Review: Bloom Where You’re Planted – Darby Baham

Review: Bloom Where You’re Planted – Darby BahamBloom Where You're Planted
by Darby Baham
Series: The Friendship Chronicles #2
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: NetGalley

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: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

What happens when the first blush of love fades?

Jennifer Pritchett feels increasingly invisible and left behind as her friends move on to the next steps in their lives. As she goes to therapy to figure out how to bloom in her own right, her boyfriend, Nick Carrington, finds himself being the one left behind. Jennifer wants their relationship to have more intimacy, but he can’t help but feel like he’s being compared to others—and found wanting. Can they each get what they need out of this relationship? Or will the flowers shrivel up before they do?

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4 stars icon contemporary icon m/f

First off, this isn’t at all what you’d expect from a category romance. It’s much more fiction with strong romantic elements, as a good chunk of the book is Jenn figuring out the rest of her life. With that being said, it’s a thoughtful and sweet book about figuring out what you really want from life. While this is the second book in a series, I read it as a standalone.

On the surface, Jenn has it all: a great group of friends, a long-term boyfriend, and a good job. But while she loves her third grade students, she doesn’t feel like she’s fully using her degree. And after three years, her relationship with Nick seems like it’s fallen in to a rut. Lately, it seems all he does is work or sleep, with none of the passion they used to have. Plus her friends all seem to have these wonderful jobs and amazing experiences while… Nick took her on a beer tour (and she hates beer). With nothing in her life going right, Jenn’s forced to confront her insecurities – are she and Nick just going through a rough patch, or does she need to make real changes in her life?

“I’m not saying I want exactly what you all have. Just that I look at you, and I’m like, man, these girls are out here taking on the world. And honestly, it’s hard for me to say this, but sometimes I just feel left behind. Like I have no story worth telling.”

This book is told solely from Jenn’s first person POV, which wasn’t an issue for me as I loved her voice. She’s a California girl who moved to DC (by way of Howard) and she loves the city. She’s an amazing teacher but is frustrated by being constantly late to nights out with her friends after spending hours cleaning her classroom or planning. And then there’s her relationship with Nick. She loves him and appreciates all of his good qualities while still at the same time recognizing that the passion is, well, completely absent. What else is a girl to think when cuddling on the couch means he’s asleep before the opening credits have even finished? But trying to bring it up to him (when he’s awake) results in denials and explanations about work. Are they really as good a fit as she thought?

A big part of Jenn’s change is her friend group. Reagan and Robin were her friends since college, where, along with Reagan’s friend Chrissy, they attended Howard together. Reagan later folded Rebecca into their friend group as well. Their friend Chrissy died about a year ago, and the friends are all struggling to deal with their grief in their own ways. Even with that, they’re constantly there for each other, whether that’s picking the correct shoes for each date or planning a joint birthday party. While initially it seems all Jenn does is compare herself to them negatively, once she learns to harness each of their strengths (whether that’s clothes shopping or talking through what her dream job would be) that’s when she truly starts forming a new idea of how she wants her life to be. Part of that is that Jenn takes her friend’s advice to get therapy, which is shown on page, and I loved that her therapist was also a California girl who went to an HBCU.

Overall, this is a good book about a woman redefining her life, with lots of support from her friends (and therapy!). It was a wonderful warm hug, and I’ll definitely be picking up the first book in this series!

Content notes: View Spoiler »

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