Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Nora Everly’s Hotshot and Hospitality is another solid addition to the SmartyPants Romance world and its Green Valley Library series. If you’ve read her first two contributions, then you’ve been slowly, but surely falling in love with the Monroe Brothers. In the first two books, we met Wyatt and Everett, and we’ve come to know that the Monroe Brothers fall fast for their heroines. With a mother and father who deeply love and adore each other, it’s easy to understand why.
In Hotshot and Hospitality, Garrett Monroe and his best friend of childhood, Molly, find their own journey into love. The complications of their story come from Molly’s fear of loving someone whom she might lose. After the death of her father, Molly has lived her life in the specter of her grief. Not allowing herself to love and be loved, acknowledging her interest in Garrett makes for the tension of Everly’s story. Garrett has known his whole life that Molly is special. Unfortunately, after the death of her father, the two drifted apart. As this story begins, Molly needs a bit of rescuing from Genie’s after her Tinder date fails to show. Calling on Garrett’s mom, Becky Lee, to drive her home from the bar, Becky Lee sends Garrett instead. Having had quite a bit to drink, Molly confesses her attraction to Garrett, and they share an innocent kiss. However, this stirs up their feelings of attraction. While Garrett is ready to go “all in” with Molly, he knows she’s not ready to acknowledge her feelings. Much of their story is Garrett incrementally laying his heart on the line for Molly while Molly both accepts his measure of it and then pushes him away. Over and over again, Molly runs to and away from Garrett. Thankfully, Molly’s brothers along with his own brothers encourage him in pursuing her, asking him to be patient and careful with her. This eventually pays off for him, offering the sweetest of happy endings, but the trek there is fraught with pitfalls that Garrett must carefully negotiate.
Here’s the thing. I’ve loved Nora Everly’s stories in the SmartyPants universe, but I struggled with Molly and Garrett’s story. For me, the saving grace is Garrett. He is like the other Monroe brothers, incredibly patient and careful with his heroine. This seems to be the theme of Everly’s Green Valley Library series books: the stalwart hero who patiently waits for the heroine to process her insecurities before acknowledging their love. With Sabrina and Willa’s stories, I had patience, but there was something about Molly’s vacillation with her interest in Garrett that felt manipulative to me. I was also excited that Everly had written a hearing-impaired heroine, adding diversity to the SmartyPants Romance and romancelandia, but that component of Molly’s characterization reads underdeveloped and only sprinkles the story. Much of Hotshot and Hospitality is Molly running from her fear of loss. This is a worthy story idea, but there are moments in her journey that felt uneven. Honestly, for me, Garrett’s character redeems this book. Even more, the ending makes it worthy of its read because Everly, after she’s put her reader through her paces, rewards her with an emotionally divine happily-ever-after for these two.
I absolutely suggest reading Hotshot and Hospitality for its addition to SPR, for Everly’s characterization of Garrett Monroe, and for the return of the other Monroe men and their respective women. All of these conspire to offer up a solid four-star story. Now, all we have to do is wait for Barrett’s book…
In love and romance,