Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Review: Smart Move

Amanda Pennington
Expected publication date: May 18, 2023 (Kindle Unlimited)

Ivy Lunden is Team Keep Things Casual...

I am Toby Azumah's opposite in every way. I'm a pessimist; he's an optimist. I'm into art; he's into sports. Still, I'm highly entertained by our flirtationship. 

When he finally talks me into a date, everything goes wrong. Chaos descends on my orderly life when my mother falls and needs nearly round-the-clock care. Add in my nosy neighbor, and my peace of mind has been turned inside out.

When Toby, Mr. Best-Case Scenario himself, offers to help, I'm skeptical. A relationship with him would only make things more chaotic, right? Or maybe Toby is the real deal, and giving him a chance is a smart move after all.

Toby Azumah is Team Happily Ever After...

I've wanted to take the mysterious, beautiful Ivy Lunden to dinner ever since we met, and I'm confident she just needs a little time to warm up to the idea of us. But nothing goes according to my daydreams.

Despite a no-show date, some flirty texts, and the fierce ways she protects herself and her mom, I see through the chaos and smoke to the real Ivy. The Ivy she rarely shows to the world.

How can I convince her I'm making the smart move and playing for keeps?

'Smart Move' is a full-length contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Book #7 in the Work For It series, Educated Romance World, Penny Reid Book Universe. - from

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review - thank you to the author!

Having been hurt in the past (and having her elderly mother to care for), Ivy isn't looking for a relationship, but Toby is convinced the two of them are perfect for each other.  Despite the chaos that life throws at them, Toby continues to show up for her, and against all odds, Ivy finds herself slowly opening up to Toby - will she finally be able to take a chance on love?

In her second novel, Amanda Pennington has again crafted a sweet, contemporary rom-com.  Although a bit heavier than her last book, there are still moments of levity and humor (I especially love the text messages that start each chapter!).  There's just something about her writing style that is so cozy and enveloping, combined with the realistic and relatable plot and well-rounded characters.

Ivy is a burned-out artist, working a not-so-dream day job.  She is also neurodivergent, adding layers to her personality.  She is the grumpy to Toby's sunshine, a fun take on the trope.  Toby is someone you are definitely going to fall in love with - he's the eternal optimist, kind, funny, handsome... you name it.  He sees so much potential for him and Ivy - it was refreshing to see a man not shy away from his feelings and be open about what he wants, while still being respectful of Ivy's feelings.  When Ivy's mother gets injured and has to move in with her daughter, Toby doesn't see it as a roadblock to their budding relationship, but rather an opportunity to show Ivy who he is.

In addition to the romance (which is totally clean, by the way, no spicy scenes), there are also wonderful friendships, a meddling neighbor, and an intimate look at the loving but complicated relationship between Ivy and her mother.  

4 stars

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  1. I like when the hero is the sunshine too. Grumpy women are unexpected (thanks, society!), and it's fun to see them warm up to the hero.

    1. I know! It's so refreshing to see the man so gung-ho about a relationship.

  2. Great review, Angela! From your review it seems like there are so many things to love about this story. It's great that Ivy is a neurodivergent character since I can relate to that and that she's the grumpy to Toby's sunshine. Most books usually go the other way around so that's just another bonus for this one. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I like the premise of this one. Looking forward to reading it. It will be my first book by this author :)

  4. This sounds like a fun one. I love a reverse grumpy-sunshine story and don't come across many of them.

  5. I love the mix of humor and emotion. Sounds like Pennington did that well. And I already love the sound of Toby!


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