Thanks to Berkley Romance for the review copy of Love Lists and Fancy Ships
This really is the year of boats in romance novels – and Love, Lists and Fancy Ships is here to cap off the year of boats with a bang. This book had my interest from the moment I finished reading the blurb – a 30 by 30 bucket list, a hot chef, and two cute (and meddling) nieces? Sign me up.
Sometimes a yacht, a bold bucket list, and a kiss with a handsome stranger are all a person needs to dive into the deep end of life.
For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things she wants to accomplish by her thirtieth birthday. Jo has almost everything she’s ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she’s the youngest resident by several decades) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.
Jo is on track until the death of her nephew turns her life upside down, and the list falls by the wayside. But when her two nieces show up unannounced with plans to stay the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping Jo finish it. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in twelve weeks, Jo takes on the challenge.
When she summons the courage to complete item number five–kiss a stranger–and meets Alex Hayes, all bets are off. As her feelings for Alex intensify and Jo’s inability to confront difficult emotions about her family complicates her relationships, she must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses what matters most.
Pro tip: don’t start this book as a before bed read: it had me hooked from the first pages and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it at 3AM. Also, have tissues ready – Love, Lists and Fancy Ships will definitely have you crying. It handles the topic of grief (TW: loss of a family member) – and I really appreciated how the topic was handled. The various characters’ grief wasn’t handled like a uniform thing – each character had their own way of grieving and processing their loss.
I loved Jo: she was a tad bit messy (aren’t we all) but didn’t pretend to have it all together. Also, her addiction to Lean Cuisines was deeply relatable. I really loved reading about her relationship with her nieces – they were freaking adorable and really helped push Jo to complete her bucket list and get out of her shell a bit more (and grow as a character). I especially loved Jo’s friendship with Nina: the support and love they had for each other was lovely, everyone deserves a Nina in their life.
I have five words for you: hot yacht chef love interest. Alex was the ultimate love interest – he was hot, charming, sweet, and understanding. He was also a single father of a spunky daughter (who was also a joy to read about). Jo and Alex’s tension was AMAZING. Their banter was phenomenal – I genuinely laughed out loud several times. Their romance was on the slow burn side of things, but boy oh boy was it worth the wait.
Love, Lists and Fancy Ships is definitely a new favorite book for me – I can’t wait for the upcoming companion novel – I need more of Nina ASAP. I’ll be rereading this again very soon. I highly recommend this book especially if you enjoyed Float Plan by Trish Doller and Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez. 5/5
Also, if you’re not following Sarah Grunder Ruiz on Instagram, you should be (especially if you’re a writer, she gives great tips all the time and is super transparent about her process).