by Dylan Newton
Publication Date: July 13, 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:
What happens when the queen of romance falls for the king of horror--you get "a hilarious rom-com comp," perfect for fans of Beach Read. (Kirkus, starred review)
Event planner Kate Sweet is famous for creating the perfect happily-ever-after moment for her clients’ dream weddings. So how is it that her best friend has roped her into planning a bestselling horror writer’s book launch extravaganza? But the second Kate meets—or rather, accidentally maims—the drop-dead-hot Drake Matthews, her well-ordered life quickly transforms into an absolute nightmare.
Drake Matthews is tired of the spotlight and tired of his reputation as the Knight of Nightmares. He's really a nice guy! But he’s not prepared for Kate, a fearless agent of chaos in steel-tipped stilettos, or for that sweet sting of attraction he feels for her. She’s inspiring him to take his writing in a whole new direction—one that no one expects. Because now Kate and Drake are changing up the rules, and this plot twist might just surprise everyone . . . including themselves.
Content notes: View Spoiler »death of a parent (before book starts), mentions of domestic abuse and suicide (relative of MC), alcohol, PTSD and amputation from military service (before book starts), mention of a character dying from cancer (before book starts) « Hide Spoiler
This book is adorable and hilarious, full of over-the-top rom-com hijinx and basically cute as heck. It’s set during the fall in a small town in western NY and has a delightfully cozy (and a little bit spooky) vibe. Definitely perfect to go with a pumpkin spice candle and some warm apple cider!
“Throwing parties is like blowing a soap bubble—fun, but quickly over and forgotten. But event planning is like crafting a sphere out of iridescent glass and gifting it to someone forever. Events are momentous.”
Kate Sweet may be known as the Queen of Happily Ever Afters, but she’s looking at branching out from weddings into more events in hopes of winning a coveted award. When she gets the chance to help out with a famous horror author’s Halloween book launch party, she hightails it off to his small hometown in western NY with visions of coffins and skeletons in her eyes. Until an epic meet-disaster derails her chances of ever working on anything but weddings ever again. While Drake is known as the Knight of Nightmares, he’s found himself stuck with writer’s block on his latest horror novel, so instead he’s secretly been working on a romance novel loosely based on his grandparents’ own romance. And strangely enough, Kate seems to be his muse – for the romance novel, that is. Drake agrees to let her continue planning the party as long as she’ll also help with his book research, just completely normal things like getting locked into a crypt with him. But as the event planning – and the romance novel writing – proceed, both find themselves drawn to the other. Can nightmares and happily ever afters fit together?
“Things always go according to my plans. Normally.”
Drake shrugged, and out of the corner of her eye, she caught a smile blooming on his lightly whiskered face. “If you say so. From what I’ve seen chaos seems to follow you around like a lap dog.”
Between having basically no social life (all her weekends are swamped with events) and still feeling the pressure from her parents to change careers, Kate’s having some angst over her life. She loves event planning and she’s amazing at it, but at times she wonders if it’s compatible with, well, having her own life. So she sees the opportunity to get away from NYC and slow down – even if it’s while planning another event – as a good time to reevaluate. While Kate initially goes over-the-top (Drake emerging from a coffin wreathed in fog! Gallons of fake blood!), it doesn’t take long before she realizes that Drake’s not the stereotypical creepy horror writer. He’s actually a regular person and not really into big to-dos (or blood). Kate’s able to walk the line between promoting his new book while respecting who he is. Drake, like his brothers, went into the military and fell into horror writing after he got out, especially once he realized he could support his family with his writing. And in many ways, Drake’s house is just like him – an imposing facade with cinnamon roll insides. Most people think his Victorian is gothic and creepy, but once Kate gets inside she realizes it’s cozy and full of his grandma’s furniture. As for their relationship, it’s pretty slow-burn, and part of that is that Drake is wary of betrayal after a previous girlfriend’s actions.
As for cons, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of character growth for either character beyond the obvious bleak moment. I also felt a little squicky about how Drake initially mined some of his interactions with Kate for writing material. He did eventually get her agreement for using her as his writing muse, but it felt a bit transactional at first. I also was confused that the bleak moment didn’t involve the characters who, up until that point, had been the big villains of the story, and thought their come-uppance was out of nowhere and lackluster.
Overall, 3.5 stars from me. Delightfully fun fluff, and I’ll be keeping an eye on what the author writes next (I’m guessing it will involve the other Matthews brothers!).