Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of , 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.
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!
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!
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?
Places to find the book:
Also by this author: Formula for a Perfect Life
Published by CAH LLC
on 11th October, 2021
Format: Paperback ARC
The Stories in the Kiss & Tell series I’ve read:
Formula for a Perfect Life (book five): Kayla’s story : (see also Review)
Fancy Meeting You Here (book six) : Shelby’s story
& 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
This is a self-published novel by CAH LLC
Converse via: #FancyMeetingYouHere, #ContemporaryRomance & #INSPYRomance
as well as #ChristianRomance, #IndieAuthor/s and #ChristyHayes