Shipped – ARC review

by Angie Hockman
Release Date:  January 19, 2021
Publisher: Gallery Books
Number of Pages:  336
Kindle Edition
Source:  ARC from NetGalley & Publisher
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating:  R
Read 1/7/20 to 1/8/20

The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.

A wonderfully fun and emotional debut novel, I found this story a joy to read. Henley and Graeme have great chemistry, plus there are other characters Henley has special connections with. She could sometimes be a way too career/goal oriented, but she’s overall a very likable character.

The first four or so chapters of this story felt a bit slow for me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like them. They are actually important to the story. It’s just that once Graeme and Henley are face to face this story took off. So the juxtaposition was noticeable.  That is to say, if you’re wondering what the fuss is about this book when you first start out, hang in there. You’ll see.

For some reason, I couldn’t quite figure out how the author was going to get me to like Graeme. Before he comes on the scene and he’s known to Henley only through phone and email conversations, there are a few things he does that range from annoying to downright dreadful. I fell in love with him almost instantly once the story moves to the ship, but still had one hang up that I wasn’t sure I could get over with him. Rest assured, I did. And it even made sense to the storyline. I always appreciate when a story thread is resolved in a way where the reader can tell the author cared about the outcome and wasn’t just trying to wrap up the loose ends.

There are a lot of entertaining characters on this cruise who brought more color to the story. Instead of having the main players experience this trip in a bubble, we got to see things through a few different sets of eyes in a way. It brought some comic relief and depth to the story.

I have to say, I also appreciated the sisterhood in this story. Henley is not being treated fairly from the very beginning of this book and her girlfriends band around her and boost her up. Saying too much about these parts of the story may be spoiler-ish, so I’m not going to dig into it all. But seeing Henley find allies in unexpected places, as well is with those she knew would always have her back, gave me all sorts of Wonder Woman/Girl Power vibes and I was loving it!

Was this story perfect? No. There were a few timeline issues I had (when don’t I, though?) and there were parts I felt the pacing was a bit off. Was it a laudable debut? Heck yes! I’m definitely looking forward to watching this author’s career unfold. Good writers always grow the more they write. Which means there is much to anticipate from Angie Hockman.

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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