NB: I was working on this post the other morning, and then had to go do real-life work so I left, but apparently instead of hitting “Save Draft” I actually hit “Publish,” which means a partially-completed post went live… whoops! I didn’t realize this until several hours later. Obviously, the completed post isn’t going to be that much more amazing, but it should at least have a conclusion. Sorry for the confusion!
- The Substitute
- The Player
- The Gambler
I got The Substitute a while ago as a cheap/free Kindle book and started reading it the day before we left on vacation. I was about 30% finished by Friday night, so I went ahead and bought the other two books in the series, as I was quite enjoying the first book. On the whole, I really enjoyed these books and would give them probably a 3.5* rating as a trilogy, although I did find a lot more to aggravate me in The Player than in the other two books. I really liked the characters, the dialogue, and the scenarios, although there was a bit too much sex/talking about sex. Gram also sometimes was a bit too over-the-top to be believable.
The trilogy focuses on three friends, Megan, Blair, and Libby. When they were little girls, they made a pact that they would all be married by the age of 30. They happened to make this pact while standing in line at a fair – a line to see a fortune teller. The fortune teller informed them that they were all three cursed: they would all have a wedding, not marry their intended groom, and instead their true groom would rescue them.
Fast-forward 20 years, and they’re all adults now, who don’t really believe in curses or in pacts made when one is merely 9 years old. Still, there’s no doubt that Megan is on her way to a wedding… even though she no longer has a groom. She found out her fiancee was cheating on her a few weeks before the wedding and broke things off, but hasn’t had the courage to tell her parents, because her overachieving Mom has been planning The Wedding of the Century, and spending thousands of dollars to make it happen. Through a complicated, yet fairly believable, series of events, Megan ends up pretending that her fiancee is Josh… who happens to actually be a total stranger that she just met on the plane.
The fake relationship trope is done pretty well in this story. Megan and Josh keep digging themselves deeper and deeper, and while it’s all kind of ridiculous, it’s also fairly believable, especially since Josh is playing an angle of his own. About halfway through the book, though, they start having sex, and to me it kind of felt like their relationship switched to being more physical/attraction than it was about actually getting to know each other.
Still, all in all a fun and rollicking kind of romance that had a lot of humor and likable characters.
The Player is about Blair, the hard-headed/hearted friend out of the trio. A divorce attorney, Blair is pretty cynical about marriage and love. She’s engaged to get married to a doctor, believing that the best a person can look for is a practical relationship of mutual respect that benefits both parties… until her old boyfriend shows back up in her life.
This was my least favorite out of the three books. Blair was really just verging on obnoxious with her anti-love stance. I’m not this fluffy rainbow girl myself (I didn’t date in high school because it seemed absurdly impractical, and spent a lot of college comparing guys to my Husband Requirement List, so like I get it haha), but Blair took it to the next level. She was basically rude to her friends because they did believe in love, and all in all just came through as a very abrasive character. Her doctor-fiancee was a total jerk, to the point that it seemed impossible that Blair couldn’t realize what a terrible guy he was. Her blindness to his faults seemed at odds with her hard-headed practical personality. I also don’t have a lot of patience for people who don’t allow someone at least ONE chance to explain a situation before blowing them off completely, so I felt like a lot of Blair’s long-time issues were self-created because she had never allowed Garrett even one opportunity to tell his side of the story back in the day.
I really enjoy trilogy/short series of this nature, because I love getting to know the characters and seeing the previous books’ couples interacting in the background of the later books, so I was anticipating that The Gambler would be my favorite of the three. However, I felt like these books really kind of fell down a bit regarding the relationship between the three friends, and a lot of this book was Libby “realizing” that her friends didn’t really “get” her. While there was some resolution regarding their friendship in the end, I didn’t feel like the series really encouraged/bonded them like it could have. The Gambler also went completely over-the-top with Gram’s character – she honestly didn’t feel like a real person any more in this book. Despite that, I actually did overall enjoy this story, and it definitely had its funny moments.
All in all, this was an enjoyable and entertaining trilogy, with a bit more sex/language than I prefer, but with likable characters and plenty of humor. I wish that there could have been more resolution between some of the secondary relationships throughout the stories – Meg with her Mom; Josh with his brother; Libby with her friends – this was there somewhat, but not really in a way that left me feeling confident that those relationships were also on the right track.
Even though I read these because I already owned The Substitute, I thought I had a vague memory of Stephanie reviewing these as well – and my AMAZING memory served me well haha. Here is where she reviewed the first two books (she didn’t like Blair, either!). I don’t think she reviewed the third book (that I can find) but it may be there somewhere…