Review by Kayleigh

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For the last ten I’ve lived by two rules: One, always have fun. Two, don’t rely on anyone but yourself. Impossible? No. Challenging? Sometimes. Not the first rule. How hard is it to have fun? I’ve broken the second rule only once and don’t plan on making the same mistake twice.

This second-chance romance filled my heart with happiness – Sarah is an incredible author who’s second book was even better than her first.

Commitment-phobe Nina Lejeune lives by two rules: 

  1. Always have fun. 
  2. Don’t rely on anyone but yourself. 

The first rule is easy; the second, she’s only broken once. 

Ten years after fleeing home, Nina is the chief stewardess on the super yacht Serendipity, single by choice, and perfectly content with how life has turned out.

But Nina’s ex-coworker and old flame, Irish chef Ollie Dunne, isn’t so happy with the status quo. One year after leaving yachting, he’s returned as the Serendipity’s chef with an ultimatum: if Nina continues to deny she’s in love with him by the end of this charter season, he’ll go back to Ireland for good.

Nina and Ollie’s shared secret from their past threatens to shipwreck not only their relationship, but the entire boat. But as their connection grows amidst chaotic guests and crew drama, could there be smooth sailing in their future?

Readers first meet Nina in Sarah’s debut Love, Lists & Fancy Ships, which was a favourite read of mine in 2021. While there is character continuation and story lines that grow in Luck and Last Resorts from the first book, it can also be read as a stand alone. However I highly recommend you read it. Now, Nina is a character. She’s multi-faceted and difficult. She’s outspoken and lives by her own rules. After having some damaging experiences as an ex-Olympic level gymnast and some heartbreaking family issues, she’s prickly and doesn’t let people close. She’s also totally genuine and hearty achingly raw and vulnerable. She was one of my favourite characters in Sarah’s debut and I was ecstatic when I found out she was getting her own story. Listen, Nina isn’t always a nice person, and I read some tweets where Sarah mentioned she was worried that people wouldn’t connect with Nina. Here’s a secret I’m going to let everyone in on: we all have a little Nina in us: we’re afraid of making choices and changing life; we’ve been hurt; sometimes we get jealous when the people we love most live their lives. Nina is so real that it hurts. I adore Nina and will petition hard for everyone to read her – because she’s amazing. While life has made her hard, it hasn’t turned her to stone. And, while there is a fabulous second-chance love story here, love isn’t what softens her and opens her up to her life, rather Nina, through a lot of hard work, opens her own damn life up.  

I’ve devoured both of Sarah’s books in big greedy gulps. Her world building and secondary character story arcs are so poignant and detailed. Her writing is vivid and jumps off of the page. I cried while reading about Nina and Ollie’s story because it felt like reading about my friend’s life instead of some characters on the page. This book may not be one to read in public – Sarah’s writing is filled with emotion and hits you in the solar plexus in the best way possible. 

And one of the areas that hits you hard is the love story between Nina, head stewardess on the yacht called Serendipity and Ollie, head chef. They have a second chance love, and Sarah alternates chapters between them now, in the present, and a decade ago when they first met. Readers get to fill in the spots between then and now and learn how they are in the situation that they are in. They are friends first, and their friendship is so delightful: they have the kind of banter that made me tear up with laughter (read it to understand why dick hernias and tea balls are so funny) and also the kind of partnership that I hope to one day have with someone. They have to work for every win in their relationship. They have to fight to be together and they both have to grow and better themselves in order for it to work. There is no quick and easy ending, which I adored. Sarah makes Nina and Ollie work for the HEA, and even though I knew one had to happen in the book, I was holding my breath the last few chapters. 

I could keep gushing about this book. It’s funny and emotional contemporary romance at its best. It asks readers to think about love, friendship, fate and the work we have to do to overcome traumas to allow us to live our best lives. 

Thank you Berkeley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.