Something Wilder by Christina Lauren (2022)
Lily would love to own her own ranch, but she's stuck taking tourists on treasure hunting adventures, using her late father's maps. She's surprised one day to see her former love as a guest on her trip, but she barely has time to acknowledge him before it all goes wrong. This book was quite different from the other Christina Lauren books I've read - the romance is definitely there, but it doesn't take center stage. That would be the adventure, a fake-turned-very real treasure hunt with far-reaching consequences. I liked how Lily and Leo worked together and still seemed to know each other so well, despite their love affair being so short and then being apart for so many years. The authors do a great job of setting the scene, making the reader feel like they are taking this trip along with Lily and the guests. I will say, though, this story has been described as laugh-out-loud funny and hilarious, and I found it anything but. There are some very serious things that happen on this treasure hunt, and so I think this book is a bit mischaracterized. 4 stars
Runaway Groomsman by Meghan Quinn (2022)
Sawyer has a breakdown while serving as a groomsman at the wedding of his ex-fiance to his best friend. He runs out in the middle of the ceremony and ends up in a small town, where he just might find the peace and love he's looking for. I have really been enjoying Meghan Quinn's books, but this one was a big miss for me. The story starts off with such a bang, but it just fizzles out after that. In a small California town, Sawyer stays at a family-run cabin business and meets Fallon and her grandfather, Sully. Fallon is helping Sully renovate and run the cabins, as he is now suffering from Alzheimer's. Sawyer starts to help out around the camp and falls for Fallon in the process. Both Fallon and Sawyer felt extremely unrealistic and immature as characters. Their relationship is so slow-burn, it often felt like nothing was happening (I guess it doesn't help that Fallon had a boyfriend for most of the book). I don't mind sweet, slow-burn, almost completely closed-door romances, but this was just a slog. The dialogue is also very cringey and doesn't sound like how real people would talk (too much description, words/phrases that people don't actually use). The one thing that saved the book for me was Sully. I thought his portrayal as a man with Alzheimer's, still trying to go about his daily life, was very realistic and also heartbreaking. I loved seeing all the characters rally around him. 3 stars
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