REVIEW: Planes, Trains, and All the Feels by Livy Hart
As the black sheep of the family, choreographer Cassidy Bliss vowed she’d do anything to get home in time to help with her sister’s wedding and avoid family disappointment…again. She just never expected “anything” would involve sharing the last rental car with the jerk who cut her off in line at the airport this morning. But horrible times apparently call for here-goes-nothing measures.
Driving across the country with Luke “life can be solved with a spreadsheet” Carlisle must be a penance for some crime she committed. Because the second he opens his mouth, it’s all she can do to not maim him with her carry-on. But somewhere between his surprisingly thoughtful snack sharing and his uncanny ability to see straight to the core of her, her feelings go unchecked.
Suddenly, their crackling chemistry is just one more thing they have to navigate—and it couldn’t come at a worse time. But after a lifetime of letting the expectations and needs of others drive her life, Cassidy must decide if she’s ready to take the wheel once and for all.
TW/CW – Heroine has emotionally manipulative and controlling mother, hero’s mother is an alcoholic.
Dear Ms. Hart,
I must confess to enjoying a good road romance. This one also promised various modes of transport so bonus points for that. We also get “opposites attract” with a soupcon of “enemies to lovers” although that was a very quick part that was over almost before it got traction. Unfortunately, both MCs are extreme martyrs to their families and (it hit me when I typed the warning labels), both of the problem characters in the books are the mothers. One martyr character like this I can tolerate but to have both be this way grated and why are mothers so often the “issue” characters?
Cassidy and Luke race through the Charlotte Douglas International Airport both desperate to be on a (budget) plane headed to LA. Cassidy needs to be at the wedding extravaganza of her “practically perfect in every way” older sister as well as face the withering disdain of her mother who has always favored Isabelle. Luke is traveling home to figure out what’s going on with his family – an alcoholic, diabetic mother with bipolar disorder who lives with his divorced (of course the ex is an asshole) sister and her two daughters.
Halfway across the country the plane is forced to land – out of an abundance of caution – after the windshield develops a crack. Now that they’ve unexpectedly landed in Joplin, Missouri late at night, over 100 people are angling for a way out since the airline isn’t going to be able to get another plane there for a while. Luke snags the last rental which, for Reasons, he offers to share with Cassidy. Will they survive the trip together and what will they face once they get to Los Angeles?
As I said, the insta-enemies doesn’t last long which I found delightful. Cassidy does vent at Luke when she arrives on the plane (for stealing “her” parking space and not holding the shuttle which he said he didn’t hear her calling him to do) but when they’re going down and she sees Luke is white knuckling the landing, she tries to distract him from his anxiety. He does something nice for her at the airport and when he overhears part of her convo with her bestie about the situation she’s in and the shit waiting for her in LA, he does another nice thing in offering her shared transportation.
They are very much opposites. Cassidy gets hives from making any plans while Luke is an actuary who lives by spreadsheets. Cass is outgoing and has never met a stranger while Luke finds talking to strangers an agony. I’m much more like Luke but when Cass told him that she hates those signs that are all the decorating rage, I felt a kinship with her.
“Nope. Signage is my biggest fear. Walls cluttered with demanding placards. ‘Live, laugh, love!’ ‘Fran’s kitchen, take it or leave it!’ ‘Eat like no one’s watching!’ Or worse, all those signs that are just one word. ‘Gather.’ ‘Dine.’ Why do I need instructions to exist in a home?”
The effort to eat up the miles still separating them from LA start strong (the ‘You’ll Sea’ hotel in Kansas City is astonishing and I can understand Cass wanting to take the time to see her father) but when they stop at a washing machine museum and then spend time in Vegas I wondered, “What happened to I need to be in Los Angeles yesterday?”
Then things begin to falter for me. The cute road trip has been slowly spooling out and as we swing into the start of the last quarter, the increasing romantic feelings flip to sexual tension. This gets ratcheted up and suddenly we’re in Wham Bam Bangingville with some of it very PDA. Anywhere and everywhere these two are playing tonsil hockey before racing for a room or – in a pinch – an elevator or just staying in the front seat of a cherry red Mustang convertible to G*d-d*mn fuck each other’s brains out. Oh yeah, did I not mention the proclivity of profanity?
Then, just as suddenly, the family drama that had been simmering along gets turned up to boil. Characters jump straight into full-on martyr, refuse to talk to the person whom they (claim to) love, decide to “test” their loved one, relationships – long and short – are falling apart all over the place, Luke needs to let the fuck go – of everything, and Cass and her sister really need to actually talk about important things now and then. /sob/ But Luke’s sister Sophie and Cass’s ride-or-die friend Berkley are both the bomb.
Whereas the road trip gets to the point where it seems endless the resolution of all the conflict is crammed into too short a space. The pacing needed a bit of smoothing out. I’m not much of an insta-love person and the action of the story is spread over about five days. Still kudos for having two characters who rub each other the wrong way without making either of them obnoxious. And the make-up/reunion scene at the end is cute. There’s really nothing new here but I read the book over two days and a lot of it made me happy. B-/C+