Book Review: Romancing His Rival by Jennifer Shirk

If you’ve been following By Her Shelf for a while, you may remember me reviewing a book called Catch Him If You Can by Jennifer Shirk (you can find the review here). In that review, I said

This isn’t my first Jennifer Shirk book, and it most definitely won’t be my last. I have to know what happens in the next book to the next heroine. I know Jennifer is going to give her a great happily ever after as well.

Six months later, I had the opportunity to read that heroine’s book. Entangled Publishing sent me an advance copy of Romancing His Rival by Jennifer Shirk to review because I begged requested it. 

Title: Romancing His RivalRomancing His Rival

Author: Jennifer Shirk

Release Date: February 11, 2019

Review:  Hotel receptionist Elena Mason is left heartbroken months before her wedding when her fiancé dumps her, and it’s all Lucas Albright III’s fault. Her fiancé’s so-called best man talked him out of marrying Elena, and months later, she still hasn’t recovered, or stopped believing her fiancé will realize they’re meant to be together and come back. As for Lucas, Elena hopes to never see him again.

Lucas Albright is a marketing executive on the fast track to promotion. After a failed marriage, Lucas focuses all of his attention on his career, and it’s paid off. Convinced he works better alone, professionally and personally, Lucas is frustrated to find out his long sought after promotion is dependent upon him working with the one person who thinks of him as her archenemy.

Elena knows she has to work with Lucas. but that doesn’t mean she’s going to make it easy for him. She wants him to pay for breaking up her engagement. Lucas is willing to do whatever it takes to secure his promotion, even work with Elena. But the closer Elena and Lucas work together, the more each has trouble remembering they’re supposed to be rivals and not romantic partners.

I was ready to read Elena’s story from the time I turned the last page of Catch Him if You Can. The little glimpse into what happened with Elena intrigued me and I couldn’t wait to see how Ms. Shirk would pull of Elena’s happily ever after. Coming to a book with high expectations like this can be dangerous. I loved Elena as a supporting character, but how would I feel about her as a heroine? Could Jennifer make me love this character and her hero as much as Wade and Arden?

When I first met Elena in Romancing His Rival, I didn’t connect with her right away. I wanted to grab her and shake her out of her depressive funk. I wanted to say “get over it, already!” She seemed a little too whiny and was a little too eager to foist all the responsibility onto Lucas for why her relationship didn’t work out. Yet there was something about her that kept me reading.

This also did a curious thing: it immediately made me more willing to hear Lucas’s side of the story. Instead of being aligned with Elena against him, I was open to the idea there would be more to him and what he did or didn’t do than Elena knew or was willing to admit. I couldn’t love a man who went around destroying engagements for fun, but I could hear out the guy who was being unjustly blamed for the fate of an entire relationship.

Once Lucas and Elena were on the page together, things got even better. Even though Lucas is supposed to be the uptight ad exec, he’s funny and even laid back with Elena, who, although usually rainbows and sunshine, is acerbic and a little dramatic with Lucas to begin with. I liked them together from their first encounter on the page.

It’s evident from their first appearances that both of these characters have some growing and changing to do, and Ms. Shirk pulls them through it with an invisible string. Their actions, even the slightly outrageous ones, seem self-motivated and not driven by the plot. There were a couple moments I felt pulled out of the book by a bit of dialogue that felt clunky, but for the most part, I was able to immerse myself in Elena and Lucas’s story.

I would recommend Romancing His Rival to anyone looking for a sweet, enemies to lovers romance with humor liberally sprinkled in. Although you don’t have to have read them to enjoy Romancing His Rival, I would also recommend Bargaining with the Boss and Catch Him If You Can, the first two books in the Accidentally Yours Series by Jennifer Shirk.

Star Rating 3.5/5

Review: Catch Him If You Can by Jennifer Shirk

Happy Tuesday, fellow readers! *Side note: I need a cool name for my readers. What should I call you?*  I’m still recovering from a long weekend of working, but I wanted to share a review with you. Entangled Publishing sent me an advance copy of Catch Him if You Can by Jennifer Shirk because I begged  requested it. I’d read Ms. Shirk before and really enjoyed her writing, and I LOVE a fake fiancé romance, so I had to read this one. You can get your copy of Catch Him if You Can on August 13, 2018. 

Title: Catch Him if You Can

Author: Jennifer Shirk

Release Date: August 13, 2018

Review: Veterinarian Wade Roberts doesn’t want to fall in love again. After losing his wife to cancer, he’s more than content running his veterinary clinic and having occasional relationships with women who know not to expect forever. Someone should tell that to the matchmaking ladies in town who keep sending marriage minded women his way. It’s only gotten worse since his sister’s engagement. Wade needs to do something to dissuade them before he’s buried in baked goods and his clinic becomes the set of the next season of The Bachelor.

Wedding Planner Arden Pearson has her own crisis to deal with. Her business is in big trouble after one of her grooms quit his job and moved to the Bahamas in lieu of marrying his betrothed. When Wade approaches her about pretending to be his girlfriend, she turns him down. However, meeting with a huge potential client who would prefer to have a planner with personal experience planning a wedding, Arden changes her mind. Arden does have experience planning her own wedding–the groom just didn’t show up, much like her recent Bahamas Bolter. Instead of admitting this, she approaches Wade with a deal: she’ll get rid of the matchmakers and marriage minded women overrunning his waiting room if he’ll help her land and keep the contract that could make or break her business. It’s a win win arrangement between old friends. What could possibly go wrong?

I’m a huge fan of the tropes in Catch Him if You Can: fake fiancé and friends to lovers. In Shirk’s capable hands, the tropes feel new and fresh. Usually I fall in love with the hero first. If I can identify with the heroine, I’m all in. In this book, though, I loved Arden from her introduction sassing Wade in the coffeeshop line. She was smart alecky and fun but with emotional depth that made me really root for her. Wade’s character was swoon-worthy. He loves animals, can’t bring himself to tell off the sweet old ladies who keep trying to fix him up, and he honors the commitments he makes, which is why he’s so reticent to make them. He doesn’t take commitment lightly, and that makes him the perfect guy for gun shy Arden, who, deep down, longs for someone who will follow through and commit to doing life with her.

This story got me in all of my feels. It was funny, and sweet, with shades of sadness that made the good stuff even better. The black moments were throw your book frustrating, but I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. This isn’t my first Jennifer Shirk book, and it most definitely won’t be my last. I have to know what happens in the next book to the next heroine. I know Jennifer is going to give her a great happily ever after as well.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a sweet friends to lovers romance with a healthy dose of fake fiancé that features characters you can root for from page one and wouldn’t mind seeing again in the next book. This is the second book in a series, but it is standalone. If you’d like to read them in order, start with Bargaining with the Boss.

Star Rating: 4/5