Deadline looming, I had one thing and one thing only on my mind. No, it was not, “Get that book done.” It should have been. This I admit. Cathe Swanson is probably going to throttle me for this, but it wasn’t.
It wasn’t even, “Set up the order page” or “Tweak the cover.”
Nope. It was, “How do I justify reading this novella?”
There’s a certain amount of irony in ignoring your own novella for another one, but is it my fault that Sarah Monzon came out with another bookish novella when I am supposed to be writing?
I don’t think so!
I mean, I’d already gone through this with Bookishly Ever After (link goes to my review). That was just supposed to be a quick skim so I could get more room on the bookshelf of my Kindle Unlimited account. For another book. That I still haven’t read. Ahem.
Instead, I’d lost myself in a delightfully romantic tale of bookish dates and adorable characters.
So, when I saw Literarily for Keeps pop up on my Facebook feed, well. We all know what happened. Some poor book that I really did want to read got booted off my Kindle Unlimited shelf so fast it’s probably still spinning, and there sat Literarily for Keeps. Looking all sweet and adorable.
I held out for a week.
Some might say that this is because I have amazing willpower. It’s not. It’s because I was traveling for most of that time. Just keepin’ it real, folks.
I know what you’re all thinking—asking. You want to know if it was worth it? Was it really worth the wrath of Cathe? (Okay, I think I’m mixing her up with Ashley now).
Note: links are likely affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you.
So worth it.
Literarily for Keeps is a delightful romp through that oft-written and the seldom-interesting trope of “pretend marriages.”
Look, I may be a snob about it, but it is what it is. After watching Deanna Durbin’s, It Started with Eve, I got a little fussy about those things. It’s too easy to make them all wrong. But this has everything one should—an unwilling participant, what seems like a good reason (that isn’t), and the knowledge this is all wrong and isn’t going to work.
But aside from great characters, wonderful settings and description, and a predictable plot that felt fresh and unique, this book has two things going for it—two things that made it impossible to put down.
First, Ashleigh’s voice. It’s a wonderful blend of sarcasm, raw honesty, and a little mocking self-deprecation at just the right places. While the others have their own unique voices, told in first-person (that I LIKED! What’s with that?) Ashleigh makes you want to read her story with humorous asides spoken directly to the reader.
Second, and perhaps even more impressively… Monzon used “insta-love” to tell her story. Oh, yeah. She did it. Despite the whole insta-love thing. It’s so annoying. But not Monzon’s. She took it, hung it upside down, shook out the junk from its pockets, and set it back up with what I imagine was a stern talking-to.
I can hear her now, “You will work. You will fall for him, but you will not make it seem like this happens every day. It’ll rock you to your core, do you hear me!?!?!
Apparently, Ashleigh heard and obeyed.
But that’s not all.
Monzon took this fluffy little book and added a deep sucker-punch. She took hard topics that are relevant to the church today and set them out there for us. Almost as if to say, “Here. Chew on them apples for a bit.”
We like to pretend that homosexuality is “out there” somewhere but never crosses our lives. We like to think that sexual sin of any kind is absent from the church. Monzon took this “fluffy little book” and said, “Oh, yeah?” And with it, she called us to both compassion and Biblical truth. She wisely reminds us that these are not mutually exclusive.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance with a heavy dollop of humor. Knowledge of classic literature is a plus but not necessary. Oh, and if you need a quick read, how’s this? She offers one without it feeling rushed or incomplete.
Do I want more? Absolutely. Do I need more? Nope. She created a perfect literary meal more suited to Sunday dinner than Thanksgiving. And that’s just about perfect, no?
So, Which Author Writes the Best Novellas Ever?
Synopsis: Literature professor Ashleigh Darmody never imagined her life would turn into a classic trope, but that’s exactly what happens when her sister Claire calls with a bizarre request–quickly find a fake husband. Backstory is a powerful thing, and Ashleigh’s has plenty of shadows, but is her past so shady that it requires an elaborate scheme to ensure Claire’s prospective father-in-law, renowned TV evangelist Ken Abrams, will give her his blessing to marry his son?
Already divorced from a man who turned out to be other than he claimed, Ashleigh now has to pretend to be blissfully married to a stranger for the next five days. But when the lines of fiction and reality blur with each tick of the clock, could a temporary deal turn into something for keeps?