Author: Emma Hart

The Dating Experiment by Emma Hart

The Dating Experiment by Emma HartThe Dating Experiment by Emma Hart
Series: The Experiment, #2
Published by Emma Hart on 8th May 2018
Pages: 150
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three-stars

1. Get over my best friend’s brother. 2. Remember that I’m over him. 3. Prove I can date other people. It should be easy. It’s not.

Setting up a dating website with the guy I’ve been in love with since I was five wasn’t my smartest idea. Especially since he’s my best friend’s brother—thankfully, she’s okay with the fact I’m pulling a Sandy and I’m hopelessly devoted to him. Which is why it’s time to get over him. So I do something crazy and ask Dominic Austin to find me a date. He does—if I find him one, too. Since we own Stupid Cupid, it should be easy, right? And it is. My date is perfect. His date is perfect. Everything is perfect. Until he kisses me…

Three dates. One kiss. And a big-ass mess…

I stewed over this for a while, wondering if it was a book that I wanted to take some time over to unravel my thoughts about in a review, walked away and said ‘nah’, then returned to pretty much get it off my chest.

It’s probably fair to say that I had certain expectations of the unrequited, best friend’s brother crush type of plot that Emma Hart set out to write here. Having these characters mentioned in the previous book as a strange, dysfunctional pair made me want to know how both Chloe and Dominic would get on after being friends for years as well as business partners.

In the end however, I found myself disturbed by this odd vibe between them – constantly filled with bickering that made it exhausting to get through – as Chloe behaved like a petulant, shrewish harridan (while placing the blame on Dom for not getting the idea) as her crush/love for Dom turned from heartbreaking agony to sniping anger. The sympathy that I’d normally feel here for the one-sided pining didn’t come however, seeing as the same kind of unrequited feelings came from Dom who tried to repress them.

Both had mouths; both could communicate. So why didn’t they? Was there some secret or some tacit agreement about not dating a sister’s friend or a best friend’s brother that I wasn’t privy to at all? Had I in fact, spent my entire time reading a book about two characters who’d found themselves in a conflict simply because they hadn’t bothered to talk but go at each other’s throats like difficult children?

Ultimately, ‘The Dating Experiment’ fell somewhat flat for me as a rom-com – the constant, extended fighting to the sudden fall into bed to the even more sudden resolution just left me more gobsmacked than satisfied.

three-stars

The Hook-Up Experiment by Emma Hart

The Hook-Up Experiment by Emma HartThe Hook-Up Experiment by Emma Hart
Series: The Experiment, #1
Published by Emma Hart on March 13th 2018
Pages: 179
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three-stars

1.Hate-screw my high school nemesis.2.Remember to hate him.3.Prove my brother wrong.It should be easy.It isn’t.

As the owner of Pick-A-D*ck, New Orleans’ premier hook-up website, my job is simple. Connect two people for a no-strings, no-expectations hook-up. The plus for my clients is that I’m the one who gets to sift through the d*ck pics—except this time, they're required.

My problem? My brother, co-owner of Pick-A-D*ck’s sister dating site, doesn’t believe it’s possible to hook up with someone three times and not fall in love. I disagree. I know it’s possible.

And my disagreement is exactly how I end up reconnected with my high school nemesis, Elliott Sloane. The guy who asked me to junior prom and then stood me up. Who egged my car when I rejected him, and convinced my senior homecoming date to ghost me.

It should be easy to hate-screw him. If only he was still that person, instead of a hot-as-hell single dad, working as a builder to make ends’ meet, fighting for custody of his daughter.

Three hook-ups.One outcome.Right?

Having a job that involves looking at dick pics isn’t one I’d personally pick for myself, though that alone is off-kilter enough to keep me reading in what is a really…loud, messy and mostly angst-free story. ‘The Hook-Up Experiment’ is as the title describes: a bet made to see if love can can still be taken out of the equation in a 2-week hookup.

This is upbeat, rom-com land (a style that works well for Emma Hart) and a read so easy to breeze through in a few hours. Hart’s relationship building is clearly the book’s strongest point, and the strong links we have between Peyton, her friends and Elliott form the backbone of the story, which, incidentally also provides the launching pad for the next book in this duet.

But while I did like Hart’s snappy, smart-alecky style, I think the issue for me here could probably be summed up in 2 words: ten years. A bloody decade that is actually, a long time. Especially in the years 18-28. Life happens—people marry, get divorced, have children, earn great highs and go through new lows and in the process, get worn down a little, see some things differently, and generally, change as they age.

That Peyton hadn’t gotten past something that happened when she and Elliott were teens seemed increasingly ridiculous as time wore on, so the weak premise of the plot made me frown at first. I couldn’t get past how Peyton hadn’t let go of the immature grudge—surely there were other things more important in life that came in the course of the next decade to stew on than a missing prom date?—where I’d expected distance, time and maturity to have made some sort of change. Consequently, for much of the story, I wondered if Hart would ever be able to close the supposed ‘age-gap’ between Peyton’s neurotic adulting and Elliott’s maturity when there was actually none.

Still, it was a story I mostly enjoyed—the quirks of Hart’s very strong secondary characters (bound to have their own book soon) were the highlight for me though they skirted the boundaries of being juvenile—and even if ‘The Hook-Up Experiment’ felt at times like ‘Friends’ on steroids, I’m saying right now, to put me down for the next one.

three-stars

Mixed Up by Emma Hart

Mixed Up by Emma HartMixed Up by Emma Hart
Published by Emma Hart on April 18th 2017
Pages: 200
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four-stars

Dirty cocktails, deadly enemies with a red-hot attraction, and one big, crazy, Greek family--what could possibly go wrong?

Hiring my brother’s best friend was not on my to-do list. Neither was he. Expanding my dirty cocktail bar into food was supposed to be easy, except finding a chef in my little town of Whiskey Key is anything but. Until Parker Hamilton comes home—bringing his Michelin starred chef’s hat with him. He has no work. I need someone like him in my new kitchen.There’s just one problem: I hate his cocky, filthy-mouthed, sexy-as-hell guts. Even if I might want him. Just a little…

Working for my best friend’s sister? Not on my to-do list. She’s another story. Whiskey Key was supposed to be a relaxing vacation, except I haven’t reached the heights I have by lying in a hammock drinking cocktails. So when Raven Archer is desperate for a chef, I offer up my skills. I’m bored. She needs what I can give her. Except there’s a problem: I’ve always hated her. Her and her big, blue eyes, sassy mouth, and killer curves. If only I didn’t want her.

After the boatload of stories that churn out angsty pages of a woman pining for her brother’s best friend, “Mixed Up” bulldozes its way in and quite boldly goes where few authors have gone before. What is the brother’s best mate is in fact, an enemy of sorts and has been for years? What if, the dislike really isn’t a veiled attempt at annoying the girl or boy you secretly like? What if the dislike is real, up until the point where close quarters makes both parties re-evaluate what they know of each other?

This much describes the relationship between Parker and Raven, only that attraction suddenly comes into question when the former is hired to man the kitchen in her bar. Emma Hart does write their antagonism believably and does such a good job of ratcheting up the sexual tension through the insults that both Parker and Raven throw at each other.

The book is by and large, a light, near angst-free enjoyable read, though I felt we were more in Raven’s head than Parker’s. There’s so much focus on her crazy Greek family, the infamous Greek temper and the stereotypical embarrassing relatives that it sidelined Parker as well: I never quite found out why he left or lost his job in New York (other than the fact that he’s got 3 Michelin stars), or why he’d returned for the summer, despite Hart detailing the change in his own feelings for Raven as much as she did for the latter.

Thankfully, Hart keeps Raven and Parker mostly behaving as adults that they are – a descent into juvenile dialogue and behaviour would have killed the story for me – and I could definitely appreciate how the big brother business wasn’t blown out of proportion and I was in fact, pleasantly surprised by it. The HFN ending is also sort of understandable, considering how Parker and Raven were still finding their feet together, though I thought an epilogue further down the road would have been perfect.

four-stars