The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez is a book that truly makes you believe that a romance is possible for everyone even if you were previously a non-believer. I absolutely think this could be a conversion novel for a non-romance reader.
The book begins with sorrow. As an author, it takes guts to start a romance novel with a grieving main character. Jimenez does an absolutely wonderful job showing how grief upon the death of a beloved takes you. How you sleepwalk through your days, how caring about anything is an overwhelming effort, and how coming out of it seems insurmountable and doesn’t seem to be worth it. From this nadir of her life, Sloan rises like a phoenix to lead a rich life filled with laughter and romance.
The meet cute is not between Sloan and the hero, but between Sloan and his dog. Sloan and Jason meet over the airwaves between California and Australia when she tries to find Tucker’s owner. Initially, she’s like finders-keepers because she feels he’s a careless owner, but then they both realize how much they both love Tucker, so they decide to be kind and adult and share him. I was sold on these two people right then and there for their maturity and thoughtfulness.
A lot of their initial romance is through their phone conversations. This was the other aspect of the story I liked so much. Since appearances were initially out of the picture, they “like” each other first before “lusting” after each other. I am not a fan of insta-lust, and I need to see friendship and liking first before I can believe in the promise of their HEA.
He is sweet and tender and thoughtful, while she is prickly and slow to trust. But when she does decide to trust, she is all in, despite every insecurity rearing its ugly head. She displays such courage — I marveled how she could do it given her most recent past. But she does it with openness, without reserve.
The strongest part of the book for me was not the falling in love aspect of the characters but how they work to fit their lives together. There are warm, gooey feelings for sure, but would they withstand the harsh realities of life? Jimenez makes Sloan and Jason do the work to carve out a life together with compassion and care. They are very supportive of each other’s careers and are very invested in each other’s happiness and fulfillment in life. So they set about figuring out how to make their difficult life work for them.
I am a huge fan of competence in characters. She is a brilliant painter, while he is a brilliant musician. They love their work and they are dedicated to it. As an artist, their art and their careers could’ve been all-consuming, but these two special people reserve their highest regard for each other, while not shortchanging their art. In other words, they find the right balance for their life and relationship.
I would highly urge you to read The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez.