Christina Lauren, the prolific author duo behind hits like The Unhoneymooners, has become a mainstay on the romance bestseller lists. They’re one of the most consistent duos in romance – they release books on a two a year cadence, and rarely do they miss the mark in terms of quality. Sadly, Twice in a Blue Moon is a definite departure from their normally swoon worthy rom-coms – it’s core story is flawed and makes the romance between the main two characters hard to understand and very forced feeling.
Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.
During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.
Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.
The story of this book felt oddly familiar – Twice in a Blue Moon tells the story of Tate, the daughter of a famous actor who suddenly skyrocketed to fame when someone sold an exposé about her private life to the tabloids. Overnight, she goes from a small-town girl to someone in the spotlight, being forced to put on a perfect family / perfect life act for the press. This book focuses on telling the story of how Sam and Tate originally met, and how they are reunited by both working on a film set fourteen years later. While the idea of a second chance at love is definitely a popular romance trope (and one that I love), this particular take had a twist – Sam was the one to call the tabloids about Tate, effectively forcing her into the spotlight.
This whole story didn’t feel as original as most of Christina Lauren’s books are – it felt like something I’ve definitely read in romance and on Wattpad a few times before. Regardless, the book was well paced, and though the story was familiar, it was still entertaining and well executed.
Tate is a character that is impossible to not feel empathy for – she was forced into fame she didn’t want. The most fascinating part of Tate’s life was that she had become a very successful actress, but she could never be sure that she got her acting roles based on skill or whether it was her media infamy (and her father’s popularity). When you really stop to think about it, that is a heartbreaking way to lead your life – no one wants to have everything handed to them, the best things in life are earned.
So, how does a second chance romance work when the first chance failed due to one character betraying the other? Not very well. Christina Lauren’s strongest talent is for building chemistry between their lead characters – but in this case, that chemistry felt a little false or manufactured. For me, it was impossible to separate Sam from how he betrayed Tate all those years ago, regardless of the justifications he offered as to why he sold her out. I wasn’t rooting for the two of them to end up together, and honestly, I think I would have enjoyed the book more if Tate had taken her power back and not ended up with Sam.
Was Twice in a Blue Moon a bad book? No. But it was a major departure from Christina Lauren’s normally adorable and heartwarming standard. The fact that Sam and Tate’s relationship was built on his betrayal of her really just did not sit well with me. For a romance to be built on such shaky (read: dishonest) grounds, it’s damn near impossible to root for the happily ever after. If you’re looking for a great Christina Lauren book, check out The Unhoneymooners or Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. 3/5