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LIFE'S TOO SHORT

Jimenez's rom-com formula feels a bit stale on the third go-round.

When neighbors become so much more, it changes the trajectory of their lives forever.

Vanessa Price may have only a year left to live. She inherited a gene that gives her a 50% risk of contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the fatal disease that afflicted her grandmother, her mother, and her older sister, Melanie. She’s dedicated her adult life to enjoying each moment like it’s her last, traveling the world and using the funds from her popular YouTube channel to donate to ALS research. Vanessa’s not looking to be tied down by this disease, her dysfunctional family—or a romantic relationship. But when her half sister, Annabel, descends into drug abuse and drops her infant daughter on Vanessa’s doorstep, she has no choice but to stick around in Minnesota for the first time in years. Luckily, she’s got a hot next-door neighbor, and he’s knocking on her door at 4 a.m. When Adrian Copeland helps Vanessa with a screaming baby, he doesn’t expect to get wrapped up in her universe so quickly. But they start seeing each other every day, and he finds himself falling for her. The problem? She’s made it clear that she doesn’t date. And when Vanessa reveals that she’s been displaying symptoms of early-onset ALS, they both must decide what they really want out of life. Jimenez has become known for books such as The Happily-Ever After Playlist (2020) that blend tragicomedy with romance, and she tackles many big issues here—mortality, drug abuse, mental illness—with tact. But the plot gets tedious as the mystery of Vanessa’s prognosis drags on. Some readers may also balk at the instant connection between the two main characters, who share everything from house keys to child care in just days.

Jimenez's rom-com formula feels a bit stale on the third go-round.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1566-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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JUST FOR THE SUMMER

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Two people with bad luck in relationships find each other through a popular Reddit thread.

Emma Grant and her best friend, Maddy, are travel nurses, working at hospitals for three-month stints while they see the country. Just a few weeks before they’re set to move to Hawaii, Emma reads a popular “Am I the Asshole” Reddit thread from a Minnesota man who thinks he’s cursed—women he dates find their soulmates after breaking up with him, and the latest one found true love with his best friend! Emma has had a similar experience, which inspires her to DM the man and commiserate. She’s delighted by her witty, lively interactions with software engineer Justin Dahl, and is intrigued when he suggests that if they date each other, maybe they’ll each find their soulmate afterward. Emma upends the Hawaii plan and convinces Maddy to move to Minneapolis for the summer so she can meet Justin in person. The overly complex setup brings Emma and Justin together and the two hit it off, with Justin immediately falling head over heels for Emma. Jimenez then pivots to creating romantic roadblocks and melodramatic subplots centering on each character’s family of origin. Justin’s mother is about to serve six years in prison for embezzlement, which means Justin must move back home to care for his three much younger siblings. Emma was traumatized by her own mother for much of her childhood, left to fend for herself and eventually abandoned in the foster system. When her mother shows up in Minnesota, Emma must face her traumatic childhood and admit that she has prioritized her mother’s well-being over her own. There is little time devoted to Emma’s painful efforts to heal herself enough to accept Justin’s love, which leaves the novel feeling unsatisfying.

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781538704431

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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