#INSPYSundays | Returning to a series I’ve only discovered in the final installments: “Fancy Meeting You Here” by Christy Hayes

Posted Sunday, 31 October, 2021 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

#INSPYSundays banner made my Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary copy of “Fancy Meeting You Here” direct from author Christy Hayes in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I fell in love with Christy Hayes and her style of Contemporary Romance:

One of the best moments I felt in the storyline is where Kayla is talking to her Mum – their trying to make sense of Kayla’s new reality – sorting out the emotions of her pregnancy and trying to look ahead to the future where Kayla and Ben have to sort out how to forge their own tomorrow together. Whatever they would choose to do for their child, they would choose to do on their own terms – that was something Kayla’s Mum understood. His parents were the opposite variety – the controlling kind, who liked to hug themselves to the law and readjust everyone else to their own will and worldview. For Kayla’s Mum, in that one moment of sincere compassion for her daughter you saw how a true mother’s love could encourage a daughter during a moment of her life where darkness threatened to erase the Light. It was also where Hayes started to insert the INSPY threads of the narrative – where she was trying to point towards how God was at the intersection of their lives and was truly at the head of where their compass was starting to point them into a new path they would be walking together rather than apart.

Hayes kept me anchoured into the story – she didn’t make excuses for her characters, nor did she overtly bring into the forum of their duress the inspirational messages you might have felt could have been added into the fray of their spiralling anxieties. She was allowing them some space – some time to breathe and feel the weight of their choices – good, bad or indifferent, they had lived those hours together and Hayes was presenting the outcome of what happens when you take one reckless romantic night and wake-up with the consequences of that affair. She openly lets her characters choose their own words and to fumble their own way through tomorrow – in that regard she had my respect because it was a very adult way of presenting a New Adult narrative on what happens when co-ed University students suddenly find themselves contemplating Mr Mom and Mrs Baby scenarios.

I needed a story to pull me back into the joy of reading – Hayes gave me a story which rooted me into her characters’ lives, gave me a reason to champion their cause and gave me such an uplift of joy to discover their story to where I felt renewed in the healing grace of finding stories which lift our spirits during moments in our lives where sometimes connecting to stories is one of the hardest obstacles we need to overcome.

I love returning to the world of INSPY and/or heartwarming romances (such as Harlequin Heartwarming) wherein I know I can be greeted by a cast of characters who will give me something to chew on whilst anchouring me into their heart-centred storyline wherein I’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated for having met against the page. How blessed was I then to have sought out this blog tour and had the proper chance to ‘meet’ my first Hayes novel! It was a wicked brilliant introduction to her writing style and I hope others will pick up a copy to see what I found – adding to their own sought after blisstitude for uplifting fiction during the uncertain tides of everyday life (whilst we’re all surviving through a pandemic we never saw coming!).

Hayes tucks you close to the mindset and emotional state of Kayla – digging into her fears, her emotions and the ways in which her thought processes were trying to make sense of how altered her life was now that she had a confirmed pregnancy test in her hands. It was a moment that defines you and a moment where you have to sort yourself out before you can hope to move forward – something you could tell even Kayla’s roommates understood a bit before Kayla herself. Whilst at the same time, there is a definitive style in this novel – as Formula for a Perfect Life has the beauty of a Rom-Com within its folds – as it is told in a light-handed manner of exploring what a twenty-something college co-ed is going to to after a test is taken to determine her future. It is a novel hinging on Kayla’s actions and reactions to the test itself whilst everyone round her also has to react and adjust along with her – that in of itself was a bit genius as it takes the films I loved previously to a new area of enlightenment. Where the characters are younger, not quite as seasoned on life and still find themselves in a bit of a pickle when it comes to sorting out love, parenthood and the artful imbalance of romance and life!

One reason I like to read upcoming voices in Contemporary INSPY Romance is because of the changing ways the voice of the market is able to yield a wide field of narratives giving us a better grounded array of stories, characters and sequencing of stories to read. I sometimes find some of the authors’ have a style which is hit or miss for me personally, but I love the ability to seek them out all the same. With Hayes, I feel a bit vindicated that my openness to seek out new authors of Contemporary INSPY was well-placed because she’s struck the balance I was hoping to find with the ability to carve out a wicked good Contemporary Romance!

-quoted from my review of Formula for a Perfect Life
which also received one of my Cuppa Book Love Awards

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Reading Formula for a Perfect Life changed my perspective about reading Contemporary New Adult which a few authors have been able to give me after finding myself a bit burnt out on the genre overall. It was a hard sell for me initially (the genre, not the story!) as I never could quite grapple with the gap years between Upper YA and Adult, which is where New Adult is aptly suited and placed. I have the tendency of being a traditional YA reader rather than an Upper YA reader (though there are a few exceptions!) whilst I also appreciate Middle Grade; yet, when it comes to Contemporary Romance – for a long while I was starting to consider I was more apt to read an INSPY Contemporary than a mainstream one but that was before the days I read ChocLitUK (in the earlier years of Jorie Loves A Story) and long before I discovered Harlequin Heartwarming and Love Inspired Suspense.

Those Contemporary Romance authors changed my opinion but so have the INSPY Contemporary Romance authors who are switching up the genre itself and giving us wickedly in-depth stories which not only tackle heavier topics and realistic storylines (in a similar vein as the Heartwarming authors) but they are creating a lovely new niche of joy for those of us who grew up as hybrid readers of both INSPY and mainstream stories. This is the INSPY for the new generation – for readers who respect the tradition of INSPY but who also love seeing authors embrace a way to bring in the Contemporary angle to where INSPY can go in the future. This might be a step away from what people are expecting out of their INSPY novels but for me, its a refreshing change and one I continue to celebrate on my blog whenever I make a new discovery such as I had last year when I first read Christy Hayes.

However, that doesn’t mean I can’t get disappointed which I’ll be outlining on this review for Fancy Meeting You Here. As it could be a mixture o reasons why I had a slightly negative reaction to reading this novel right now (which I mention) or it could be, this particular novel in the series came off to me to be less spontaneously cheeky and a heap more darker with a full-on snark effect. I just struggled to connect to this story and the characters but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to read other stories in this series – its just for this go-round, I think my expectations were quite high and I just fell a bit short in stepping in line with the author’s vision of where the story took me.

She’s one of the forerunners in my opinion, along with Bethany Turner (Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish), Janet W. Ferguson (Magnolia Storms), Kellie Coates Gilbert (A Reason to Stay) and Becky Wade (the Bradford Sisters series and Stay With Me) to name a few!

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#INSPYSundays | Returning to a series I’ve only discovered in the final installments: “Fancy Meeting You Here” by Christy HayesFancy Meeting You Here
by Christy Hayes
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and this time there’s no keeping the flames under wraps.

After ending a passionate affair, Shelby Zurlo thinks she has it all—a career built on brains and not beauty and the independence she craves. But her graphic design business is struggling, and her solo status in a world made for couples leaves her lonely. When a client asks a favor—a favor she can’t refuse—Shelby runs headfirst into her biggest mistake and her biggest regret.

Nick Chamberlain is living the dream. He’s got a successful business venture, a strong and supportive family, and a social life most guys would envy. If only he could move on from the woman who shattered his heart and never looked back.

When a chance meeting forces Shelby and Nick to interact, sparks fly and tempers flare. Nick is determined to win Shelby back; Shelby is just as committed to keeping Nick in the friend zone. In a battle of wits, will stubborn hearts bend and sway, or snap in the headwinds of love?

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Sweet Romance, New Adult Fiction, Romance Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy (Rom Com), Motherhood | Parenthood

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1625720245

Also by this author: Formula for a Perfect Life

Published by CAH LLC

on 11th October, 2021

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 295

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The Stories in the Kiss & Tell series I’ve read:

Formula for a Perfect Life by Christy HayesFancy Meeting You Here by Christy Hayes

Formula for a Perfect Life (book five): Kayla’s story : (see also Review)

Fancy Meeting You Here (book six) : Shelby’s story

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& the stories I need to gather to read next:

Stalling for Time (book one) : Emily’s Story

The End Run (book two) : Zach’s story

Kiss & Make Up (book three) : Emily & Dylan and Zach & Jenna’s stories

Maybe Its You (book four) : Reagan’s story

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This is a self-published novel by CAH LLC

Converse via: #FancyMeetingYouHere, #ContemporaryRomance & #INSPYRomance
as well as #ChristianRomance, #IndieAuthor/s and #ChristyHayes

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About Christy Hayes

Christy Hayes lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and dogs. Christy writes Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance, Christian Romance, and Women's Fiction. When not writing, she’s reading, walking dogs, or stalking her college-aged kids on social media.

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my review of fancy meeting you here:

You immediately sympathise with Shelby and her innate fears of not wanting to be placed inside a role she knew she was not meant to assume. Yet, you also understood the pressure she was under to make ends meet and keep her business a thriving success. In essence, she was betwixt a rock and a hard place – expertly weaved by Hayes to put her character in the uneasy waters of re-visiting a bad memory from her past by becoming a model for a gig she hadn’t even sought out for herself. Shelby just happened to be at the right place at the wrong time when it came to saving an ad campaign for one of her clients. She might like the cosy comfort of working behind a computer and assembling the graphics for websites but in this instance, we saw a glimpse of her past eking into her present whilst her internal fears wrecked havoc on her sanity.

Uniquely enough, the one business I never envisioned working inside was the bridal business. There have been such a plethora of reality series encroaching on the lives of brides and their search for the ‘best dress’ but whenever I saw those series, for me personally, I felt like some people have jumped the moon in regards to losing their sanity as they planned their wedding. I still remember visiting a bridal shop when I was younger and how strange it felt that all the dresses were squished together like sardines and stuffed into plastic. At least that is the impression which was left on me – which perhaps explains why I always wanted to do something different when it came time to planning my own wedding. I have a penchant for vintage styles, homemade creations and individualised designs – all of which I know will be a part of my own plans.

I understood Shelby’s foreboding sense of dread when she was being pushed into a situation she didn’t want to accept but knew she hadn’t a choice. Sometimes you can be taken too far outside your comfort zones. Of course, when Nick entered the bridal shop and saw Shelby getting ready to pose for the photographer, I knew instinctively neither of them would be prepared for the aftermath of that encounter! Nick’s heart was still wounded and Shelby I felt was still afflicted by the choices she had made in the past. Of course, as Hayes had set the scene, you knew immediately there was far more going on than what was able to be seen on the surface, too.

Nick and Shelby both had the same internal reactions to each other and yet, they were locked inside themselves without the ability to articulate those reactions. It was heartbreaking truly to watch them both dissolve into their own emotional abyss and not have the chance to speak to each other about how they were feeling in that moment of reunion. Though I am not sure it would have been the best time to ‘catch-up’ with each other nor would Shelby have had the best time trying to explain what she was doing without Nick getting the wrong end of the stick about it. They had history and it was the kind which attached a certain level of emotional baggage to both of them. Not easily resolved and sadly with the stack of ill-will between them, it was hard to see a way for them both to become to terms with both their past and their present. For Nick, his own heartache extended much further back into his past and he’s quite blunt about how he discloses those details and how he felt whilst he lived through those pivotal events which seared strong memories into his soul.

And, yet, for me as a reader – I was finding myself feeling pulled out of the story at this junction – I barely inched my way into Chapter Four and I had already pivoted emotionally to take my exit. Last year when I read Formula for a Perfect Life – I felt caught inside a tidal-wave of hilarity and a smartly sophisticated stylised INSPY Contemporary Romance. In essence, I just fell smashingly in love with Hayes’ style and how she approached presenting New Adult romances. This time round – everything about this story felt heavier to me and a lot of the dialogue/phrases started to rankle me a bit because it just felt too blunted and too abrasive. Either that, or these characters have a lot longer of a walk towards self-forgiveness and redemption than I was willing to take with them at this point in my readerly life.

I returnt to work this year (February, 2020) working full-time and most days, I work double shifts. In the last fortnight (during #SpooktasticReads) I started moonlighting with a secondary job three nights a week before it will expand into four nights. As such, my reading life has taken quite a few hits this year and I suppose in some respects, when stories get a bit harder edged or they feel oppressively dark – in whichever context the dark feels illuminated in the arc of a character’s life/journey in a book — I’m finding myself disconnecting. And, I believe that is what happened with my attempts to read Fancy Meeting You Here. I was searching for that same feeling I had last year with the previous story and I just felt it was amiss in this new installment. I still have hopes for this series to win me over as a reader – but for this sixth installment, I honestly just felt it wasn’t my cuppa tea.

Fly in the ointment: Content and Phrasing

There is one takeaway comment by Nick I felt went a bit too far as although I understood the meaning behind it but in today’s world some words and phrases have more strength these days. I think this is one phrase which shouldn’t be used as much anymore if at all because some might take it seriously rather than for the way in which it was intended. I’m referring to the phrase where Nick mentions the use of bleach.

There are lots of heavier undertones throughout the opening bridge of the novel – Nick’s own past, which he slowly reveals to the reader is quite dark and sad in so many respects. He also is oppressively depressed (or appears to be?) when he’s reunited with Shelby as he hasn’t moved on since they ended their relationship – which brings out a lot of the more blunted phrases and more intensive thoughts of his being shared. I found those sequences quite brutal to read because there just didn’t seem to have a lot of hope or light left in his heart, mind or life to see a way forward to follow him in the rest of the story.

Some of the choices in what is being expressed surprised me because it felt like most of this story was coming from a darker starting point than I was expecting moreso than a second-chance romance which I personally LOVE reading about and actively seek out. This seemed like a story which needed to show an intervention for the characters on how to manage their mental health and/or how to address the issues of the past and/or the disappointments of relationships. As seen through properly taking care of one’s mental state post-relationship as much as finding how therapy and talking things over with someone else to mediate those events in life which cause destruction in one’s sense of self and reality. As a way to be less soul gutting and more full of periods of self-growth. I think that is what affected me the most – I felt Nick especially needed a therapist very early-on in the novel.

A Note of Gratitude to the Author:

I was happily surprised to find a bookmarked included with my copy of the novel Fancy Meeting You Here – as there was a small hiccup in the book arriving to me. The bookmark is a celebration of the series itself – featuring all the covers of the Kiss & Tell series. It will become a keepsake for me and a lovely way to mark my way through the rest of the series as I’m able to gather copies of them. I especially loved the inscription and message Ms Hayes included, too.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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Fancy Meeting You Here Review banner provided by Prism Book Tours and is used with permission.

I am wicked blessed to be on the review tour for this lovely novel! Be sure to follow the links being shared socially to find the rest of the reviewers who are blogging their reactions to the sixth novel in this series! Likewise, let me know if you’ve been reading this series and/or if you’ve read this sixth release – love to know your reaction!

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Formula for a Perfect Life” and “Fancy Meeting You Here”, synopsis and biography of the author Christy Hayes as well as the review tour banner and The Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. LibraryThing banner provided by librarything.com and used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #INSPYSundays banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2021.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 31 October, 2021 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Romance, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Modern Day, New Adult Fiction, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Women's Fiction

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