This feature is for short reviews, reviews of books in a series where it might feel repetitive, or (as Michelle suggested) books I was too lazy to write a “real” review for. Today’s books are all from the series There’s Something About Marysburg by Olivia Dade. As of now, this is the complete series, but I really hope there is more coming.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Teach Me by Olivia Dade
Narrator: Kelsey Navarro
Series: There's Something About Marysburg #1
Published by Tantor Audio on April 6, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 7 hours 53 minutes
Their lesson plans didn't include love. But that's about to change...
When Martin Krause arrives at Rose Owens's high school, she's determined to remain chilly with her new colleague. Unfriendly? Maybe. Understandable? Yes, since a loathsome administrator gave Rose's beloved world history classes to Martin, knowing it would hurt her.
But keeping her distance from a man as warm and kind as Martin will prove challenging, even for a stubborn, guarded ice queen. Especially when she begins to see him for what he truly is: a man who's never been taught his own value. Martin could use a good teacher--and luckily, Rose is the best.
Rose has her own lessons--about trust, about vulnerability, about her past--to learn. And over the course of a single school year, the two of them will find out just how hot it can get when an ice queen melts.
Oh I’m so glad I decided to pick this series up! I loved the characters, the romance, and the humor so much – such a fun fast read.
I think the first thing to note is that this is the best representation of teaching I’ve read. It’s a high school setting, so it’s different from the elementary setting I’m used to, but it from my experiences and from what I know from friends who do teach in high school settings, it FELT correct. There were a few oddities that I think could be summed up as small town vs city. Since so many books really don’t get the teacher’s life right AT ALL, I appreciated this a lot. It’s a hard job and I can’t get into a book that doesn’t show that at least semi-accurately.
I also really loved the characters. I loved that they are middle aged and normal. They have issues, sure, but not over the top ones. Just very typical issues that most have. And they’ve grown up into pretty incredible people despite those issues.
I loved Rose. She’s plus size but does not apologize for her body at all. Instead, she dresses immaculately (in all black) and has this don’t eff with me composure. And yet, for her students, she is open and so full of love. And Martin is a recently divorced dad who pretty much wears his heart on his sleeve.
There are a host of other characters – students, faculty members, and Kate’s HILARIOUS ex-inlaws. Through these characters we get socioeconomic disparity, a little LGTBQ+, so much heart and humor.
The plot is not unpredictable – it’s a contemporary romance – but you enjoy watching it go to the predictable end. And there’s some definite steam between grading sessions for Martin and Rose.
I enjoyed the narration by Kelsey Navarro. Another new-to-me narrator (I’ve had a lot of those lately) that I will definitely enjoy reading again. She brought the characters to life really well and was enjoyable to listen to.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.40-Love by Olivia Dade
Narrator: Kelsey Navarro
Series: There's Something About Marysburg #2
Published by Tantor Audio on April 13, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 10 hours 1 minute
Listening Length: 10 hours and 1 minute
This match is no game.
When a rogue wave strips Tess Dunn of her bikini top, desperate, half-naked times call for desperate, please-cover-me-kids-are-coming-closer measures. Enter Lucas Karlsson, AKA that flirty Swede in the water nearby. When he prevents her bare buoys from being exposed to fellow vacationers, even an ocean can’t drown the sparks that fly.
Lucas, a former top-level tennis pro now giving lessons at the resort, fled there after the abrupt, painful end to his injury-plagued career. But he’s finally ready to move on with his life—and after a few late-night, hands-on sessions with Tess, he’s eager to prove he’s the ace she wants.
But this match comes with challenges: She’s forty, and at twenty-six, he’s barely old enough to rent a car. Worse, they only have two weeks together before Tess returns to her assistant-principal life in Virginia. During that brief time, they’ll have to play hard, take a few risks, and find out whether their chemistry is a one-shot wonder…or whether they’re meant to be doubles partners for life.
After how much I enjoyed the first book in this series, this one was a little disappointing. I think I just really enjoy the Marysburg setting and the day-to-day life of school teachers and administrators… which this book lacked. 40-Love is entirely on vacation and really lacked the realism that I had loved in the previous book.
This book struggles to hold on to reality, really. We have an Assistant Principal (AP) and a school teacher who somehow can afford to take a several weeks long vacation to what seems to be a pretty exclusive, ritzy resort and eating at lavish restaurants ordering the tasting menus! I had a teacher’s salary and don’t see how they’re pulling this off, single or not. And then the tennis coach, who Tess just happens to call upon to save her from a wardrobe malfunction, is a well-known retired (? are you retired in your 20s?) Swedish tennis pro. And, of course, he falls head-over heels for her. If you’re looking for an escape-type story, this checks the boxes. It’s just not what I was wanting. I enjoyed the moments where day-to-day bled in (few and far between).
So yeah, the realism is not strong with this one. That being said, I do like Tess a lot and I hope we’ll be seeing a lot of her in future books. And Lucas is everything you could want in a man – considerate, really listens, supportive, hot, talented, smart, sexy accent, etc. And I love that he loves Tess’s body, which is plus size. And I love that Tess is plus size and does not see it as a negative. There’s some solid body positivity in this book (series really).
I’m continuing to enjoy the narration by Kelsey Navarro and look forward to listening to more of the series. She delivers distinctive characters, humor, and an easy listen!
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Sweetest in the Gale by Olivia Dade
Narrator: Kelsey Navarro
Series: There's Something About Marysburg #3
Published by Tantor Audio on April 27, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 9 hours 6 minutes
3 stories + 3 couples = 6 lonely hearts finding happily-ever-after at last.
"Sweetest in the Gale": Much ado about love...
Candy Albright has always stomped confidently through the halls of Marysburg High, passionate and loud and entirely devoted to her students and her various English department initiatives. From his first day as her colleague, Griff Conover couldn't look away, despite his best efforts.
After a summer apart, though, Candy returns to school a changed woman. Muted. Dimmed. Bowed by a grief Griff recognizes all too well, but doesn't yet understand. And when they're thrown together to coordinate a poetry project, he can't resist the urge to read between her lines once and for all--even if doing so means he'll have to confront his own loss...and his own lonely, longing heart.
"Unraveled": The more tightly wound a man is, the faster he unravels...
Math teacher Simon Burnham--cool, calm, controlled--can't abide problems with no good solution. Which makes his current work assignment, mentoring art teacher Poppy Wick, nothing short of torture. She's warm but sharp. Chaotic but meticulous. Simultaneously the most frustrating and most alluring woman he's ever known. And in her free time, she makes murder dioramas. Murder dioramas, for heaven's sake. But the more tightly wound a man is, the faster he unravels--and despite his best efforts, he soon finds himself attempting to solve three separate mysteries: a murder in miniature, the unexplained disappearance of a colleague...and the unexpected theft of his cold, cold heart.
"Cover Me": First comes marriage...
Elizabeth Stone has no health insurance. No savings. No one to turn to when she finds a lump on her breast...except James Magnusson, her friend of over twenty years. When he offers her a marriage of convenience for healthcare coverage, she'd be a fool to say no. But given the emotions she's buried for so long, saying yes might lead to a broken heart.
James won't take no for an answer. Not when marriage could save Elizabeth's life, and not when he's finally realized how much he needs her. Even during his doomed first marriage, James considered Elizabeth a special friend--one he had to keep at a safe distance. Now he's free, and Elizabeth is his wife...but will they finally have the chance to be together, only to have everything torn apart?
Content guidance for "Cover Me": This story contains discussions of breast cancer, an on-page mammogram and biopsy, and a definite happily-ever-after.
This book contains one entirely new story ("Sweetest in the Gale") and two stories previously published in the He's Come Undone and Rogue Acts anthologies. The latter stories have been lightly edited since their original publication, and "Unraveled" has a new epilogue.
I really enjoyed all three of the stories in this book! I would have liked to have more of each of them – I really wish they could have been full length books. However, I respect that Olivia Dade didn’t stretch them out just for the sake of making them longer. Each one told a good, complete story.
“Sweetest in the Gale”
This story let us see the soft underbelly of the hard shelled English teacher, Candy Albright, who we’ve gotten to know from the first book. And we have another English teacher, Griff Conover, who I don’t remember from the previous book, but maybe he was in it. I don’t think he was, as he’s a newer addition to the Marysburg staff. I loved the way this story dealt with grief and loss, as well as the incorporation of so many quotes from both classics and more recent literature. I just want more of them! Hopefully in future books.
I started off really not liking Simon Burnham (Math Teacher). He reminded me of an administrator I once had, so quick to judge and assume the worst. But I grew to LOVE him because he also was quick to recognize his mistakes and to apologize for being an ass. And to work hard to make up for it, including calling others on their assery. Not to mention, getting to know him means understanding him and his reasons for needing so much order in his life. Poppy Wick is the new Art Teacher and loved her from the start. From playing hangman at the faculty meeting (been there, done that) to the way she is with her students, she’s just lovable. Watching these opposites fall in love – along with some interesting mystery solving as a side story – was entertaining and left me hoping for more as well.
Even though this book takes us away from the staff of Marysburg high, it may have been my favorite of three. Perhaps because of the incredible Elizabeth Stone – she’s brave, determined, caring. There’s a scene were she’s tells off a politician that had me cheering and wishing it could have been a real moment that I could have joined in on. James is also a great character, but I wish we got to know him better. In fact, this short I think had enough that it could have been a full length novel. Perhaps it would have been too emotional, with the breast cancer scare but I would have liked to have the back story and friendship decades long friendship between Elizabeth and James. This is the first relationship in the series built on a history and I would have liked to see it — even if it was just flashbacks or something. That’s my only complaint though.
The narration by Kelsey Navarro continues to be great and I would not hesitate to listen to more books she narrates. She brings the characters to life with distinct voices that convey some of their personality.