like they don’t get acknowledged nearly enough and people are caught by surprise.

NOW, to the part that caused my growing annoyance with the book the more I sat with my thoughts: Shadi, the best friend. She’s a person of color, we don’t know her exact ethnicity aside from the fact that 1/ Her name is non white (and a guy’s name actually) and 2/ she calls January habibi (which is also gendered and male so…). I am SO sick and tired of POC being in a book exclusively for emotional labor, because that’s exactly what Shadi was, we only got to hear about her or from her when January needed to nurse her heartbreak, deal with her grief or some advice. And the fact that the one character of color was the most lazily crafted is what made this whole thing the most infuriating. Every character was give care and backstory where all she got is the single trait that she fell in love too easily and too often.

I’m tired.

Do I recommend?

Not necessarily. It was good but the whole Shadi mess left a bitter taste in my mouth. Read a romance written by an author of color instead.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read either of these books? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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3 thoughts on “Girl Gone Viral & Beach Read – Two romance reviews for the price of one

  1. Great reviews! I keep seeing Beach Read everywhere.. and heard it’s not a “light” romance read at all?! But may still have to give it a try 🙃

    Like

  2. I am definitely more intrigued by Girl Gone Viral – partly cause I think something like that actually happened? Minus the whole bodyguard part. I feel like I remember someone live tweeting a pair chatting on a plane or something and the woman having to go on tv to ask the public and the man she was chatting to to please leave her alone

    Like

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