Monday, June 19, 2023

Always, Amy by Belinda Mary: Book Review

 *Book received for consideration. All thoughts are my own.

Can two people go from being enemies to lovers to…just friends?

Twenty-five-year-old Amy Harlow has read every romance trope that exists and she loves them all. She’s very familiar with the fictional archetypal bad boy characters, and sadly, she has dated quite a few. And so, when she meets the suave, arrogant, but oh-so-good looking Lucas Mancini, the new doctor working with her in the emergency department, she knows exactly where to put him. As public enemy, number one.

Unfortunately for Amy, Lucas is determined to evade his role as the bad guy in her story, and before she knows what’s happening, he has moved from enemy to lover and now to 
friend? How had that happened? And now that he has put her in the friend zone, Amy cannot focus on anything other than getting herself out of it.

With the help of an anxious puppy, her friends in a raucous romance book club, and a weekend of fake dating (it works in all the books she so happily devours), will Amy be able to overcome her preconceived notions about love and Lucas, and finally write her own happy ending?

Fans of Sarah Adams and Emma St. Clair will love this enemies to lovers, second chance romantic comedy with a sprinkle of fake dating. It is closed door, with lots of sizzle and swoony kisses giving you all the feels but no explicit content.

Always, Amy is book two in the Love Always series but can be read as a standalone novel.

Belinda Mary is a first-time author, but long-time lover of all the books. Belinda has been happily lost in the world of fiction since picking up her first Judy Blume novel at the age of ten, and ask anyone around her, when she has a book to read, she turns into a very unproductive member of society.

After studying for ten years and obtaining her PhD in molecular biology, she has pursued a career in the healthcare industry, and in the last year has taken the leap to fulfil a lifelong dream of writing her debut novel. And when she is not looking after her two kids, her husband of ten years and her crazy spoodle, she can be found on the couch reading (duh!), watching all things Real Housewives, or listening to true crime podcasts.

Belinda hopes to write the kind of stories that she loves to read; filled with laughs, longing and love.

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Always, Amy is the second book in the Love Always series. I had not personally read the previous book in the series and found that it read just fine as a standalone. That said, the characters from book one definitely play a part in this story, and you'll definitely read some spoilers if read out of order. 

Right away this story drew me in. It brought in many tropes-- enemy to lover... back to enemy... to friends to more, some fake dating, second chance, coworkers, etc. They were all done really well, and it didn't feel like too much throughout the story. I also enjoyed how they addressed these tropes through the book club discussions as well... the book lover in me really enjoyed that! I enjoyed the chemistry between these two characters a lot and couldn't help but root for them to work out their past and get their happily ever after. 

The story is told mostly through Amy's POV with just a few glimpses nearing the end of the story from Lucas's perspective. I absolutely loved when we finally got a look inside his head and honestly would have loved to see more of that. At the same time, I think waiting so long to get that perspective also really just added to the sweetness once we finally got it. And his emails? Oh, my goodness! So, so good!! I could have enjoyed a whole book with just those! 

Always, Amy is a closed-door romance, but there are a few bits of content to note for younger/more conservative readers. There is nothing beyond kissing on the pages however it IS made clear that more has happened off the pages between unmarried couples. There is also a side character who we are told is gay, though this doesn't have (much) impact on the story (aside from why he could not be Amy's fake date). And finally, there is some language throughout... perhaps a slight bit more than most of the books that I tend to read, but still fairly mild overall. (No f-words, or using God's name, etc.) None of these impacted my personal enjoyment of the story, but I realize they might for others so it's important to note if those might be bothersome to you personally. I would definitely still call this a clean read, but not as squeaky clean as some readers might prefer. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I've been on a bit of a coworkers kick lately, and this was a fun addition to that! If you're looking for a coworker romance or enjoy enemies to lovers, this is certainly one to check out. 


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