Review by Veronica

“Huh?” I blinked at him. “What do you mean, I’m the type of woman he’s looking for?” I looked at Lesego, who was smiling from ear to ear, as if she was about to bloody explode.

“Well, you’re… you know… relationship material.”

“What does that mean?” It sounded vaguely like an insult.

“You’re the kind of woman that men marry.”

“Ooooh! Damn!” Lesego exploded next to me. “If that’s not the best pickup line ever then I don’t know what is.”

“It’s not a pickup line—it’s the truth,” Jagger countered.

What Happens on Vacation is a fun and fabulous vacay romance.

Journalist Margaret loves her job, writing important stories about the impact of government decisions on day-to-day lives for a respected newspaper in Johannesburg. There’s only one problem: her co-worker, Jagger Villain. Is that even his real name? she often wonders. Jagger spends his days writing fluff pieces on everything from the worst-rated barber in Johannesburg to speed dating to male sex toys. To make matters worse, they share a cubicle and a desk, and every day he finds new ways to drive her to distraction. She needs a vacation!

Thankfully the upcoming company quiz night has the perfect first prize: a deluxe trip to a resort in Zanzibar. It will be the perfect escape for Margaret and her mother after a difficult year dealing with the death of her father and divorce. Margaret’s never met a quiz night she can’t win, but then she’s never competed against Jagger. That’s when the unthinkable happens. They tie. They both win. They both get to go to Zanzibar.

It’s bad enough that Margaret has to be on the same island as Jagger, but at least she has her widowed mother with her to help her avoid her co-worker and whoever he brings. However, Jagger’s plus one isn’t what she expected. It’s not some girl of the moment, it’s his father, which shakes up her opinion of him . . . at least a bit. And that’s when the entire situation goes from farce to horror show: their parents fall in love and decide to get married.

Suddenly Margaret and Jagger go from co-workers who dislike each other (but also ‘accidentally’ had sex one night,) to step siblings who dislike each other (but also ‘accidentally’ had sex one night!). But maybe they don’t dislike each other as much as they initially thought they did? 

Well, this was a fun read. I started reading it Sunday morning, which was a mistake because I got so sucked into the story that I didn’t get groceries or do any chores. Who needs food or a clean house anyway? This is my first Jo Watson book, but it won’t be my last. I loved the story and characters that Jo has created in this book. You may or may not know that I love to travel, but my bank account doesn’t allow me to travel as much as I would like to, which is why I love to escape to faraway places in books. In this book, I travelled to South Africa and Zanzibar, where I’ve never been. Jo does a fantastic job of transporting her readers to these fabulous places. It’s neat to spend time with characters living in South Africa. I got to learn a little bit about the history of this country and see what it’s like to live there. Zanzibar sounds so enchanting, and it is a place I would love to explore (if I could ever get over the fact that it would take me more than 21 hours to fly there). It was also just the perfect romantic setting for this book. 

What Happens on Vacation is a fabulous enemies to lovers, workplace, reverse grumpy/sunshine and forced proximity love story. All these tropes come together to create this highly entertaining and heartfelt story. I am not always a fan of workplace romances, but I enjoyed this one. I loved the journalist aspect because it injected some fun and interesting undertones into the story. What I mean by this is that I enjoy all the topics the journalists wrote about in this book; some were fun, while others had you thinking. Another reason why I loved this workplace romance was because it was mixed in with this vacation romance vibe. Margaret and Jagger both win a vacation package from their work, which means they are stuck going on vacation with each other, with their single parents tagging along. That vacation element added a lot of lightness and fun to the overall story. 

I adored the characters in this book, especially Margaret’s mom, who is this free-spirited hippie with no filter. She reminds me of Rozalin Focker (played by Barbra Streisand) from the movie Meet the Fockers. She was such a delight and a complete opposite to Margaret’s character, who is a bit of an uptight control freak. Her mom is great as comic relief but also as the character who often hands out deep and meaningful advice to her daughter when she needs it most. 

Jagger has such a huge crush on Margaret; it really was adorable. I loved how obvious his crush was to the reader but how oblivious Margaret was to his crush. Oh, the heartaches of unrequited love. Margaret cannot stand Jagger. She thinks that he is always mocking her and intently doing things that will annoy her. To be fair, he does love to annoy her, but only because it’s the only way he can ever get her attention. But every so often, Jagger would say or do something so sweet towards Margaret that would befuddle her and make my heart melt. I liked both of these MCs. They work well together; their opposing natures balance each other out. Jagger is the fun-loving guy who flies by the seat of his pants. Meanwhile, Margaret needs to be in control of the environment she lives in. What makes these characters stand out is the fact that underneath those stereotypical labels are characters who are more complex and have a great deal of depth.

The romance between these two characters was great! I love a good grumpy/sunshine love story, and this one has checked off all my romance boxes. Things between Margaret and Jagger are far from smooth. There is this tension between them mainly because Margaret doesn’t know if she can trust Jagger or, hell, if she even likes him. It takes most of the book for these two to come together finally, but I liked that because it made their relationship more believable. This book is great for those who like only a little spice in their romances. It’s not a closed-door romance, but it’s also not a romance that is flooded with sex scenes. There is just enough spice to get your heart racing.

What Happens on Vacation is a fun, fabulous romance that is so hard to put down.