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Sarah Strohmeyer

Dear Author

REVIEW: Sweet Love by Sarah Strohmeyer

Dear Ms. Strohmeyer,

book review Up until last year when we got some arcs, I hadn’t tried any of your books. After I read “The Sleeping Beauty Proposal” and “The Cinderella Pact,” I was hooked. When I opened a box of books Jane sent me, I clapped my hands when I saw your newest title, “Sweet Love.”

From the book blurb, I thought this would be skewed a little more towards Chick Lit. A feeling that was confirmed as I read: first person heroine POV, works slightly drudge job and is under appreciated by her bosses, has family “issues,” loves hero but is unsure of his feelings. And yet, Julie is far more than a ditzy CL heroine, the family concerns are realistic, she does get satisfaction from doing her job well and is rewarded by peer recognition and the hero, Michael, is in the book far more than is usual for this subgenre. Plus the humor, which I loved, is more wry, gentle sarcasm rather than falling-on-her-ass slapstick.

I’m fairly close in age to Julie and though I don’t have a teenage daughter, or any daughter for that matter, I do have an aging mother whose health has also started to decline. I remember when it hit me that my mother, such a stable presence in my life, is getting old. That she is no longer the youthful woman of my childhood and that sooner rather than later, I will lose her. I can fully understand Julie’s concern over her mother’s health. Her exasperation when her mother, who spent so long battling breast cancer, doesn’t want to go to the doctor unless she has to.

I can also sympathize with an aging parent who sometimes forgets things yet whose sense of humor can still zing me. My mother also has a drawer filled with recipes gathered over years of cooking – some fancy, some comfort food, all old favorites. Years ago I began to copy them for my own kitchen though there are some which due to the number of eggs, cups of sugar or whatnot required I seldom make. Like Julie, I think getting older and having to watch your waistline is a bitch.

My mother – to my knowledge – has never interfered with my love life so hasn’t needed to try and get me back together with “the love of my life.” Though if she had, I would love a series of classes about fancy French desserts too. But it’s going to take more than bonding over Almond Biscotti Tiramisu to fix what’s gone wrong between Julie and Michael.

I can understand why Julie initially thinks Michael has no romantic feelings for her due to his brotherly rejection of her youthful pass at him. Their subsequent marriages, divorces and professional clash over her investigative expose of the politician for whom he worked seals her belief that friendship is the best they can do. Julie does have reason to think he might be seeing someone else but as the book progresses, I thought that it was pretty darn obvious that his interest was in her and not the supposed “other woman.” As Julie’s brother tells her, a man who brings flowers and chocolate is looking to get laid. A man who brings window air conditioners, lugs them up two flights of stairs, installs them and then also cooks you dinner is looking for a place in your life.

Yes, Julie is heading towards middle age. Yes, she does have image issues – though not horrible ones. As the mother of a seventeen year old daughter, she knows her own chance for a wild and crazy youth is behind her. Michael is very attractive, well to do, sought after by other woman. I can understand how Julie would be willing to listen to someone she doesn’t even know telling her that Michael is deeply involved with a younger woman. But…several people she knows and trusts insist his interest is in her, never mind the man’s own actions and his repeated statements that he’s there for her, anytime and anywhere. I don’t even need his POV to know Julie’s The One for him. Her continued efforts to push him away eventually exasperated me as much as Michael.

As a relationship book about mothers and daughters, “Sweet Love” is fantastic. However, the romantic ups and downs, especially the downs, of Julie and Michael’s slowly rebudding love felt manipulated to serve the needs of the plot instead of freely flowing. The shallow, dessert lover in me oohed and aahed over the cover, though. B

Best

Jayne

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or Powells. No ebook format.

REVIEW:  The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer

REVIEW: The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer

Dear Mrs Strohmeyer,

The Sleeping Beauty ProposalI loved The Cinderella Pact and was delighted when Jane mailed a review copy of your new hardback, The Sleeping Beauty Proposal. I found it enjoyable and funny but not quite as good as the first book.

At 36, Genie Michaels is beginning to feel that she has hit the snooze button on her life one too many times. When her “commitment-phobic” boyfriend Hugh proposes on national TV–not to Genie, but to an unknown mystery woman–Genie’s wise-cracking friend Patty doesn’t hesitate to give her some tough love: “You remind me of that idiot Sleeping Beauty, lying around like a zombie waiting for your prince. Well, guess what, he rode right past your castle and now you have a choice –you can either go back to bed or you can wake up!”

Genie chooses to wake up. After some questionable advice, her first step is to allow everyone to believe she’s Hugh’s real fiance. She’ll let him be the one to explain the mistake. Naturally the good news travels fast and, in a heartbeat, Genie’s parents are booking a reception hall while friends are showering her with gifts. Genie feels bad about the deception, but at last everyone is dancing to her tune, and she can’t help but enjoy it. Particularly when a certain too-handsome-for-his-own-good Greek carpenter shows up on the scene thinking he’s hotter than Tabasco.

Genie realizes that she never needed a man to start her life — to buy a home, to get a better job, or even to wear a diamond ring. And if Prince Charming wants to show up while she’s at it, she just might teach him a thing or two.

At first glance the plot seems a bit ridiculous: 36 year old woman fakes engagement to long term boyfriend to prove a point and snag some loot. But underneath that is a story about a woman who’s been on cruise control for a lot of her adult life who finally decides to take charge, be her own woman, oh and snag some goodies. Why should we singles and non-parents have to miss out on all the gift showers? We need just as much help getting our kitchens set up, our beds spread and our lives in order. I love your idea of a “welcome to the world” party for new graduates. I do agree with unfairness of Genie’s parents spending so much on her married younger sister’s house and to finance her older brother’s business but not spending any on her. After worrying about how much money her parents might be spending on the bogus wedding, I thought you took care of the problem very neatly.

I have to say that I wish Nick had just been a carpenter. What’s wrong with that? Why does he have to turn out to be what he turns out to be? Give me a man who can fix a busted water pipe and do home repairs over some snot in a business suit. Hugh is sort of a two dimensional cipher. I did love seeing Genie at her admissions counseling job but after reading all the latest reports on how hard it is to get into a top college (or just about any college for that matter) these days, I’d hate to have it.

I think readers who liked “Cinderella” will enjoy this one. It’s funny but not as quite as funny as “The Cinderella Pact.” I’m glad to see that once again the heroine learns to love herself for who she is before she finds her Prince Charming. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in hardcover. No ebook format.