Cover Image: For the Love of the Bard

For the Love of the Bard

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Member Reviews

What a smashing good time! I love books with specific settings and this one did the trick. Plus, romance. It was an easy A for me!
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I requested this book based soley on the title.  Beyond that I had no expectations for this story.  Now, personally, I've tried to read Shakespeare and was glad I finally made it through it and haven't been motivated to read another.  Give me all the re-tellings and re-imaginings in the world.  This isn't either of those.  Miranda is a literary agent & (closeted) writer.  She is returning to her hometown of Bard's Rest for Bard's Centennial Festival.  She needs to write her next book and help her mother with any festival duties she can.  The first day in town her dog, Puck, got ahold of some chocolate requiring an emergency vet visit, but instead of kindly old Dr. Winters, she finds his son, Adam.  Adam broke her heart on prom night by kissing her older sister and going to prom with her instead.  She hasn't really gotten over it.  

So this is an enemies to lovers.  I enjoyed Miranda and Adam's story as well as all the other characters in Bard's Rest.  From her sisters to her parents to all the stores and restaurants and places of note being named in honor of Shakespeare.  My favorite thing maybe Miranda's catch phrase when something goes wrong...."For Bard's sake". 

Thanks to NetGalley, Berkley Books & Jessica Martin for the advance ebook.  I really enjoyed this book.
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For the Love of the Bard is the story of Miranda Barnes, a literary agent who also writes a popular YA series under a pen name.  When she returns home to visit her family, she is roped into directing a play at the town's annual Shakespeare festival -- which leads her to meet her high school flame again.

I wanted to read this novel because it looked like a fun, light summer read. The Shakespeare festival setting was appealing, and so was the lost love storyline.

This was an enjoyable read.  The author did a good job at capturing small town life.  I loved all the Shakespeare theme businesses in the little town in this novel.  

Miranda is a likable protagonist and Adam, her first loved, now a veterinarian, was a great book boyfriend.  Her sisters, parents, and quirky friends round out the story.

I recommend For the Love of the Bard for anyone looking for a light beach read or weekend read, and especially for anyone who enjoys small town settings, community theater,  or Shakespeare.
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For all of my Shakespeare peeps, you will definitely enjoy reading this book. It has a lot of references to Shakespeare's works. But I would say go with caution when reading this book. Let me explain.

I don’t like to read second chance tropes in romance books. I find myself unforgiving of the main characters because there was a reason why the break-up happened. And as I read through For the Love of the Bard, I just knew that the main character, Miranda, deserves better.

Miranda returns to her hometown to help her mother play, and also work on her book that she has yet to finish. She does not have the time or the heart to deal with dealing with her ex-love, Adam.

He broke her heart in the worst way by kissing her older sister on prom night. Who the hell does not? I’m sorry, but I will just refuse to forgive him. But no, she gives him another chance, and he blows it again. I just can’t. He blew his chance twice already. There is no need to go back to him after a third time. Makes no sense to me.
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Fans of Jen DeLuca's renaissance faire series won't want to miss For the Love of the Bard, Jessica Martin's charming debut. This Shakespeare-themed romcom brought a smile to my face, with a compelling love story and delightful side characters. It was sweet and surprisingly moving. I hope its the start of a series set in the Bard-loving village.
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✨Adam = Ted from Schitt’s Creek✨

I’ve seen others say that this book is great for fans of Well Met and it totally back that! I had a really good time with the setting and the characters. It had a few distinct choices that made the story a little less cookie-cutter.

🎟 The grudge she held was valid and I totally would’ve been mad after ten years too
🎟 Adult decisions were made and I thought the breakups and her anger were pretty logical
🎟 A sex scene that felt natural for the story (I would’ve like more but whatevs) 
🎟 It wasn’t Miranda to break them up that last time
🎟 I liked Miranda and I think she made a lot of decisions I would’ve made!
🎟 Endearingly real sister relationship 

I didn’t mind all of the Shakespeare, but saying “thank the bard” instead of “thank god” and other phrases was just toohoo much like girl that’s kinda weird. It made the book a bit too campy but it didn’t really impact me enjoyment. 

I think the breast cancer and how the mother decided to approach her treatment (she didn’t take it seriously for a while) could be sure triggering for some readers. Approach with caution if that’s a trigger for you. It ends with the mother getting surgery to remove a tumor, but nothing conclusive.

Overall, this was a fun ride and I’m happy I bought a ticket! If you’re a Shakespeare fan, former theater kid, or small-town romance enthusiast, I can see this being for you.
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what a super fun book this was!! i truly enjoyed this one a lot!! i'm so thankful to netgalley for supplying me with yet another huge hit of a book!!
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Small town vibes, a cute dog and a hot vet… I can’t believe the dog isn’t on the cover of this one. This reminded me a little bit of Maggie Moves On.  There is a balance of romance, family and character growth.
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This novel straddled the line between quirky fun and quirky annoying and I’m still a little iffy about where it landed.

Miranda Barnes heads back home for the summer to help with the 100th anniversary of her town’s Shakespeare festival, as well as to get out of her writer’s block to write the next book in her YA fairy series. While back home, she runs into her high school crush who broke her heart, Adam, and sparks still fly.

So, Miranda’s town is Shakespeare obsessed, and this isn’t even an exaggeration. Every store is named with a Shakespeare pun, which, ok, kind of cute. What irritated me is that it becomes almost cultish in their use of quotes and the Bard’s name. Like, instead of saying “For goodness sake” (or other alternatives), they say “For Bard’s sake”. Multiple times. And they have fights in which they hurl Shakespearean insults at each other. Multiple times. I honestly cannot wrap my head around that being real and it pulled me out of the book every time I read a line like that.

Another small irritation that honestly, really has no impact on the rest of the book but bothered me all the way to the end is that Miranda calls her sister Portia “Porsche” at one point because it supposedly irritates her but, it’s pronounced the same way? So how does she know she’s calling her a different spelling of her name in spoken word and not in writing?

But speaking of Portia, I did enjoy the sisterly relationships in this book with Portia, Cordy, and Miranda. It was my favorite part and I loved watching them work through a lot of their problems and grow and become more adult. I also really liked their parents, so honestly, the home-town family aspect of this book was a huge win for me.

I did like Adam, and I liked Miranda, but I don’t know if I liked them together. There was just something missing and I can’t put my finger on it. They had moments of chemistry, but I think maybe I needed a little more of a slow burn? Not my favorite couple I’ve read, especially recently.

I did enjoy her friend Ian as well as Miranda’s struggle with writing the next book in her YA series. It was interesting to see how the negative reviews of the previous book made it so hard for her to start the next one. 

There were a lot of fun moments in this book but there were also a lot of eye rolls for me. I think if it had reigned in the Shakespearean quirks a little bit I would’ve upped it to a 4/5. If you love Shakespeare and romance I think this will be a fun book for you to check out. It does feel a little bit like a debut novel to me, but it wasn’t terrible. Depending on the summary, I would give Martin’s next book a try.
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Such a fun debut! Miranda is trying to do it all. She is trying to finish her book, direct a play, deal with a family health scare all while avoiding her prom date in the Shakespeare obsessed town. 
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Adam is a whiz at set design and the town vet and Miranda’s dog can’t help but be drawn to Adam. 
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In this Shakespeare town love is strong between these two but not without the drama that many Shakespeare play had to offer. 
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Thank you to @berkleypub @berittalksbooks @thephdivabooks and @dg_reads @netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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4 ⭐️ For the Love of the Bard by @seejesswritebooks 

Thank you so much to @seejesswritebooks, @berkleypub, @netgalley, & @letstalkbooksreaderteam for allowing me the opportunity to read this one! 

Literary agent, turned author behind a pseudonym, Miranda Barnes has hit writers block, almost at the most opportune time. She’s headed back to her hometown of Bard’s Rest, NH to help with the town’s centennial Shakespearean festival. Except, just as she’s packing to leave, her sister calls & says she needs to get home right away. Her mother received a scary diagnosis & they need all hands on deck. Once in Bard’s Rest, Miranda’s dog, Puck, eats chocolate & has to be taken care of the local vet, who happens to be Miranda’s ex. Miranda tries to split her focus on her next book, her mom, & her ex, but will she be able to be successful in all areas? 

This was a cute story. I loved that it was broken down into acts like a Shakespeare play. I loved the chapter names, can we get more of that? I also love the supporting characters. Miranda’s sisters were just the right amount of pushy, but sisterly. Adam was a true animal lover & knew how to apologize for his mistakes. I think my favorite parts were the mention of @massholedonuts, the descriptions of NH & Somerville, & even the mention of my hometown right at the end. If you’re a fan of Shakespeare & sweet romances, this is definitely for you!
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This was an enjoyable rom-com. I was never into Shakespeare growing up but I loved how the love of Shakespeare was the theme of the book. It was nice to see Miranda and her sisters clear up their past grievances and become closer throughout the book, especially when dealing with their mother's health issues. I would definitely recommend this to my library patrons.
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I was unable to finish this one and had to DNF. I just could not get in to the storyline. If I attempt to read in the future, I will update my feedback.
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This was a sweet second chance at love romance between two former high school flames who both find themselves home for the summer and are forced to work together on the town's Centennial Shakespeare Festival play.

Miranda is a successful writer and literary agent with writer's block who returns home when her mother gets a scary cancer diagnosis. Unbeknownst to her, her old flame Adam is also home filling in as the local vet while his father is away. Helping take some responsibilities off her mother, Miranda takes over as director of the play, while Adam is one of the main set designers. Cue lots of forced proximity heat as these two figure out if they can forgive past wrongs and make a relationship work as adults.

Full of witty banter, a great cast of secondary characters (including two quirky animal sidekicks) and a ton of small town charm. I really really enjoyed this debut and recommend it for fans of Blame it on the Brontë's, Meet me in the margins or The dead romantics (other romcoms featuring female writers). Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance review copy! I am excited to see what's next in this new series!
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This absolute gem of a book takes place in town obsessed with Shakespeare, and features a second-chance romance between a literary agent/writer and the veterinarian who broke her heart back on prom night. I’m not normally a fan of second chance romances, but this book absolutely enchanted me. I loved getting to know both the main characters and the supporting players, the quirky town they call home, and the nuances of the story Martin has woven together. It’s a book about second chances, yes, but also about family and resilience and bravery and finding your joy, and grabbing onto it with all you’ve got.
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For the Love of the Bard was the perfect mixture of romance, family drama, and Shakespeare. Initially, the story started off a bit slow, but it quickly picked up the pace after the characters and setting were established. Miranda was a sarcastic and quirky heroine who you rooted for as she navigated a romance with an old flame, her mother’s cancer diagnosis, and her strained relationship with her older sister. Unfortunately, there were so many supporting characters in the book that sometimes I felt as if they took away from Miranda’s story. However, the book fully redeemed itself with all the Shakespearean references, the small town setting of Bard’s Rest, and a picturesque ending. This book definitely gave this former English teacher all the feels!
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This book was an enjoyable, small-town romance, with a unique setting and was filled to the brim with fun Shakespeare references. However, it took me a while at times to get through. The writing was very descriptive at times, and at times too much so for my taste. However it also made sense in the context of the main character being a writer, it is only fitting that she would take great pains toward describing the world around her. 

I loved the setting of this book. For anyone who loves Shakespeare or has gone to Oregon's Shakespeare festival then this one is for you. Admittedly some of the references went over my head, but I loved seeing the creative way in which the Bard was woven into every aspect of the town. That being said, I wish more time had been spent on the centennial itself. There was a lot of build up to the event, but when the time came for the centennial itself, a lot of it was skipped over. I would have liked to see how Opal's play went, or more detail into the various other booths, or even the parade.

Shockingly enough, the family relationships stood out more to me than the romance itself. I loved seeing how Miranda interacted with her sisters and her parents. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Miranda's relationship with Portia developed, as they find a way to move past their issues and reach a new type of sisterly bond. Outside of the family, I loved the relationship Miranda had with some of the supporting characters, particularly Ian and Candace, especially Candace. Martin subverted audiences expectations multiple times with what we expect from romance books as readers, which is what made the supporting characters so enjoyable to see. 

As for Miranda's relationship with Adam, I really enjoyed a lot of elements of it, especially how the centennial and planning for putting on Twelfth Night acted as subtext for their relationship. However, I also had a feeling that there was something missing, and I think it had something to do with wanting more angst or tension between them, dragging out the slow burn between the two. I also would have liked if there were one more chapter after the epilogue, rather than having the pair reunite in the epilogue itself, which left me wanting more of a wrap up seeing how the two moved forward with their relationship, and even how Miranda moved forward with her writing career. 

I would definitely recommend this book. It has a well thought out and detailed setting that is perfect for a small-town romance, a sweet love story, but where it really shines is in the supporting characters. You are bound to find many different characters within Bard to fall in love with, whether it's Miranda herself, her loyal and entertaining sisters, her badass of a mother, Candace, the no-nonsense event planner who is also a hidden theater nerd (I love her so much), Miranda's ride or die best friend Ian, or more. If you love Shakespeare, small towns, or second chance romances, then this one is for you.
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The premise of this book was really good and prompted me to pick it up because I love second chance romances and books set in a small town. 

When I began reading it, I just couldn't get into the story. It's really unfortunate because I wanted to love it. 

While I wasn't able to finish the story, this experience won't stop me from trying this author again.
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Thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review

CW: parent going through cancer diagnosis and treatment, sick parent, grandparent who died from breast cancer 

This was entirely Miranda's story as she's at a crossroads in her life. Trying to finish writing her book under a pen name, living a second life somewhat, returning home to find out her mom needs to be tested fro cancer, and her town's yearly Shakespeare festival.

This book was dorky, fun, heavy at times, and I enjoyed how family focused it was. Miranda's parents were adorable, especially her dad who showed simping is a lifelong condition. I really enjoyed Miranda figuring out her adult relationships with her sisters and her best friend. So many wonderful secondary characters.

And Adam, the guy who ruined her prom, they had wonderful chemistry from the beginning. Both of them were such dorks, and fans of animals, their relationship was really sweet. 

Full of great puns and heart I really enjoyed this one.

Steam: 3
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3.5 Stars

“’Well, you needn’t worry about anything. There’s nothing left between Adam and me; we’re just working on the same project.’ I wanted to believe that more than anything, because the thought that I might still be hung up on a guy who broke my heart back in high school with an assist by my big sister- well, that added a Havisham dash of tragic to my already anemic love life that I was wholly unprepared to deal with.”

Miranda Barnes moved away from home to pursue her career as a writer and a literary agent, but when her mom gets some unwelcome health news Miranda runs home to help her family. Her mom seems to think that her health can wait until the town’s centennial bash is over before getting a lump checked out, but Miranda makes her a deal she can’t pass up. Get her lump biopsied, and she can read an early copy of Miranda’s newest book before it comes out. Somehow, her mom also convinces Miranda to help plan the centennial celebration. This puts her in direct contact with the boy who broke her heart in high school, Adam, and he is ready to show her that he is no longer the boy she remembers but a man who knows what he wants.

I am not sure why this book is being marketed as a romance when the majority and focus of the story isn’t necessarily the romance. There is so much going on with Miranda having trouble writing her new book, her mom’s cancer diagnosis, helping with the town centennial. Add in some sister drama plus the animosity between Miranda and Adam, and it made for a very plot heavy book.

I was expecting a much lighter read, and if that is what you are looking then this probably isn’t going to be the read for you. I loved Miranda and her tough exterior. She used her humor as a weapon to protect herself from Adam, but it was no use with their history. They were destined to finish what they started in high school no matter if she wanted to or not.

Adam might have made stupid mistakes in the past, but I loved to see how he grew into an adult. I think my biggest complaint for this story is that it felt unresolved. We never get to find out what happened with Miranda’s mom. I wish there would have been a time jump epilogue where we could catch up what was going on with that situation. It just ended very abruptly. I think that was the one big plot point that was left hanging, and it didn’t sit right with me.

If you like books by Emily Giffin and Sophie Kinsella then this book might be something that you would enjoy!

~ Michelle
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