I liked the heart of this one, so I’m choosing to round up – even if it wasn’t the perfect fit for me. With a brightly colored cover and a playful, punny name, I kinda expected this to be more of a rom com, and it’s really not. There are definite small town vibes, with a somber feel and a SIGNIFICANT focus on the effects of the COVID pandemic on small businesses. Our sweetheart of a hero is a veterinarian whose business has not recovered from the societal changes, and that is a MAJOR part of the story. Know that going in. It was a little jarring to read about something that most authors have avoided mentioning in their new releases, but I found that I liked the concept. For me, this was just a little too laidback and slow-moving for my personal tastes, with a lot of time spent on the characters off the page from each other, then the relationship moving forward at the blink of an eye. I also felt disconnected from the third person POV, which is not a favorite of mine. So I liked the bones of the book, but there were things that kept me feeling detached the whole time. I think it will be a win for many readers though, because most of my complaints are minor or personal in nature.
The story follows Nicole/Nic, a woman who lost her job at the start of the pandemic and shifted into being a social media influencer, focusing on raising chickens. Throughout that experience, her partner was her boyfriend, and Nic has been feeling adrift since the relationship ended. Hoping to get (another) fresh start, Nic moves into a small town… and soon discovers that her neighbor is a sexy but grumpalicious veterinarian. Will definitely seems to be a grump on the surface, but he’s dealing with some demons of his own, and it’s not long before Nic sees the sweet side hidden beneath the broody exterior. As the two get to know each other better and bond over their shared hurts, Nic and Will get closer. But they’ve both got a lot going on in their lives, so it might not be the ideal time to try for something real.
I’d heard a lot of good things about this book, which is honestly why I stuck around once I discovered that it’s in third person POV. It’s just really not a favorite of mine, but I’ve read many books that I’ve enjoyed in the style – personal preference, that’s all. I quickly got drawn in by the small town feel and the ADORABLE hero. Will is what makes this book so enjoyable; he is the sweetest man hidden beneath a grumpy exterior, and he’s even a relationship kind of guy. He really made the book for me, though I also liked the unique perspective on the pandemic. It’s a polarizing topic that many readers aren’t ready for in their romances, so it’s rare that I see more than a passing mention in a book here or there. This embraced that vibe wholeheartedly (this essentially takes place in the aftermath), which was so interesting to me. That is also a big part of what gives this such a somber, serious tone, despite the fact that there are several comedic moments. It’s a heavier, moodier book than anticipated, but there was a lot of good stuff going on. So I struggled to push through a decent amount of it, but was curious to see how it all worked out. The quality is that of a 4-star read, even if the experience was more like 3 stars for me personally.
The audio was pretty good! It’s got CJ Bloom and Aaron Shedlock in dual narration, and it was super easy to switch back and forth between the text and audio versions – which is exactly what I did. I really enjoyed Shedlock’s chapters, and he represented Will’s character well. I wasn’t as sold on CJ Bloom, though she does a good job with her performance. Her voice just took the character in a different direction and didn’t help me connect with Nic, if you know what I mean. The runtime was good for a workday listen though, and the slow-ish burn lended itself well to that kind of setting. So no major complaints about the audio, but I was happy to have the text version on-hand as well.
From Emma Barry comes a clever romance about a hot veterinarian and a chicken-loving influencer who can’t help but ruffle each other’s feathers.
Nicole Jones needs a fresh start. “Chick Nic” to millions of internet fans, the social media star and her flock of chickens bask in the spotlight—until she’s publicly dumped by a YouTuber for clout. She has no choice but to round up her birds and move on.
But when one of her hens has an emergency, Nic gets her first taste of her new stomping grounds—and it isn’t good. Veterinarian Will Lund is wildly attractive, yes, but he’s also surly. In fact, he comes right out and calls her a menace for parading her chickens on social media.
As neighbors, Nic and Will can’t exactly avoid each other. Then again, maybe they don’t want to. The two can’t deny their smoldering attraction, and it isn’t long before late-night confessions lead to backyard shenanigans.
Is this the start of a neighborly relationship—or could something more be hatching?
About the Author:
Emma Barry is a teacher, novelist, recovering academic, and former political staffer. She lives with her high school sweetheart and a menagerie of pets and children in Virginia, and she occasionally finds time to read and write. You can visit her on the web at authoremmabarry.com.
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