Review: Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

⭐⭐ 3 stars | One of my favorite tropes is the one where the heroine creates a bucket list of things to do before a significant birthday or event. It's because I relate -- I created summer bucket lists for years and I had a super mini-one to try and complete before my 30th birthday. In Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships, Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things to do by her birthday. She's made good progress! Plus she loves the life she's built for herself with her condo on the beach and as a yacht stewardess, she gets to travel the world. But a family tragedy changes things for Jo and her loved ones. Until her two nieces show up unannounced ready to the spend the summer with her. They find her list and with only twelve weeks to go, they're determined to help her complete the final eight items. As impossible as it sounds, Jo wants to make it happen. 

I really loved the sense of family and friendship throughout the book. Yes, Jo has this list of things to do (like sleep in a castle or kiss a stranger — more on the latter in a bit!) but it's about so much more than that. She and her family are grieving and this list gives them something to work towards and hopefully a way to start healing too. The author did a good job of highlighting how everyone grieves differently and the struggle to talk about those feelings. I also loved seeing the aunt and niece relationship play out as someone who is very close to her aunts. And Jo's best friend is constantly supportive throughout too. Especially when it comes to kissing a stranger, which is how she meets the love interest, Alex Hayes. 

The romantic tension and chemistry was there but it felt a bit lacking at the same time with the execution. I went into this book expecting a full-on romance, complete with steamy scenes (if I'm totally being honest) but that's not really the case. That's not a bad thing but that wasn't my expectation. It's a lot of back and forth, missed signals, and angst. Which is fine, but I wish there has been less of it. I also struggled a bit to connect with Jo, even though I did like her. If you plan to read this book, I do think you have to readjust your expectations because despite the cute cover, it's less rom-com and steamy than may be implied. 

Do I recommend? Like I said, even though it's not a new favorite, I did like it and there were things about it that I thought were well done so if you're still curious about the story, I'd recommend borrowing it from the library. 

pub 11/23/21 by Berkley Books
Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction
Received finished copy from pub for review


with love,