Vanessa Jared’s Got a Man by LaQuette and The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe | #bookreviews #romcoms

Vanessa Jared’s Got a Man by LaQuette

LaQuette’s debut sexy romantic comedy Vanessa Jared’s Got a Man tells the story of a woman getting her groove back and getting a second chance at love.

Vanessa Jared, a 40-something divorcee, decided that the best way to pull herself out of their post-divorce slump was to form The Savvy, Sexy, Singles Club and start the “Do Me” portion of her and her friends’ lives.

But on the two year anniversary, a sexy sheriff shows up on Vanessa’s doorstep wanting her to help him keep his little sister from marrying her no-good ex. Vanessa is not down for this at all. She wants nothing to do with her ex…until she spots a photo of her ex’s new fiancee wearing her grandmother’s ring–which he clearly stole from her. So now it’s on. Vanessa is ready to take this trifling (fill-in-the-blank) down. What she does not expect is to fall in love along the way.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Vanessa Jared’s Got a Man by LaQuette is a second chance at love story with a lot of diversity and heat.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

I can see this is a story with diverse characters by the cover, and I love that. Its cartoonish quality lends to the genre I am expecting: Romantic Comedy. In the blurb, it is called a sexy romantic comedy which, since I’m the fast-forward-through-sexy-scenes Queen, makes me a bit worried. I will also be listening to the audio version and doing a mixed read and listen, so I am always curious about that aspect since audio often goes badly for me. But my mind is open! So I am hopeful as always.

Actual Reading Experience:

What I loved most about this story were the characters. There is just so much to them, and the narration of the audio version just added an extra depth that I enjoyed immensely. It really brought even the support characters to life. But more on that in other sections.

The premise is amusing and also poignant. Vanessa’s ex-husband is getting remarried, and Karl told his wife-to-be that his first wife (Vanessa) was dead. His fiancé’s brother sensed something was off and investigated Karl, only to discover that his first wife (Vanessa) was alive and kicking. So, he asked her to come to his small town and expose Karl for the liar he is. And what happens next is the story. Some components are laugh-out-loud funny, and others are embarrassingly (for me) explicit and crude. Still, other sections are much more serious and poignant.

In both versions, my only issue with the story is that the sex scenes are incredibly detailed, explicit, and even sometimes crude. That just isn’t where my tastes lie, which meant that I “fast-forwarded” or reduced the volume through a significant amount of the story.

Characters:

Vanessa Jared is a forty-something divorcee who survived an emotionally abusive husband. She is now in a stronger place, ready to experience whatever life has in store for her. She is fiercely strong and independent and loves her life as it is. She is not interested in changing anything, or at least that’s what she thinks.

Sherriff Michael Park is focused on his worry about his sister, who he knows is marrying the wrong man for her. Since his parents’ deaths, he has been protective and stubborn, and it’s almost too much for Cindy to bear.

Narration & Pacing:

I absolutely loved the narration of the audio version, and it brought the characters to life for me. The narrator is Denise Wallace.

The pacing is medium. The audio version actually went faster for me than the print version. Still, I think that is because of the entertainment value Denise Wallace brought to it.

Setting:

The story is set in a small town in Pennsylvania that the characters refer to as Mayberry. It’s a quaint small town and used very well in the story as being a close-knit and safe place – a real community.

To Read or Not to Read:

If you love the idea of a steamy and diverse romantic comedy, this is one you will want to pick up soon.

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • Originality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Writing Quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Pace: ⭐⭐⭐
  • Character Development: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • ‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness: ⭐⭐
  • Use of Setting: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Audio Book Narration: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe

In this smart, swoony, rom-com debut from Jenny L. Howe The Make-Up Test, two college exes find themselves battling against each other—and their unresolved feelings—for a spot in a prestigious literature Ph.D. program.

Allison Avery loves to win. After acing every academic challenge she’s come up against, she’s finally been accepted into her dream Ph.D. program at Claymore University, studying medieval literature under a professor she’s admired for years. Sure, grad school isn’t easy—the classes are intense, her best friend is drifting away, and her students would rather pull all-nighters than discuss The Knight’s Tale—but she’s got this. Until she discovers her ex-boyfriend has also been accepted. Colin Benjamin might be the only person who loves winning more than Allison does, and when they’re both assigned to TA for the same professor, the game is on.

What starts as a personal battle of wits (and lit) turns into all-out war when their professor announces a career-changing research trip opportunity—with one spot to fill. Competing with Colin is as natural as breathing, and after he shattered her heart two years ago, Allison refuses to let him come out on top. But when a family emergency and a late-night road trip—plus a very sexy game of Scrabble—throw them together for a weekend, she starts to wonder if they could be stronger on the same team. And if they fall for each other all over again, Allison will have to choose between a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and what could be a twice-in-a-lifetime love.

In this charmingly bookish debut, The Make-Up Test embraces the truth that people can sometimes change and grow, even when you least expect it.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe is a romantic comedy about what happens when a young woman, Allison, and her ex find out they are in the same college and doctoral program and are paired with the same mentor.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

The setting is one I am very familiar with, so I’m excited about that. Otherwise, it sounds like it could be a lot of fun, and I love a good enemies-to-lovers story.

Actual Reading Experience:

There was surprising depth to this story as Allison worked through her guilt over not wanting her father in her life. He has always been critical of her for things she has no control over, and she realizes that there just isn’t room for that kind of toxicity in her life. But, as those things go, separating his life from hers proves impossible. All those scenes were very relatable, and I could feel her pain as if it were my own.

I also enjoyed the body positivity message embraced by this story. The main character is overweight due to a thyroid condition and that is okay with her, the other characters, and me. Even though it is at the heart of her issues with her father, it is not portrayed as an issue with anyone else and I loved just loved that.

Characters:

The characters are developed adequately enough, but they aren’t that likable, which is difficult because this is a genre where I want characters I can like. Allison is very insecure, and though that fits completely from a psychological perspective considering her relationship with her father, it is challenging to rally around. It manifests itself through over-achieving, lying, and overreacting before she has all the facts. I found this very frustrating to be immersed in.

Narration & Pacing:

The story is written in 3rd person with a focus on Allison, and this narration style led to an often slow-pace mired down in too many details. I would argue that the amount of detail could easily have been halved, and the story would have flowed much faster without losing any meaning or emotions.

Setting:

I loved the setting! I was back in a world I hadn’t been part of for a long time. I didn’t get an advanced degree in English, but I earned my Bachelor’s in it, and this story reminded me so much of those days. English majors tend to be a close-knit group. We love bouncing interpretations off each other and competing for the best GPA.

To Read or Not to Read:

If you love romcoms in an academic setting and with many layers of emotion, The Make-Up Test is one you won’t want to miss.

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐💫

  • Originality: ⭐⭐💫
  • Writing Quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Pace: ⭐⭐
  • Character Development: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • ‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness: ⭐⭐
  • Use of Setting: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

18 Replies to “Vanessa Jared’s Got a Man by LaQuette and The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe | #bookreviews #romcoms”

  1. I’m from small-town Pennsylvania and I have an advanced degree in English. Despite the two appealing and relatable settings, I know these aren’t for me. (But I’m sure you guessed that.) Still, they sound good for people who like romances. Characters who are nuanced always enrich a story, IMHO. Thanks for your candid reviews, Tessa.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just the premise of Vanessa Jared had me laughing, Tessa. And I can just imagine you fast forwarding through the sexy times, lol. That’s too bad about the pacing on The Makeup Test, but I’m always a fan of an academic setting so I know I’d have enjoyed that part.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed both reviews very much. I like how you pointed out all the details in The Make-Up Test, I enjoyed the book, but couldn’t put my finger on what exactly I didn’t like, and I think you’re right, it’s all the details in the middle that slowed it down. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had heard that the sex scenes in Vanessa Jared’s Got a Man were pretty graphic, so I am glad I bypassed it. I am hoping to read or listen to The Make-Up Test thought. Nice, balanced reviews, Tessa.

    Liked by 1 person

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