Mini Review: A Cat Cafe Christmas

Photo by Amanda Kay Oaks

Rating: 4 stars

Format: Paperback

(Full disclosure: This post uses affiliate links)

A Cat Cafe Christmas is the story of two people who’ve had their trust broken, trying to learn to trust again. 

Kara is a veterinarian whose ex-boyfriend used her to steal money and private donor data from the nonprofit where she worked. Now, she owns a cat cafe with her best friend and avoids any and all attention out of a fear that someone will recognize her from the news, which painted her more as co-villain than victim. 

Ben Reese moved across the country to get away from his brother, who just so happens to have married Ben’s former fiance. He crosses paths with Kara when her cafe is a local business spotlight for his company, and it is not love at first sight. But when Ben finds a cat stowed away in his new home, Kara’s the only person he can think to turn to. 

This book is absolutely adorable, right down to the cute cat illustrations and adoption profiles that start each chapter. There are plenty of cats on the page, and it’s wonderful getting to see Kara grow her confidence and her business while caring for them. 

The love story between Ben and Kara feels natural and sweet, and I like that they are both navigating similar past issues that help them understand one another. They have some quality banter, which I always appreciate in a romance. 

I also really liked that the plot had some twists and turns to it that I wasn’t expecting. Ben and Kara both had their own lives and circumstances above and beyond falling in love, which always makes for a better story in my opinion.

If I had any complaints about this book, it would be that it sometimes felt a little long. We get a lot of scenes about daily happenings in the cafe, and while they do all contribute to the plot eventually, I did occasionally wonder about the level of detail and if it slowed things down a bit too much. Then again, how can I really complain about spending more time with cats just being cats? 

In all, A Cat Cafe Christmas is a sweet romance that takes place during the Christmas season, with a few nods to the holiday. I wouldn’t say it centers the holidays, but the 25 days of Catmas promotion is more on theme than a lot of the so-called holiday romances I’ve read. I had a lot of fun reading this one and recommend it to anyone who loves cats, cafes, and love stories.


“Thank You, Next” Hooked Me with The Premise

(Full disclosure: I received a complimentary digital review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Book links in this post are affiliate links).

When I read the synopsis for Andie J. Christopher’s Thank You, Next, I clicked that request button on NetGalley so hard I’m surprised I didn’t break something. Here’s the one line description that got me hooked:

“Alex Turner is never The One — but always the last one an ex dates before finding love — and now she’s determined to find out why in this hilarious new rom-com.” —NetGalley synopsis of Thank You, Next

I can’t quite explain why, but I’m a sucker for the “always the one before they find the one” trope, even more so when it involves a quest through the past to try and figure out why. And if the would-be love interest decides to tag along on the quest? I’m so there. 

I’m thrilled that Berkley gave me the green light on an advanced review copy so I could settle my curiousity about this title ASAP and participate in the publication day blog blitz. Happy pub day to Thank You, Next and thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for the chance to read it in advance. 

You already know I was excited to read this one, so let’s get in to how I felt about it once I did. 

What I Liked

Alex and her friends are strong, independent women, as is her star of a grandmother. I loved seeing them interact with one another, and that they each lived a life of their own making that still allowed them to be their full selves. 

Alex is a little prickly and standoffish, which I loved to see in the female protagonist of a romance. So often, they’re cast in the sunshine light, and women are allowed to be complicated, smart, and sexy, too. 

I already mentioned that I like the premise here, of a journey of self-discovery sparked by the realization that you’re the last stop before your romantic partners find bliss. 

There’s also some good diversity in the cast of characters, with a wide range of sexualities and gender identities present as well as racial diversity. This made the world feel refreshingly real and present because reality also contains these multitudes. 

If you’re a fan of on-the-page spice, this book delivers a good amount of that, which I appreciate especially in a romance that features years of accumulated sexual tensions between the couple. 

Finally, I enjoyed the mature, adult way that the central conflict was ultimately handled. Our protagonists showed they had learned and grown through their previous missteps in love with how they handled things when the going got rough on their way to HEA, which I enjoyed. 

What I Didn’t Like

Because I was so excited for the tagline premise of the book, the way it actually played out on the page fell short for me. Not that much space on the page is actually dedicated to the quest to interview Alex’s exes, considering it’s the primary plot driver in the synopsis. I wanted more awkward conversations and a longer parade of exes, and that just didn’t end up actually being the driving force of the book.

What was the driving force of the book was the somewhat repetitive contrived reasons why Alex and would-be love interest Will think getting together would be a bad idea. I wish we’d spent a little less time focusing on this, because several chapters felt like we were stuck on replay with some of the thoughts that Alex and Will rehashed, respectively. While that can be the way these things go in our heads IRL, it didn’t make for particularly smooth reading and just felt frustrating when I wanted to get to the good stuff (see previous paragraph).

Ultimately, while there was a lot to love here, I felt let down by this book simply because I didn’t feel like it delivered on the premise that made me excited to pick it up in the first place. If I hadn’t gone in wanting more of that, I probably would have liked this book better. 

I recommend this book to fans of an enemies-to-lovers romance, on-the-page spice, and watching flawed characters work to figure out their issues to find love. Thank You, Next came out today, June 14th.

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