Grand Central Publishing, $7.99, ISBN 978-01-4555-4242-0
Contemporary Romance, 2018
First one of them got hitched. Then another one of them got hitched to the previous bride’s brother-in-law. Now, another one will get hitched to the latest bride’s brother. I don’t know about anyone else, but the whole thing seems rather… inbreeding-y. Perhaps it is a good thing that Jenny Holiday knows how to get me in the mood for fun and romance, or else It Takes Two is going to make me go hmm.
Wendy Liu has three good friends, and one has become hitched, while another one is getting ready to walk down the aisle. Her second consecutive bridesmaid gig is especially bittersweet because Jane is her closest BFF, and things will no longer be the same between them now that Jane is getting married. Not to mention, Jane is also becoming tad Bridezilla-ish as the day approaches. But that’s nothing compared to the fact that Wendy will once again be in close proximity to Noah, Jane’s brother whom she has always had a crush on. Back when they were younger, Noah stood her up at her senior prom, and that hurt like hell. Perhaps it is a good thing that they never became more than friends back then, and she’d do well to remember this as they head on down to Las Vegas for some friendly competition as to whom can throw the best stag or hen night party ever for both Jane and Cameron.
This one is pretty similar in terms of tone and structure to One and Only, so there is a good chance that if you like the previous book, you’ll like this one too. I do. I’d be repeating myself here, but the main characters are lots of fun together. While their issues and a bulk of their interaction wouldn’t be anything new to people who have read a number of contemporary romances prior to this, the author has a knack of making everything feel fresh and intriguing. Jane has trust issues, Noah tends to be overprotective and even paranoid to the point of smothering the ones he claim to love, and these two manage to find a middle ground in a sane, smart, and often humorous way.
Also similar to the last book is how the story can start out in ways that feel contrived. For instance, oops, he sees her without a shirt and feels all randy all over again! Oops, she spies him taking off his shirt and feels all randy too! Come on, surely the author can come up with something less tired and clichéd? Still, this is a step-up from that “Oops! She trips and crashes onto him, letting him feel her breasts pressing against him and making him randy all over!” scene in the previous book. Things can get slow going until about the mid point or so of the book, when the author finally finds a pace and groove she is comfortable in and the story takes off from there to a more entertaining direction. Oh, and yes, like the previous book, things can slow down a bit in the late quarter or so, although this time around, the pay-off is much better because these slower moments see the main characters addressing some pertinent issues standing between them and their happily ever after.
One thing I feel about It Takes Two that makes it slightly weaker than the previous book is that Wendy and Noah aren’t as interesting as the other couple. Here, Wendy and Noah are more defined by their issues than their personality, and they are running all over the place here, so there isn’t much opportunity for the author to develop these characters beyond “Insert name, insert job, insert sequel baits as family members and friends, insert an issue… and voila!” However, this story is structured better, with a stronger pay-off and fewer contrived moments, so I suppose at the end of the day, both books are about even in terms to delivering the good stuff. Let’s see what the author will do next.