Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Jen's Review: The Wedding Date + GIVEAWAY!

You've no doubt heard the buzz about Jasmine Guillory's debut for months. Which means you've probably also been side-eyeing the price tag for the book. Trust me, Jen and I totally get that. Because Jen enjoyed this one so much and wants to spread the word about such a wonderful debut, she's offering you a chance to win a copy! Details at the bottom of this post. Good luck!

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Publisher: Berkley (January 30, 2018)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend...

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other...

They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want..

Where to Buy*:
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Content warning: Some minor internal struggle with body image (heroine)

Jen's Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, a charming romance between two likeable characters, Alexa and Drew, who have to learn to trust themselves and each other on the way to a HEA.

Alexa Monroe is a chief of staff for the mayor of Berkeley, and she’s in San Francisco one evening to meet up with her sister who is in town for the weekend. On her way up the elevator in the Fairmont Hotel, the power suddenly goes out and the elevator grinds to a halt. There’s a handsome white man in the elevator with her, and they strike up a friendly, flirtatious conversation. It turns out that Drew is in town for the wedding of his friend and an ex-girlfriend, and his date had to back out at the last minute. On a whim, he asks Alexa to be his date and she agrees.

This is a charming set-up and I believed in these characters and their world. Both the pacing of their love story and the complications they faced felt realistic and true to life. There is not a billionaire in sight in this book---yes, Drew is a doctor, but he’s worried about his student loans. Yes, Alexa is a lawyer, but she’s left legal practice behind to work in politics. They have to face differences of race, family background, and geography. As a black woman, Alexa experiences the world differently than Drew. She knows he doesn’t always understand, but when she trusts him with her world, he believes her and supports her. These external conflicts are compounded by each of their internal fears and worries. Drew has been a serial dater, always breaking up with women after a few months and while they are still friends. Alexa has figured out this pattern and is wary of trusting her heart to him.

Being with each other is easy, comforting, and right...and that scares the hell out of both of them. Drew is afraid of commitment, and if I had one quibble, I’d say that it’s not very clear where that fear comes from. I guess it’s supposed to read as “average white dude” fears, but compared to how well-developed Alexa’s character is, Drew’s backstory felt a little thin. As a content warning, Alexa does struggle with body image. However, this was real and organic to her character, and not played for laughs or cheap shots. She notices that she is curvier and rounder than the paper-thin blonde white girls that Drew is friends with, but she also can tell that Drew loves her body. This is an internal struggle for Alexa, one driven by her awareness that as a black woman, where the standards of beauty are working against her.

My last thought on this book: I’m worried that the steep price of this book ($12!) will make folks less likely to buy it. I enjoyed this book, but I’d have a hard time buying it for myself at this price. When I first heard about this book and its price, I speculated that it would read more as Women’s Fiction---a term I would like to blast into the sun, but I guess that’s what we’re calling it now. But The Wedding Date is a romance--the relationship is primary, and the way Alexa and Drew both grow is what makes the HEA possible. Maybe the idea is that this book has a crossover appeal, drawing both the romance and the women’s fiction crowd? One way that cross-marketing confusion plays out in the text is that the sex scenes are plentiful, but unsatisfying to understanding their relationship. There’s lots of explicit description of foreplay, but then it fades to black. Since they have a lot of sex, it starts to feel weird. Sexual intimacy can lead to emotional intimacy, and the reader is cut out of that part of the relationship.

Long story short: The Wedding Date is exactly the kind of intersectional, inclusive story that I love to read. I’d say I trust Berkeley Romance to know their own market, but I’m writing this the week Ana Mardoll is doing a read of another Berkeley title, Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgans, which is fatphobic and sounds truly appalling. Needless to say, that’s not exactly making me feel like this is a publishing house I can trust right now. I want to support readers of both romance and non-romance (I just pledged from here on in to stop using the phrase “women’s fiction.” All in the space of one review!) To that end, I’m raffling off 3 copies of this book---you decide if you want it in paper or an eBook. This is a strong romance from a first time author, and I want more people to have a crack at it.

Final note on rating: 4 for a first time novelist, 3 1/2 compared to other great romances.

3 1/2 STARS! 

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Jen received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

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Thanks for the review, Jen! And the generous giveaway, of course! :) 

This book starts in the elevator, but there's no elevator sexytimes (sad face). HOWEVER! Jen did a post just last month on Who Did It Better in an Elevator, so feel free to check that out HERE!

Let's talk about debuts: what was the last debut (romance) that rocked your world?

Giveaway closes at 11:59 PM (MST) on February 11th, 2018

  • 3 winners
  • Open INT
  • Pick ebook OR print copy

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Until Next Time,

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