The Boy with the Bookstore – book review

The Boy with the Bookstore
by Sarah Echavarre Smith
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Publisher: Berkley
Number of Pages:  352
Contemporary Romance
Ages 15 and up
CW: alcoholism, child neglect
When a baker meets the bookshop owner of her dreams, and he turns into her nemesis, they’ll both have to read between the lines to avoid a career-ending recipe for disaster.

Max Boyson looks good…from a distance. But up close and personal, the tattooed hottie Joelle Prima has been crushing on for the past year and half has turned into the prime example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by his delectable cover.

When she first learned about the massive renovation to the building they share, Joelle imagined that temporarily combining her Filipino bakery with Max’s neighboring bookstore would be the perfect opening chapter to their happily ever after. In her fantasies they fed each other bibingka and pandesal while discussing Jane Austen and cooing over her pet hamster, Pumpkin. Reality, however…is quite different. Her gallant prince turned out to be a stubborn toad who snaps at her in front of customers, dries his sweaty gym clothes in her oven, and routinely helps himself to the yummy pastries in her display case without asking.

But beneath Max’s grumpy glares, Joelle senses a rising heat—and a softening heart. And when they discover the real reason for the renovation, they’ll have to put both their business senses and their feelings for each other to the test.

Both Joelle and Max are wonderful characters. They have a great connection and the makings of a beautiful relationship. Their downfall, over and over, is they do not know how to fight.

Joelle has always been the one to make everyone around her comfortable, often at her own expense. She is giving, caring, selfless, and just pretty amazing. She also grew up in a very loving and supportive family. While there was a bad thing that happened to her family years ago, there isn’t a lot of conflict in her family. That not only makes Joelle ill-equipped to handle conflict in a relationship but also gives her blinders when it comes to how families often act in other people’s lives.

Max grew up neglected and unwanted, or at least that’s how it felt to him. He’s been without a family for years, since cutting the toxic people out of his life and never looking back. Yet Max never dealt with the ramifications of those past familial relationships and how they shaped him. He hasn’t learned to deal with his anger and find true peace. Max doesn’t understand that harsh words and disagreements do not mean you no longer care.

After initially giving in to their attraction, Joelle and Max hit a roadblock and things get downright tense and nasty at times. To a point that I was getting annoyed and felt it was too much. Once the couple finally works things through, they have a delightful romance. I loved how much they were so obviously into one another and built each other up. But again, they do not know how to fight. When things were good they were very, very good. When things were bad they were horrid.

Overall this is a solid romance read. While I felt the characters had a strong connection, I didn’t necessarily get a lot of warm fuzzies. The side characters are warm and interesting. An odd complaint I have is the cover. There are plenty of covers I’ve disliked throughout the years and it’s not even that I dislike the cover. I dislike it for this story a lot, though. The characters of Max and Joelle are supposed to be polar opposites in looks, like nobody would guess they would be a couple. For some reason, this cover (maybe because I’ve seen it a lot since the book was published?) stuck in my mind and I couldn’t settle the characters in my mind with how they were being described. Maybe that’s partly a writing issue, but it bothered me for some reason. I told you, it’s an odd complaint.

3 stars

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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2 Responses to The Boy with the Bookstore – book review

  1. Louise H says:

    Great review. I agree, the cover doesn’t convey opposites at all.

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