Cover Image: Ex Appeal

Ex Appeal

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Member Reviews

Ex Appeal returns to Ponto Beach and the Nerd Herd! It follows Emily and Vinh, who once dated and now avoid each other like the plague. In the years that they’ve been apart, both their lives have changed drastically. When Vinh is trapped in a difficult situation at his company, he needs a hacker. It’s been years since he and Emily had a true conversation, but there’s only one person he can trust to help save his career. Emily has been dealing with money issues and the death of her father. Yet when Vinh offers to pay her to hack and find the true culprit, she can’t resist. Along the way, they discover the real reason they broke up. But is that enough to keep them together?

I have been highly anticipating Emily and Vinh’s story and Cathy Yardley delivered. For the past two books, readers have seen the conflict and regret between Emily and Vinh. I was so curious to learn what broke these two apart! I enjoyed learning what happened between Emily and Vinh and seeing their romance get a second chance. The animals were a cute addition and made for an entertaining side plot. I appreciated the cameos from Lily and Tobin, as well as Tam and Josh. I love the camaraderie and joy of the Nerd Herd and hope we get to see more from this world. Thank you to Cathy Yardley, Montlake, and Netgalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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2.5 stars ☆ I liked all the tropes from this book which are second chance, forced proximity and a bit of enemies to lovers. Emily and Vinh's relationship was cute and amazing but the reason I gave this a low rating was because I didn't connect with the characters that made my reading experience well off, I think it's just a me problem lmao.

Thank you to NetGalley and Montlake for the ARC !!

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I liked the tech element, the romance, and it was a 4-star book for me as well. And I love the 2nd chance trope in this and it was a big plus.

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I’m in love with this book. It was such a fun and easy afternoon read for me. The characters were such a breath of fresh air and I really liked the writing style. Overall, it was a full 5 stars read for me.

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I loved this book so much. I’m a sucker for second chance romance and this one ticks al the boxes in my cards
The chemistry is off the charts and while they are both strong headed at times, the slow burn and close proximity makes them realise that there’s much more in the future for them.

Read if you love a great romance story.

🆓📖Very grateful to the publisher for my review copy

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**Thank you to Cathy Yardley, Montlake Publishing, and NetGalley for allowing me to receive an ARC of Ex Appeal in exchange for an honest review!** I am not typically a fan of second-chance romances, but Ex Appeal has definitely exceeded my expectations! I would totally read more second-chance romances if they were written by Cathy Yardley! I really enjoyed this book. The characters were all very approachable and I felt like the Nerd Herd was a group of friends that you would actually want to hang out with. Vinh and Emily were really enemies at the beginning of this book and I loved the ways that they interacted with each other. There was one line that I really enjoyed that mentioned that Vinh knew how much the Nerd Herd meant to Emily. It wasn't until I was partway through this book that I realized that this was part of a series. I felt like the mentions to the other books were vague enough that you didn't need to have read them. At the same time it made me interested in reading the rest of the books in the series so that I could see how the rest of the Herd fell in love. I definitely feel like there was enough groveling too! I think that's missing in a lot of second-chance romances and I love when the Hero properly grovels to the Heroine. I love to read books that have representation of non-white main characters and I really enjoyed how Yardley mentioned the ways that Vinh felt like his parents and grandparents weren't supportive of his accomplishments. I also really enjoyed how she explained some of the computer terminology that I wasn't super familiar with in an approachable way. I will definitely read more of Cathy Yardley's books and I hope that everyone picks up Ex Appeal!

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Yes! I have been waiting for this book ever since Emily and Vinh’s last was teased all the way back in ‘Love, Comment, Subscribe’… and again in ‘Gouda Friends’ and it did not disappoint! 'Ex Appeal' is the third in the Ponto Beach Reunion series and it was even better than the first two!

I loved reading Emily and Vinh’s story - this was a sweet and sexy second-chance, exs-to-lovers story. After a professional crisis that has him sidelined, he returns to Ponto Beach to regroup, and to ask Emily for help. She’s still angry and hurt from their break-up years ago, when he coldly ended their relationship right after her dad died. In the ensuing years, Vinh has quickly risen the ranks in his high-powered corporate job, while Emily has floundered in her part-time or minimum wage gigs. But she still maintains the computer skills she would need to be a hacker. And a hacker he can trust is exactly what Vinh needs to prove his innocence. But Emily still has the rage and fire of a thousand suns towards Vinh, but despite her anger, she can see he really does need her help. But helping him doesn’t have to mean forgiving him. But they say there’s a fine line between love and hate for a reason… their passion and chemistry and love is still there under their hardened veneers, and it’s not long before they fall back into old patterns. But the past can’t stay in the past, and they have to face their future whether they like it or not.

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Betrayal is the main theme permeating Ex Appeal. Vinh dumped Emily at her lowest ebb, but ironically needs her skills at his lowest ebb.
I loved all the IT stuff because I wish I liked technology better and had some hacking skills. I loved the revenge project Emily helped Vinh with. There’s nothing better than the good guys winning to read about.
Emily was shouldering way too many burdens for her family and I impatiently waited for her to see the light and get out from underneath it.
I loved the Nerd Herd group, sounds straight out of Revenge of the Nerds movie.
Never underestimate the power of nerding or making big changes in life.

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This is the third book in the series and my first. The book follows Vinh and Emily who are members of the friend group the nerd herd. I was able to read as a standalone.
An enemy to lovers trope with some spice.

Emily and Vinh, highschool sweethearts broke up during their first year of college. Emily decided she would hate Vinh forever.

Vinh works at a consulting firm in NYC. He is missing Thanksgiving and staying late at work when he noticed one of the accounts is missing some money. When he tells his bosses they accuse him of stealing the money. He is put on temporary leave until they can figure out what happened. Vinh goes home to Ponto beach, California and asks the person he trusts the most. Emily if she will help him.

I really enjoyed this book. It hooked me from the start and I had to finish it.

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A cute second chance romance that is entertaining and quick.
Vihn and Emily's relationship did not end on good terms and they have avoided each other since, Vihn finds himself in trouble at work he needs to ask Emily for her help because she is the only hacker he can trust with his job and reputation on the line.
I didn't realize this was the third book in a series till I added this on Goodreads, however I didn't find I was missing anything by not having read the other two books.
Thank you to Montlake, Cathy Yardley, and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review. Will be keeping my eyes out for more books by the author.

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Ex Appeal is the much anticipated (by me) third instalment of the Ponto Beach Reunion series. In the first two books, Love, Comment, Subscribe and Gouda Friends, we’ve seen Vinh Doan and Emily MacDonald in the background. They were high school sweethearts who went off to college together and then Vinh broke up with Emily when she needed him most. If you are a longtime romance reader, you know they are definitely getting back together. It’s a classic set-up.

In the years since their break-up, Emily has returned to Ponto Beach after dropping out of college and is barely keeping it together financially. Vinh is making huge amounts of money as a fixer for a large, shady consulting firm, but he lives the job and has little contact with friends or family. When he realizes 10 million dollars has been stolen from a client’s illegal slush fund that only he can access, he asks Emily for help. In exchange, he offers a lot of money and the opportunity for her to make him miserable.

Cathy Yardly has written a surprisingly quiet romance for a book that has hacking, corporate spying, and epic lovers getting back together. Typically, in a lovers to enemies to lovers story, there’s going to be a big grovel. There are apologies and an offer of a grovel, but no big grovel and I liked it. I liked the way that Emily and Vinh rethought their pasts and their current lives. I’m not a Wayne Dyer fan, but I like his quote, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Vinh balances regret for hurting Emily with acceptance that his choices were limited. As they work through the damage of their break-up, they both start to see their present and future differently.

So many of the books I’ve read recently deal with grief. In Ex Appeal, grief has frozen Emily and her family in time. Grief has numbed Vinh.

CW: death of parent in the past, toxic parents, betrayal, money worries, threat of prosecution, corporate espionage, snakes and reptiles.

I received this as an advance reader copy from Montlake and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, honestly and freely given.

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Vinh is a financial fixer of sorts who deals with insane amounts of money and has basically no life outside of his very cold and demanding job. When he is falsely accused of stealing $10 million, he has nowhere else to turn but to Emily, the love of his life ex he unceremoniously dumped back in college. Although she is working in a call center now, Emily has the skills and contacts to hack into complex computer systems and clear Vinh’s name. The fact that she can’t stand to be anywhere near Vinh is only a minor obstacle, especially when it means that the fee she’ll receive could give her a bit of breathing room when it comes to maintaining her family home. Emily has been so mired in her family’s misery since the death of her father ten years earlier and so focused on keeping her mother’s spirits up and finances afloat that she hasn’t been able to even enjoy the close friendships she has. Vinh doesn’t even remember what it’s like to have friends and people he can trust.

This series continues to be so very enjoyable. Although I wanted to smack some sense into Emily at times for the way she allowed her mother’s grief to swallow up all of their lives, I could also see how that situation could happen—you’re so focused on just getting through this day, that emergency that you keep your head down and keep working and before you know it, ten years are gone. I loved seeing these two, who were so madly in love, work through the hurt and help each other to see that there is more to life than work and financial survival. It’s also so much fun to see the couples from the previous books be happy and content in their lives. Thanks to Netgalley and Montlake for the eARC. Available 11/01/22.

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I've tried multiple times to read this book, because the incipit was very interesting, but I don't think it's my cup of tea. We start in a sort of medias res, and it's ok, because you think some think something will be developed better in the next chapter, but the fact is that events are presented, but don't have the strenght to reach the reader and capture their attention. So, I'm really sorry but for me it's a DNF.

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This story focuses on Vinh and Emily. Vinh broke Emily’s heart in high school, and she never got pasted it. It makes for some great enemies to lovers tension. Vinh is a lonely bachelor workaholic who is being set up/framed for something at work and he goes to Emily for help.

The beginning focuses on the current lives of each main character and because they “hate” each other they don’t over lap right away. It’s important to the story as to why they are brought back together.

There is a bit if mystery/suspense to this book, a who done it, that makes you want to keep going to see who is behind it.

I think this will hit the mark with those who enjoy second chance romances and character development stories.

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Tropes:
- enemies to lovers
- second chance
- forced proximity

Emily and Vinh, former high school sweethearts who had a nasty breakup in college, have done everything in their power to avoid one another for the last decade. Unfortunately, Vinh ends up in some trouble and is being framed, and the only way to clear his name is to hire a hacker--Emily.

Oh gosh! Ex Appeal was such a fun read! Super sweet, with the perfect amount of tension and pining between Emily and Vinh. Plus I'm a sucker for a great banter and second chance romance, and this checked all the boxes for me!

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This was a many layered romance that kept me hooked from the outset right through to the end. I’m not usually one for second chance romance but how could I not be invested in Vinh and Emily? Outside of their romance, they both have their own issues and narratives which really helped to build a sense of the characters and give the story depth, whilst also bringing the pair closer together - strictly business, of course…

Yardley easily convinced me of their chemistry but also their connection beyond that. These characters spoke to each other, opened up and were vulnerable. It was great to see the dual perspective - I always prefer this in a romance and both characters were given their own voices and I enjoyed knowing what they were both thinking. Alongside all this was a bit of drama (my favourite) and some spice!

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I read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoyed the first book in this series, and this one can be read as a standalone.
It was a light romantic read, with a bit of mystery thrown in. I liked the feelings the main characters had for each other, but was interested to see how the author would explain their ten year hiatus.
I liked the closure Emily had with her mother; and also, how Vinh confronted his employers. They were some satisfying scenes.
Overall 3.5 stars

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The story
Emily and Vinh were together in high school in Porto Beach and then went to to NYU together. When her father died and she ended up dropping out of college, Vinh broke up with Emily, much as he didn’t want to. It’s ten years down the line, Vinh’s work situation has become dire and he needs Emily’s hacker skills. She’s working a minimum wage job but hasn’t lost the skills she once had.

My thoughts
I just adored the first two books in this series (Like, Comment, Subscribe and Gouda Friends), and this next instalment is like the cherry on the top. The series covers stories of couples who were at school together in Porto Beach, and who still get together calling themselves the “Nerd Herd”. Emily and Vinh both realise how their own issues contributed to their split and they know that if they had stayed together before, things wouldn’t have really worked out. But once the necessary apologies and explanations are out of the way, I love how these two are with each other. There is forgiveness, kindness and generosity in spades, delivered with great banter and a dash of spice.

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Vinh knows that the only person he can trust to help him prove he didn't steal the cryptocurrency is Emily but there's a problem. They were sweethearts until they weren't. Yes it is a fairly trope-y second chance romance but it's got that nice twist of tech and ethical hacking. thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A fast entertaining read.

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I read this right as the ARCs were sent out more than two months ago. Unfortunately, I didn't take any notes so my review will be brief.
I enjoy Cathy Yardley's books and this series has worked great for me. I have to say this one is not my favourite of them all.
I did like the tension and the romantic plot of two former lovers coming back together. I was excited for the STEM heroine but the whole hacking/computer stuff was not as good as I hoped it would be.
Interesting family dynamics but I found the romance ultimately forgettable.
Loved the cameos of the couples from the previous two books - felt real and I loved catching up on their lives.
Overall, this is not a bad installment in the series but the first two books worked better for me.

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