Cover Image: Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail

Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail

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Member Reviews

- I really enjoy this author! She includes so much heart in her stories along with sweet, fun, and steamy queer romances!
- Appreciated the complexity and growth of Astrid's character-from her fear of failing and disappointing to discovering her sexuality, her character arc was great
- Jordan also had a complicated background that made for an interesting character
- The relationship was fun to follow and it seemed very genuine
- Loved the small town setting, friend group, and inn renovation premise! (Though the tv show part was okay)
- While I enjoyed, it did feel like it was missing that spark Delilah Green had, but overall still solid

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One of the best sapphic contemporary romance series I've ever read. I was delighted to see Astrid get her second chance at romance after the first book.

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I'm going to be upfront: this was an DNF at 23%, even when consuming it via audiobook (usually a way to get me through a book that I would typically like but have a block for whatever reason).

First off, Astrid stole a good bit of the show in the first book, so I was very interested in her story going into this. Second, I love rivals-to-lovers and can always get down with a reality TV setting/backdrop.

However, the "background" stuff was so awful I couldn't push through to get to any of the character stuff.

The general gist: Astrid Parker has been hired to renovate the old (and allegedly haunted) Victorian inn of Bright Falls. Her interior design business needs the business and Astrid needs the win after breaking up with her shitty fiance in the first book. Jordan has moved back to Bright Falls after her relationship and carpentry job went up in flames (literally, for the job). The renovation project is being filmed by a well-known inn-based home improvement show, so the pressure is on for Astrid and Jordan, as her grandmother, who owns the inn, needs the boost in bookings to keep the inn afloat. When Astrid and Jordan butt heads, they're encouraged by the show's host and producer to play up the rivalry for "good tv." Of course, an attraction grows between them.

So here goes, my detailed reasons for DNF'ing this book (even though I liked the first one and had plans to read the third in the series).

First: the "meet ugly" between Astrid and Jordan. Jordan knocks Astrid over and spills several cups of coffee on her and her dress. This is not Astrid's fault. Her being upset and asking for Jordan's number so she can pay for the drycleaning is not a villainous thing to do. Sure, Astrid shouted, but can you blame her? Jordan didn't just open a door into her, she opened it so forcefully that Astrid was knocked off her feet. But somehow Astrid is the bad guy? And then Jordan, who said she was sorry at that point and would go on to weep in her car just after this incident, called Astrid's dress ugly when she put her name/number in Astrid's phone. Doesn't sound like remorse to me.

But whatever, that's minor.

The big issue? The insanity around the inn renovation. Jordan's twin brother and her grandmother hired Astrid and instructed her to redesign the inn as "modern," and so Astrid does. It's all millennial grey and white trim. It's getting rid of ORIGINAL pieces. Jordan is the ONLY person who is seeing all this and calling it insane. Which it is. You do not redesign a Victorian inn the way you would a modern hotel or office. Jordan's brother keeps on saying "customers expect updates." No. No, when a customer books a room at a HAUNTED Victorian inn, they want to feel like they're at a friggin' haunted Victorian inn. Victorians were also about luxury. You don't need to strip away the historic ambience to get luxury. Soulless grey walls do not fit the aesthetic of the inn. There are also different pedagogical approaches to restoring/renovating historical buildings. You do not get rid of wainscotting. You rehabilitate and preserve them. You DO NOT TOSS CLAWFOOT TUBS IN THE DUMPSTER. There are places where you can take this pieces if you don't want to keep them so that other people can use them (there's a reuse warehouse like this in my city). There are collectors out there who would be happy to pay top dollar for ORIGINAL pieces. If you are cash-strapped like Jordan's grandmother (who took out a loan for the renovation), you keep everything that you can and update it cosmetically. You don't THROW IT OUT.

I felt like everyone was on a different planet, with only Jordan saying they were all out of their minds to strip away everything the inn was.

I couldn't do it. Astrid was even out of character here. She says that she's never done a redesign like this before, and she just treats it like all the doctors/dentists offices she'd designed before? No! Her personality would have demanded she do research into how to do this right.

Anway, that's it. I didn't continue past this point because it was so frustrating.

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After enjoying Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake I had high hopes for Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail. I especially loved Astrid’s character in the preceding novel and thought she had a lot of potential. So the idea of her being the titular character of her own queer romance had me very excited.

And as much as I loved Astrid – I adored Jordan! She was so hot. But also so cute? I was smitten.

Blake’s return to Bright Falls brought along her signature delightfully witty banter. It was so much fun to fall back into this world, this time through the eyes of Astrid and Jordan.

Sometimes with a dual POV, I find myself preferring to read one character’s perspective more than the other, but that never happened here. Astrid and Jordan were perfect leads (and perfect for each other!)

One of my favorite aspects of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care was how well-realized the characters were. And, while I didn’t find the ancillary characters to be as rounded out in Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail, Astrid and Jordan’s development more than made up for that. They were strong leads who it was impossible not to root for.

Astrid’s storyline in particular was really enjoyable to read. It was rewarding to see her coming into her own, finding her identity and her sexuality as an adult.

Their romance was swoon-worthy. The chemistry between Astrid and Jordan from the instant they met was palpable. The tension during that rivals-to-lovers lead-up made those soft, tender moments when they finally came together all the more satisfying. And the spicy scenes? Hot. Very hot.

Thank you to the publisher, Berkley, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

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Loved this more than Delilah! I enjoyed seeing Astrid have a bit of a redemption arc after everything that happened in the first book, and loved her getting away from her toxic mom. Can’t wait for book 3!

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First, a confession: I never liked romance novel covers. For the first thirty-five years of my reading life, I had no idea what went on between the covers of romance novels (well, okay, I had some idea), but if it had anything to do with what was on the cover—hard pass. Now, I am aware that some genre purists detest the illustrated cover trend, and I get that. For how many readers, though, has the illustrated cover been a gateway drug to the romance novel? It was for me. And that brings us to Delilah Green, the town of Bright Falls, and their creator, Ashley Herring Blake.

From the very first chapter of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care (2022), I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Delilah Green, Claire Sutherland, Iris Kelly, Astrid Parker, and anyone else to whom Blake would introduce me. Yes, even Astrid—who, by the way, gives off such extreme Lemon Breeland vibes that I’ve since had to go back and rewatch a few episodes of Hart of Dixie. Blake balances the sibling tension between Delilah and Astrid with the main romance plot between Delilah and Claire, all the while developing the setting of Bright Falls, Oregon. Another confession: I have been trying to escape from coastal Georgia for a while now, hoping to end up in Oregon. If the Bright Falls that Blake wrote about was real, I would have moved there immediately. Delilah needs a GenX friend who can go toe-to-toe with her sarcasm and eyerolls, right?

Imagine my surprise when I discovered what was waiting for me in the sequel, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail (2022). Blake introduces her readers to a new character, Jordan Everwood, who has arrived from—yes, serendipity and irony are real things, folks—coastal Georgia. (It is less surprising if you know that Herring lives in coastal Georgia. But no less serendipitous.) After a crushing breakup that challenged her sense of self, Jordan finds herself an unlikely match for Astrid. Astrid learns to loosen up (sort of), and everyone in Bright Falls is happy. Almost everyone. Something truly unfortunate happens to Iris Kelly in Astrid Parker, which serves as the setup for the third Bright Falls novel.

Oh, and the plot of Astrid Parker revolves around an HGTV-esque renovation reality show. If that sort of thing matters to you.

Blake is not the first person to create a charming small town in which romance and hijinks occur. I know I said that I didn’t know what went on within the pages of romance novels, but I’ve seen Hart of Dixie, remember? For what it’s worth, though, I’d take Bright Falls over Bluebell, Virgin River, or even Stars Hollow (yes, Stars Hollow) any day. The best feature of Blake’s Bright Falls series is the way that she examines the trauma that her characters have had to face. Whether it’s the death of a parent, an overbearing mother, a devastating breakup, or a bad reputation, Blake takes her readers through what it means to be wounded by life and by the people in it. Trauma doesn’t just “scar” us; it lives on, at least until it is dealt with. Nothing, and I mean nothing—not even the illustrated covers—gets me more in a romance novel than one character telling another that their trauma is real and then helping them deal with it.

Iris Kelly doesn’t date because anyone she dates will inevitably let her down. Blake provides us with a catastrophic example of this maxim in Astrid Parker. When we meet up with Iris at the beginning of Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date (2023), she’s done with it all: cheaters and liars, people who think being bisexual means being greedy or hypersexual, and people who are convinced that Iris does not have her life priorities straight. And that is how Iris ends up at Lush, a club in Portland, where she spots her next one-night stand. All is going to plan until the stranger responds to Iris’s seduction technique by vomiting all over her.

I wonder sometimes if there are people out there who are as forgiving as the characters in romance novels. I’m sure there are, but I have no interest in the world of people who are securely attached. Another thing I’ve learned about what goes on between the covers of romance novels: no one seems to have a secure attachment style. And I am here for it. Because the fantasy (or heightened reality) of people helping each other process their traumas while finding love is one I can wholeheartedly support.

I almost didn’t write this review because, as I suspected, it was too easy to discuss what has resonated with me in the Bright Falls series rather than actually review Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date. I would argue, though, that those are not two separate things. I felt a lot of sympathy for Iris, but Stevie’s anxiety is something that I have actually felt. (Not in the way that she felt it during her first interaction with Iris, I should clarify.) Stevie is a fawner who is still friends with her ex. She also lets people tell her what she thinks (or should think), and she struggles with who she is on multiple levels. I am much more interested in those issues than I am with the fake dating plot of the novel. As far as fake dating plots go, this one’s pretty good—it involves an extremely queer production of Much Ado about Nothing.

If that sort of thing matters to you.

What I am going to remember about the Bright Falls series is thinking about how it must have felt for Delilah, Jordan, and Stevie to (re)discover a magical place that is a thousand times better than Narnia. (There is a White Witch—it’s Astrid. And Delilah and Iris have some fierce manes. Also, Astrid makes a caramel dark chocolate seven-layer cake, so those Narnia kids can just keep their Turkish Delight to themselves.) I don’t want to leave Bright Falls, and Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date certainly lives up to the first two novels in the series. As a standalone novel, Iris Kelly would still merit a solid four stars. The Bright Falls series, however, is greater than the sum of its parts. Five stars for six people who I would be glad to know in real life.

If I have to, though, I’ll settle for Delilah Green cameos in every single one of Blake’s future novels.

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This is number two in the Bright Falls series, and as far as I'm concerned Ashley can do no wrong!

Astrid Parker is an interior designer, but her business has been struggling for a while. When she gets the opportunity to be the lead designer on a local inn renovation for a major home improvement show she knows it's exactly what she needs to get things back on track. The only problem is Jordan Everwood.

Jordan is the granddaughter of the inn's owner, and right from the start she knows Astrid is all wrong for this project. Nothing a bit of light sabotage can't fix though.

They say there's a fine line between love and hate though, and Astrid and Jordan are about to obliterate that line altogether.

There was a lot of tension in this book, and I thought the author handled Astrid's questioning of her sexuality very well. The characters were fantastic, both main and supporting, and I could easily read ten more books about them all.

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This was a fun additional installment! I really enjoy the balance of difficult issues with delightful romance that AHB always seems to nail. I can't wait for the next book!

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If Ashley Herring Blake writes it, I will read it.
Astrid Parker is the blueprint for every Type A girl who is *this close* to loosing it.

The Vibes:
- Forced proximity
- opposites attract
- queer rep
- small town
- complex mother daughter relaitonship

This is such a fun, steamy, sweet series!

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Okay so I was not prepared to identify so much with Astrid. The ways she feels she has to be put together, unflinching, cold, and calculated. Ever since Delilah Green Doesn't Care I've been intrigued in Astrid. In trying to see her unpack what her mother has done to her, her visions of herself, and who she is. And it was worth the wait. With a disastrous meet cute, Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail is perfect for everyone who has scoffed at those who said failure was a step towards success. To everyone who thinks that failure is the ultimate loss and will try to avoid it at any cost.

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While reading, I had fun. I was enjoying it and had a great time. But, as I sat down to write the review I realized I could think of a lot more negatives than positives for this which is not the reflection I want to have while looking back on a book.

Not having read Delilah Green Doesn’t Care, I came into the book not knowing any of the characters. So, I had no background other than what was in this book.

Astrid is a character I was off put from at first, but at some point that switch flipped. I adored Astrid. Her character was one that I found relatable. Some of her thoughts felt like they had been plucked right out of my head. I imagine that a number of readers would be able to relate to her people pleasing tendencies and that struggle of pushing yourself to please a parent.

Jordan is someone whose development was rather simple. Readers get her backstory and that’s a repeat performance throughout the novel. To the point where it didn’t feel new. There wasn’t a building on her issues with her ex-wife, just repeated in different ways that didn’t expand the problem or showcase how Jordan was healing from it.

Throughout the story, a number of things felt rushed - a large number.

The romance is one that felt rushed. Starting off, this feels like the perfect chance for a good slow burn enemies to lovers. The plot easily leads to this. Astrid the designer for the HGTV type show who really wants to go a more minimalist approach while Jordan is angry about it and really wants to keep the personality that is already there. It’s setting up for battles and fights. Tension did build between them and then they were admitting there was something there and were together.

A rushed romance isn’t he end of the world if the chemistry is there or really built. Yet, the chemistry wasn’t there. One scene comes to mind where I felt like Astrid and Jordan were connecting with one another and really getting to know each other. That was it. There relationship felt more like it was built on lust or exploring than a connection which is not something I usually jive with in my romances.

There are multiple aspects to the ending that felt rushed. For one, things with Astrid’s mother. While it as nice to see and did offer hope, the whole thing felt out of character for her mom. it really felt like it came from left field.

This novel does have the third act break up, but it also felt like it happened so late that things couldn’t get resolved. There is a line that talks about how they discussed everything that happened and that’s the resolve readers get. With the lack of deep conversations the readers got to see Astrid and Jordan have, not having that one seemed to highlight their struggling chemistry and surface level depth.

As I mentioned at the beginning, while reading, I enjoyed getting caught up in the story and being swept away. So, if you are looking for a quick read to take your away from real life for a bit, give this one a shot. I just wouldn’t think a lot about it otherwise I think that’s where it starts to fall apart.

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This enemies-to=lovers story was so sweet! I loved the details of the project itself, and both characters were so well drawn and endearing. I've recommended this book in the series to a lot of people.

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I loved this book, perhaps a bit more than the first one. While I enjoyed Delilah and Claire and loved their relationship, there was always something about Astrid. I love older characters finding out their sexuality and exploring and falling in love.

This was cute and lovely and so much fun.

Also! Jordan? *Swoon!!*

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This series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. After book one, I wasn't sure how'd I'd feel about Astrid's book given how much I didn't care for her in Delilah's story but, MAN, was I pleasantly surprised. The vulnerability and tenderness displayed throughout this story was almost too much for my heart and I had tears in my eyes through a lot of this one. Four bright, shiny stars!

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A great continuation of books set in this town, Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail follows Astrid, who after her engagement was broken off, is looking to get back on her feet and the way she plans to do that is by redesigning a local inn, but she continues to clash with the inn owners granddaughter Jordan, who is also the lead carpenter on the project. And on top of that all of this will be on a renovation TV show. But she Astrid and Jordan's dislike starts to shift to something else, Astrid must decide whether she should pursue the life she has always planned for or the one she truly wants.

I absolutely adored Astrid and Jordan's relationship. They did occasionally go a little far with the pranks, but they had such chemistry all the way through. This book was entertaining and lighthearted, while still managing to handle difficult topics like imposter syndrome. Ashley Herring Blake does a magnificent job balancing romance and someone struggling with what they want their life to be without letting one overpower the other.

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I LOVED this book so much. I really appreciated gaining this closer perspective on Astrid and how she really is. I loved watching the ice queen melt and how she slowly opens herself up to Jordan. I also loved seeing their dynamic w the added cameos of iris, delilah and claire. I can’t wait for Iris’s book!

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Ahhh I loved being inside Astrid's head!!! I was able to figure her out in the first one, but it was so nice to actually see how her brain works. I also very much lived Jordan and I think the story developed very nicely. Can't wait for the third!

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LOVED this follow up and reading more about Astrid and getting inside her brain. Also I feel that the realization she went through a out her queerness was believable as well as what she did to try to make sure she could be a good giver as well as receiver. This was a great development into the story and, after this one, I am looking forward to Iris's story.

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This book is a masterclass in how to write an unlikable protagonist who eventually learns to be a better person. Astrid is not my favorite person by any standard. She is incredibly rude and annoying and demanding, and somehow, I managed to like her by the end of the book. But the real highlight of this book for me was Jordan. What can I say? I love a woman who is incredibly competent. All in all, beautiful love story, amazing setting, and I seriously can’t wait to read Iris’s book next.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me free access to the digital advanced copy of this book.

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