Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Book Spotlight on Perky by Julia Kent (REVIEW)

Readers will find themselves charmed by this rom-com with its realistic main couple and their struggle to find HEA the second time around.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Perky by Julia Kent, along with my impressions of it, then add this second installment in Ms. Kent’s series of three outspoken friends navigating the world of romance to your bookshelf!

One hundred years ago when I was young and impulsive (okay, it was five, alright? Five years ago...) I let my boyfriend take, let's just say... compromising pictures of me.
(Shut up. It made sense at the time).
Surprise! The sleazy back-stabbing jerk posted them on a website and, well, you can guess what happened. That's right.
I'm a meme. A really gross one.
You've seen the pictures. And if you haven't - don't ask. And don't look!
As face recognition software online improves, I get tagged on social media whenever anyone shares my pictures. You try getting a thousand notifications a day, all of them pictures of your tatas.
So. I'm done.
It's time for revenge. Let him see how it feels! But how do you get embarrassingly intimate pictures of your jerkface ex who double-crossed you five years ago?
Especially when he's a member of the U.S.House of Representatives now?
Getting sweet between the sheets with a congressman is pretty much every political roadie's dream, right? I'm one in a crowd.
Except to this day, he swears he didn't do it. Pursued me for months after I dumped him five years ago. Begged me to take him back.
And I almost did it. Almost. I was weak and stupid and in love a hundred years ago.
Okay. Fine. Five.
But I still have the upper hand. Second chance romance has all the emotional feels, doesn't it?
I can't wait to punch him in the feels.
All I need to do is sleep with him once, take some hot-and-sweaty pics of him in... delicate positions, and bring him down. That's it. Nothing more.
Pictures first. Revenge after. And then I win.
At least, that's how it was supposed to happen. But then I did something worse than sexting.
I fell in love with him. Again.


Mallory was right. The restaurant is perfect.
A server carrying an enormous tray of chocolate and cream and cake and strawberries dodges her way around me as I walk into the small, brick-walled bistro. Mallory told me the place was basically nothing but foodie heaven, and judging from the luscious spread I'm eyeing, the server's spin showing tiramisu and some kind of pavlova made with mango and grilled pineapple, it absolutely is.
A flash of red hair in the distance tells me Mal’s already here for our double date.
She’s sitting next to a button-down shirt wearing a big smile.
And yes, I’m here. I decided to attend this farce. Remember? I’m opening myself up to possibilities. Embracing uncertainty. Being expansive and namanasty and whatever...
Ok. Fine. I just can’t stay away from him.
Plus, I have a video to make.
As the light shifts and my eyes adjust, I take in the sight of my best friend sitting with her fiancé, their hands together, fingers intertwined, the big rock on her finger gleaming in the light. They lean into each other the way that truly intimate couples do.
The casual crossing of lines between two human beings is a sign of affinity, of trust, a sign of something more than just love.
Once upon a time, I leaned into Parker like that.
Once upon a time, I trusted Parker like that.
Once upon a time, I deeply loved him, just like that.
But that was a time long ago, and time can’t be turned back.
Can it?
Whatever apology he’s about to deliver tonight, he can’t erase what’s been done. Whatever goal he has for this double date is tainted by Saoirse. He’ll say that they’re not together. He’ll say that he still loves me. He’ll say that he never released that photo five years ago.
Parker says lots of things. It’s what Parker does that matters. Actions speak louder than words, but only when they are authentic.
Only when they are sincere.
The body can lie. It’s only human, after all, right?
You know what can’t lie? The heart.
And right now my heart is tap dancing under my ribs as I walk up to the booth to find Parker sitting with Mallory and Will, engaged in an amused conversation that fills me with a wistful sweetness and dread at the same time.
“Persephone,” he says, standing quickly, stepping out of the booth so that I can slide in. His hand goes to the small of my back, as if we are as intimate now as we were in the past. It’s also an electric gesture, almost transgressive, because my body and his body have not yet signed a treaty that defines where we can and cannot cross the boundaries between us.
“Parker,” I say, turning to Mal, who stretches up for a hug. As I bend down, Parker’s hand pulls away from me. The quick press of her cheek against mine makes me feel safe. I get a smile from Will, who can’t reach me across the booth, and we all settle down.
Except for my heart.
Before I can say another word, the server appears. “Can I get you something to drink?” she asks in a too-chipper voice.
My eyes dart around the table. I take in Mallory’s half-full glass of wine, Will’s empty tumbler of something that was amber, and Parker’s half-full pint of dark beer.
“A dirty vodka martini with three olives,” I say.
She asks which brand of vodka, and when I name it, Parker chuckles. As the server skitters away, I turn to him.
“Something funny?”
“That’s a brand made in Texas,” he says with a slow drawl. "It's made from corn, gluten free." His parents weren’t from Texas, so Parker doesn’t have the accent ingrained in him, but he was born there. It comes out sometimes, a cadence that slips easily into his speech, from a culture so strong that it claims you forever.
My heart skips a beat.
It slips, too.
He moves, man-spreading slightly, shifting in the booth. His right thigh brushes against my left, and then he pulls back away, leaning with a casual elbow to the right.
“When did you start drinking dirty vodka martinis?”
Mallory looks at me as I answer with a laugh that doesn’t reach my eyes, “The night you came into town.”
“And there it is,” he says simply, hands going flat on the booth.
A chill cools my skin, though it's not from fear. Even discomfort doesn't quite explain it. Mallory and Will go still. We're in close quarters, fully formed adults now, and the two people across from me are really in it with us.
I don't have to hide. I don't have to fake any feelings here.
And neither does Parker.
“I've already apologized,” Parker says, and those words coming from any other man's mouth would have a defensive tone to them, produced by bruised ego combined with salty regret. The server interrupts, appearing with my martini and sliding it onto a printed coaster right in front of me.
I do a double take at the logo.
The Energy Master, it says, with a small lightning bolt right under the edge of my glass.
Martini glasses are simple cones, but this one looks like a piece of Art Nouveau, a thin line of blue glass swirled in curlicues around the edge. The liquid inside is smoky, three fat olives with pimentos peeking out in a flash of red, like a bullfighter urging on a bull.
I'm ready to charge deep.
“And I'll apologize again,” Parker continues after the server leaves, my mouth already tickled by the perfect blend of olive brine, vodka, and vermouth. The sip goes down smooth, like ocean water.
Like drinking tears.
Five years' worth.




From the moment readers were introduced to Perky in Ms. Kent’s previous book, Fluffy, I knew she was going to leave a lasting impression...and she definitely did that.  From her tell-it-like-it-is attitude, to her strong will and her even stronger support of her friends, Perky’s an unforgettable and immensely appealing heroine whose second chance romance started out with a bang.  Add in a charming politician (not easy to find nowadays) man trying to earn his way back into her heart and you end up with a sensual read full of heart and soul.

Persephone Tsongas has lived a life full of dramatic highs and lows.  Coming from average beginnings, to her family winning the lottery, it’s clear that Perky’s lived a full life and each event has made her who she is today.  After an unforgettable first meeting with Parker, him acting as her lawyer after she was arrested at a protester, their connection heated up quickly as opposites definitely attracted.  A few months of steamy encounters saw them grow ever closer until a hurtful and humiliating meme starring her hit the internet and ended their romance just as suddenly as it started.  Years have passed but there are still moments where she gets recognized and it fuels her desire for revenge against the man she once gave everything to.  When they come face-to-face once again at her friend’s rehearsal rehearsal dinner the feelings are just as intense as ever and it sets them on a path of forgiveness for him and revenge for her...but sometimes things don’t go as planned as the heart wants what it wants.  Through it all Perky’s the kind of heroine you want to be, the kind you want to hang out with, and the kind that sets the bar for others.  In her interactions with Parker she gives as good as she gets, doesn’t cower when people bring up the meme, and doesn’t hold back when admitting her feelings.  She admits to feeling conflicted as she’s still in love with Parker while hating him for what happened to her and I appreciated her honesty as it made the story stronger without unnecessary melodrama.  Along with a crackling romance with Parker was an equally entertaining connection to her friends Mallory and Fiona.  This trio was delightful to see interact as their banter was fun and reminiscent of what most girlfriends talk about.  They mocked each other at times but would support and defend one another whenever necessary and it was a highlight of the story.

Parker Campbell looks like the perfect politician as he’s handsome, good with people, and comes from a “good” family...plus he has an exciting background story of saving a life.  It all adds up to a memorable and delicious hero who’s a bit reserved when compared to Perky, but their differences seem to melt away when they’re together.  Parker was drawn to Persephone the minute he met her, accelerated their relationship as he knew she was the one for him, which made her sudden abandonment of their promising future so hurtful.  For years he’s wanted to talk to her about the meme, plead his innocence, but she’s blocked him from her life.  When given the chance to be groomsman at her best friend’s wedding he jumps at the opportunity to finally tell the truth and reclaim her once again in a sultry connection that builds as the story progresses.  Parker’s a likable hero, a truly good guy who likes Persephone just the way she is and takes pride in her accomplishments.  He’s steady and sure but around her he’s quick to lose control as they have a sizzling connection and it made for an exhilarating ride to HEA.

Perky and Parker make the most of their second chance in this fun and flirty tale full of heart and soul as each opens up about what happened years ago and what they hope will happen now.  Perky’s a strong-willed heroine but there are flashes of vulnerability when putting her heart on the line after years of humiliation that endeared her to me. Parker’s just as likable and I applaud how supportive he always is of her, especially when his mother tries to tear her down as she’s a rather vicious and manipulative woman.  Separately they’re appealing and as a couple they’re immensely likable as they’re the perfect balance with sweet and sensual interactions that had me rooting for them every step of the way.  Along with this likable main couple was an equally appealing cast of secondary characters from Perky’s friends Mallory and Fiona to her newest defender Will, Parker’s friend and Mallory’s fiancée.  Will boldly stood up for Perky early on and it made me like him even more as he didn’t let the bro-code blind him to Perky’s pain.  With so much to like here it’s the relationship between the three girlfriends that’s the best part as it drives the narrative and is realistic and empowering in its honesty.  Their interactions gave us deeper insight into each character and got me excited for each new installment with the exhilarating conclusions found in each of these books.  From start to finish Ms. Kent has cleverly crafted another winner with likable and realistic characters that put a smile on my face while warming my heart.

My rating for this is an A-

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men's room toilet (and he isn't a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down.

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