Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Goodreads Synopsis:

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

Review: Love and Other Words was my first Christina Lauren novel, and I definitely want to read more of her books! I enjoyed her writing style- it was clear and entertaining, while still packing in an emotional punch.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I love Elliot and Macy’s story, and I felt like their relationship progressed in a relatable and authentic way. The adult version of the characters felt a little less realistic, but it didn’t really effect my enjoyment of the book. When I read a book like this, I really just want it to make me feel things, and as I was ugly crying at the end, I’d call Love and Other Words a success!

Wine Pairing: Love and Other Words calls for something youthful, but not too sweet. I’d go with a rosé from Provence in Southern France. Bright and not too fruity, with a lovely salinity to balance it all, this rosé will help to balance the emotion from the novel.

Rating: 🍷🍷🍷🍷

Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

Goodreads Synopsis:

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years. 

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed Queen of Hearts! Martin does a great job at capturing the complexities of female friendships and how they change as you go through different stages in your life.

The medical drama feel of this novel really drew me in- it reminded me of the early seasons of Grey’s Anatomy in the best way. Unlike Grey’s, however, the medical procedures felt authentic, and the outcomes felt realistic. (This makes sense, as Martin is a doctor. Side note- how does one become smart enough and driven enough to be both a doctor and a published author. Asking for a friend.)

If I had one drawback about Queen of Hearts, it would be that the alternating POV’s and alternating timelines made it a little bit difficult to put down and then come back to later. (This may say more about me than the book.)

Wine Pairing: For Queen of Hearts, I’m thinking something somewhat fancy, but approachable, like a bright, velvety Chablis, or a sparkling California Blanc de Blanc.

Rating: 🍷🍷🍷🍷

The Au Pair by Emma Rous

Goodreads Synopsis: Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

Review: Books with multiple POV’s are a tough one for me. The Au Pair did it really well, so it worked. I loved how the storylines eventually converged into one.

Rous does a great job at establishing her setting- I feel like I could really picture Summerbourne. Seraphine and Laura were well-written and fleshed out, although I felt like the side characters, particularly Dominic and Danny, needed more substance.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I guessed the biggest plot twists about halfway through the novel, but there were still enough surprises to keep me guessing.

Wine Pairing: The Au Pair calls for something a little bit fancy with some light salinity to go with Summerbourne’s seaside air. I’d go with a Sancerre or a Melon de Bourgogne from Muscadet.

Rating: 🍷🍷🍷🍷

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Synopsis:

Lowen is an author who is hired to ghost write a series started by Verity Crawford after Verity is severely injured in an accident.

While gathering materials for the series, Lowen finds a manuscript that Verity wrote, which contains some dark secrets. How is Lowen supposed to balance the pressure of knowing these secrets, writing Verity’s books, and her growing attraction to Verity’s husband?

Review: Verity is one of those novels that sticks in your mind for days after you finish reading. Right from the start, I was absorbed. The characters were complex (especially Verity!) and mostly likable. Crew, Verity’s 5-year-old son, was especially creepy, and I didn’t find his character likable at all.

The twist in this book was great. I didn’t see it coming at all, and my jaw genuinely dropped during the last 20 pages or so. I’d definitely recommend Verity to anyone that enjoys a thriller with a little side of romance.

Wine Pairing: Verity definitely calls for something dark and a little mysterious. Pair it with an Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon, or a Carmenere from Chile .

Rating: 🍷🍷🍷🍷