From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh.
But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.
Hardcover 339 pgs.Published August 14th 2014 by Dutton
Five Stars: A sweet, feel good romance that you need to read.
Isla's heart flitters with joy when she sees Josh in the empty cafe. Even though she is doped up from pain killers since she just had her wisdom teeth removed, she can't help but feel nervous. Isla has had a crush on Josh for three years, and she has never dared to really talk to him. Nervously, she plunks into the chair opposite him and starts chattering. The pain medication helps with the jitters. Josh shakes her gently awake a couple of hours later. Isla can't believe she fell asleep. He walks her home in a rain storm, and Isla hopes that perhaps this is her chance, but when he doesn't show back up at the cafe, her hopes are dashed. When Isla returns to school, Josh gives her a shy smile. Could she really finally have a chance with Josh, the boy of her dreams?
What I Loved:
- I have been impatiently waiting for Isla and the Happily Ever After for almost three years. After all this time and the setbacks, I worried that perhaps it wouldn't live up to my expectations. Luckily, Isla met those expectations and then some. This is the perfect, feel good romance with genuine, likable characters. This is the type of book that will make you laugh, smile and cry. Once I read the last page, I wanted to immediately start it all over again. For those of you needing a lovely, contemporary romance, don't hesitate, grab Isla and the Happily Ever After, and while you are at it, if you haven't read the companion novels: Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, get them as well. These three books are the type of books you want on your shelf, to reach for when you need a pick me up or for when you just need to get lost in a feel good story. Well done Ms. Perkins!
- What I love about Ms Perkins books are her characters. She writes such genuine and likable characters that you can't help getting attached to them. By the end of each book, they feel like old friends. I love that her characters have plenty of flaws, that they make mistakes and they endure plenty of growing pains as they navigate into adulthood. I felt a small pang of sadness as I finished the journey because I hated to say goodbye to all of them.
- Isla is perhaps my favorite female character of Ms. Perkins to date. I adored Anna, but somehow I could relate to Isla just a bit better. Isla is smart, shy, she has trust issues, and she lacks a bit of self confidence. Then when she is on the verge of reaching her dreams, she turns tail and runs because she is terrified of getting hurt, and she is scared to head into the future because she doesn't know what she wants for the rest of her life. I think many of us can relate to her feelings. I know I went through some of the same emotions while dating my husband. Isla makes some big mistakes before she digs deep, and with a little prodding, finds her confidence. Will she get her happily ever after? You will have to read the book and find out.
- Josh was first introduced back in Anna and the French Kiss. He is quiet, a bit of a slacker and sometimes sullen. He lives in his sketchbook. One needs to only open one of his battered books to see the real Josh. He is a talented artist who captures the world with his art. He is a bit reckless and irresponsible as well, but underneath it all he is charming and kind and so sweet. When he and Isla are together, their chemistry is amazing.
- Then there is Kurt, Isla's life long best friend. I love that Isla and Kurt are absolute best friends and that their relationship is strictly platonic with no romantic feelings whatsoever. Even though I adore best friend romances, I liked that their relationship was always just friendship. I also appreciated that Kurt had autism. He has a highly functioning form of autism, but it never holds him back. Yes, he has a few quirks and struggles a bit in social situations, but he is always there for Isla. I liked that Ms. Perkins gave us a character with autism and made him completely lovable. I loved Kurt and I enjoyed watching him grow.
- The romance is a bit different from Ms Perkins other two romances. In the previous books, the reader waits in breathless anticipation the entire read for the romance to burst forth. Isla and Josh's romance is one that takes root early on, and then it goes through its ups and downs and stumbling blocks throughout. I loved that this time we got to go through the butterfly joys of falling in love and then endure the not so pretty parts as the couple struggled and stumbled. In the end, it is all worth the journey. Sweet and satisfying and full of all the feels that we love so much. I promise this book will make you burst with joy and cry. I loved every minute of it.
- One of my favorite parts of the book was catching up with characters from the previous books. Anna and Etienne, Lola and Cricket and Meredith make appearances. Seeing them again, made me want to grab my copies of Anna and Lola and devour them again. I loved seeing the whole gang.
- I adore the Paris setting. Ms. Perkins brings Paris alive in the pages of this book. I love being able to travel vicariously to not only Paris but also Barcelona and Manhattan. Love the setting of this book!
And The Not So Much:
- Only a couple of tiny quibbles and they are not even a big issue. Isla's parents are for the most part out of the picture, which is understandable because she is away at boarding school in Paris. I was surprised though that when she returned home for the holidays that her parents were well aware of her romance. There were never any phone calls or interactions between Isla and her parents in the book until that point. I would have loved to have some of the conversations with her parents included.
- I didn't quite understand the dynamic between Isla and Hattie. Hattie for most of the book comes across as bitchy and unlikable. She says some mean things. Was there always a strain in their relationship or did it develop more once the girls were in Paris? I gathered that Hattie had always been the difficult sister. Thankfully, there is a nice scene with the sisters that made me feel a whole lot kinder toward Hattie.
- This is a minor issue, but I didn't like that the Olympics were fictionally set in France. I don't know I just liked that the books feel so realistic and then to have pretend Olympics thrown ruined the realism. Perhaps it would have been better to do a figure skating world championship in France instead?? Just a thought.
- I adored Kurt, but I felt a little sad that I didn't get to find out how things fared for him at the end. I hope he continued to thrive. I also felt the same about Meredith. I loved her in Anna and the French Kiss and I was excited to see her again, but I still am waiting for happily ever after. Maybe we could get two more books featuring Meredith and Kurt.
Isla and the Happily Ever After was everything I hoped for and more. This is the perfect romantic read. It has everything you love in a romantic contemporary: adorable, likable genuine characters, a realistic romance, fantastic setting and lots of feels. This book will take you through the butterfly highs of romance and then through the troubling growing pains. It will make you laugh and cry. I loved this book. Isla and the Happily Ever After along with Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door will remain on my shelf of favorites. I guarantee next time I need to binge on feel good reads, I will reach for these books. Do yourself a favor and try any or all of Ms. Perkins books. My only hope is that she won't make us wait so long for the next book.
"I've always thought the best relationships are those that are as happy and content in silence as they are in action, but until Josh, I'd only ever experienced it with Kurt."
"For a certain type of person, high school will always be brutal." the head says. "The best advice that I can give you is to figure out what comes next, and work towards that."
"I'm beginning to think that maybe it's okay to be a blank canvas. Maybe it's okay that my future is unknown. And maybe," I saw with another smile, "it's okay to be inspired by the people who do know their future."
I purchased a copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
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