Chasing Mindy Guest Post: Paris Travel Diary

Last week, author Carla de Guzman shared her romanceclass origins and today, she’s here on the blog to share the location inspiration for her latest title Chasing Mindy. Paris is a city that’s close to my own heart and I love that Carla chose to set her book there. Check out what she has to say about this glorious city in relation to her book!

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Paris Travel Diary by Carla de Guzman

One of my favorite things about writing Chasing Mindy was being able to re-write my experience of Paris. It’s one of those places that you never, ever, ever think you’ll be able to visit. You dream about it and hear about it, but you can’t really picture yourself there until you’re actually there. Mindy’s awe over the things she saw was very much my own.

Honestly guys, this city though. It’s so pretty you want to hug it.

For my little stint here on Chachic’s Book Nook, I’m sharing my photos and a little travel diary of the places Mindy and Javier visited!

Chasing Mindy - Rue de Depart

Rue de Depart
Mindy’s first scene ever in Paris is here–on a street corner, looking at the golden light and cursing the city for being just so gosh darn perfect. And how could she not, if she was looking at this? This is the corner not too far from our hotel in Montparnasse. It’s my phone’s wallpaper!

Chasing Mindy - Metro

Paris Metro
Call me a nerd, but I like the Paris Metro stations–they’re all so different, and how fancy is it that the ads have a pretty sienna tile surrounding it? It even has Napoleon’s crest on top of each one.

Chasing Mindy - Shakespeare and Co

Shakespeare and Co.
You see this a lot in pictures, and I never realized it was just across the Notre Dame until someone pointed it out like, oh no big deal, there it is! The inside is crammed with books to browse, and there was a bunch of lavender growing in front of the store so it smelled so nice. I realized later on that there are lots of Shakespeare and Co. bookstores in Europe, but there’s just something special about that green awning!

Chasing Mindy - Square Rene Vivani

Square Rene Vivani
Javi makes Mindy frog march over to the park next to Shakespeare and Co where they sit and have their coffee. Look at that view of the Notre Dame! With the rose arch and everything. There were quite a few painters taking a rest there, and couples falling asleep on the benches–which is totally normal. This place had to appear in the book, just because of the roses!

Chasing Mindy - Saint Chapelle

Saint Chapelle
This church! You don’t run out of churches in Paris, but this one is lovely! I experienced it exactly the same way Mindy did, where she runs up the smallest staircase, thinking that this was a scam, (and we had to line up for an hour!) only to find this gorgeous illusion of light on top. I believe I used the words ‘HOLY CRAP’ in my travel diary at the time.

Chasing Mindy - Giverny

Giverny
When I visited Paris for the first time, I became a little obsessed with the Impressionists. I looked up their works and read up on their history, which is why I knew that the next time we went to Paris, I had to make sure we went to Monet’s home in Giverny. Imagine a garden of flowers and multiply it by like, a thousand. I could barely breathe I was so happy.

Chasing Mindy - Olympia

Olympia by Manet
Sorry for the sudden nudity, but this girl is my goddess, okay. Manet painted one of his favorite muses totally naked. I could go into detail of why he painted it and why this painting was one of the most controversial of his time (someone stop me!), but I settled for putting it in the book, for now.

Chasing Mindy - Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower
An excerpt from my travel diary, ‘Damn it, Eiffel Tower, I thought I was over you!’ The perfect last thing to do in Paris is to buy some food, sit in the Trocadero Garden and wait for the tower to light up. You half-expect there to be music. Look at it. So pretty.

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Chasing MindyBook Description:
Mindy and Javier are not friends, okay.

Despite their mothers’ matchmaking, they’ve managed to stay out of each other’s way. Until Mindy goes to Paris for a week, and her mother insists she meet up with Javier. He’s in Paris to study, really looking forward to see you, she says. Watch over each other.

No thanks. Javier is taciturn and boring, Mindy is dramatic and has a tendency to yell at things when her eight siblings are brought up. It’s not a great combination.

But things start to look a little different under the Paris lights, and what felt like hate feels a lot closer to love.

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Top Ten Tuesday: romanceclass Recommendations

Top Ten Tuesday - That Artsy Reader Girl

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature previously hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish and have now been moved over to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is a love-themed freebie. Since I’m always happy to spread the word about romance written by Filipino authors, I’m choosing to focus on my recommended romanceclass titles this week. For those who don’t know, romanceclass is a community of authors and readers who gather together to support indie published contemporary romance written by Filipino authors. If you’re new to romanceclass, here are ten titles that you can start with:

Ghost of a Feeling Submission Moves - ebook Beginner's Guide - Love and Other Chemical Reactions Feels Like Summer FLAIR You Out of Nowhere

Fairy Tale Fail 2017 Better At Weddings Than You cover One Night at the Palace Hotel Cover Story Girl Loveless Childless Clueless

Ghost of a Feeling by Celestine Trinidad
Submission Moves by Camilla Sisco
Beginner’s Guide by Six de los Reyes
Feels Like Summer by Six de los Reyes
You Out of Nowhere by Jay E. Tria
Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra
Better at Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra
One Night at the Palace Hotel by Bianca Mori
Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano
Loveless. Childless. Clueless. by Miren B. Flores

Special mention to these romanceclass YA titles that I don’t really consider romance but more of coming-of-age stories:

Another Word for Happy Choco Chip Hips
Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera
Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera

This month, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to read a few more romanceclass titles from my TBR pile, these ones are high on my list:

Waiting in the Wings by Tara Frejas
If the Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman
Keeping the Distance by Clarisse David
Tame the Kitten by Bianca Mori
Swept Off My Feet by Ines Bautista Yao
The Princess Finds Her Match by Suzette de Borja

All of these books are available in Amazon, I believe most are available for free if you’re on Kindle Unlimited. Some are on sale and I’m linking to a Twitter thread I created which lists titles currently available for just 0.99usd:

What about you, how did you choose to spin this week’s Top Ten Tuesday? Are you rereading and recommending some of your favorite romances this month? 🙂

Ten Books I Liked But Can’t Remember Much About

Top Ten Tuesday - That Artsy Reader Girl

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature previously hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish and have now been moved over to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is books I enjoyed reading but can’t remember much about. It sucks when I remember enjoying a book but can’t remember most of what happened in it! This usually happens when I don’t write a review for a book, I tend to forget what the story is about. Here are ten books that I really liked (rated 4 stars on Goodreads) but unfortunately, can’t recall most of the contents of the book:

Radiance Masque Warprize Cruel Beauty For Darkness Shows the Stars

Rise Carolina Dreaming His Road Home A Bollywood Affair Pairing Off

That’s five specfic romance (or specfic with romantic elements) and five contemporary romance titles. What about you, do you have problems remembering books that you enjoyed reading too? If you were to make a list like this, what titles would you include?

Book Haul: Signed and Personalized Copies

In yesterday’s blog post about resolutions, I mentioned that I need to incorporate more of my bookstagrams here on the blog. If you have an Instagram account and you’re interested in following me, I’m chachickenpie over there. I’ve been lucky enough to receive a few signed and personalized copies of my favorite books in the past month or so, and I wanted to share them here.

First is a lovely package sent by one of my favorite authors, Lucy Parker. Swipe left to see all of the photos:

@lucyparkerauthor is one of my all-time favorite romance authors. She writes witty contemporary romances set in West End, and I have so much love for her books.💙💚 She's not just an awesome writer, she's super generous as well! Not only did she send me personalized copies of her books (together with fancy Whittaker's dark chocolates), she also sent a whole stack of signed copies to @minavesguerra, which were distributed to the #romanceclass community.📚🍫 Everyone who got physical copies already have her books in ebook format, which goes to show how much we love them. Maraming salamat, Lucy! THANK YOU SO MUCH.💜💛 Please visit us in Manila, promise we'll do something fun that's romance/theater-related.😉

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Next, my good friend Michelle of See Michelle Read had Megan Whalen Turner personalize The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia for me! Again, swipe left to see all of the photos:

So, so, so. In my last post, I talked about Thick as Thieves as part of my Best of 2017 list. Lo and behold, I get a notice to pick up a package from the post office and it's a Queen's Thief-themed one! THANK YOU SO MUCH to my generous friend @seemichelleread for thinking of me when she saw Megan Whalen Turner at Y'ALLWEST earlier this year!❤🙌 . . Now I have signed and personalized copies of two of my all-time favorite books: The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia. Perfect for all the times I'll be rereading these in the future (These are my fourth copies, I think? I have paperbacks of the old editions, ebooks, and my lending copies are with a friend). I love that Michelle wrapped them up nicely for Christmas.🎄😊 So glad they arrived just before Christmas. Thanks also to MWT for including a message and bookplates for additional books! . . If you haven't read this brilliant YA fantasy series, you really should start on it ASAP. No one writes like MWT does. I will forever be in awe of how beautifully she pulls off plot twists and turns, and also how she delivers clever dialogue. Reading order: The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, Thick as Thieves. . . If you've read this series and have book recs for MWT fans, feel free to share them!

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Last but not the least, new-to-me author Alyssa Cole sent me a signed copy of her upcoming book A Princess in Theory:

Thank you so much for all of these, Lucy, Michelle (and Megan), and Alyssa! 🙂 I actually have more books acquired in my Kindle, maybe I should do a book haul post for those sometime. What about you, what books have you acquired lately?

Reread: Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra

Fairy Tale Fail was the first ever Mina V. Esguerra book that I read way back in 2010! It’s part of her Chic Manila series, which has several standalone titles that are loosely tied together only in the sense that the books are set in Manila and the main characters from each book know each other in some way. A new edition of this book has been released with a cover featuring theater actors Gio Gahol and Gab Pangilinan, and a short epilogue. Here’s the cover and synopsis:

Fairy Tale Fail 2017

Ellie Manuel is a hopeless romantic, stuck in a cubicle all day. She’s in her twenties and should be having more fun. But instead of doing what she really wants, like traveling wherever her Philippine passport can take her, she’s hung up on the guy who dumped her for not being “ambitious enough.” Someone should tell her that there are other cool guys — who probably even eat at the same office cafeteria! — who would encourage her just to be her fabulous self.

I couldn’t help but reread it when I got my hands on thew edition. I have fond memories of this book and have been recommending it to all my friends, along with the rest of Mina’s books. I’m still waiting for Litsy posts to become embed-able on WordPress so in the meantime, I’ll just copy and paste my Litsy review: I remember when I read this for the first time in 2010, I felt like the story was a slice out of MY real life. Philippine setting (complete with typhoons, bulalo and siomai), Manila corporate work environment. And I was the same age as the characters at that time. Reread it in one sitting today, and it felt like catching up with old friends. The kilig/swoon factor is still there and the new epilogue was a nice bonus.💖

I did notice that the heat level for Fairy Tale Fail was very low. It’s the same for all of Mina’s earlier books. I guess it was just the expectation and trend at that time for Filipino-romance-in-English to have fade to black love scenes. I’m very happy to report that this isn’t the case nowadays. 🙂 I had fun revisiting Ellie and Lucas, more so because I don’t get to reread old favorites as much as I would want to. Now that the rainy season is here, I want to have bulalo (a Filipino type of broth that has meat and marrow) because it was mentioned in one of the pivotal scenes in the book. I think every Filipino romance should mention at least one Filipino dish that would make readers crave for it.

If you’re ever in mood for Filipino romance, Mina V. Esguerra’s books are always a good place to start. 😀

Best of 2016

Happy New Year! 😀 I think we can all agree that 2016 was a difficult year on so many levels. There was so many things happening on an international scale, as well as in the Philippines (which still affects me a great deal even if I’m based in Singapore for work). On a personal front, I resigned from my previous job and started a new one. It hasn’t been smooth sailing and I’ve been struggling with having a sense of belonging. Of course, all of these have affected my reading and blogging life, which is why I haven’t been posting as much as I would want to. I’m still online on a daily basis but it has been easier for me to constantly update the social networks that I have on my phone such as Litsy (username: Chachic), Twitter and Instagram. Going forward, I think this will continue for a while. It’s just so much easier for me to check, update and reply on my phone. My laptop has been acting up and it’s been a pain to open it up and go online. Plus real life stuff happening has made everything harder. The struggle is real!

Anyway, I have a tradition of posting my favorite reads for the previous year whenever the new year rolls around, I’m a few days late but it’s still within the first week of 2017! You can check out my previous posts through these links: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. In no particular order, here are the books that I loved in 2016 (linked to my reviews if I have them):

a-darker-shade-of-magic a-gathering-of-shadows The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms the-broken-kingdoms

a-promise-of-fire magic-binds master-of-crows

Act Like It Summer Skin In the Middle of Somewhere Out of Nowhere

Amulet The Stonekeeper Monstress fresh-romance

It’s safe to say that I read more than I blogged in 2016. 😛 That’s seven speculative fiction titles, four contemporary romance and three graphic novels. It’s funny because the easiest genre for me to get into is contemporary romance but it looks like the books that stand out more for me are fantasy titles. I think my sweet spot is fantasy with a well-written romance. In addition to these, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you would know that I’ve been trying to read and promote books written by Filipino authors. I haven’t read that many of them this year but the ones I enjoyed reading have been:

Beginner's Guide - Love and Other Chemical Reactions Iris After the Incident

That’s 2016 for me. How was yours? What were your favorite reads from the past year? 🙂

Cover Reveal: A Crown of Bitter Orange by Laura Florand

If you have been following my blog for a while, then you would know that I’m a huge Laura Florand fangirl. She’s an auto-read author for me ever since I discovered and fell in love with The Chocolate Thief back in 2013. I’m a (slightly) bigger fan of her La vie en Roses series set in Provence and featuring a family that has been in the perfume business for generations. Two of the earlier books in the series, Once Upon a Rose and A Wish Upon Jasmine, were included in my best of 2015 list so I’m pretty excited to read the next installment. I’m also itching to reread a novella in the series, A Rose in Winter, because it’s such a charming story set during Christmastime in the South of France. The next book in the series will be released early next year, and the cover and premise have been shared just this week:

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A Crown of Bitter Orange by Laura Florand
Book 3 – La Vie en Roses – on sale February 2016

Laura Florand, bestselling author of The Chocolate Kiss, combines lush description, smart dialogue, provocative sensuality, and the perfume of love itself in A Crown of Bitter Orange, an irresistibly lush novel that is an ode to the scents and pleasures of the south of France and the beauty of falling in love.

A Crown of Bitter Orange

Childhood friends. Tristan Rosier might have asked Malorie Monsard to marry him when he was five years old, but things had only gone downhill from there. She’d spent the rest of their lives ignoring him, abandoning him, and destroying his perfumes. Now she was back, to wreak who knew what havoc on his life.

Lifelong enemies. Tristan might choose to dismiss the generations-long enmity between their two families, but Malorie didn’t have that privilege. Like all the other privileges wealthy, gorgeous Tristan took for granted that she couldn’t. But if she was going to restore her family company to glory, she might just need his help.

Or the perfect match? They’d known each other all their lives. Could these childhood friends and lifelong enemies ever uncross their stars and find happily ever after?

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Laura FlorandABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Florand burst on the contemporary romance scene in 2012 with her award-winning Amour et Chocolat series. Her international bestselling books have appeared in ten languages, been named among the Best Books of the Year by Romantic Times and Barnes & Noble, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

After a Fulbright year in Tahiti and backpacking everywhere from New Zealand to Greece, and several years living in Madrid and Paris, Laura now teaches Romance Studies at Duke University. Contrary to popular opinion, this means she primarily teaches French language and culture and does a great deal of research on French gastronomy, particularly chocolate. For more information, please see her website: http://www.lauraflorand.com.

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I can’t wait to read this book! I had initially thought that the next book would have a title like Love in Lavender or something like that, but I’m not picky. It would be interesting to find out what the significance of bitter orange in the story is. I think the cover is beautiful and I’m loving the redesign of the earlier books to match this one. Behold the prettiness:

Once Upon a Rose redesign A Wish Upon Jasmine redesign

What do you think of these new covers? Do you like them as much as I do? If you haven’t read any of Laura Florand’s books, you should definitely get started on them as soon as you can.

Romance Book Haul

I acquired some books over the past week so it’s time for a book haul post! First is a package that I received from Lucy Parker, author of Act Like It, which is one of my favorite reads this year:

Snail mail from New Zealand! Act Like It by Lucy Parker is one of my favorite reads this year, so of course I jumped at the chance to get a signed copy when the author offered to send me one.💖📖 with the added bonus of chocolates and a Jane Austen card. Thank you, Lucy! If you haven't read Act Like It, I highly recomment this fun romance set in West End. An actor and actress have to pretend to be in a relationship. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. I have a feeling I'll be tempted to reread Act Like It while waiting for the next one. . . . #ActLikeIt #LucyParker #CarinaPress #romance #bookstagram #instabooks #IGreads #bibliophile #booknerd #bookblogger #bookworm #bookphotograph #bookhaul #paperback #signedcopy #chocolates #snailmail #JaneAustenquote #PotterStyle #ChachicsBookNook

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Next is a debut contemporary romance from an Aussie author, I kept hearing good things about this love-hate office romance so I couldn’t resist grabbing it even though it’s more expensive that what I’d normally pay for:

Blueberry lavender chocolate tart, cucumber mint tea and The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Taking a break from posting Filipino books to talk about my current read. This debut romance was first recommended by @bookthingo, followed by rave reviews from other romance readers. I normally wouldn't spend 9.99usd on an ebook of a debut author but I tried the Kindle sample and wanted to keep going. I just got to a scene where the hero makes tea for the heroine. 👌☕ . . . #TheHatingGame #SallyThorne #WilliamMorrow #HarperCollins #romance #officeromance #bookstagram #instabooks #IGreads #bibliophile #booknerd #bookblogger #bookworm #bookphotograph #debutnovel #Kindle #ebook #TartBlanc #MilleniaWalk #tart #tea #teatime #cucumbermint #TeaForte #teapot #teacup #bookandtea #cafehoppingSG #SGfood #ChachicsBookNook

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Last but not the least, a debut fantasy romance that I’ve also heard positive feedback on:

 

I think it’s pretty obvious from these pictures that I like tea and desserts, right? 🙂 I really should cut back on sweets but they’re just so hard to resist. Anyway, I’ve finished reading both The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet so I’m hoping I’ll be able to write reviews for both soon. As always, not making any promises because I’m always behind on reviews!

What about you guys, have you bought or received any books lately? Also, please feel free to share recommendations if you have titles similar to the ones I mentioned here. Would love to find similar reads.

Ten Contemporary Romance Books I’ve Recently Enjoyed

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today is a special Tuesday because it’s MY BIRTHDAY. Woohoo! *throws confetti* *shares cake with everyone* And because I’m such a book nerd, talking about books on my birthday is always a good idea. This week’s TTT topic is supposed to be 5 star reads, but I rarely give a 5 star rating so I thought I’d share books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed since the beginning of the year. I’m going to go for a contemporary romance theme on this post, because I’m always up for a good romance. They’re so easy to get into and I can usually finish a book in one sitting. Writing a review is a different matter, however. Which is why I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the titles I’ve really liked.

Summer Skin Act Like It Artistic License Pairing Off Us

His Road Home Night Wish MidnightClear Carolina Dreaming Soppy by Philippa Rice

Have you read any of these titles? If yes, what did you think of them? If you read contemporary romance, I would love to get some good recommendations! If you’re not into this genre, please feel free to talk about books that you’ve recently loved because I’d be interested in hearing them. I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to the books I read and I can never predict what I’ll be in the mood for.

And now I’m off to enjoy the day! I took time off from work and my goals are simple: have some good food and read a great book.

Artistic License by Elle Pierson

Act Like It by Lucy Parker surprised me with how good it was. I even included Lainie and Richard in my recent list of favorite literary couples. I immediately wanted to read more books written by the author but saw that she only had one title that was out. Then I followed her on Twitter and discovered that she self-published another book under a different name: Artistic License by Elle Pierson. To make things even better, the Kindle edition was available for free for a few days. Of course, I grabbed a copy and read it as soon as I could (also because I was gently nudged by my friend Angie).

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Artistic LicenseWhen of the world’s prestigious art collections comes to the resort town of Queenstown, New Zealand, shy art student Sophy James is immediately drawn to the pieces on display – and to the massive, silent, sexy presence keeping watch over them. She’s completely fascinated and attracted by the striking planes and angles of his unusual face, and can’t resist sneaking out her pencil when he’s not looking.

Security consultant Mick Hollister is used to women looking at his ugly mug – but not with the genuine pleasure he sees in the face of the girl with the charcoal-smudged fingers and terrible skills at covert surveillance. A security breach brings the two into fast and furious collision, and an unlikely friendship begins to blossom. And an even more unlikely – and very reluctant – love.

Introvert Sophy is content with her independence and solitude. She’s never looked for a long-term relationship, and isn’t sure she wants one now. Mick, apparently born with a face that not even a mother could love, has given up all hope of having one.

They have nothing in common. They shouldn’t even like each other. And they can’t stay away from one another.

Going by how Act Like It sucked me in, I knew I should start reading Artistic License on a weekend or I would lose a lot of sleep. I was right. I read most of the book on a Saturday and ignored everything else that I had to do (as usual, I was supposed to do some chores). I couldn’t put it down once I got in the swing of things. It was just too much fun to read about Sophy and Mick. I liked the unusual circumstances of their meeting, and how that incident brought them together. While there’s initial attraction, both of them weren’t looking for a relationship so they started off as unlikely friends. Unlikely because at first glance, it seems that they don’t have much in common. In spite of their differences, they soon realize that they’re able to read and understand each other very well. Sophy is an introvert and is painfully shy. She rarely opens up to strangers, only her family and friends truly see her bright and vibrant personality. She’s happy in her solitude and she immerses herself in her art. For some reason, she instinctively trusts Mick from the moment they meet and she quickly lets her guard down around him. Mick has a tough exterior, matched by his looks, but is really such a sweet guy. He’s had some nasty experiences in the past and definitely deserves all the friends that he could get. He needs people to back him up and stand up for him, and Sophy becomes on of those people in just a short amount of time.

I think the transition from strangers to friends to lovers felt very natural in Artistic License. Even as friends, both Sophy and Mick were wary of each other. They’re both observant types, and they were careful around the other person. I thought Sophy’s introvert nature was a huge factor in this. Also, Mick has his own reasons for not getting too close to someone else. I also think it gave their romance an unusual flavor. While I have always been classified as an extrovert, there are times when I think I’m an introverted extrovert. I could relate to Sophy needing her alone time, and trying to reconcile the idea of opening herself up enough to let another person into her life. She’s worried of what she has to give up in order to be in a relationship, even if she does want to be with that person. It is a pretty big step for anyone, especially for someone who recharges by being by herself. Mick is the perfect gentlemen in the sense that he gives Sophy all the space that she needs. I really liked that there wasn’t any unnecessary drama between them. They were honest with each other and there were no mind games. All the conflict were from external factors. There’s a dash of mystery and suspense in this story, but the focus is definitely the development of Sophy and Mick’s relationship. I really liked how the secondary characters played a part in the love story, like Mick’s best friend Sean had some fun scenes and Sophy’s mom also gave some great advice.

I also enjoyed reading about the Queenstown setting of the book. It’s a refreshing choice of setting, not the more common US or UK locations in romances. I’ve never been to New Zealand but now I want to visit it because of the descriptions in Artistic License. Seems like a great place for a vacation. The author shared this picture of the setting on Twitter:

No matter what name she writes under, I will definitely be watching out for this author’s next book. I hope one will be released sooner rather than later!