Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
While reading Juliette Cross’s contribution to the SmartyPants Romance world, Parks and Provocation, I’ve come to some conclusions about myself as a romance reader. Here goes…
- I am definitely more intrigued with a story that is a slow-burn romance than an insta-love one. It’s like edging…it keeps you wanting more the longer their attraction and chemistry grow. This is the beauty of Parks and Provocation. While her MMC, Jedediah “Jed,” and her FMC, Lola “Cola,” have known each other since their school days, she allows their story to “breathe” for her readers. It effectively builds their chemistry to a crescendo where it falls beautifully at the right moments. You find yourself savoring their courtship, waiting for the perfect moment when they finally acknowledge their love for each other.
- I love an MMC who adores his FMC from the story’s beginning. This is Jed. There is no question about his feelings for Lola, and following his pining for her makes him swoon-worthy. There are other reasons for loving Jed: he’s gorgeous, built, and cares for his family, i.e., his father, sisters, niece/nephew, and friends’ children deeply. He is the total package, and as you read Parks and Provocation, you wish you were Lola.
- For an FMC to behave badly, I love a best friend who provokes that type of behavior. Without Lola’s friend and fellow podcaster, Marly, Lola would be a stick in the mud-type of character. Marly is the wicked best friend who uses her friendship mojo to help her recognize her attraction to Jed. She is the sparkle to Lola’s staidness, and she also asks as her wise advisor.
- It would be easy to say that Lola is the problem in Parks and Provocation, but that reduces her. Instead, Cross’s characterization of her illustrates her message: that living life to the fullest and outside of your pre-planned list is the best life. Jed acts as the foil to Lola’s plans, and it causes the heart wrench of this story. But it’s also an admonishment to Cross’s readers that plans are good as boundaries, not cement blockades.
Juliette Cross’s Parks and Provocation is a perfect entry back into the SmartyPants Romance world. There are nods to characters in Penny Reid’s world, but this book gifts us one of the best cinnamon roll heroes in this world: Jedediah. I dare you not to fall in love with him. You’ll find it isn’t an easy task for this enemies-to-lovers, second chance, small-town romance.
In love and romance,
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