The Happy Ever After Playlist

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Author: Abby Jimenez
Genres: Fiction, Romance
Pub. Date: Apr. 2020 (read Sep. 2022)

I picked up this book while on holiday from a thrift store in a backwater town in BC because I had only brought 1 book with me and had finished it too soon. It had limited selection, but this book featured a dog and sounded cute, so it could have been a lot worse!

It actually started off really promising. Our protagonist, Sloan, rescues a runaway dog and then takes care of him when she can’t get a hold of his owner, Jason, for 2 weeks. Jason is a semi-famous musician who was out in the Australian wilderness backpacking and didn’t know that his dogsitter had lost his dog until he returned to civilization. Sloan agrees to watch the dog until he returns to America and they start having cute exchanges via text and phone. Sloan is getting over the death of her fiancé 2 years previously and this is the first time she’s been attracted to a man since. 

Their phone calls and text banter were really cute and I loved that the book centered around a dog. It had a good amount of depth and I was enjoying it. Unfortunately, I thought the author blew through the initial attraction way too quickly and the couple immediately starts dating. Sloan faces some initial challenges with the relationship as she tries to move on with her previous relationship, but I thought Sloan and Jason’s relationship got too intense too fast and the pacing didn’t work. I felt like I was at the climax of the novel at just the halfway mark, which made me question what the author was going to focus on for the second half without any romantic tension.

This is where she lost me. The novel takes a turn and focuses more on the struggles of being in a relationship with a rock star who’s always on the road. I felt like the “Sloan-as-a-widow” and the “couple-on-tour” plots were 2 very different storylines that just didn’t mesh with one another. Sloan was on a healing journey and then all of a sudden she’s chasing Jason all over the country? I felt they should be two different books with two different sets of characters.

There were other aspects I didn’t like – Jason is a bit of a womanizer – he’s very confident in himself, which should be a turn-on, but he read more as cocky to me and I wasn’t really into it. Both parties fell too hard, too quickly, and it removed some of the believability for me.

The other aspect I didn’t like was Lola’s character as the crazy-ex girlfriend. It’s bad enough when men call women crazy and portray them as such, but it’s so much worse when women do it to each other. So I was initially very turned off by this side plot, but I ended up being impressed with how the author handled in the end. Lola turns out to be pretty misunderstood and I appreciated when the characters were able to reconcile with each other and understand how Lola had been manipulated and abused by her record label. 

So overall it was a bit of an odd novel. I liked parts of it and disliked other parts, but I think it is a fairly standard 3 star read at the end of the day and considering I picked it up in a thrift store, it exceeded my expectations. I wouldn’t recommend, but also, don’t regret reading.