After the ending of last year’s The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez it was pretty much a forgone conclusion that I would be reading the companion book, The Happy Ever After Playlist. I was a little worried about the tone the book would have, given the blindside ending in the first book, but even after all that, I knew that I had to read this book to make sure Sloan finally got her happy ending.
Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.
Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?
Abby Jimenez stepped up her plot game in The Happy Ever Playlist – where the first one was predictable (except for that ending), this book was a bit more surprising. This story kept me on my toes – I didn’t expect the ups and downs with Jason and Sloane and the way his fame would ramp up throughout the story. I also wasn’t expecting that this book would tackle how fame impacts mental health, and I was very impressed with how it did.
The author is a master of being kind to her characters – all of the characters were fully developed and multidimensional. Even the hot mess of a pop-singer (who also happened to be an ex-paramour of Jason’s) was an interesting and complex character. I especially liked how the book ended her character arc – it was arguably one of the best character resolutions in the book.
Given this was a romance taking place after the main character, Sloane, was widowed, I was a little concerned about the potential for instant love. Fortunately, this was a tale of respecting boundaries and not rushing into anything. When the book opens, Sloane is in the throes of her grief over her deceased husband and is in no way equipped to handle a romantic relationship. Enter Jason: a man who diligently respected her boundaries, treated her grief with the respect it deserved and didn’t rush her into a relationship before she was ready. Truly, they were possibly an even better pair than Kristen and Josh from the first book. Even during their lows, they were always trying to do what was best for each other.
Fans who were blindsided by the end of The Friend Zone will be delighted by the resolution that Sloan gets in The Happy Ever After Playlist. Topics of mental health and grief are treated with dignity and respect, and Sloan wasn’t rushed into her new relationship. If you’re looking for another great and slightly sad romance, check out How to Walk Away by Katherine Center or Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver. 5/5