Review by Gabrielle

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Libby has knocked it out of the park with this meaty romance packed with heart.

“He stepped closer and smoothed my hair away from my face. His strong hands, which were capable of breaking down doors and wrestling people from fiery infernos, still surprised me with their tenderness. He leaned down and kissed me. It wasn’t the kind of searching passion that left me weak. It was a question. And in that moment, I wanted to be the answer.”

Violet Covington pens Dear Sweetie, the most popular advice column in the state of North Carolina. She has an answer for how to politely handle any difficult situation…until she discovers her husband, Sam, has been cheating on her. Furious and out of sensible solutions, Violet leaves her filter at the door and turns to her column to air her own frustrations. The new, brutally honest Dear Sweetie goes viral, sending more shock waves through Violet’s life. When she burns Sam’s belongings in a front-yard, late-night bonfire, a smoking-hot firefighter named Dez shows up to douse the flames, and an unexpected fling quickly shows potential to become something longer lasting.

A lot of people want to see the old polished Violet return—including her boss, who finds her unpredictability hard to manage, and Sam, who’s begging for another chance. But Dez appreciates Violet just the way she is—in fact, he can’t get enough of her. The right answers don’t come easily when Violet finds herself at her own personal crossroads. But maybe, by getting real, Violet can write her own happy ending.

Violet is by far, one of my favourite MC’s of 2022 so far. Sure, she finds out her life isn’t as great as she thought. Sure, she lacks some self esteem. But she is just so darn relatable, I found myself cheering for her right from page one. I loved seeing Violet unravel a bit and through that, let go of some of her expectations of herself. Libby has constructed a complicated and finely tuned character in Violet and I was all in.

Dez is a pretty dreamy book boyfriend in his own right. I loved his laid-back attitude and how he really did like Violet just the way she was. He is so kind and supportive. Although he comes to her rescue several times in the book, I loved that Libby purposefully didn’t paint him as the typical white knight. He’s just a genuinely nice guy. The relationship between him and Violet felt realistic and right. I loved watching them together and how their relationship builds over time.

I used the phrase “meaty” in my intro sentence and I meant it. Through her own experiences, those of her friends, and as an advice columnist, Violet is navigating a wide variety of issues from cheating spouses, infertility, abandonment, self esteem, mental health and racism to name just a few. Through it all, Libby presents different viewpoints in a respectful way that honours those lived experiences. There is a lot going on in this book and it hit me with all the feels (in the very best way).

Readers who enjoy their romance with more substance will enjoy this one.

Thank you, Berkley Publishing for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.