I knew Willa and Everett’s story was going to be adorable from their first glimpses in Crime and Periodicals. But I didn’t quite expect this level of intensity. Or outside drama. I mean, I knew Willa had crap to deal with, but I didn’t quite expect either of their baggage to be so intense. Which, of course meant that it was seriously difficult to put this down and go to bed at night…
Everett’s issues were a little bit less intense than Willa’s, and I also found them to be a little bit disjointed. He has so many self-confidence issues with women because of his geekiness. And the fact that women don’t want a hot, geeky, lumberjack in their lives. Personally, I just can’t picture this. I mean, who would NOT want that man in their lives and their bed? Maybe his issue is actually shyness, or I’m just projecting because that’s what I’d want in my bed…
Unlike Everett’s backstory, Willa’s actually broke my heart a little bit. Firstly, she has a mother who is just horrible and passive aggressive. Then there’s her ex-husband who is seriously terrifying. I mean, it doesn’t matter if he only hit her once. The man is a damn stalker and bully. It definitely hurt to read about. But then there’s her sisters. They’re freaking amazing. Like Ruby in Crime and Periodicals, Gracie is full of sassy teenage spunk. Spunk that helps her older sister find herself. (Not to mention that Ruby makes plenty of appearances too). And Sadie and Clara are most definitely “crazy sisters” but are willing to kick butt and take names in solidarity with their sibling.
Carpentry and Cocktails is yet another fantastic SmartyPants Romance and Nora Everly tale. It has all of the great cameos from other stories and hints at the next Monroe brother to fall. It was a constant struggle to try and out this book down, one that I honestly didn’t fight too hard against. One that I look forward to picking up again and again in the future.
One of the things that I’m absolutely loving about the literature that is coming out these days is that there is a lot more representation of neurodivergent characters throughout. Even though in this book, the neurodivergent Harry isn’t one of the lead romantic characters, he is still front and centre. And honestly, he is so damn ridiculously gorgeous that there are often moments where he steals the spotlight. As do Wyatt’s two daughters throughout. Which, if there are children in a story, I can completely get behind them doing a whole lot of show stealing.
I’ve seen a lot of mentions of anxiety throughout the media that I consume. Sometimes it’s used as a bit of a punchline (as are many other things). And often I’ve seen it kind of glorified or made a little sexy. When I see it glorified and made into something that isn’t completely debilitating at times, I get seriously pissed. Believe me, if you have issues with anxiety – it is not fun, it is not sexy and it is not desirable. Everlytotally gets this. Sabine’s issues with her anxiety and mental health frustrate the hell out of her. They constantly impact her life, and she is not in any way, shape or form enamoured with her reality. In fact, much of what I loved about this story was her trying to overcome her “crap” and build a more functioning life for herself. With or without Wyatt’s involvement.
I also love that this story features a dead-beat mother. It’s tragic and definitely makes your heart hurt for the girls, but again, it’s a nice look at something that is realistic. Not all mothers are great at mothering, and some are just downright terrible. I love that Sabine is able to go a long way towards healing the hurt and damage that is inflicted upon Wyatt’s poor children. Can you tell that I found the kids absolute show-stealers in this book? I love the romance and the development of Sabine and Wyatt’s relationship, but it’s the ways in which their children are worked into the future that really had my heart doing all of the happy leaps.
Like many of the other SmartyPants Romance books that I’ve read, there are many moments that dove-tail perfectly into the rest of the universe-happenings. Those mentions of some beautiful characters give a great sense of familiarity, particularly when I was reading a whole new author for me. An author that I must admit I have completely fallen in love with. And one that I look forward to reading again and again.