Review by Gabrielle

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Series Name: Bright Falls, #2

Jordan grinned back, and that first-crush, effervescent feeling bubbled through Astrid again – her chest, her fingertips, her toes.

Ashley Herring Blake delivers pitch perfect perfection with her latest book, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail.

For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she’s been focused on her career—her friends might say she’s obsessed, but she’s just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn’s renovation that will be broadcasted on a popular home improvement show, Innside America, Astrid knows this is the answer to everything that is wrong with her life. It’ll be the perfect distraction from her failed love life, and her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her nod of approval.

However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru’s granddaughter and lead carpenter for the inn’s renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family’s inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into a little light sabotage, ruffling Astrid’s perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other turns into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she’s expected to lead, or the one she wants?

This book has it all folks: terrific characters, conflict that makes sense and moves the plot along, and truly swoon worthy chemistry. Ashley’s first book in the Bright Falls series, Delilah Green Doesn’t Care has been on my TBR since it came out, so I was delighted to have a chance to read this one. I can confidently say the first book has now moved up in priority! This one can be read as a standalone although I suspect I would have gotten more from it if I had read the other first.

Ashley writes characters that are easy to love and I genuinely enjoyed both Astrid and Jordan. Astrid is a buttoned up, type A character. Highly organised and focused, she is always turned out and proper. Raised by a highly critical mom, she is terrified to disappoint anyone. But even as she does everything by the book, she is struggling to make a success of her interior design business. Jordan is more laid back with her tarot cards, and her vintage truck named Adora and her cat Catra (bonus points for awesome She-Ra references!) but she’s a bit of a mess. After a massive heartbreak a year ago she just can’t seem to pull herself together. She’s been fired from her job as a carpenter and doesn’t know what to do next. She’s stuck. The opportunity to makeover the Everwood Inn represents a major opportunity for both of them and I appreciated the dual viewpoint storytelling so we got to dive deep into the story from both characters’ perspectives.

The power of friendship and family both blood and found is a strong theme in this book. Fans who read the first book in the series will recognize Astrid’s step sister Delilah, as well as her two best friends Claire and Iris. They are delightful. I loved their friendship and how they were so there for each other. Jordan’s twin brother Simon and her grandmother Pru were also great. You could feel the love between them and how it shaped them all as people.

The chemistry between Astrid and Jordan was off the charts great. I loved all the tension the TV show helped create. There are some pretty spicy scenes in this book and they were very well done. I also really appreciated how Astrid started out as thinking she was straight and then, through her growing attraction to Jordan, had to face that maybe she isn’t. It just highlighted how sexuality is fluid and it’s okay to not put a label on things all the time. We see great queer representation in this book with multiple identities present.

Ashley has won another fan with this book. I’ve already ordered Delilah Green Doesn’t Care and I can’t wait for the next instalment, Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date.

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