Cover Image: Too Good to Be Real

Too Good to Be Real

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Member Reviews

My first Melonie Johnson book and definitely not my last!

Books like these are why I love romance. For years and years, people poke fun at romance for being full of tropes and cliches. What does Melonie Johnson do? Write a book revolving around the many rom-com tropes, thank you very much.

I couldn't get enough of Too Good To Be Real, and I laughed nonstop while reading it. Desperate for a story that will knock her boss' socks off and also desperate for inspiration, Julia and her friends take a vacation in a resort, complete with a game master and actors, specializing in letting its guests live out their rom-com fantasies. Julia is of course undercover, and her she meets fellow guest Luke, and you guess it - all the tropes ensue. Like Julia, however, Luke is hiding a secret... Dun dun dun.

Too Good to Be Real was a lot of fun. I adored the many references to rom-com movies, and I also loved how great and supportive friends to each other Julia and her friends are. There are multiple romances covered in this book, not just Julia and Luke's, and that makes this read even more enjoyable. While I loved how Julia and Luke's romance developed and how it was portrayed, I wanted just a teensy tiny bit more. I wanted just a little more depth.

All in all, Too Good to Be Real is the perfect light-hearted read. This is my first Melonie Johnson book and it definitely won't be my last!
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📕: Too Good To Be Real
✍️: Melonie Johnson
🌟: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Julia is maybe about to lose her job. She doesn’t want it to get that far though. So she needs something inventive to write a story about. In come Notting Hill a romantic comedy resort! Here you can live out all your romantic comedy fantasies, and who knows you may meet someone along the way. Luke is the game master and he is here to make money so he can finally have the financial freedom to pursue his dreams. When he inserts himself in the game thiugh, he doesn’t quite expect to meet someone like Julia. 

✅📚Check Out This Book if you like:
•Romantic comedies, especially movies! So many references.
•Live Action Role Playing games! Which is what this resort essentially!
•Girlfriends because Julia really has some great friends!

💁🏻‍♀️💬 My Thoughts:
I seriously read this so fast. It had me hooked from the first page. Let’s just say it involves shrimp, and some pictures you may or may not want sent to your phone 😂 Julia and her friends are heartwarming. I loved having alternating POVs with Julia and Luke, and seeing both sides of the LARPing game with the romantic comedy theme. Bonnie and Clyde really steal the show, I won’t tell you more, but they are great 😂 Any romcom fan movie, book, or both will enjoy this one and all the laughs it brought me!

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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After reading this book I really would like to find one of these romance resorts because how fun! I really liked this story and the cast of side characters we got. Julia and Luke had a very interesting road to their relationship that was fun to follow but also kind if nerve wracking and had a big will-they won't they feel to it. I wish a few more elements had been developed further but this book was still quick and cute read!
Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review.
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Fun, Flirty Dialogue

A Pack of Corgis

Melonie Johnson combines these story elements perfectly in her novel Too Good To Be Real. Julia and Luke’s first meeting was hilarious and drew me into the story immediately.

TrendList reporter Julia Carpenter has been given the heads up that layoffs are imminent. She needs to think outside the box for the perfect story idea to bring to her boss. She finds the perfect idea and pitches it —a week at the Notting Hill resort where the guests can step into the world of romantic comedy.

Luke O’Neil and his sister Penelope and best friend Vijay have created a romantic comedy game for the Notting Hill resort owner Mrs. Weatherfork. Each guest receives a folder which contains their character name, an itinerary and a list of romance inspired activities. The author does a fabulous job crafting this piece of the storyline-it was so much fun to watch the characters come to life. I loved this trio of best friends and their over the top boss and her many, many corgis.

Loved all the references to the romantic storylines and that the author crafted similar scenarios for the main characters. The author cleverly blurred the lines between the game and the real love stories in the novel this kept me engaged in the story. Luke created the resort’s program and knew how things should play out—but, life and love doesn’t always happen like a big screen romantic comedy.

Lots of mix-ups and misunderstandings which along with the references to popular movies made the reading experience so much fun. Melonie Johnson’s voice appeals to me—just love her clever dialogue whether it’s the heart to heart conversations between Andie Julie and Kat or the laugh out loud conversations as each of the book’s characters (who are in character) discuss the nuances of popular rom coms. The chemistry between Julia and Luke sizzled and the secondary characters added so much depth and humor to the story.

Too Good To Be Real is the perfect beach read—it’s an entertaining romance filled with engaging characters and smiling, impy corgis!
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Rom Coms are my absolute favorite genre.  They are just so special like a hug in a book.  This book had so much going for it was was deeper than a typical rom-com but still with the joy.  I really enjoyed the characters and their growth within the pages.  The story moved at a great pace and I was invested in the outcome!
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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for making this book available to read. 
This was a light, fun romance, with a good cast of characters. The ideas about rom coms in general and a need for happy endings is something I agree with. The side romances were fun to witness and the setting was ideal for the story. 
This is definitely my personal opinion, but Luke wasn't my ideal guy, I guess, so I didn't fall for him like Julia did. I did appreciate what Julia was going through with her thyroid as I'm having issues similar to her and it was nice to read about it.
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2.5 stars -  think this book will be a hit for a lot of readers but unfortunately it just wasn’t my kind of book personally. The storyline had potential but it just felt too cheesy. I didn’t connect with the characters like I usually do and didn’t really believe their connection for some reason. The writing was good and I loved the corgis. The thing that saved me from DNFing was switching to audiobook. If you think this might be one you’re interested in reading, I do recommend checking out more reviews, there are some great ones from people who really enjoyed this book!

Thank you to the publisher and @netgalley for providing a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Too Good to Be Real is a new rom com that follows three friends as they stay at a recent designed to make it seem like they are in a rom com movie! Julia is assigned to review the experience for the website she works for, and Luke is the game master who created the simulation - but when they meet, they both lie and who and what they are. This doesn't stop them from forgetting they're living in a simulation...

This was such a cute concept for a book. I really enjoyed the characters the most, there were a lot of background characters that really brought this story to life. It was so fun to see the rom com movie references throughout the book and the attention to detail. The characters all also go through a great deal of growth, even down to the background characters. I hope there are more books about Julia's friends, Kat and Andie.

I personally would have wanted a different ending. I don't feel like it was consistent with the characters and the rest of the story. But that's the only part I would change if it were me. I just wanted more for the characters.

Also, I personally adore corgis which is why I requested this book in the first place, but there are a lot of corgis in the story as well!

**Thank you to St Martin's Griffin and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review**
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This was ok but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Melonie Johnson’s other books. The romances didn’t really work for me and the plot felt forced. In this case I could see why the leads were still single. 

I also really tired of the author describing how Luke’s clothing didn’t fit. 6’4” is not beyond the norm really, I used to know someone nearly 6’8” that didn’t have that many problems with clothes.
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Fun, cute read. Loved the setting of the story, Luke and Julia were an unlikely couple, but they just worked. Enjoyed the hotel and the theme around the game play, something different. Although the story dragged in parts, I still very much enjoyed it. 

 I voluntarily reviewed an ARC copy of this book.
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Such an interesting concept with the resort. I really liked it. I wanted to go and experience it myself! I loved the hero and the corgi!!!!
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Wow! I loved this one! Julia is a journalist struggling to keep her job as her company eliminates jobs. She comes up with an idea to visit a nearby meet cute resort based on romantic comedies. She arranges a stay at the resort with her two best friends. She has her own meet cute within minutes of arriving at the resort. She and Luke have an instant spark. Luke is a programmer working for the resort, but decides to participate in the role play when he realizes a reporter will be on site for the their test run. 

I really liked this one! Luke and Julia had instant chemistry. Their friends were hilarious and there were many laugh out loud moments. Of course, there were some challenges Julia and Luke had to go through, but I liked how they resolved it. This will definitely make you want to snuggle up with your favorite romantic comedy! I definitely need to check out Melonie Johnson's backlist! 

I will update with the link when I post on my instagram.
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This was cute and fun overall, but it's not a new favorite. I did struggle some with the pacing and characters. However, there are also some really funny moments that I enjoyed. In particular, all of the scenes with the seagulls were great and quite entertaining. I also really liked the general concept here. Rom-coms are fun, and it's amusing to see what a place might be like that caters to this experience.

I did have some real trouble distinguishing Julia's friends from each other and often kept getting confused about who everyone was, especially when the fake names based on the rom-coms were introduced. There were several different love stories going on with different romantic tropes which I found to be enjoyable. That being said, I'm not quite sure about the chemistry between these characters since they weren't as much of the focus here as the main love story.

Julia was pretty likeable in general. She'll do anything to keep her job and tries new things in order to do so. I liked her general journey of self-discovery and figuring out what she wants to do in life. Luke, the love interest, was ok. I did get a bit irritated with him for being very overprotective and overbearing at times. I also felt like the romance progressed too quickly with falling in love (sure, I can believe they're interested in each other, but love was tossed in a bit too fast). The same thing happened with another romance here - events were a bit rushed for my taste.

Overall, while I did have a few gripes about this, I still had a good time with it. I'd recommend it for fans of rom-coms! Also, there are corgis here which was a big bonus for me!

My video review can be seen on my booktube channel (around minutes 1:20-4:10 of this video):
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Adorable read-perfect for vacation!
Julia works for a Buzzfeed-type company where she struggles to make her job feel permanent. She gets assigned to cover Notting Hill Resort-a new place where guests can play a LARP game (live action role play) in the style of their favorite rom-com movies. Julia and her two friends head to the resort in order to experience it firsthand. 
Right away, Julia and the awkward Game Master Luke have a meet cute on the beach. Both disguise their purpose for being there, setting up lots of trust issues between them moving forward. Even though this is a super cute book, there are some deeper storylines here-between Luke and his sister, about absentee parents, etc. 
Great light read-especially for fans of rom-coms as there are lots of movie references.
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Griffin for this ARC in return for my review.
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This book is truly the perfect Rom-com! I really like Rom-com movies they are fun, cute and a bit cheesy. This book really has encapsulated the rom-com experience! I have not this far read a book that manage to really make it feel like Rom-com so well. This takes place at a Rom-com resort where they try to give people a true Rom-com experience. I thought it was a big risk of it just becoming cringe and unfunny. But the author found a good balance with cheesiness and a good plot. Our female main character has given up on love and is doing this in an attempt to save her job. Our hero decides to join the game on a whim, because he felt a connection to our heroine. 

I had a great time reading it and I laughed, cringed a little at the cheesiness and just enjoyed myself a lot. Anyone that likes rom-com I super highly recommend this book! Like if you only are going to pick up one Rom-com book in you life I think you should pick up this one.
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Julia is a writer in her mid-20s, working a semi-gig job at Trendlist (think: Buzzfeed). When rumors of layoffs circulate, Julia knows that she has to go to her boss and tell her that she can write more than just listicles. When her boss gives her an opportunity to write for Trendlist's famous new segment that reviews fun destinations around the world, Julia jumps at the chance. After a bit of research, she finds Notting Hill - a romcom resort on the shores of Lake Michigan - for her and her two best friends to enjoy for a week. The resort is supposed to give guests a chance to live out their romcom dreams, filled with characters stolen from the most famous romance movies, meet-cutes, and romantic activities. Julia knows that she's there to give an impartial review of the place, but when she runs into Luke (literally, runs into him on the beach), she knows she's going to get a lot more than what she bargained for. 

When I think about what I love in my favorite romcoms (both book and film), it's always the characters. I want two real, flawed, rounded characters that I can love and hate and laugh with and cry with. I don't want a quirky-weird character whose only flaws are just charming eccentricities, and I don't want someone who's just classically hot and boring, and I don't want a recycled, flat trope of a spinster woman exhausted with love and a nerd with no woman skills (who actually does have "woman skills"). I'll admit that these standards are really high, and I feel like they are rarely met. I couldn't even concretely tell you what I didn't like about Julia and Luke - the traits of "two real characters" are something I really only know when I read it. 

In terms of plot, I feel like a lot of romcoms these days rely way too hard on the trope or the gimmick and not enough on the chemistry and the (real-life) world-building. When books do that, the plot becomes insanely predictable. There's a dash of hidden identities (Julia hiding that she's a reporter and Luke hiding that he's the game master), lots of romcom activities (paintball, getting stuck in the rain, etc.), and a convenient deus ex machina to tie it all up - the dreaded Trendlist article. Each main character has a squad of two sidekicks that fill all of the cliches, from girlfriends for Julia to drink cocktails and watch romcoms with to a best friend-sister combo to give Luke a makeover. It's just all so stereotypical and predictable that reading almost felt pointless. I can't even count the number of times that I yelled out, "Oh my god, seriously?" at something  so corny it elicited a verbal response. 

Also, while I'm nitpicking, I find that I rarely like romcoms where you get the perspective of both love interests. I find that it's much more realistic, enjoyable, and swoon-worthy to just get one perspective and leave you guessing as to what's going through the other person's mind. 

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this romcom - I really wish I had enjoyed it more, but I found that it was a relatively shallow book that didn't give me the depth I was looking for and recycled many tired tropes that made the book entirely too predictable to enjoy.
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This book was lacking in the romance department. There was just something missing for me. I just didn’t connect with it like I have with other rom-coms. 

I was surprised by the two steamy scenes, definitely not expecting it with a rom-com. 

I loved the conversations with Julia and her friends. This friendship was so funny to read at times, and I found myself wanting to join their friend group! Overall, this is a cute and funny quick read.

Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 stars 

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, & St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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In order to save her job as a writer at a popular website, Julia sets to write an article about a resort that promises to give their guests a rom-com experience.
Though she and her friends are huge fans of rom-coms and HEA, Julia doesn’t believe it can happen in real life due to her personal experience and, always the skeptic, she embarks in a research trip that will bring unexpected consequences when she meets an adorable computer geek and feelings bloom.
Julia and Luke story had all the elements to go into my all-time favorites, but didn’t quite do it for me.  Though I really like the characters and the story is too funny to ignore, reading was similar to navigating through molasses.  It never acquired that page turner feeling and it was like no matter how much I read I was not making progress.  It took me a long time to finish and I never got that ‘wow’ feeling from it.
There are a lot of fun moments, the supporting characters are a hoot and it had a lot of potential, but it didn’t really take off for me.
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This book was an utter delight! I’ll admit the corgi on the cover first caught me eye, who doesn’t love a corgi? But the story was also delightful! Julia is trying to save her job by reviewing a resort that offers Rom-com experiences. Basically if you have ever watched and loved a rom-com chances are you certainly will catch the many references throughout the book. Luke works at the resort and quite literally runs into Julia, a very rom-com meet-cute! He pretends to be a guest and Julia pretends her friend is the reporter so there is an element of drama when they are both revealed. However, this book made me laugh out loud countless times, from the kleptomaniac seagulls, daily parades of corgis, and quirky characters. I also really enjoyed the female friendship that Julia has with her two best friends and how all three of them grew from the experience. Likewise the relationship between Luke and his sister was a nice subplot that gave Luke’s character a chance to grow as well. Julia and Luke together, well they are just too precious. This book was a lovely read and sure to make readers smile and want to have their own rom-com resort experience.
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This book is a rom-com lovers DREAM. It was such a fun little book and was filled with so many different tropes and clichés that the most fun part of reading this was picking them all out (and their matching movies!) The characters were funny, they were flawed, and they were sweet, and the friendships were so well written and honest. 

I will say that this book did move a bit slow? I’m not sure quite what it was, but even when I had a massive face cramp from smiling so much I found myself skimming in sections where there was just too much detail. Also, this might be a little weird, but I actually loved one of the relationships that formed between our heroine’s friend and another attendee at the function a bit more than our heroine’s with the hero. Strange, right? I’m not sure why but it just kind of felt a bit more organic? Not that the relationship between Jules and Luke felt forced, but it definitely felt more trope-heavy than the other which is, I think, why I felt more invested in it. 

Overall this book made me smile, had me laughing out loud a few times, and I definitely felt swept up in the feel of a good rom-com movie that just brings you immense joy. It was super cute and exactly what I needed to survive a case of the Sunday Scaries. I’ll definitely read more from Melonie Johnson in the future. 

{Many thanks to St Martin’s Press for my review copy!}
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