Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
“Just his hidden sunshine on a cloudy day. You’re good with being felt, but not always seen,” Shep says.
He closes his eyes. “I feel you.”
Jewel E. Ann’s newest story, What Lovers Do, is disarmingly charming. It’s a surprise read in the sense that you find yourself lost in it. Before you know it, you’ve laughed, sighed, and lost a bit of your heart and soul to it. I proofread for Jewel’s stories. Usually, I determine the number of pages or chapters towards completion and break out a certain per day so I keep fresh eyes on it. What Lovers Do is the first book that I couldn’t step away from. Unlike her other stories, even her other “rom-coms,” you need to take a break because Jewel E. Ann loves to torture her readers with lert turns, curveballs, and angst-filled stories. It isn’t a conscious choice (or maybe I’m wrong); it’s simply the types of stories she weaves. But What Lovers Do is different. Yes, as is the case with any story, there is a moment when the hero, Shep, and the heroine, Sophie, are separated, even though you hate any moment on the page without the two of them. Yet, through that time, Ann uses the space to bring her protagonists to important epiphanies. Their time apart is necessary for the impact of their happy ending. And that’s the ultimate promise of Ann’s What Lovers Do: that her lovers live a happily-ever-after.
So what’s to love about this story? What makes it “disarmingly charming?”
In a word, Shep. Don’t come at me for starting with him instead of Sophie. Trust me. She has her appeal, and we’ll get to it because this story doesn’t steal your heart simply on Shep’s ministrations. But Shep allows Sophie to be the best version of herself because they are suited in ways that her former, “snake-like” boyfriends aren’t. Shep allows Sophie to escape life with him in a place she calls “Shep World.” He’s doting, insightful, and shows her the importance of living life now even if the timing seems wrong. One of my favorite things about Shep is his constant need to push her glasses up her nose on her face. That’s a swoon worthy action because it suggests his care of her. And Sophie doesn’t need care in a traditional female/male consideration. No. Shep partners with Sophie, loving her beyond measure and living to make her day lighter and brighter. Everyone who reads this story will want to live in Shep world because it’s a place where people are loved deeply and encouraged to be the best version of themselves.
“‘He’s the best guy at the worst time…’”
“I will never get enough of Sophie Ryan. My sun. Always the brightest star. Warm and comforting. I miss her when she’s not with me. And every day, she’s the first thought in my head, my sunrise.”
However, Shep’s magic only exists because Sophie is his soulmate. It’s clear from their meeting. Sophie has aspects of Ann’s other rom-com heroines: a bit quirky, disarming, independent, but focused on the wrong thing. She is accomplished, loves dogs (as does Shep), but her past experiences with men shade her sense of self. She internally berates herself for much of the book because she hasn’t chosen boyfriends well in the past. She thinks her heart is too big, and she is too compassionate that it makes her gullible. While she is sacrificial in her love for others, family, friends, boyfriends, the issue isn’t Sophie; it’s the people who have taken advantage of her. And that’s the part of Sophie that requires her to do some hard work to move past. But every moment Sophie and Shep are on the page together, it is pure Jewel E. Ann magic. Their banter, their chemistry, and their love catapult you through What Lovers Do. It’s the reason I couldn’t stop reading, blowing through my daily reading goals. Reading Shep and Sophie’s story is a salve to a soul ravaged by my out-of-control life and our world.
“This is the version of me that’s truly me. The woman who loves life, friendship, and laughter. I love to laugh. I don’t like taking life too seriously unless I’m forced to play that part. With Shep, I don’t have to play it.”
What Lovers Do is probably my favorite Jewel E. Ann rom-com. If you are looking for a romance that will truly allow you to escape, this is the book for you.
In love and romance,