by Laura Brown
Series: Matzah Ball Surprise #2
Publisher: Entangled: Lovestruck
Publication Date: February 8, 2021
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Izzy Fineberg can take on any challenge—and she’s had some big ones lately. After one fateful night with the hottest Deaf man she’d ever met, Izzy found she was pregnant with his child. And she never caught his name. She’s been doing the single mom thing for nine months now, and surely, nothing could be more challenging than that. But her first day at her new job, she meets her supervisor...and recognizes him immediately.
Nolan Holtzman never expected to see Izzy again, and now, she’s the new hire at the agency he works in. He’d think things were finally going his way for once, if not for the iron-clad ban on interoffice dating. He’ll have to keep his distance from her if he wants to keep his dream job helping the Deaf community. Much easier said than done when Izzy drops the bomb that she’s a single parent...of his son.
It’s the shock of his life, but that won’t stop him from stepping up to be a dad. So when Izzy is suddenly in need of a place to stay for a week, Nolan invites her and the baby to his home. But even as difficult as it is, keeping their little family a secret from their employer isn’t their biggest challenge ahead...
Surprise baby books are not my thing. To be honest, I don’t find much about babies romantic at all and I’m not one of those people who think HEAs have to come with a wedding and 2.5 kids. But I loved Matzah Ball Surprise so I decided to take a chance on this book, and I’m glad I did! Besides the surprise baby, it’s also got the workplace romance and forced proximity tropes.
Nine-month-old Archie might be the result of a drunk hook-up with a guy whose name she didn’t know, but he’s the center of Izzy’s life. So while starting a new job with a Deaf advocacy org is important to her – she wants to be able to financially support her little family by moving out of her sister’s place – it’s also bittersweet. And things only get worse when she realizes her new supervisor is the hot Deaf hook-up – and the father of her kid. Nolan’s been a screw-up for most of his life, but the situation with Izzy takes the cake. How can he possibly go from bachelor pads and video games to being a dad, especially when he never had a father figure in his own life? To further complicate things, the spark of attraction that got them into this mess in the first place is still there. Can they navigate coparenting and working together, or are Izzy and Nolan set for another massive disaster?
“Father” was a meaningless word to him that could mean sperm donor, and considering Archie’s creation, the same could be said about the next generation.”
Izzy is fiercely independent. Though she’s had to rely on her sister, Gaby (the heroine of the previous book) and her fiancé, Levi, to manage graduating college while pregnant and then with a baby, Archie’s nine months old now and she’s ready to stop relying on them so much. But navigating breastfeeding, working and childcare is hard, and adding in navigating some kind of relationship – coparent or romantic – with Nolan is overwhelming and exhausting to someone who feels like she’s barely holding it together as a twenty-three-year-old single mother. While he doesn’t have the same life complications as Izzy, Nolan’s convinced he’s a screw-up. No matter what good thing he has, he always manages to screw it up, and that’s been true since he was born. He was the result of an unplanned pregnancy and his dad wasn’t present in his life, so he’s worried about how to be a father figure and partly convinced that he’s going to mess up Izzy and Archie’s lives just by being in them. Besides Archie, their relationship is also complicated by the fact that their employer has a strict no dating policy. That, along with Nolan’s self-doubt, provides most of the angst in the story. The way their relationship unfolds slowly was just so sweet, and I loved how consent-focused it was as well.
“The kid resembled the powerful computer character that could unlock worlds and opportunities, but he didn’t have a clue how to unlock him.”
This book was overall less humorous than the previous one, though Archie provided a lot of comedy. Nine-month-olds are, well, chaos monsters (or at least mine were) and there’s a lot of new parent humor that brought me right back to those days, diaper changes and all. I liked that, along with the romantic relationship between Izzy and Nolan, it also focused on the relationship that Nolan has with Archie. There’s a particularly sweet moment where Nolan’s trying to soothe a fussy Archie and suddenly realizes that his son is signing “milk.” It’s a lightbulb moment for Nolan, and it absolutely made me melt.
I loved the seamless integration of Deaf culture from both characters, from the flashing lights to the special baby monitors to the call out to my alma mater (go RIT Tigers!). While Izzy is far from fluent in ASL, she’s able to communicate well, and most of the dialog is in sign. I loved that his Deafness – and their Jewishness – isn’t a problem or a pain point, it’s just another part of who he is.
Overall, I enjoyed this book even more than the first, and I’ll definitely be picking up whatever Laura Brown writes in the future!