I admit it; I love romance novels. Sound the alarms! After all, romance novels are not usually listed among the world’s most esteemed pieces of literature (even though they can tell us a lot about different cultures’ romantic ideals), and several of them certainly do lack quality writing or unique plot elements. But I love them anyway, whether they’re historical Westerns or simplistic contemporary novels–and I’m certainly not the only one who does–so I was thrilled to receive an Advance Reading Copy of Denise Grover Swank’s new book Only You as a reviewer!
Only You is the first book in Swank’s new Bachelor Brotherhood Series, which is named for three friends who decide to remain single and avoid women’s advances at all costs (the series is, according to Swank’s website, “a spin-off from” her previous Wedding Pact Series) . Unsurprisingly, this pact doesn’t last long; the first to fold is Kevin Vandemeer, an ex-soldier who now finds himself in a new neighborhood with a new and attractive next-door neighbor, Holly Greenwood. She has a dog; he has a cat. She plans weddings; he tries to avoid them. The two protagonists counter each other so well that their relationship seems perfect, and Kevin is quick to renege on his Brotherhood’s chastity pact (it should be noted that the romantic scenes in this book are not usually G-rated).
While Kevin and Holly are in easy bliss on their own, the same is not true when they actually leave the house together. As it turns out, Kevin’s mother is Holly’s not-so-pleasant boss–and Holly knows that her dreams of becoming a high-end wedding planner will be destroyed if Mrs. Vandemeer ever learns of the relationship. With several meddling family members (who may be supportive, but fail to be helpful), a particularly challenging wedding to coordinate, and a very big secret to hide, Kevin and Holly find themselves working hard to maintain their bliss!
I was initially attracted to this book because it has a gorgeous cover (never mind the idiom about judging books by their covers), and my interest in the book continued to grow as the two characters’ relationship developed. Holly isn’t a femme fatale, and she isn’t a chaste princess either; in short, this female protagonist is a charming in-between. Her counterpart, Kevin, could easily have been transformed into a stereo-typically masculine character–but instead, he often finds himself in need of others’ help, including when he needs Holly’s help with home repairs. Like Holly, Kevin is an in-between, which may just be the reason that they work together so well as the central romantic pair.
The book’s plot is interesting from the start, and progresses fairly well throughout the story. Things do begin to stagnate a little towards the middle of the book–but there is still enough momentum to keep you reading right to the end! There is also a lot of detail about Holly’s career, which I loved; romantic heroines’ occupations too often are shoved backstage when the romance starts, but Holly’s is a big presence in the book (and the glimpses into the world of wedding planning are intriguing!). The plot does get a little cornier towards the end–but, after all, that’s usually expected in a romance novel.
Some contemporary romances can feel superficial or half-baked, but Only You was a truly satisfying and well-written read. With details about the wedding planning business, two protagonists who are hardly cliches, and glimpses of family drama, Denise Grover Swank’s new book is a step above your typical ‘fluffy’ read! If you’re a fan of contemporary romance, of Swank’s writing, or even weddings in general, then I would definitely recommend Only You.
The book is already available digitally via several different websites (Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, Google Play, and Goodreads) and will be released in print on October 25th–so grab yourself a copy and enjoy! If you’re interested in more of Denise Grover Swank’s work, then check out her website or her social media, linked below. I know I will!
For another great read from Denise Grover Swank, definitely check out One Paris Summer. It’s set in the city of love – Paris, France – and is another extremely well-written novel.
Note: Since I received an Advance Reading Copy, the book did feature a disclaimer stating that not all of the material would necessarily be in the final release.
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