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Ex Appeal

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Member Reviews

Ex Appeal by Cathy Yardley is part of the Ponto Beach Reunion Series and can also be read as a stand-alone. This is Emily and Vinh‘s story.

Emily and Vinh were together in the past until Vinh ended the relationship. Afterwards they both moved on with their lives even though their feelings for each other never vanished.

Emily works in IT and she tries to make ends meet as she has no degree. Some of the money she earns goes towards helping pay the family debt and that was so not okay and she was taken advantage of by her work but also by her family and it took way too long for her to realize that. Animals as you can see on the cover also play a role in the book and I usually like when animals are incorporated, but here it was in a rather ridiculous way.

Vinh lives a different life and he is super successful at his job. His job however is morally questionable and I didn’t like that that was not an issue for him. One day some money goes missing from one of his accounts and he wants to investigate what happened and therefore gets in contact with Emily again for her to help him.

You could totally feel that there was still something between them, but at the same time I felt that they weren’t on the same page. Also for example the reason why Vinh broke up with Emily was not satisfying for me.

Overall, this is a solid story, but there were some aspects I didn’t like. 3 stars.

(ARC kindly provided in exchange for a review.)

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this book wasn't honestly it for me. I found myself feeling like I was forcing to read it and eventually had to put it up

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compelling prose, fascinating premise, complex characters
however the second chance romance itself didn't work for me. the conflict felt very forced and motivations/reasons for initial breakup vs the reuniting did not feel in tune with the story at play. also felt way too plot heavy with minimal focus on actually re-establishing a relationship

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i feel like i may have liked it more if i’d read the other books in the series, but i did still enjoy it by itself! i’m glad the reasons behind their college breakup came to light sooner rather than later (i hate when they draw that stuff out), and vinh calling emily baby nearly killed me (also not overdone!).


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This second chance romance is fabulous. I am not usually a second chance romance fan, but the amount of tension between Emily and Vihn makes this one hot, hot. hot. I loved learning about hacking, something I knew literally nothing about. Highly recommend this read!

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I love the “nerd herd”, the group of friends this series is based upon. The two other books hinted at Emily and Vinh’s relationship enough that by the time we got to this, the third book in the series, I couldn’t wait to hear their story. I liked the depth of these characters and how much we got of their family and work dynamics as well as seeing our old friends again from the other books. Highly recommended!

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A lovers-enemies-lovers rom com which will keep you reading till the last page!! You find yourself waiting for Emily and Vinh to just get it on and put the past behind them! It’s your typical romcom which is everywhere at the minute but slightly different as they were college sweethearts who broke up on a bad note and haven’t spoken for 10 years!

If you love Spanish Love Deception and The Hating Game then pick this up!

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Thank you for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been fully invested in this Ponto Beach series! I was super excited to receive this ARC almost immediately after finishing Gouda Friends - the second chance romance between Vinh and Emily was well teased!

In general, I really enjoyed the concept of this book - the fun hacking/tech element held my interest (although I did predict the bad guy the second they were introduced lol)

I liked the steam and tension between Vinh and Emily.

The main issue for me: I felt it needed a little more of them re-falling in love. Sometimes second chance romances act like 10 years (or however many years) apart isn’t much time and that the characters haven’t changed much. I think 10 years is a long time and people are so fundamentally different it’s like you need to re meet them. The sexual compatibility was definitely there in Ex Appeal, but I think a few more D&M conversations, dates etc. would have make it more realistic for Vinh and Emily to get involved seriously again (and so quickly).

This wasn’t a deal breaker. I still smashed through it in one sitting, gripped by the story. Cathy Yardley will now be an instant-read author for me. I highly recommend the Nerd Herd and these Ponto Beach books!

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Enemies-to-friends-to-lovers is my favorite trope, and this has the added bonus of shared history and friends in common. The initial miscommunication is understandable, and the plot doesn’t hinge on current miscommunication - just disagreeing on the right path forward.

Cute, funny, and occasionally heartbreaking, this was a one-sitting read with some zip and some organized chaos, with relatable characters and clever banter.

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Great book! The characters were fleshed out. The plot was believable but still had the twinge of fiction. It’s a part of a series, but it was stand alone.

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Really enjoyed the second chance romance in this - which isn’t a trope I frequently enjoy - and also liked the hacking aspect to it as well. It was a unique twist/side plot that made the overall story more engaging.

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Cathy Yardley’s Ex Appeal is the third book in the Ponto Beach Reunion series, but it can stand alone on its own. This book is not only a story of a second-chance romance, but also a story of family, friendship, “adulting”, and life in general.

Ex Appeal follows the story of two former lovers, Vinh and Emily. We’re shown that they didn’t end up on good terms. However, due to Vinh’s work situation, he needed to seek the help of Emily, the only hacker he knows that he can trust.

This book is my first try at reading a second chance romance. I’m not usually a big fan of the trope, but this book just changed my whole perspective of it. I enjoyed the chemistry and banter between the two. But most of all, I love how real and honest they were with each other. What I hate about some romance books is that they're too scared to communicate that it spurs so many problems, but you don't see that here. Here, you know that the characters progressed throughout the book. They all became better versions of themselves, albeit some struggled.

Everything in this book made sense. Everyone’s motivations made sense. This is like reading real life. I find myself almost crying at some parts despite the fact that this really is just a light read. It just hits home, you know? It’s raw, and I love that about this book.

Going back to what I said, this isn’t just a romance book! What really hooked me is how beautiful the friendships are. How hard the family dynamics were. How realistic the kick of life and responsibilities are. This was so well-written, really, that you will find yourself relating to at least one part of the book. I don’t think I’ve quite read a book of this kind that elicited so many emotions from me in a long time.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5, only because the first few pages weren’t so easy to get into for me personally. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys light romance reads, but enjoys a slice of life story, too!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC. I’m leaving this review voluntarily.

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Well, I LOVED this. The banter and chemistry between the two main characters was fantastic and it was so grand to see such a supportive friend group. Given, I know nothing about hacking but it seemed like the author certainly knows their stuff. Thoroughly enjoyable, funny, and heartfelt - I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who loves a second chance romance.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher (Montlake) for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Vinh Doan and Emily MacDonald were childhood sweethearts, she was from a wealthy middle-class close-knit family whereas his parents were permanently fighting and Vinh practically raised his kid sister. Even when his parents split up permanently things didn't get much better, his father got married over and over again, whilst also having multiple affairs, and his mother was focused on rebuilding her career rather than looking after her children. Things fell apart when they went to college, Emily's father died and Vinh broke up with her in the coldest way possible. Since then she's loathed him with a passion.

Fast forward a decade, VInh is bringing in the megabucks acting as a fixer for global conglomerates (eg bribing overseas officials making nasty environmental claims go away etc) and has just been promoted to Vice President, he's got a reputation for being cold as ice and having no emotions. Then one day an uber-secret crypto slush fund of $10 million, which only Vinh had access to, is emptied - the partners blame Vinh and if he can't clear his name and find the real culprit he'll be sacked and publicly vilified. Vinh needs to find a hacker who will help him find the thief, but not steal the money themselves.

Meanwhile, having dropped out of college to support her mother, Emily is earning minimum wage, and working two or three jobs to try to keep their McMansion which her father had mortgaged to the hilt to pay for their lavish lifestyle. Her mother is in denial and acting like a child, barely able to hold down a job and spending money she doesn't have. Her dreams of ethical hacking a distant memory, Emily works as telephone IT support, telling people to turn their computers off and on again with monotonous regularity. Every time she thinks they have their heads above water something else breaks (her car, the boiler, etc) and they are back to square one.

VInh bitterly regrets that he had to break up with Emily, but if he is to clear his name he needs to persuade her to help him, but she isn't going to make things easy for him.

I love a second-chance romance with a STEM female lead but sadly this didn't do it for me. There was too much angst about their past and not enough plot - previously Cathy Yardley has nailed the STEM heroine for me so this was disappointing, like the computer hacking was an afterthought that happened offstage. Also, more annoyingly, I guessed the real thief's identity extremely early on (and I mean extremely) so the element of surprise was totally absent. Overall, I would say it was all a bit simplistic with the crypto theft more of an afterthought than the main event.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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This was a really delightful read— I easily fell into the story from the very beginning. I found both Emily and Vinh to be excellent, dynamic leads with a terrific chemistry.

Their second chance romance made me a believer of that trope I tend to stay away from. I rooted for them from start to finish.

I will say, as much as I cheered the romance on, it didn’t always strike an emotional chord in me. It felt rather surface level, and I wish it had taken a bit more time before the rekindling occurred. Nonetheless, I am so glad I received the arc for this because it introduced me to a terrific author whose works I’m eager to get to know.

Thank you NetGalley and Montlake for providing me an arc in exchange for an honest review.

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I love second chance romances! In this book, Vinh and Emily are exes from high school who have to reunite when Vinh needs Emily to help him out with a work problem. He is a professional fixer for a conglomerate who is now in need of her hacking skills to find a missing ten million dollars that he has been accused of taking.

The best part of this book is watching the two of these characters open up. Vinh lets himself open up to his old friends and his hometown again and finally tells Emily why he broke up with her ten years ago. Emily finally learns to let him in after all this time and also how to put herself first. So much growth for these two! The scenes with the pets were awesome and I love the Herd! Everyone needs friends like them.

Thanks to NetGalley and Montlake for this ARC!

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Ex Appeal by Cathy Yardley was a great read. This book seriously brought out all the delicious romance, friendship, enemies to lovers, ex's to lovers, deliciousness that anyone could wish for. It's a beautiful story about two individuals reaching adulthood, trying to solve their own tribulations alone. While they stumble through their issues, they somehow manage to rekindle a relationship without meaning to. This story depicts the trials of second chances and trusting someone you once said you would never trust again. The way the two main characters came together was warming to the heart and depicted true gut-wrenching and warm hearted love. Even bordering on soul-mates. Although it was, in a sense, predictable, it was also fun to read something light-hearted. Sometimes a simple love story with a fun mystery that needs to be solved to save one of the main characters from potentially losing their job, is just the right read. The book was good and showed how two people who haven't seen each other in years, can reconnect in mere minutes. This book just kept you rooting for the good guys! The adventure they go on to solve Vinh's work mystery makes the story even better, giving the audience more then just a simple re-kindling of love. It was everything and more! I've given it three stars because it was good, but not great. I found a few things a little too predictable and maybe even sometimes cringe. When reading romance, especially a rom-com, it can be easy to fall to one side or the other. It was still a fun read in my mind!

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It's a cute, fluffy read. I love it! I read it in one go too. I hope this book hit the best seller section once it's out on the market. Found out that this is the third book in a series, but I had no issues with reading this as a stand-alone too so that's a plus point. Will be catching up on the first two books soon cause I liked this one! I like how Emily is portrayed as a strong, female lead rather than the normal "damsel in distress waiting for her prince on a shining white house" that you commonly find in books on the market. It's a great second chance romance that teaches you the value of communication and love.

The friendship that the nerd herd has is so precious. The tight-knit, ride-or-die spirit between them really makes you wish that you've a group of friends like that yourself.

All in all, it was a lighthearted book that was a great read with a smooth flow that kept me on my toes. Can't wait to read the rest of the series!

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A fun intro to Cathy Yardley! I hadn't realized that this was the third book in her Ponto Beach Reunion series when I picked it up, but when I did, I was too far into put it down and start from the top. Ex Appeal features a pair of exes who reconnect under a set of strange circumstances, but they both need each other in different ways. Yardley's characters come to life effortlessly and are served well by her fun writing style and her ability to trust the reader's interpretations of her occasionally off-the-wall descriptions. An enjoying read from start to finish!

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Vinh Doan has a problem. Ten million of them, in fact. He’s a high-level fixer for global conglomerates, which means big money…and big troubles. When ten million dollars go missing from one of his accounts, he needs a top-notch hacker to find it. His first thought? Emily MacDonald, his high school ex.

While Vinh has been taking the financial world by storm, Emily has been struggling. After her dad died, she dropped out of college and put her dreams aside. Her job in tech support has seriously tested her sunny disposition and her finances. Now, there’s an unexpected solution: Vinh, the guy who dumped her when she needed him most.

When Emily finally lets herself listen to Vinh’s request, she realizes that this is a desperately needed chance to get paid…and get payback. But the more time they spend together, the more they recognize that even though they’re not the same people they were a decade ago, their off the charts attraction is just as strong as ever. As they give in to their simmering chemistry, can Emily and Vinh let go of their past, figure out their futures—and hack a second chance at love?

Oh my god, wath a beautiful second chance romance!
I really enjoyed how the dynamics between Emily & Vinh gradually changed.
I loved their chemistry and the plot was super soft, light-hearted and somehow managed to include some serious topics too. The side characters were amazing I liked that they nicknamed themselves as the "Nerd Heard", it was just so cute!
Since I had no idea that this book is a part of a series and Cathy Yardley is a new author to me, I'm excited to check out the previous and upcoming books in the series to see which side characters will be getting their own story!

Thanks Netgalley and Cathy Yardley for providing me with this digital arc in exchange for an honest review.

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