Book Smart, an all new friends-to-lovers sweet romance by debut author Amanda Pennington, is available now in Kindle Unlimited!
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Book Smart by Amanda C. Pennington
Series: Work For It #3
Published by Smartypants Romance on April 12, 2022
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance, Adult Romantic Comedy
Source: the publisher
Melanie Hirsch is tired of watching life pass her by…
I’ve spent the last few years watching my dreams of a writing career and true love fade away, settling for a dead-end job and denying my feelings for my best friend – until I find a list of dating advice for single women to “find a husband” in the 1950s. I decide to experiment: try out the 1950s advice on my 21st-century dating pool and write about the results. If love is timeless, some of the dating advice still holds value. Maybe my experiment will launch my writing career. Maybe I’ll get over my best friend and meet someone new. Either way, I’m done watching from the sidelines.
Cameron Whitacre can’t wait forever…
I’ve spent the last few years in love with my best friend, hoping she’ll notice my friendly overtures have more than friendly intentions – but before I realize what’s happening, she declares me her wingman for a dating experiment. This idea could launch her writing career, so I’m trying to be supportive. But her experiment turns my life into a desperation-fueled dumpster fire. I need to show her how I feel without jeopardizing our friendship, all before she falls for someone else.
‘Book Smart’ is a full-length contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Book #3 in the Work For It series, Educated Romance World, Penny Reid Book Universe.
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A man with perfect golden-blond hair and a slim-cut suit appeared next to me. He smiled with the bright ease of someone who’s had enough alcohol to lower his inhibitions but not enough to make him obnoxious—yet.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.” He gestured at my face with his Guinness.
“I’m new here.”
He grinned. “This is like a throwback to college days, huh?”
Not any college I’d ever been to.
“Right,” I said, “those good ol’ days.”
“So tell me.” He stepped closer. “Are you here for the business or the fun?”
My best friend Ivy hadn’t mentioned which business we were supposed to be involved in, so—“I’m here for the fun.”
Guinness’s smile took on an edge. “Excellent. Want to dance?”
Glancing around for Cameron and Ivy, I couldn’t spot them. The lone bartender was busy with a large crowd, so Cameron would be a long while, and Ivy must’ve been tied up with the host. Besides, wasn’t the point of being here to meet someone new? “Sure.”
We moved to the dance floor at the edge of the pool, swaying with the bass. The light of the chandelier above us cast a glow over everyone, and Guinness looked charming in the glass refractions, his golden hair glinting.
His lips brushed my ear. “You’re beautiful.”
It was nice, feeling charmed.
I took a breath to answer him with my own compliment—probably about his pretty hair—when my gaze locked on Cameron. He stood across the room, leaning one shoulder against an exposed pillar. I smiled at him, but he didn’t return it. He just stared. My rhythm faltered. Tossing back the last of his drink—which actually might have been the gin and tonic he got for me—he moved through the crowd without the ease and friendliness he’d had earlier. No mischief lit his face. He didn’t look away from me—not once—and I forgot that Guinness existed at all.
Cameron broke eye contact when he reached us, glancing at Guinness before opening his mouth to speak.
The crowd on the dance floor surged, jostling us toward the pool. Cameron’s hands reached for me at the same moment Guinness let go of me. An instant passed as we fell into the pool, and then warm, chlorinated water surged up my nose. Even though I didn’t stay under for long, I gulped breaths when my head broke through the surface of the water. The shock of suddenly being in the water, not to mention Cameron’s actions, had left me breathless.
“Pool party!” someone yelled—it sounded like Guinness—and people jumped in at random. The water churned, and chaos reigned. The suits and tuxedos and gowns made a colorful kaleidoscope in the turquoise water.
Cameron grasped my hand underwater. “Are you okay?”
“Yes. Are you?” I sputtered around a wave of water when someone cannonballed next to me.
A man swam into view but I didn’t recognize him until he spoke. The dim lighting of the chandelier was replaced with the harsh blue glow of underwater pool lights, and his golden hair was now flat against his head. He looked completely different. Wet Guinness was not at all attractive.
“Did you bring a swimsuit?” Guinness asked.
Irritation jabbed at me. Did I look like I was expecting a late-night swim? “No.”
He grinned. “I don’t mind.”
And that was my cue to leave. I already felt disoriented from the surprise swim, but this? It wasn’t his fault we were in the pool, or that he looked bad without his golden hair, but it was his fault for suggesting skinny-dipping at this exact moment.
Book note: The appeal of skinny-dipping relies entirely on the context.
I turned away and followed Cameron to the edge of the pool, moving through the water in that vaguely weightless, slow stride I’d seen Grandma use in her water aerobics classes. He climbed out first and then turned to offer me a hand.
I looked up. Oh.
Mr. Darcy at the lake had nothing on Cameron emerging from the pool. Clingy, wet clothes; rivulets of water streaming down his chest; his cowlick sticking on end even as it dripped. Frantically looking away, I took his hand. I couldn’t let Cameron see me staring—he’d never let me live it down.
I connected with this debut author’s book from the first page! Between the Mel’s sadness at comparing herself to everyone on social media being successful or in a relationship, to the banter with Cameron devolving into “your mom is…” for a comeback, this was me and my friends, or past friends anyway. The story had so much that was just true and realistic for this day and age. About how we might want to meet someone the “old-fashioned” way of being set up by a friend, or through work or accidental meet up somewhere, it doesn’t seem to happen that way for some of us, Melanie, or me it seems.
Even with all that Melanie wanted, and all that she and Cameron kept misreading or waiting on the other one for, it really again was something I connected with when Cameron called her selfish about being so involved in her own project. Because I know I get that way. And I have to step back and make sure that I’m always asking others what is going on. Even though I know I’m thinking about others all the time, I don’t always do the best at asking them the things I should.
But all the characters were able to move on, and work past those issues, overcome them and be there for their friends. This was a major slow-burn in that our two keep denying themselves the chance until the very end. And while that may be a bit stressful as the reader, again, it is so realistic! I personally would love to have a friend where we had a chat or something that was only sending memes or gifs back and forth. I do have a friend that we share memes constantly, well two if you count one of my cousins. The comic book store guy would totally have won me over with his Lois and Clark bit too. lol
A sweet, fun, perfect romance addition to the SmartyPants Universe World. I read the author’s note on Goodreads that she is working on a book that goes with this one, with two of the side characters, and my fingers are crossed for Ivy and Toby!
About the Author
Amanda Pennington lives outside Louisville, Kentucky with her husband in their fixer-upper house. When she’s not writing, Amanda loves traveling, running, and reading anything within reach. More information is available at www.amandacpennington.com.
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