Cover Image: For the Love of the Bard

For the Love of the Bard

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Member Reviews

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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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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