Cover Image: For the Love of the Bard

For the Love of the Bard

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Member Reviews

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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Rating 4/5
Plot 4/5
Spice 2/5
Character Development 5/5

[I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book]

“For the Love of the Bard” by Jessica Martin is a contemporary and theatre romance. Miranda Barnes, a literary agent, and author returns to her hometown for the summer in hopes of finding inspiration to finish her next novel. Miranda believes that she’ll spend all summer in the attic at her parents' house writing non-stop, however her mother has other plans for her. Every year the town hosts a Shakespeare festival and this year Miranda’s mom is the event planner. Miranda’s mom proposes that she help direct one of the plays and Miranda reluctantly agrees. While directing the play, Miranda bumps into Adam, the man that ditched her on prom night. Miranda questions if she should confront Adam and find closure from what happened that night so many years ago or let the “what ifs” control her life. 

I’m a sucker for second chances and I enjoyed reading about Miranda and Adam’s story. The story unpacks so many incredible themes and the side characters are written so well! The banter between the two was cheeky and I loved the rom-com and small-town tropes.
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There is nothing quite like kicking back with a contemporary romance and just getting lost in the story. For The Love Of The Bard by Jessica Martin was a wonderful story for me to get lost in and such a good part of my reading week. Also? Love that cartoon cover. This contemporary romance just flew right by.

For The Love Of The Bard by Jessica Martin was a wonderful story for me to get lost in and such a good part of my reading week.

For The Love Of The Bard is set in a small town in New England where the residents are obsessed with Shakespeare — Bard’s Rest. Every summer there’s a festival dedicated to the Bard with multiple shows being put on and a dinner theater. All the local businesses are also themed around Shakespeare. The residents are also a little eccentric. Miranda is the daughter of two Shakespeare professors. She is a literary agent and secretly the writer of a massively successful YA contemporary fantasy series. She is back in town to work on her book — which she is overdue on and due her mother’s health scare. As it turns out, an old flame who completely broke her heart when she was a teenager is back in town as well — Adam the veterinarian.

Miranda and Adam end up working in close proximity as she is drafted to direct one of the main stage plays while he builds the sets. They become friends again — and eventually the romance rekindles right as the centennial celebration is about to kick off. Of course, the romance has an expiration date. Miranda and Adam live on opposite sides of the country. Better to have love and lost, however.

I absolutely enjoyed For The Love Of The Bard. Miranda is the middle child and has two sisters. Her older sister is a high powered lawyer. The younger sister, Cordy, is a world class baker. One of the highlights of this book was the scenes with the sisters. I found myself hoping for sequels starring the sisters as well as a sequel with a certain event planner. The town also has a huge appeal too — feels like a Hallmark movie setting – but with a whole lot more pizazz and diversity and fun. Also — totally rooted for Adam and Miranda to make it the whole time. I loved how this book eventually played out. Here’s hoping for more Bard’s Rest books from Jessica Martin!
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For the Love of the Bard by Jessica Martin is romcom that will appeal to…you guessed it…Shakespeare lovers.

Literary agent and writer Miranda Barnes rolls into her hometown of Bard’s Rest with one goal in mind: to spend the summer finally finishing her YA novel, the next installment in her bestselling fantasy series. Yet Miranda’s mother, deep in the planning stages for the centennial of the town’s beloved annual Shakespeare festival, has other ideas. 
 
Before you can say “all’s fair in love and war,” Miranda is cornered into directing Twelfth Night—while simultaneously scrambling to finish her book, navigating a family health scare, and doing her best to avoid the guy who broke her heart on prom night. 
 
When it comes to Adam, the veterinarian with a talent for set design and an infuriating knack for winning over Miranda’s dog, the lady doth protest too much. As any Shakespeare lovers knows, the course of true love never did run smooth, and soon Miranda realizes she’ll have to decide whether to trust Adam with her heart again.

I’m so grateful to @letstalkbookspromo, @berkelypub, and @netgalley for a copy of this one. It had so many elements I love. Theater, writers, romance. I mean, these are seriously three of my favorite things. And I did love the theater aspect and the romance was swoony. But ultimately Adam and his choices, both when they were teens and in this timeline bugged me. I’m not sure I would have forgiven him. I also found the family health scare storyline a bit triggering and felt tense the entire time I was reading. I think a ton of people will really enjoy all the Bardic references. The Shakespeare festival the town throws sounds like it would be a blast to attend.
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Miranda had her heart broken on prom night, and she's never forgiven the guy.  Forced to return to her childhood home, she soon finds herself face-to-face with her high school nemesis who has grown into the sexy local vet. It also just so happens that her return home places her in the throws the Centennial Shakespearean Festival which her parents have run for years.  Forced to work together on the event, can they finally clear the air after 10 years of misunderstanding?

This book is perfect for fans of small town, second chance romances with Shakespearean themes. This charming, quirky town is filled with fun characters. I especially enjoyed the main characters bookish connections.  The second half of the book is better than the first half.  

Thank you Berkley Publishing Group for the complimentary copy.
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I loved this story about finding the threads of who you used to be...

This is a second chance romance set in a town famous (or infamous) for its absolute devotion to the genius of Shakespeare. 

Miranda left Bard's Rest for a reason. Yes, she wanted to make a name and a place for herself out of the shadow of her larger than life parents. But she was also running from heartbreak. A heartbreak named Adam that shattered her teenage dreams beyond repair. 

So she left town and channeled her heartbreak into writing a YA book series that has morphed into her entire existence. She runs a literary agency and moonlights as an anonymous writer. And of course her books reflect her own teen angst and frustration and the MC's love interest bears a remarkable resemblance to the man who trampled her heart. 

A family emergency calls Miranda back to the town she's been trying to forget. It's a precipitous event because the bucolic setting will give her the peace and quiet she needs to finish the last book in her series. And then of course she stumbles across the man that has loomed in her mind since that fateful night that changed the trajectory of her life. 

He's more handsome and appealing than ever. He's sarcastic, and his wry humor captivates her again. They are thrown together to put on the annual theatre production for the town's theatre production and the sparks fly. But Miranda has secrets and so does Adam. 

Highly recommended for fans of Jen DeLuca !!!!

A sincere thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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Miranda is a great lead, and one we can all find within ourselves. Mostly confident, but hiding behind a pen name as a writer, and humor/snark when uncomfortable, Miranda isn't the most outwardly social person but is loyal to those she lets in her circle. Suffering from middle child syndrome, she always wants to be the peace maker and please everyone, and this summer that means taking on more and more of Bard's Rest's major Shakespeare festival instead of hauling her sisters in to help so she can work on her book. She also has to decide on her feelings for Adam, the sexy vet in town for the summer and helping her dad with set design. Can she get past the fact that he was her high school crush and broke her heart on prom night? There's clear chemistry between them, but a tricky past history makes her wary.
 
I loved that this wasn't just a story about two people falling in love. Yes, it is a second chance romance, a delightful slow burn and sizzle. But it was also about family, the love and dynamics and bonds the sisters share, and rebuilding their relationships after missteps along the way. And it was about Miranda (and Adam) re-discovering what it is they love about their jobs and their lives, for themselves as individuals as well as part of a possible couple.  

A mix of light and serious, this book does have its moments of serious. There is a parent health scare and a hospital scene, so if that's something you're sensitive about, head's up (spoiler alert, things seem ok by the end of the book). A bit of tighter editing in some places might have helped, and I wasn't a fan of the overuse of metaphors Miranda's mental ramblings often take, but that aside, I ended up really enjoying this book. 

Bard's Rest is one of those quirky little towns you wish you could visit, or possibly live in, with humorous Shakespeare twists on everything. The secondary characters flesh out nicely and become full fledged supporting roles of their own, and I am very much hoping sisters Cordy and Portia get their own books down the line so we can keep coming back to Bard's Rest and the delightful world and people Jessica Martin has created.

Fans of Jen DeLuca's Well Met series and romantic comedy in general will enjoy a trip to Bard's Rest to meet Miranda, Adam, and Jessica Martin's delightful For the Love of the Bard.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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This was a delightful read. Sometimes I struggle with ebooks for physical copies, but I ended up purchasing the audiobook for this and I really enjoyed it! The narrator was fantastic! I loved the second chance romance with Miranda and Adam, although I wish it would’ve wrapped up before the epilogue. They had lots of great banter, but I also thought you could see how they cared for each other despite their past. I also loved Puck and Lucille!

I loved the relationship between the sisters and how they supported their mom through her illness. If you enjoyed Well Met or any books in that series, definitely pick this one up. I enjoyed all the Shakespeare references and the theater appreciation the town has. I will definitely check out future books by this author. 

TW for cancer.
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I’m a huge Shakespeare fan, so Jessica Martin’s new contemporary romance For the Love of the Bard was a must-read for me.  Aside from all of the Shakespeare love, the story also features a small town setting, a second chance romance, and a fabulous dog named Puck, all things that are basically catnip for me. For the Love of the Bard doesn’t disappoint either.  I spent most of the book smiling and chuckling to myself and was ultimately bummed when I reached the last page because I wanted to spend more time in this setting with these characters.

The story follows Miranda Barnes, a literary agent and author, who returns to her hometown for the summer in hopes of finding some inspiration to finish her next novel.  Miranda fully expects to hole up in the attic at her parent’s house and write all summer, but her mom has other ideas.  Each year their town hosts a popular Shakespeare festival, and this year is the centennial year and Miranda’s mom is the event planner.  She recruits Miranda to direct one of the plays they will be putting on as part of the celebration.  Miranda reluctantly agrees but immediately finds herself face to face with someone she had hoped never to see again – Adam, the high school flame who ditched her on prom night.  Will Miranda finally get to confront Adam and get some closure about what happened that night so many years ago?

I had so much fun reading this book! Miranda’s hometown of Bard’s Rest, in particular, delighted me.  If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, imagine Stars Hollow but where every building, street, etc. is named using a Shakespearean reference and all the residents are Shakespeare enthusiasts who want to be part of the festival. It was so charming and quaint, and I just wanted it to be a real place so that I could visit it and geek out on all the Shakespearean references.

I was also a big fan of Miranda.  Even though the book is advertised as a romance and there’s definitely plenty to keep readers entertained with respect to Miranda and Adam’s will they or won’t they vibe, it’s Miranda’s journey and her relationship with her family, especially her sisters, that captivated me.  It was interesting to watch the different dynamics between Miranda and each of them as they try to navigate some personal drama regarding their mom’s health.  In addition to the family drama, Miranda is also dealing with fan pressure.  Her fans were very vocal about not liking the direction her last book went in, so she’s under tremendous pressure to write a new installment that will satisfy everyone.  I was very engrossed by what turns out to be a very personal journey of self-discovery for Miranda as she discovers who she really wants to be as an author.

For the Love of the Bard is a charming story about love, family, community, and most of all, it’s about second chances and finding yourself.  If you enjoy stories that features those elements and you’re a Shakespeare fan as well, I highly recommend this one.
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I don’t know how much someone who isn’t a theater major would enjoy this, but thankfully that wasn’t my problem because I thought it was adorably fun. I loved the combination of women’s fiction, romance, theater shenanigans, and drama. The drama! There was so much going on in this story, but I was living for it.

I loved Miranda and her emotional growth throughout it all. I’ve never met a second chance romance I didn’t love and this one didn’t disappoint. Her and Adam were fantastic. All of the literary references and puns made me happy all throughout.
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To be perfectly honest this book was not for me. I could not finish it. While I love the premise, I found it to be cheesy as best.
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This book is so good! It is witty, romantic, emotional, thought-provoking, fun, moving, and so much more. Whenever I picked up "For the Love of the Bard", I was whisked away, and went on quite the journey with this second-chance romance.

This is the first book I have read by Jessica Martin, and it certainly won't be my last! Her writing style is fun, witty, full of heart, and she seamlessly weaves different moments and themes throughout her story. Her world-building is phenomenal, and you truly feel as the reader that you are right there with the characters seeing what is going on.

Miranda plans to return home to Bard's Rest. She wants to continue to write her next novel, in addition to helping with a huge Shakespearean Festival that occurs there each year. Her ex-boyfriend Adam, a vet, is also in Bard's Rest as well. I do not want to say too much due to spoilers, but, I will simply say, this book is a must-read. You see Miranda's relationships with those around her, her love for those she cares about, her passion for all she does, and her strength and vulnerability as she helps her mother and family upon finding out about her mom's illness. Along the way is a second-chance romance that will pull at your heart strings. 

Also, so many Shakespeare references...including Puck! Oh my goodness!

If you enjoy contemporary romance, I highly recommend this book! It kept me turning the pages chapter after chapter, and I can't wait to see what Ms. Martin writes next.

Thank you so much to to Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for the ARC of this book, and to Berkley Publishing Group for having me as part of the blog tour for the novel. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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I ended up liking this book more than I had originally thought I would. It has a very quirky vibe - a LOT of theater and Shakespeare puns - which initially turned me off a bit and I considered DNFing.

Overall it was a light and cute book with minimal stakes. Miranda's family dynamics were really engaging, and her re-kindled romance with Adam was cute, but their issues felt a bit repetitive.
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As much as I fell in love with Bard's Rest and would love for it to be an actual place that I could run away to and live happily ever after .... that was about all that I loved about this one. It didn't seem to know what kind of book it wanted to be. It wasn't quite the rom-com like I was hoping. It teetered on the edge of what is typically labeled "Women's Fiction" now, but it didn't seem to quite fit what I'm used to for that either. It almost feels like the author had a fabulous idea for a town and all the Shakespearean gimmickry and then just threw whatever came to mind on the page around it.
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Are you a Shakespeare fan? The town that is the setting for this novel is obsessed with Shakespeare, from the name of the town, Bard’s Rest, to quaint business names such as the Much Ado About Pastry Cafe, to name just one. They hold a huge two week festival every summer, honoring the works of the Bard. There are just enough Shakespeare references to delight a fan, but not too many to annoy anyone else.
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For The Love of the Bard by Jessica Martin is a cute romcom featuring a writer/publisher returned home for the summer and a veterinarian who broke her heart in high school. It is a second chance romance trope that I adored.
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There were great layers to this book. Of course, there was the romance, but family dynamics, serious health issues, and small town community antics all play their part in the story. Lots of fun with a side of heart warming seriousness. Furthermore, there is a great dog, always my favorite.
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