Cover Image: Too Good to Be Real

Too Good to Be Real

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed the first handful of chapters of this book. The humor was hilarious and the friendship between Andie, Kat, and Julia is what girl gang dreams are made of. But once they got to Notting Hill, it all started to feel like it lost momentum for me. Lots of nods to Austenland. I still finished it, and the ending was cute, but I won't be reading it again.
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Julia and Luke’s love story was a moving and wonderful adventure in Too Good to Be True by Melonie Johnson, book one in her Sometimes in Love series. This story was the perfect combination of sweet, sexy, and laugh-out-loud moments. Ms. Johnson created characters that draw you in, holding you hostage until you reach the end of the story, wanting more. 

Julia and her friends love romance stories and rom-com movies. While her friends hope for a meet cute, like their favorite rom-coms, Julia is all done with trying to find love. As a writer for a popular for a famous online magazine in Chicago, and needing the perfect idea for an article to keep from getting fired, Julia discovers the ideal destination for romance lovers; Notting Hill Resort. Notting Hill Resort is just what it names suggests, a resort for fans of rom-coms where guests can star in their own romantic comedy for a week. Julia doesn’t want the resort to know she’s the writer/reviewer and asks one of her friends to take on that identity during their week. Luke, his sister, and his buddy have been work their tails off to create this resort for their boss. With opening week here, Luke finds himself accidently caught in the middle of a rom-com meet with Julia. Instead of making sure everything is running smoothly, he’s pretending to also be a guest. While both of them are harboring secrets about their true identities, they encounter thieving seagulls, a gaggle of corgis, kisses in the rain, and even a karaoke serenade, which quickly ignites their feelings. Before their love can be real, they need to clear up the truth about their identities and decide if their relationship can exist in the real world. 

Ms. Johnson gives us a trio of girlfriends whose banter feels straight out of a Sex in the City episode, a brother and sister building a stronger, more trusting bond, and along with a theme dependent on the legacy we inherit from our parents' relationships. That is, determining which examples do we embrace and which do we avoid as we forge our own paths? This story is a true reflection of the rom-com genre, with plenty of romance: elevator make out session, passionate kisses in the rain, grand gestures. Along with lots of comedy: Bonnie and Clyde seagulls, a pack of adorable corgis, a “When Harry Met Sally” inspired fake orgasm contest. 
	
Ms. Johnson wrote a cute, fun read that had me smiling and laughing pretty much from the first page. This must read story was very entertaining, with characters that were easy to fall in love with, chemistry between the hero and heroine, and secondary characters who were just as interesting as the main characters. With so many fun moments that included corgis and seagulls, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the world this author created. Despite the hero and heroine having some issues to work through that affected their ability to take a chance on a relationship. I highly recommend Too Good to Be True to other readers and look forward to Ms. Johnson’s next book in this series.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
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There's plenty of potential and I found some parts quite funny. Unfortunately I didn't care for the characters and the story fell flat.
Not my cup of tea
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Julia is a writer desperate to save her job. She's tired of posting nothing but quizzes and lists. So she pitches an article to her boss in an attempt to save her job: a new resort that's letting its guests live out their romantic comedy dreams via role playing. Julia doesn't believe in love, of course, but she'll play along if it means keeping her job. But when she and her two best friends show up, she meets a handsome man by the lake via the quintessential meet-cute: a humorous seagull incident. She thinks Luke is taking part in the rom-com experience, but he's actually one of the event planners, along with his best friend and sister. Luke decides to take part in the experience in order to impress a reviewer arriving. Sparks fly between the two, but can their love be real when no one is being honest about who they are?

"I'm as likely to find the wardrobe to Narnia as I am to find my own Mark Darcy. Life isn't like a romantic comedy."

This was a perfectly cute romantic comedy and it's important to remember that 3-stars is in no way a negative rating. Did this book wow me or sweep me off my feet? No. But it had its funny moments.

The concept is an interesting and original one: a rom-com resort, where guests are assigned a character, a role to play, select activities, and then the games begin. The characters get funny names associated with famous romantic comedies (think Sally, a la Harry Met Sally) and there are a ton of references to all sorts of rom-com favorites. If you're a romantic comedy fan, you'll love all the little inside jokes.

"For the chance to achieve his dreams, Luke had to do one thing. Make the fantasy real."

I liked Julia's character and enjoyed Luke, although I must admit the guy was a bit of a clueless idiot. The seagulls were easily the best characters in the book and some of their scenes made me laugh out loud. I'm never a fan of "lying by omission" plots, so it was a little hard to stomach that the story that was based off of falsehoods. Julia and Luke did have chemistry but also suffered a bit from instalove--maybe it was the seagulls?

Overall, this is a fun, fairly quick read, peppered with rom-com references. It's definitely silly and a bit cheesy, but sweet too.
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Thins was a sweet and funny romantic comedy based on the idea: can romcoms be real? Julia and her friends love romantic comedies, but don’t believe they could happen in real life. When Julia gets the opportunity to review a romcom vacation resort for work, they all  go to see what the experience is like. Luke is the gamesmaster in charge of the live action role play week for his eccentric, romcom loving boss. When he meets Julia, he decides to take part in the game to get to know her better. But can a relationship based on fantasy hold up in the real world? Both Luke and Julia are afraid of finding the right person, declaring love and then being rejected. The role playing should offer a fun, safe way to practice, but both question what is real and what is fantasy throughout the book. Neither believe enough in themselves to take the first step, snd like any good romcom it is  up to the secondary characters to help give our heroes enough encouragement, introspection time, and alcohol to help them sort it out. Here our lovers are also helped by a scene-stealing kleptomaniac seagull and an adorable contingent of corgis. I enjoyed how real the characters and their issues felt, their real life problems and dramas, and how things work out for them when they face reality, admit the truth, and have life take them as they are. 

A fun romantic comedy for those who love the movie genre, and a book that presents some excellent arguments for how a little fantasy can make our everyday realities that much better. 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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Title: Too Good to be Real
Author: Melonie Johnson
Publication date: June 6th, 2021

Summary: She plans to prove there's a dozen reasons why life isn't like a romantic comedy, only to discover the one reason it is…

While her friends wish for meet cutes worthy of their favorite rom-coms, Julia is ready to give up on love. Swiping right has replaced getting swept off your feet and good old-fashioned romance has become, well, old-fashioned.

A writer for a popular website, love becomes the last thing on her mind when impending layoffs threaten her job. As Julia searches for the ultimate pitch to impress her boss, she stumbles upon a resort offering guests a chance to live out their romantic comedy dreams. Real life dating is so bleak, who wouldn't want to spend a week in a fantasy rom-com world with your best friends?

At the resort, Julia literally falls into a not-quite-meet-cute involving an aggressive seagull and an adorably awkward guy named Luke who is also participating in the rom-com experience. Julia hides the fact she is there to do a story, but Luke harbors a few secrets of his own. Among further encounters with thieving seagulls, a gaggle of corgis, kisses in the rain, and even a karaoke serenade, their feelings deepen quickly. But could their love be real when they haven't been honest about their true identities? Once the fantasy is over, can they have a relationship in the real world?

Review: Melonie Johnson has quickly become one of my favorite authors. With her debut last year with three amazing books back to back I was mildly hesitant to start this book. It is so cute it makes me want that resort to be real. I am from Wisconsin so it would be amazing. Also, side note anyone trying to swim in a lake in June in Wisconsin is absolutely CRAZY. Here's looking at you Kat. I can absolutely see myself in Kat, Andie and Julie but also Luke. They all have different parts of my personality. From Andie's competitiveness to Jules inability to be wrong. The feud Julie and Luke have with the seagulls is absolutely legendary. The length of time it took to get back to Chicago was a bit questionable. It takes 3 hours to get from Green Bay to Chicago. It takes about an hour and a half to get from Milwaukee to Chicago. So why if the resort was just over the Wisconsin border did it take over 3 hours for them to get to Chicago? I digress. Was the book absolutely amazing past those few questionable things? Yes! Makes me wish romance was more like rom-coms. I cannot wait to see what Melonie Johnson comes out with next. I highly recommend this book!
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This book was exactly what I thought it'd be, fantastic. 
It was a quick and fun read, with bright characters and a plot that didn't feel rushed.
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In a nod to rom-coms and live-action role-play (LARP), Too Good to Be Real takes readers on a fantasy vacation at the aptly-named Notting Hill Resort in Wisconsin for a week of immersive, simulated scenes from favorite romantic comedy movies. In a bid to avoid being laid off, pop culture journalist Julia proposes to her boss the idea of writing a review of a new concept hotel for their company’s popular Take Me! series. At the company’s expense, she and her two best friends head up from Chicago, hoping to prove (or disprove in cynical Julia’s case) that romantic love is real. Just after they arrive, Julia literally runs smack into Luke, the software programmer behind the week-long simulation. Their attraction is instantaneous but, when mistaken identity combines with role-playing, the games become much more high-stake.

Johnson’s premise is like a modern-day version of Austenland without the costumes. The eccentric and extremely wealthy owner Mrs. Weatherfork’s mission isn’t huge profits but to prove to her husband that, in the right setting, love can bloom. In this book, the two main protagonists are skeptical of love after witnessing their own parents’ miserable marriages, so neither is willing to believe that love can be real after just a week. Vacation romances often don’t survive outside the bubble after all. However, love is definitely in the air for married couples and some singles in attendance. Heck, even the comedic marauding seagulls mate for life. So, although not everyone gets a happily-ever-after, there are several truths: that you can find love with the most unlikely person, playing games can spice up an existing relationship, what appears to be love may just be an act, and real love is imperfectly perfect if you’re willing to push past fear and be honest with yourself and the one you’re falling for.

This has all of the elements for a swoon-worthy, highly-addictive romance read, but the pacing is a bit off, the dialogue is amateurish at points, and the idea that Luke can hide his true identity at a small resort is unrealistic. There are so many characters that it’s difficult to fully engage with any of them, so the emotional investment isn’t there. It’s an easy read, but ultimately forgettable.
 
I received a complimentary ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Griffin through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
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Thank you so much to St. Martin's Griffin and Netgalley for letting me read an eARC of Too Good to be Real! This book came out earlier this week (on July 6), so make sure you go out and grab it today! 
Too Good to Be Real 4/5 Stars 

Summary from Goodreads: 
She plans to prove there's a dozen reasons why life isn't like a romantic comedy, only to discover the one reason it is…
While her friends wish for meet cutes worthy of their favorite rom-coms, Julia is ready to give up on love. Swiping right has replaced getting swept off your feet and good old-fashioned romance has become, well, old-fashioned.
A writer for a popular website, love becomes the last thing on her mind when impending layoffs threaten her job. As Julia searches for the ultimate pitch to impress her boss, she stumbles upon a resort offering guests a chance to live out their romantic comedy dreams. Real life dating is so bleak, who wouldn't want to spend a week in a fantasy rom-com world with your best friends?
At the resort, Julia literally falls into a not-quite-meet-cute involving an aggressive seagull and an adorably awkward guy named Luke who is also participating in the rom-com experience. Julia hides the fact she is there to do a story, but Luke harbors a few secrets of his own. Among further encounters with thieving seagulls, a gaggle of corgis, kisses in the rain, and even a karaoke serenade, their feelings deepen quickly. But could their love be real when they haven't been honest about their true identities? Once the fantasy is over, can they have a relationship in the real world?

This book was super, super cute! I love the idea of taking a week long vacation to go live out the tropes in rom-coms in a way that's 100% fictional, but also allows you to learn more about yourself, rekindle relationships, or just deepen friendships. The repeat appearances by the seagulls were both hilarious and gross (because ew, I hate birds and seagulls and pigeons are at the top of that list) and I loved all of the adorable corgis! Characters wise, I really liked Julia and Luke as main characters and I though Andie, Kit, Penelope, and Vijay were great side characters and I really loved everyone else at the retreat and even Julia's boss too. This book was so fun to read and there was never any time where I didn't feel like I was engaged with what was going on with the characters. I really enjoyed it and I cannot wait to read more by Melonie Johnson!
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I liked it. Overall, I enjoyed the characters and some of the situations at the rom-com experience had me laughing out loud. The rom-com experience resort itself felt a bit over the top to me, but that is just my opinion. I would recommend this book to someone that is looking for a light rom-com with some steaminess.
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Holy moly - I absolutely adored this one. As someone who also loves rom-coms and finds so much comfort in revisiting my favorites over and over again, I loved this quirky tale. Being able to pick up on references before a movie was named was almost like a game for me! 

I loved the cast of characters - including the two best friends (and am hopeful they'll get their own tale soon?). The hero and heroine were fantastic. And, while this book was cute, I appreciated that there was some good steam!

Another thing I appreciated was the fact that the heroine dealt with chronic illness - but it wasn't her whole story or personality. It was, as in reality, simply a part of her that she always has to live with and deal with, without necessarily being the center of her story.
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“I’m as likely to find the wardrobe to Narnia as I am to find my own Mark Darcy. Life isn’t like a romantic comedy.”  - @thewritinglush 

But.. what if it was? What if you had a chance to visit a resort where they make all your rom com dreams come true in a page straight out of Austenland (minus the costumes and accents) where you get to take on the name of one of your favorite rom com characters? In Too Good To Be Real Melonie Johnson takes us on another humorous and rom com galore journey where two people who don’t believe in happily ever afters meet. A place where thieving seagulls abound & kinda make you think that everyone including the animal kingdom deserve their own happily ever after, rom com style. 

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” - When Harry Met Sally


I adored this book & it for sure had me laughing to myself at multiple instances. Too Good To Be Real is available now so make sure you check it out! Thanks soo much to the author Melonie Johnson and the publishers for sending me a copy of this book!
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Too Good to Be Real by Melonie Johnson is a fun and entertaining read. I thoroughly enjoyed the unique storyline, witty dialogue, and cheeky characters that kept me laughing the whole time. 


Thanks to SMP and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This updated and all-American take on Austenland had me cracking up laughing, particularly though the first several chapters. It's a bit more gritty and not quite as sweet but I definitely enjoyed the nod to Austenland.
Julia is on the brink of losing her job but with the advice and help of her two best friends, they embark on an escapist trip to none other than Wisconsin. A brand new concept retreat that caters to rom-com aficionados should be just the trick to salvage Julia's career. When reality versus pretend are hard to distinguish, Julia has some decisions to make that could land her the job and/or man of her secret dreams.
Melonie sure knows how to cater to my inappropriate sense of humor from page one. I immediately messaged a friend (or six) because I had to talk to someone about it. I don't think I will ever not see a seagull and think of Bonnie and Clyde's antics. There might be a smile and occasional flinching while I grasp all that's near and dear.
Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the advanced copy. All thoughts in this review are my own.
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Cheesy, sassy, and swoony, if you love romcoms then you definitely need to add this to your TBR!

Reminiscent of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days minus the infamous bet and the “trying to lose you” antics, this was full of familiar romcom tropes that did not hide themselves in the story! I love that the characters were self aware of the tropes they were be subjected to because of the experience they’d signed up for, portrayed as a romcom LARPing event! The whole thing basically felt like it was breaking the proverbial fourth wall with all the callbacks and references to classic movies we know and love — including but not limited to Dirty Dancing, Notting Hill, and When Harry Met Sally!

It poked fun at all the things that make romantic comedies cringey with secondhand embarrassment while reminding you that they are the best parts! It was almost satirical in how stereotypical it was but in a good way — it was lighthearted, fun, some backstory depth thrown in for the heck of it to help connect the characters, and a HEA that really felt “too good to be real” — and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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*2.5 stars*

*ARC kindly provided by the publisher, St Martin's Press, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

✨ I really liked the concept of a rom-com resort. Guests could sign up for activities and reenact scenes: paintball from 'Ten Things I Hate About You', dancing from 'Dirty Dancing' (obviously), the cards from 'Love, Actually' and the boombox from 'Say Anything'. Made me want to rewatch these iconic movies!

Sadly, an instance where the premise was much better than the execution.
~
This story starts with Julia who works at a news and pop culture company (think Buzzfeed) where there's gonna be layoffs, and to secure her position, she pitches this blog/review idea to her boss about a resort that boasts a LARP (live action role playing game) through romantic-comedy movie experiences.

Now, the main guy Luke here is a worker at this Notting Hill Resort that is hosting this rom-com LARP. His first meeting with Julia went a bit awry, and he ends up lying to her, saying that he is a participant (when he is, in fact, the tech guy/coordinator responsible for organizing this game) because he thinks that Julia's friend is the reviewer and he wants to sway her to give a glowing review. Julia, on the other hand, makes him believe one of her two friends is the reviewer so that Julia will not be given special treatment during her stay, and thus her review will be unbiased.
~

From the start, although their relationship started on false pretences, that wasn't the biggest issue. The romance was so very one-dimensional and surface level. Their meet-cute was pretty good, but it quickly then went into insta-love/lust territory. The chemistry and humor wasn't there and all the characters (main and side) were not fleshed out at all.

The concept was promising, but unfortunately, it just did not deliver.

Trigger Warnings ⚠️: cancer (cancer remission for hero's sister), parental neglect (off-page)
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A wonderfully fun summer read.  Such a smart cute-twist on the traditional romcom.. Julia has watched everyone around you find their own HEA and has pretty much given up on it for herself. She is “this” close to being downsized at work when she stumbles on an interesting vacation possibility that can help her professionally and personally. A week that allows you to live out your romantic “meet cute” fantasy. She goes there “undercover” to write an article with high hopes of writing a great article and saving her job and zero intention of her own happily ever after because again, she has pretty much given up on love.  Upon her arrival she bumps into Luke, who happens to happens to be the resorts Oz, the man behind the curtain.  It is such a well written fun concept with great characters that you will adore and only want the best for. In the land of rom-coms this one is truly original, with multiple nods to those that have come before and a fabulous enjoyable read.
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This was such a fun, feel good, rom-com story that manages to hit all the troupes in one book. Julia and Luke were absolutely adorable and I loved how their relationship grew. I also loved how all the other characters had their own little love troupe going on. Also as an avid romance reader, I seriously need this get away to be a real thing. I think it would be so much fun.
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Synopsis - For her online writing job, Julia is reviewing a new rom-com resort (think karaoke serenade setups, stalled elevator pairings and, of course, paintball, through live action role play - larping). Luke, along with his sister, bestie and a crazy British lady, created the resort’s simulations and experiences. With news of a reviewer’s pending visit, Luke pretends to be a guest, meanwhile Julia goes along with the false perception that her friend is the reviewer. So we have a true rom-com set up of double mistaken identities amidst rom-com scenarios and antics, a rom-com in a rom-com in a rom-com, if you will.

Review - 
What I loved about this one - 

Those crazy seagulls - Not only were they misfit hellions, those seabirds were freaking hilarious.

Excellent side characters - I maybe liked the side characters more than the main couple. They were funny with good storylines, overall fantastic additions.

The Rom-Com Resort - Seriously, this needs to be a real place and thing.

Overall, this was a light, funny read, chock full of rom-com references, cheese and cliches, and dastardly sea villains. I would have loved more from the romance and didn’t feel the connection, but the rest carried me through. Never having done any larping, I appreciated the behind the scenes and larping 101 parts to bring me up to speed. 

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martins/Griffin for the digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Julia is trying to get a job as a travel reporter and her first assignment is to a rom come resort. Julia and her two friends go and are completely immersed in the rom com experience, with new identities based on romcom characters and activities straight out of romance movies. While she’s there she falls for Luke. But Luke doesn’t know she’s a reporter and Julia doesn’t know Luke is the mastermind behind the resort. 

This was such a sweet and fun book! I really enjoyed the unique setting among many other things. 

What I loved:
-I’m a HUGE rom come fan so this whole premise of living in a rom come sounds like  a dream
-ALL of the rom com references 😍
-I know nothing about LARPing so I greatly appreciated the explanations
-there are corgis 😍😍😍
-the female friendship - for real I want those to be my friends

I do wish this one hadn’t ended so quickly, I would have loved to see more of what happened after the conflict was resolved,
But otherwise this was a cute one!

Thanks to SMP Romance for the social copy in exchange for an honest review
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