Author: Jenny Holiday

It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday

It Takes Two by Jenny HolidayIt Takes Two by Jenny Holiday
Series: Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #2
Published by Forever on 26th June 2018
Pages: 384
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three-stars

All’s fair in love and warWendy Liu should be delighted to be her best friend’s maid of honor. But after years spent avoiding the bride’s brother – a.k.a the boy who once broke her heart – she’s now trapped with him during an endless amount of wedding festivities. Luckily she’s had time to perfect her poker face, and engaging Noah Denning in a little friendly competition might just prove that she’s over him for good…

Noah Denning is determined to make his little sister’s wedding memorable. But it seems Wendy is trying to outdo him at every turn. Challenging each other was always something he and Wendy did right, so when she proposes they compete to see who can throw the best bachelor or bachelorette party in Sin City, Noah takes the bait – and ups the stakes. Because this time around, he wants Wendy for keeps. And when you’re fighting for love, all bets are off.

This series, as the name suggests, is built around weddings, bridezillas and how each pairing is cemented in this heightened time of blustery emotions spiking high and low…along with random crying spurts. Jenny Holiday’s ‘One and Only’ set the precedent. ‘It Takes Two’ continues it in a different way, and had me on tenterhooks for a while. Well, most second-chance romances do actually, because I’m always looking for a satisfactory explanation of the pairing’s history before I can believe in the way it all comes together in the present.

A ruined teenage crush that had been elemental in some ways and a man who’s nothing but oblivious to what he’d done—his mind was simply on responsibility and not much else—do after all, make for interesting reading. In this case, the best friend’s brother returns home and Wendy’s constant avoidance of Noah Denning—through the years—is no longer possible. That childhood, familial bond has since devolved into uneasy tension, layered over by sniping and oneupmanship that happens during a wedding that neither can avoid.

Wendy’s history with Noah is thankfully, not made out to be a something that she hasn’t ever gotten over, but rather, a hurtful and never-forgotten experience cementing a personality that solidified in the many years after Noah left. And because Holiday hasn’t made this momentous event akin to the most epic heartbreak of Wendy’s life, this is fertile ground for a so-called second-chance that I think I can get on board with. Still, blaming Noah for the entire change in her adult outlook on dating however, seems extreme, seeing as Wendy’s combative stance stemming from her (somewhat unfairly) padded memory of prom night when she’d deliberately remembered him as someone he isn’t.

The amount of self-reflection that Holiday writes into the story and the tightly-controlled amount of angst, I think, make this better than the average rom-com for me. There are odd bits though, that threw me off: the flashbacks that aren’t demarcated but pop into a scene unannounced, the somewhat awkward dance between Wendy and Noah that hops from taunting to a huge step into bed. But to the even more awkward and unbelievable realisation that the thing between them had always been love despite 17 years of separation and nothing but big-brother-type protection before? Gobsmacked doesn’t quite cover it.

In all, there were parts I liked and parts that caught me frowning. I would have preferred a more iron-clad HEA in a conclusion that seems more like a HFN here; this is, like the previous book, an abrupt one that leaves the couple standing at a precipice of change just as the credits start to roll.

three-stars

His Heart’s Revenge by Jenny Holiday

His Heart’s Revenge by Jenny HolidayHis Heart's Revenge by Jenny Holiday
Series: 49th Floor #4
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on June 20th 2016
Pages: 210
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four-stars

Alexander Evangelista is a millionaire with all the trappings: houses all over the world and hot guys lined up whenever he’s in need of some no-strings-attached company. He's on his way to world domination.
A CEO in his own right, Cary Bell is competing for a major client with his boyhood crush. He’s never forgiven himself for betraying Alex. But with his professional reputation on the line, he’s going to have to find his inner cutthroat if he wants his new company to succeed.
Alex isn’t about to let his nemesis steal a client out from under him. It’s time to break Cary’s company—and his heart.

‘His Heart’s Revenge’ revolves around a thoughtless act two decades ago set two people on very different paths that forked then converged again in a high-stakes meeting. Alex’s and Cary’s tenuous friendship was shattered during a summer camp and since then, both have suffered in their own way. Their reunion – as somewhat laughable as it is to think that they never quite forgot their 2-decade old love – is hostile, yet fraught with tension as they inevitably slip into enjoying the chemistry that they’ve always had together.

The draw of this book really, was Jenny Holiday’s characters who circled each other like sharks and then went down like wildly, complete with metaphors and awful innuendos that had me laughing at the most inappropriate times. Alex’s journey from quiet teen to ruthless corporate banker is charted out with so much sensitivity that I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him; at the same time, Cary’s genuineness is just as appealing when it becomes clear that he simply made a stupid but monumental mistake with Alex when they were teens. It’s simply unfortunate that his words had such power to change the course of Alex’s life drastically.

Picky as I am about M/M romance, there are times when I stumble across one that’s a keeper and ‘His Heart’s Revenge’ is probably one of those, even as a standalone when it’s clear that this is part of a series with. Holiday’s assured and persuasive writing simply reminds me of the primary element that I find compelling about this specific genre of fiction and strangely enough, it doesn’t have anything to do with the sex scenes at all: the way men behave with each other as they struggle with their emotions because it’s always enjoyable to have something so different from the push/pull elements of M/F romance. And because I felt as though I couldn’t say goodbye to Alex and Cary by the end of the book, that was when I knew Holiday had done it right.

four-stars