Book Review

Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail

Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail

  • Author: Ashley Herring Blake
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publication Date: November 22, 2022
  • Publisher: Berkley Books
  • Series: Bright Falls #2

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: mention of death, grief, mention of undiagnosed parental mental illness, mention of cancer

An interior designer learns to rebuild her love life from the ground up with zero blueprints in this new romantic comedy by Ashley Herring Blake, author of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.

For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she’s been focused on her career—her friends might say she’s obsessed, but she’s just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn’s renovation that will be broadcasted on a popular home improvement show, Innside America, Astrid knows this is the answer to everything that is wrong with her life. It’ll be the perfect distraction from her failed love life, and her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her nod of approval.

However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru’s granddaughter and lead carpenter for the inn’s renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family’s inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into a little light sabotage, ruffling Astrid’s perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other turns into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she’s expected to lead, or the one she wants?

I was really looking forward to this book, especially after falling in love with book 1 in the series. Astrid was the uptight, high-strung character with a toxic relationship with her mother, and consequently has some serious mommy issues, and I was dying to see all of that unravel in this book. And let me tell you, Blake didn’t let me down.

The book starts out with quite possibly the worst meeting between Astrid and Jordan that could ever happen, and it sets the tone for their interactions at first. It brings out a side of Astrid that is strongly reminiscent of her mother, and she starts to realize some things about herself that she doesn’t like. 

Watching Astrid slowly unwind was my favorite part of the book. Since we already get to see a hint of the side of her that she hides in the previous book, I was really hoping to see more of it. And we got to see that slowly over the course of this story. It was intriguing to see how Jordan brought that out in her, especially since I knew that there was no way that Astrid could possibly stay wound up that tightly forever. But it was still painful to see her doubt herself so much, especially when she came off as so confident in all the previous interactions. In addition, there’s the social pressure from her mother that has pushed her into a heteronormative lifestyle and not even allowed her to deviate an inch from that, not giving her the freedom to even consider that she might not be fully straight.

On the other hand, Jordan was another interesting character. She’s still reeling after losing her wife, even after going through therapy, and has so many issues. There’s a boatload of grief, and self-doubt that affects every aspect of her life including her work and other relationships. Even so, I loved the way that she set a boundary with Astrid, regardless of the sexual attraction and tension between them.

The plot kept me intrigued, since both Jordan and Astrid have quite a lot on the line. However, the attraction between the two of them felt natural. I loved the banter and the way that they interact with each other, as well as the appearance of the coven, although I definitely would have liked to see more of Delilah and Claire, since Iris kind of steals the show, which makes sense, because it’s clearly setting it up for her story which comes next. When the spicy scenes arrived, they were absolutely fantastic. Blake writes them beautifully and they were hot as hell.

Overall, this was a fantastic romance with plenty of humor sprinkled in. I was sucked into the story right from the start, swept away on a romantic tide between two unlikely love interests who somehow made it work in the most beautiful way, while solving their problems both individually and together. I’m on the edge of my seat for the last book in this series!

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