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by Olivia Dade
Hey there Tropes & Cheese readers!
I’m excited to dive into this week’s book, but before I do, I have a quick ask. Do you know one or two readers out there who love a good beach read and would like to receive recommendations like this delivered right to their inbox? If so, always feel free to share this link with them! Thanks! You’re the bee’s knees. 🥰
Also - if you ever have a recommendation for a book worthy of some Tropes & Cheese treatment, please send it my way! Respond to this email, comment below, send a carrier pigeon - however you want to send your recs, I’m happy to receive them.
Okay, let’s do this thing!
Book: Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Spice Level: 🔥🔥🔥🔥
Content Warning: Cheating, loss of a parent, adoption, fatphobia
Tropes: Slow burn, grumpy sunshine, workplace romance, chosen family, lovers-to-enemies-to-friends-to-lovers.
Fun fact. Upon sitting down to write this entry, I realized this book is actually part of a series. Not only that, it’s the THIRD AND FINAL BOOK IN THE SERIES. Oops! The good news is that it was still 100% enjoyable, and now I can’t wait to read the first two books because this time, I’ll actually understand who’s who in the massive cast of characters! Apologies to the lovely Holly Henderson who recommended this series to me. Apparently, I do not understand how to order books correctly.
What’s It About?
We meet Maria and Peter after a one-night stand, with Maria unceremoniously sneaking out in the middle of the night. When they find themselves at an audition the next morning? Guess who gets cast as scene partners and love interests? *mwahaha*
Maria is a gorgeous Swedish bombshell hell-bent on proving herself on the set, not only as a competent actor, but as someone who can turn the strangers of the crew into a tight-knit, loving family.
Peter is a handsome, brooding midwestern boy who is hell-bent on being nothing but handsome and broody and most importantly, antisocial despite Maria’s best efforts.
From here on out, the book is a sloowww burn as Maria and Peter understand how important it is to keep things professional on the set of their hit show (Game of Thrones fans, you’ll love the not-so-subtle similarities between GoT and this book’s “Gods of the Gates” franchise).
Second fun fact of the day - there was a point where I thought the story was over, so I checked my Kindle’s little progression percentage thing, and I was only halfway through the book!
So the story truly feels like two journeys in one. One where we watch Maria and Peter pine for each other and eventually fall in love, and another where we watch them deal with navigating life as a couple and as working actors.
In the first chapter, Peter describes Maria as “fat” and I about lost my shit. But then I kept reading and realized he wasn’t saying this as an insult, he was saying it because it was something he loved about her. He, too, was not sample-sized, and together they bring so much positivity to the acting world that I found myself wishing they were real-life people in real-life Hollywood. Infuriating displays of body shaming and fatphobia are prominent throughout the book, but between Maria’s steadfast body positivity and the incredible support of the secondary characters, the narrow-minded haters don’t stand a chance.
Both Peter and Maria have difficult backstories of their own - from Peter losing his mother and his tumultuous relationship with his father to Maria’s gutwrenching adoption story - there’s a lot of emotion going on here. Peter allows the people who didn’t support his dream to fuel his desire to work harder. Maria, on the other hand, follows her passions because life is too short not to, all the while knowing that her family will be there to love and support her no matter what. It’s fun to watch them grow together as a couple and fill the voids left in each other by their pasts so neatly.
Now, how to make your reading experience a bit more fun?
🇸🇪 Food Pairing: No, I will not recommend jarred herring or surströmming. Instead, we’ll go with a much more palatable fish - Swedish Fish! These gummy delights even play a role in a cute little prank Maria’s parents play on poor Peter while perusing the Swedish grocery store. Plus they’re a perfect reading snack!
📚 Book/TV Suggestion: I know, we’re getting a little meta here with a book rec within a book rec, but bear with me. Around the time I started reading this book, I started watching The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning on Peacock. Between Maria and this show, the Universe must want me to visit Sweden! Anyway, imagine Queer Eye meets Marie Kondo, and you’ve got Death Cleaning. Despite the dark title, it’s an absolute delight. Turns out, it was a book first by Margareta Magnusson who, as she says, is “somewhere between 80 and 100” years old. Don’t you love her already? Anyway, regardless of whether you’re in the mood for reading or watching, you’ve got options!
🍫 Another Food Pairing: At one point in the story, Maria tempts Peter with a tasty candy from her homeland… swedish lakrits, or as Americans call it, black licorice. From what I understand, their lakrits is far more bitter and licorice-ey than ours, so Peter’s reaction was to spit it on the floor in surprise/disgust. Luckily, you can try it in a much more palatable way through OmNom Chocolate! Granted, OmNom comes from Iceland, and they spell it Lakkrís, but their commitment to the anise-flavored ingredient is admirable! Try Lakkrís + Raspberry or Lakkrís + Sea Salt, and when you place an order, throw in a Coffee + Milk bar too, you won’t be disappointed. Or a Sea Salted Almond… you know what, order them all. We’ve tried most of them and have yet to be disappointed.
As always, I encourage you to see if Ship Wrecked (or Spoiler Alert or All the Feels for that matter) is available from your local, indie bookstore. Don’t know where one is? Try this Indie Bookstore Finder! You can also purchase it directly from Olivia Dade’s website.
Your local library is also a great place to look for this and other books. And, of course, all the big-name booksellers will certainly have what you’re looking for.
No matter the order in which you read these stories, I hope you enjoy them! I can at least confirm that the series ends well! 😉
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
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