ROMANTIC YA CONTEMPORARY: All This Time Review

Summary (from the publisher):

From the team behind #1 New York Times bestseller Five Feet Apart comes a gripping new romance that asks: Can you find true love after losing everything?

Kyle and Kimberly have been the perfect couple all through high school, but when Kimberly breaks up with him on the night of their graduation party, Kyle’s entire world upends—literally. Their car crashes and when he awakes, he has a brain injury. Kimberly is dead. And no one in his life could possibly understand.

Until Marley. Marley is suffering from her own loss, a loss she thinks was her fault. And when their paths cross, Kyle sees in her all the unspoken things he’s feeling.

As Kyle and Marley work to heal each other’s wounds, their feelings for each other grow stronger. But Kyle can’t shake the sense that he’s headed for another crashing moment that will blow up his life as soon as he’s started to put it back together.

And he’s right.

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, AudibleB&N Exclisive Edition, iBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

My Thoughts: 

I’ve been making my way BACK to my one true love, YA contemporary, in August & September, which led me to pick up Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott’s upcoming release, All This Time. I haven’t yet read their absolute hit, Five Feet Apart, but maybe I will soon because I so easily fell into their second book! All This Time follows Kyle’s worst nightmare turned true. As high school sweethearts Kyle and Kimberley break up on the night of their graduation, they get into a car accident. When Kyle wakes up from his brain injury, he finds out Kimberley died in the accident. Kyle struggles with his pain and grief, feeling like no one can possibly understand what he’s going through, except for Marley, a girl who’s suffering from a loss of her own. Despite that Kyle works through his grief with Marley by his side, he can’t help but feel that everything can’t be as right as it seems. 

All This Time reminded me of why I fell in love with YA contemporary & romances. This book would’ve been one of my favorite reads back in high school because it just speaks so much to first love and heartbreak. Kyle’s story of course takes on very tragic and somber tone, but Mikki Daughty and Rachel Lippincott’s writing style was very easy to fall into. I read the book in 2 or 3 sittings, but I definitely recommend breezing through this one on a cozy night in this fall. It’s also had been a while since I read a YA with a male protagonist or narrated by the lead male character, but I think Kyle’s storytelling was very relatable to anyone who’s suffered from loss or going through first love. 

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TWO 2020 FAVORITES, ONE MISS: Contemporary Romance Mini Reviews

It’s one of my reading missions in life to also have a contemporary romance book ready to read! If you’re absolutely loving all the amazing contemporary romances that have come out in 2020, I have another two 2020 releases for you to read… and a 2019 much-loved release to maybe avoid….

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

On a beautiful day in August, I decided I wanted a fluffy book that would occupy my full attention while floating around the pool, which led me to pick up Mia Sosa’s The Worst Best Man. I’ll read nearly any book that has something to do with weddings. This contemporary romance follows Lina, a wedding planner who was left at the altar three years ago when her fiancé’s best man, Max, convinced Andrew to not get married the night before the wedding. Three years later, Lina is up for a wedding planning position at a luxury hotel in Washington D.C. and is forced to work with Max to prepare marketing materials for her final presentation. Although Lina finally gets the opportunity for some payback, her and Max begin to connect in ways both of them would have never expected.

The Worst Best Man is seriously one of my favorite contemporary romances of 2020! I instantly fell into this story and Lina and Max’s attraction. I thought it had the perfect balance between romance & relationship development, the setting, and the personal challenges each character faces. As I’ve said before, Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings are among my favorite reality TV shows, so I loved getting the inside look at wedding planning. I thought Lina’s job and all the details were so well-developed. As someone who has experience in marketing, it was also really fun to learn about Max’s job as a marketing executive and seeing him and Lina collaborate on their pitch. We also spend a lot of time with each character’s family, as Lina comes from a close-knit family led by women and is planning her favorite cousin’s wedding, while Max and Andrew are going head to head for the hotel pitch. 

This book  hit a home run when it come to one of my favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers. Lina and Max seriously had no feelings or attraction for each other at the start and even as their feelings begin to build, Lina is still getting revenge on Max for helping ruin her big day. I loved their antics and their more emotional scenes, romance scenes of course included. Read More »

FALL 2020 MUST READ: Grown Review

Summary (from the publisher): 

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom. 

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight. 

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields? All signs point to Enchanted. 

 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown is a stand-out young adult must-read for 2020. The book follows seventeen year old Enchanted Jones, who dreams of becoming a singer. When she meets a legendary R&B artist, Korey, at an audition, Korey takes Enchanted under his wings. Soon though, Enchanted’s biggest dream of working with an artist like Korey turns into her biggest nightmare. Grown is filled with heavy content – sexual assault, rape, abuse, drug use all included – but it was such an addicting and important read.

Grown was very easy for me to fly through because I needed to know what happened next and quickly fell into Tiffany D. Jackson’s storytelling. I started Grown on a Sunday night and had it finished by the following Monday morning. However, the book is filled with very heavy content. Korey is 28 years old while Enchanted is only 17, which makes their relationship illegal and very complicated. Korey also abuses Enchanted. Her fear was very difficult to read. It was super uncomfortable to read the story at times, but I totally understand the author’s purpose and honestly, the fact that we as readers are likely supposed to feel uncomfortable by Korey’s actions. While Tiffany D. Jackson states in her author’s note that while her book is inspired by a case, it is not about R. Kelley. It was extremely frustrating, but unfortunately realistic  to read that no one believed Enchanted’s side of the story. It was also so, so frustrating to understand how many people knew about how Korey treated Enchanted and other women.

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I LOVE THESE BOOKS: Adult Fiction and Non Fiction Mini Reviews

You might know that I devoured 17 books in August and had plenty of favorites, which included the following 2 adult fiction reads and my non-fiction read of the month: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, The Book of V. by Anna Solomon, and Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Rodham is for sure a read that divides readers. This adult fiction reads follows a young Hillary Rodham and what her life could have been like if she didn’t marry Bill Clinton. The first third of the book or so does follow Hillary and Bill’s relationship until their eventual break-up and Hillary’s personal life and political career from that point on. 

Many readers & reviewers have questioned how the ethical the book is, since it is a fictionalized account of Hillary’s life and includes depictions of many real figures. However, I can’t help but I admit that I absolutely loved this book and found it so thought-provoking! It’s clear that Curtis Sittenfeld put a ton of research behind Rodham, since the book does take into account Hillary’s real life and many real people. I thought it was so clever how Curtis Sittenheld meshed the real and fictional together. The book takes place from Hillary’s graduation from Wellesley College and all the way through the 2016 presidential election. Yes, this is especially where Curtis Sittenfeld really makes her own alternate reality, but it was just so, so fascinating to think about what could have been. Although I loved it, I know some readers might again recognize that some readers might not feel comfortable with Curtis Sittenfeld’s choices, especially when it comes to Bill Clinton and his depiction, specifically regarding his relationships with other women. I think I did a biography report on Hillary Clinton back in middle school, but I admit that immediately after I finished Rodham, I went into a Google deep dive about the Clintons! Rodham would make for such an interesting and endless talk-worthy book choice amongst friends or a book club! I could see myself picking up Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep or American Wife in the future. Read More »

TIMELY YA READ: Punching the Air Review

Summary (from the publisher): From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo. 

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born 

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white. 

The story that I think

will be my life 

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

I really can’t come up with a YA title to compare Punching the Air to because it is just so, so different from what is out in the YA book world. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book that follows a protagonist who is incarcerated, let alone one that deals with such timely themes and conversations. Co-written by Ibi Zoiboi and Yuself Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, Punching the Air is a YA novel told in verse following Amal, a teenager who is incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. The novel begins with Amal’s court case and decision and soon transitions into his life living in a juvenile detention center. 

Punching the Air caused me to have so many visceral reactions, especially in stanzas when Amal is describing the violence and depression he experiences inside juvenile detention. The reader really begins to feel his frustration and anger, especially when talking to the social worker and other adults who can’t comprehend what Amal is going through. There are so many important stanzas centered around race and discrimination, as Amal identifies as Black and Muslim. Amal is also an artist, and he often attempts to work through his frustration with his (white) art teacher who never understood Amal or his desire to learn about artists with a similar identity as him. Amal tries to rely on art as a form of escapism while in prison, but he often prevented from doing so because it is seen as privilege there. 

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A BOOKISH HOLIDAY YA CONTEMPORARY: Recommended For You Review

Summary (from the publisher):

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets You’ve Got Mail in this charming and hilarious rom-com following two teen booksellers whose rivalry is taken to the next level as they compete for the top bookseller bonus.

Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.

When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan.

Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.

But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts: 

Everyone knows that I’m crave bookish YA books, which made Laura Silverman’s Recommended For You one of my most anticipated releases this fall… not to mention that it takes place during one of my favorite times of the year, the holiday season! Shoshanna Greenberg is spending her winter break at her favorite place in the world, Once Upon, the local bookstore where she works. When her boss announces that the employee who sells the most books will receive a holiday bonus, Shoshanna is ready to up her book recommendation game even more so she can finally fix up her beloved car. What’s preventing her from doing so is Once Upon’s newest employee, Jake, both for that fact that he doesn’t even read and his charm. 

Recommended For You is one of the cutest enemies-to-lovers books that I’ve ever read!  It had such a fantastic atmosphere, between the holiday season and the bookstore & mall. The book takes place over the week leading up to Christimas, with Shoshanna’s family wrapping up their Hanukkah celebrations and Shoshanna working every day leading up to Christmas. Although I haven’t worked in a mall, I have worked in retail and Laura Silverman perfectly summarized the chaos surrounding last minute holiday shopping. Shoshanna’s best friends also work in the mall, and I loved their food court hang outs.

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Jenna Takes The Fall by A.R. Taylor Review

Summary (from the publisher):

Twenty-four years old and newly employed in Manhattan, Jenna McCann agrees to place herself under the dead body of a wealthy, prominent New Yorker―her boss―to hide the identity of his real lover. But why?

Because she is half in love with him herself; because her only friend at Hull Industries asked her to; because she feared everyone around her; because she had no idea how this would spin out into her own, undeveloped life; because she had nothing and no one?

Or just because?

 

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

The first line of the synopsis for A.R. Taylor’s Jenna Takes The Fall instantly caught my attention. The novel begins with twenty-four year old, NYC newbie Jenna falsely owning up as her billionaire boss’ mistress when he suddenly dies to hide the identity of his true lover. 

Jenna Takes The Fall was really different from most books that I normally read. It was this interesting cross between thriller and contemporary fiction, especially because the book begins with Jenna’s role in her boss’ death. The book is split between her life working at a newspaper conglomerate as an executive assistant of sorts to her new life after being bought out by the company’s law team. The reader definitely needs to suspend their sense of disbelief that Jenna is so willing to cover up the identity of a fellow co-worker in what would’ve been a huge cheating scandal without knowing really why she must do so. 

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TWO GREAT READS, ONE MISS: Recent Contemporary Reads Mini Reviews

I’ve been reading so much this summer, and mini reviews have been my new favorite way to share my thoughts on my recent reads. Today’s mini reviews are books that I would describe as mixes between women’s fiction and literary fiction, which include: Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, Emma Straub’s All Adults Here, and Jennifer Weiner’s Big Summer.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

51nyHHSxOLLSuch a Fun Age by Kiley Reid had been on my TBR since December. So many of my friends have been reading this one since its January debut, but it recently made it way back on to my bookish social media feed between the controversy surrounding The Reading Rush (in short, it was their book club choice and the hosts did not finish reading the book in time for their live show) and that it is a 2020 Booker Prize Longlist Nominee. The book follows the events after an African American babysitter, Emira, is accused by a shopper and security guard at a grocery store for kidnapping the white child she babysits for. Emira develops a romantic relationship with a white man that recorded the altercation, Kelley, while Emira’s boss and blogger, Alix, tries to best handle the situation and develop a relationship with Emira.

Such a Fun Age is a very complicated and multilayered read, alternating between Emira and Alix’s third person perspectives. This book really makes the reader think about the characters and their motivations, especially when it comes to Alix. I didn’t mind the writing style, but it didn’t necessarily grab me. It was easy to read, but again, it leaves the reader thinking about both main characters’ thoughts and actions. In short, Alix is someone who is so out of touch with reality and is ultimately really selfish. She doesn’t understand Emira’s experience and her own husband has recently made some controversial comments on his news cast that ultimately leads to Emira being accosted by the security guard. I will say that I wish there was more development surrounding Alix, especially her past with Kelley, but I think Kiley Reid leaves Alix’s ending unopened in the sense that the reader hopes or assumes that Alix will think more deeply about her actions. Read More »

LIVE LOVE ROMANCE: Contemporary Romance Mini Reviews

Everyone knows that my reading life each month is never complete without a romance book or five. This summer, I’ve done a mini dive back into Colleen Hoover’s books with Verity and Regretting You, while also reading a book by another beloved romance author, Talia Hibbert.

Verity by Colleen Hoover

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

A few of you might now that I took a break from reading Collen Hoover’s books back verin 2018. I was getting tired of seeing the same tropes and honestly, some of the toxic masculinity. Thanks to my mega-romance mood lately, I decided to give one of her books another shot, Verity. I chose Verity because it had been described to me more as a psychological thriller than romance (although there are MANY steamy scenes in this one), and so many people said that its ended has haunted them days after finishing it.  Verity follows Lowen, a struggling writer who receives the opportunity to finish a best-selling series after its author, Verity, gets into an accident that leaves her unable to write. Verity’s husband, Jeremy, offers Lowen to come stay with their family so Lowen can collect Verity’s writing notes and outlines. While searching through Verity’s office, Lowen finds a manuscript of Verity’s autobiography that reveals Verity’s perspective on the various tragedies her and her husband have faced, with plenty of bone-chilling confessions from Verity.

To say the least, Verity was one of the most unique romances I’ve ever read. I’ve read a few thrillers that feature romance or relationship development, but this book was truly romance meets psychological thriller. The book is definitely disturbing at times, as Verity’s confessions in her autobiography reveal her twisted feelings about her husband and children. The book is more about Lowen uncovering Verity and Jeremy’s past than writing the books, but the mystery had me so intrigued. While Verity is pretty much bed-ridden due to her accident, Lowen feels that she’s being watched by Verity at all times, especially as Lowen and Jeremy grow closer. I didn’t really mind Lowen and Jeremy’s relationship because I think it was just a given development in the story. I will say that I had no idea what to expect about Jeremy, and I think Colleen Hoover does a great job leaving her readers guessing throughout.  I don’t think I was as creeped out by the end  as most readers were (I’m not sure what that says about me..), but nevertheless, I did not see the ending coming and I loved how it left me thinking.

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

After really enjoying Verity, I decided to pick up Colleen Hoover’s Regretting You. Many 9781542016421_p0_v2_s550x406of my blogging friends loved this one, since it reads a little bit like a young adult book. Regretting You is told from the perspectives of Morgan and Clara, a mother and daughter who are grieving over two tragic losses in their family. After having Clara at seventeen years old, Morgan is still trying to figure out what else she can be defined as in life aside from a loving mother and wife. Clara has starting to push her parent’s limits, between her crush on a guy her father disapproves and her dream to go to school for acting. At least her dad and Morgan’s husband, Chris, can be the peacemaker between the mother and daughter, until tragedy strikes.

Regretting You reads a lot like many of Colleen Hoover’s new adult reads, but it doesn’t have nearly as many or that steamy of romance scenes.  I would classify it more as a women’s fiction read with a touch of YA, since we get Clara’s perspective as a sixteen-year old high school student. We also get flashbacks to Morgan’s past when she was seventeen, mainly revolving around her finding out about her pregnancy and combatting her feelings for both Chris and Jonah. If you’ve been following the books I’ve been picking up this summer, you’ll know that I’ve been on an adult fiction kick lately, which may explain why I liked Morgan’s perspective more than Clara’s. I think there was a lot more to explore within Morgan’s storyline, between her feelings for Chris and Jonah, her desire to be something more than a housewife, and her struggle to relate to and support Clara. I liked how Colleen Hoover gets at the idea that adults often feel lost themselves or don’t have any idea what they’re doing even if it looks like it.

While I think Regretting You does have a unique premise which definitely intrigued me enough to pick up the book, I don’t think it brought anything necessarily new to the table. I was surprised by the revelation concerning Chris and Morgan’s sister, Jenny, and their relationship, but I sort’ve knew how it would be handled once it’s revealed to Jonah and Morgan. Regretting You  is a pretty fast-paced read, but it feel like I was just waiting for these plot points to reveal themselves. Additionally, Morgan and Clara didn’t really grieve over their losses. I know that grief looks different in everyone, but Morgan and Clara’s concern and feelings for Jonah and Miller respectively overshadowing their grief. While Morgan says repeatedly that she did love her husband, I wish we got to dive into their relationship more.

Overall, I did enjoy Regretting You, but it didn’t have as much depth as I was expecting, both in regards to its romantic relationships and even Clara and Morgan’s mother-daughter dynamic.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1) by Talia Hibbert

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Get a Life, Chloe Brown has been floating around the romance blogosphere since its 43884209November 2019 debut so much that I knew it was finally time for me to pick it up. Talia Hibbert is often recommended to me as a staple contemporary romance author. The first book in The Brown Sisters companion series, Get a Life, Chloe Brown is a British contemporary romance following the oldest Brown sister, Chloe. Chloe has  fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that causes her pain daily. Chloe has felt discouraged to socialize and do a lot of things, so she looks to her apartment building’s ‘bad boy’ of a handy-man, Red, to help her with her ‘get-a-life’ list.

There were so many elements that I appreciated in Get a Life, Chloe Brown, but I never really felt too engaged in the story. It took me a while to settle into the writing style and the feeling that the book was much more character-driven than I had expected. The book alternates between Chloe and Redford’s third-person perspectives, and much of the plot grows out of their dialogue. However, there aren’t too many events or major plot happenings. Additionally,  Chloe and Redford are somewhat set in the enemies-to-lovers trope, but I never really sensed anything but attraction between them. Red also doesn’t really read as a bad boy whatsoever! I really enjoyed Get a Life, Chloe Brown’s representation, as I’ve never seen a Black female protagonist with a disability as the main character.

Overall, although I appreciated certain features in Get a Life, Chloe Brown, it ultimately wasn’t a super memorable or enjoyable romance read for me. I think I one day will pick up the next book in the companion series, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, because so many romance readers that I follow have nothing but amazing things to say about it.

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Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Do you have any recommendations for me? What other Colleen Hoover or Talia Hibbert books should I read? Share in the comments! 

FAVORITE ROYAL READS: The Royal We & The Heir Affair Review 

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s The Heir Affair was honestly my most anticipated book of summer. I had read the first book, The Royal We , in this William and Kate-inspired fictional duology back in 2015 and couldn’t be more than excited when I found out earlier this year that there would be a sequel. I don’t consider myself to be the biggest British royals fan (although Kate’s dress is definitely on my dream wedding mood board), but I can’t help but love a royals-inspired contemporary. Since it had been nearly 5 years in between me reading The Royal We and The Heir Affair, I decided to reread and review The Royal We before diving into the sequel. 

The Royal We 

Summary (from the publisher): American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at heather-cocks-jessica-morgan-theroyalweOxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I had originally rated The Royal We 4.5/5 stars when I read it back in 2015, but I now have granted it a full 5 out of 5 stars, purely because I forgot how great it was and also that I ignored so much homework while rereading this 450+ page book in 2 days.

As mentioned above, The Royal We was inspired by Prince William and Kate, but now sort’ve reads as a fiction mix of William & Kate and Meghan & Harry. American college student Bex meets Prince Nicholas, the third in line for the throne, during a study abroad year at Oxford. The book covers their relationship from their college years through their relationship in adulthood (and as you are probably able to tell, their wedding). While Bex and Nicholas are at the heart of the story, there are so many other character & relationship dynamics, aka drama and scandals, at play. Bex has such great support from her and Nicholas’ Oxford friends and her family.Read More »