⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ REVIEW: Come As You Are by Jess K Hardy

I went through a few different stages with this book, from “but I’m not Gen X,” to “oooh I love the sound of that complex backstory,” to “well this is surprisingly easy breezy.” Through it all, the main thing that stood out to me is that I really enjoyed the story and the writing style, and I would definitely come back for more. Billed as a “Gen X romance,” this wintery love story is a great mix of lighthearted charm, getting a second chance at life, and nostalgic moments that are probably even more fun for readers of that generation. It was also surprisingly spicy, with a few fan-worthy scenes that will make you forget these characters’ ages (53 & 46). I wanted it to delve a little deeper into our hero’s backstory and get a little grittier, but this ended up being a playful and romantic story for readers of all ages.

The story follows Ashley, a woman who is struggling to keep a ski hill afloat. After her divorce, she took over the ski hill, and it just hasn’t been making enough money. When Ashley has an unexpected meeting with Madigan, a recovering addict who now runs a sober living home, she never planned on hiring a group of formerly incarcerated men who have complicated histories with substance abuse… but that’s exactly what happens. As Ashley begins training her new hires, she discovers that there are more to these men than their pasts – including Madigan. A former rock star, Madigan leads an entirely different life these days. He’s avoided the things that were once trouble for him, and that includes women. But there’s something about Ashley that gets to him, and Madigan has hopes that he might win her over.

The cover is super cute and the blurb is sort of a mix between lighthearted and potentially angsty, so I wasn’t sure what kind of story I’d be getting – or if the whole Gen X aspect would go over my head. But this was fun and easygoing, with low angst and feel good vibes. We get hints that both Madigan and Ashley have had darker moments in their pasts, but the book is all about finding love in the present. I personally would’ve liked more time spent on digging deeper (both with the relationship and Madigan’s past) or even more scenes with Madigan’s guys, though I’m betting that this is setting up some future love stories. As to the Gen X aspect, I could definitely see this being nostalgic to many readers. I’m not so far removed from that age group that references to cassette tapes and the grunge scene lost me, and it was fun to see Ashley and Madigan bonding over certain things. It was only once or twice that their ages threw me off, mostly with the very sexy intimate moments. Not sure I really want to think about 53-year-olds (aka someone closer to my father’s age) getting it on like that, but that’s a me problem, lol. I ended up breezing right through this, and I’m intrigued by some of the potential couples who were introduced. So it was definitely a win overall.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3VnXofg


Blurb:

He’ll win her heart one mixtape at a time.

Ashley Cooke will do just about anything to save her struggling ski hill. When she hires the men from a local sober living home for the season to cut costs, even she thinks she’s gone too far. With her credit cards maxed, her cheating ex-husband intent on buying the mountain out from under her, and record-breaking snow in the forecast, she can’t afford to be distracted by the six-foot-tall bearded and tattooed sober living home owner moving onto her mountain.

Recovering addict and ex-grunge rocker Matthew Madigan has devoted every minute of the last decade to the men residing at his sober living home. When he meets tightly wound and adorably flustered Ashley, desires he’s put on the back burner for years start to simmer. Immune to his infamous albeit rusty charm, Ashley presents a challenge he can’t resist. When she offers to give him skiing lessons in exchange for his help training her St. Bernard rescue dog, he jumps at the chance to ride next to her on the chairlift despite his debilitating fear of heights.

During bunny hill shenanigans, chairlift confessions, and steamy cabin serenades, Madigan teaches Ashley that a person’s past doesn’t define them, and Ashley shows Madigan that the men he helps aren’t the only people who deserve a second chance. When sabotage threatens both the men and the mountain, Ashley and Madigan will have to decide if they’re only having a winter fling, or if the mountain isn’t the only thing worth fighting for.

Content notes: Addiction, divorce, mourning the loss of a parent

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3VnXofg


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