by Lori Wilde, Priscilla Oliveras, Sarah Skilton
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Each connected novella in this fun, fresh Rom-Com anthology follows a different woman from a group of NYC friends whose plans to escape the summer heat with a fabulous girls-only weekend suddenly lose steam when an unexpected blackout cuts off power to all of Manhattan. But while the lights are out, enemies become lovers, acquaintances find they have more in common than a pack of matches, and the city really heats up!
There's nothing like summer in Manhattan. The days are long and the nights are even longer. But when the lights go out in the city, fireworks explode...
Night at the Museum by Lori Wilde
Art restorer Ria Preston knows a thing or two about beauty. And when she discovers her neighborhood crush, gregarious Wall Street advisor Vic Albright, is stuck overnight in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her, she can't resist taking him on a very private tour...
Lights Out by Priscilla Oliveras
Back in high school, Vanessa Rios and Mateo Garza were theater troupe rivals. Now Mateo's a rising Broadway star and Vanessa is his most scathing critic. Cue a plot twist straight out of central casting: the two end up alone in his NYC apartment during the blackout, setting the stage for what could be their second act romance...
Mind Games by Sarah Skilton
What happens in college stays in college--unless you never get over it. In fact, Alison has been waiting to take her revenge on Nick, once the hottest guy on campus, now the hottest guy on the rising magician's circuit. But her plans to sabotage his first show are upended by the power outage. That's when the real magic happens...
I picked this up solely for the Priscilla Oliveras story, but I ended up enjoying the other two novellas as well. This anthology follows three friends as their summer Friday night plans get derailed during an all-boroughs-wide blackout in New York City.
“I don’t know why I was afraid to take a risk. That’s what I do for a living. Why should I be afraid of a risk?”
“Because,” Ria said, feeling philosophical, “those are monetary risks. They’re much easier to calculate. Math is indisputable. Relationships, on the other hand…”
“Are a whole new level of risk.”
“Night at the Museum” – Lori Wilde – ★★★★
Ria’s spent all her time the last few months restoring a romantic painting of love in the city, and that’s the only explanation for why she seems to have fallen head-over-heels with a complete stranger. It’s serendipity, then, when she spots him at a gala celebrating the completion of the restoration, except “Mr. Gorgeous” is not at all what she expected. Vic is a very goal oriented financial advisor. He’s had a plan since he was a young teen for how to get out of his farming town, and so far he’s checked off every item on his list. The latest? Attending a gala at the Met and helping a set of prospective clients pick out a painting as an investment piece. He can’t let the fact that his mysterious “Red” is there and that he might get a chance to finally meet her. When the blackout strands them both in the depths of the museum over night, can two people with very different attitudes towards life paint a new picture for themselves?
This was quite sweet. Both Ria and Vic are passionate about their careers… and, eventually, passionate about each other. The misunderstanding was a bit predictable, but I liked the way Vic solved it.
“Ooh, he wasn’t quite ready to admit his long-held infatuation with Vanessa. Although after having spent tonight with her, not the poison-pen reviewer or even the cute teen of his past, but the quick-witted, competitive, captivating woman he found easy to talk to, even about topics he didn’t normally share with others, he found his infatuation had deepened.”
“Lights Out” – Priscilla Oliveras – ★★★★
Mateo has spent the past eight years grinding to get to this opening night. Clemente, a musical about the famous baseball player, is a true passion project for him, and spotting Vanessa, his once time crush turned kinda nemesis, in the audience shouldn’t dismay him. Attending the Broadway premier isn’t exactly how Vanessa wants to spend her Friday night, especially as her review of the show is already written. But after she wrote a viral – and vitriolic – review of the last show Mateo starred in, she can’t quite tell if she’s overcompensating with this one. But Vanessa has a history with cheaters and womanizers, and she’s sure Mateo is one… even if her heart wishes it were otherwise. But when the lights go down on Broadway – and the rest of the city – can the two old acquaintances reconnect and write a new ending?
Vanessa, like many of the author’s heroines, is focused, competent and competitive, and she’s not afraid to tell it like it is, even if the person she’s telling it to is the super-hot Mateo. Naturally, I couldn’t help comparing Mateo to Lin Manuel Miranda, and the author does tongue-in-cheek name-drop In the Heights. I mean, her name is Vanessa and there’s literally a blackout in the musical, too! As with everything she does, the author’s wit and love of her Puerto Rican heritage shines through. This delightful second chance story had me smiling the entire time.
“The problem wasn’t that she hated him. The problem was she couldn’t forget how much she’d loved him. How much she’d wanted him. How she used to hold her breath whenever he entered the room, couldn’t relax until he took her hand in his, confirming that, yes, he was here for her; he wasn’t a fantasy; this gorgeous, kind, sexy guy was hers.
Except he hadn’t been hers. He hadn’t been kind. Misleading her about both those things had been his greatest magic trick.”
“Mind Games” – Sarah Skilton – ★★★★
Magician Nick is slated to take over his mentor’s residency, if only he can prove himself with a show to the management. He’s worked years for this so it should be easy… and then his ex walks into the room. Alison has waited years for this moment. She’s studied, she’s planned, and now she’s finally going to get revenge on the man who broke her heart in college. And if bantering with him again as she tries to derails each of his tricks makes her have some conflicting feelings, well, that’s to be expected. And then, the lights go out… Could the greatest magic trick be resurrecting their old relationship?
And this gem is exactly the reason why I keep reading anthologies! It’s an amazing second chance story, and the action that led Alison to breakup with Nick made me absolutely gasp in outrage. Now that’s not to say that there wasn’t a reason behind it, or that Alison didn’t jump to conclusions herself, but it was easy to understand why she’d held on to that rage for so many years. She’s magnificently vicious and ferocious, and the best part was that Nick, after some initial nerves, absolutely rose to the occasion and challenged her back. I wouldn’t be surprised if the chemistry between them is what caused the blackout! I am such a sucker for second chance romances, though, and this is definitely a stellar example of the “we had to break up so we could find ourselves” genre.
Overall, this was an amazing anthology and I’m glad to have found a new author to look up as well!