January 7, 2021
He could have the world, yet he’s looking at me like I am his world.
You don’t know me, but you do know me. I’m your neighborhood hot mess single mom, doing my best to keep my head above water while running my little slice of heaven and keeping my youngest from shoving marbles up his nose, which is exactly what he’s doing the first time Levi Wilson, pop star god, world’s sexiest man, and my all-time number one celebrity obsession, walks into my bookstore.
Related: I’m writing this from beyond the grave, because I’ve died of mortification and am now residing in an alternate universe.
I have to be.
Because Levi Wilson came back.
And we had a moment.
Like, a moment moment. The kind that makes me remember that adult pleasure isn’t all about hoping the lock holds in the bathroom so your kids don’t interrupt on the rare occasion you feel like taking an extra-long mommy-time shower.
So when he proposes a no-strings fling?
Count. Me. In.
Thrill of a lifetime, right?
Surely, nothing will go wrong…
Purchase Link: Amazon
I haven’t reviewed a book here in about a month. What?! Can you believe it? (I can’t.)
Anyway, I was very excited to start the New Year with Pippa Grant because she always makes me laugh. For the first quarter of the book, she did just that. And then there was the middle section of repetition, lots and lots of characters, and suddenly I wasn’t laughing but skipping, swishing the pages of my Kindle as fast as they would go–and not in a good way.
To be honest, I was reading yesterday (received the book on Tuesday; I was not procrastinating 😉 (this time)) and all of the hot mess I was reading juxtaposed with what was going on just 12 miles away at the Capitol building highlighted the superficiality of the story. Would I have liked the novel more if I had read it at a different time? Maybe. Slightly. Because I had started the book on Tuesday evening (before the events of yesterday), giggled a few times, but then stopped and that fact was not lost on me.
The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob is about a divorced woman, Ingrid, with three children and a superstar pop singer, Levi, who was once part of the boy band Bro Code. (You know I am loving that last bit.) Years ago while married, Ingrid showed up at one of Levi’s concerts holding a sign that impacted Levi and changed his life. He never forgot Ingrid. (That’s lovely, isn’t it?) So imagine his happy surprise when he’s wandering lost through his hometown, enters a bookstore, and meet-cutes Ingrid after all of these years.
Levi is one of my favorite Pippa Grant characters. He is the anti-bad boy. He is constantly self-aware and trying to do the right thing for everyone. He’s just great. Some of the things he does for Ingrid and her kids are heart-melting. On the flipside, Ingrid is one of my least favorite Pippa Grant characters. She is a Christmas candle on a waning battery–dim. I think the problem I have with her is that her character is just not fully realized. Maybe she can be the universal every-mom that way.
However, my problems with Ingrid may just be what appeals to many women who read The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob. Ingrid is a hot mess mother of three. If you’re a young mother, it’s very likely you will see yourself in Ingrid and maybe dream of being saved by the pop star who can give you everything. A nice fairytale, truly. But this means that the romance (not sex, dear ones) is short-shrifted despite the fact we have the delicious Levi as one of the main characters. And, yeah, I read romantic comedies for the romance (and humor) as much as anything.
The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob also demonstrates one of my pet peeves regarding some novels written as part of a series: the parade of characters from the current book series as well as from the author’s other book series. I appreciate series books being written as standalones and this has more to do with making a good novel than anything. If you have twenty characters from all of your books appearing here, how can you conceivably do justice to their characterization for readers who don’t know these characters?
Ultimately, The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob ranks as one of my least favorite Pippa Grant novels, despite Levi. (I’d like a do-over novel for Levi.) I am in the minority in my opinion (not the first, not the last), which is okay, because I am where I am in my life and point-of-view, and I’m good with that.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
3 out of 5 butterflies
One day. I would like to go one single day without someone in my orbit making a poor life decision.
“Stop squirming,” I order my four-year-old son, who should be at preschool, but who’s been banished for the week because of lice.
Heaven forbid we have one issue at a time.
Adding to my list of issues? Being that mom who can’t get her shit together while Levi Flipping Wilson is watching. And not only watching, but actively engaging in trying to help. “Hey, bud, I bet I can hold still longer than you can. Wanna see?”
I know my agenda on any given day will include interruption for something my children do that I never would’ve expected in a million years, but that’s a lot easier to deal with when I don’t have an audience.
Especially an audience made up of one famous man whose songs get me through the day—and night—when I don’t have enough free focus to read or listen to an audiobook, and who keeps stealing glances at me like he’s trying to figure out what kind of rabid creature I am. Normally, customers aren’t allowed back in the stockroom with me, which is where I dragged Hudson when I realized what he’d done to his nose, but leaving Levi out there with the customers who’d figured out who he was seemed like a bad idea.
Especially when his date skewered me with a look that clearly said get him out of here or I’ll burn this place down.
It’s a bookstore.
Not taking chances.
Especially if there was a reason they were looking at maternity and early childhood development books. His date doesn’t look pregnant, but god knows that’s when pregnancy is hardest.
Hudson finally stills, and I manage to smear a little more Vaseline gently around his nostril. “How did you get a marble in your nose?”
“I pushed hard.” He beams. “I gots stars in there too.”
I squeeze my eyes shut and count to two, because I know if I get as high as three, he’ll find a way to suck the marbles deeper into his sinus cavities, and I don’t know how a doctor will get that out without having to cut his nose open, and oh my god, he’s four and he’s about to be disfigured for life because I thought he’d actually sit still and listen to Yasmin reading books for neighborhood storytime while I re-stocked a few shelves.
“How many stars?” I inquire through clenched teeth.
“Four. Or maybe seven. Or maybe one. I forgets.”
“You are so lucky you’re cute.”
“Do you have a vacuum?” Levi asks.
I twist my head to gape at him.
He shoots a help? look at his date, then shrugs at me. “If he won’t blow it out, maybe you can suck it out. Like with one of those sucky tools the dentist uses.”
“That’s…possibly not a terrible idea.”
“Happens on occasion.” He grins, which makes my heart basically stop because he’s stupidly gorgeous.
I could stare at him all day, but I have a preschooler with marbles up his nose to attend to.
“Mama,” Hudson says, “look.”
He scrunches his nose, which makes his nostrils swell, closes his mouth, and blows, and one shoots out and lands on Levi’s shoe.
My son has just snotted my favorite musician’s Italian leather loafers.
“I win! I holded still!” He breaks into his preschool dance routine, but the poor kid got his moves from me, which means to a casual observer, he probably looks like he’s having a seizure while choking on a piece of gum and tripping over barbed wire.
Levi Wilson, however, is not fazed. He squats down to Hudson’s level. “Rematch.”
Pippa Grant is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes romantic comedies that will make tears run down your leg. When she’s not reading, writing or sleeping, she’s being crowned employee of the month as a stay-at-home mom and housewife trying to prepare her adorable demon spawn to be productive members of society, all the while fantasizing about long walks on the beach with hot chocolate chip cookies.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThePipsquad