Cover Image: Chick Magnet

Chick Magnet

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Member Reviews

I need more contemporary romances like this! Nic is a bubbly and smart YouTuber with chickens (!) and Will is a struggling small town vet. Nic has upended her life and relocated to her grandmother’s childhood hometown to try to escape some Bad Stuff. Will lives across the street and their first meeting involves catching a loose chicken. Hilarious, and a relatable scene for most pet owners. From there it’s a sweet and sexy small town romance that meanders through the life stuff that Nic and Will are navigating both separately and together.

So much stuff I loved in this book. Banter that’s fun but also real (I am *not* a fan of the over the top romcom). People with real problems that are relatable but not trauma for the sake of trauma, and some fantastic handling of mental health issues incorporated into the story. Grumpy and Sunshine and we get *why* they are that way, and also why the Sunshine character is sometimes sad and the Grumpy one is actually sweet. Two people that fit, that have instant chemistry but not instalust, and also have real reasons not to trust right away. A supportive small town secondary cast that’s quirky but not caricatured. Family drama that’s due to people being different but not purposefully toxic or villainous. Ok, that reminds me, this book does have one villain who is important to the story line, but he ends up not mattering because everyone has moved on from his BS. I also appreciate the realistic way the storyline of Will’s veterinary business is handled. The overall message of the book is about how we are shaped by life experiences and how we find happiness in life’s imperfections and even during times of apparent failure. There’s also a lot of love and joy in all the relationships in the book, not just the main characters’ love story. It’s a very grounded story, but also very uplifting.

In sum, everything about this worked for me and I’m very excited to read more from this author!

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Nicole Jones needs a fresh start. She's publicly dumped by a YouTuber for clout. She has no choice but to round up her birds and move on. But when one of her hens has an emergency, Nic gets her first taste of her new stomping grounds—and it isn’t good. Veterinarian Will Lund is wildly attractive, yes, but he’s also surly. In fact, he comes right out and calls her a menace for parading her chickens on social media. It was an intriguing read. And am voluntarily leaving my review.

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I read Emma Barry's CHICK MAGNET with my eyes back in January. I then read it with my ears back in February. It's now mid-March, and I still think about the book.

On the surface of the novel, you have a chicken influencer, Nicole Jones aka Chick Nic, buying a house sight unseen, in a small town in Virginia and moving across the country after the breakup with her boyfriend is love streamed. Her next door neighbor is veterinarian Will Lund. The two don't exactly get along after one of her chickens escapes into the yard during a rainstorm. Followed the next day by an emergency visit to his clinic for a different chicken.

However, at its core, this novel is so much more. It touches upon "influencer" culture. Family dynamics that while not quite toxic, they are complicated. Making new friends as an adult in a new place. Dealing with multiple aspects of post-pandemic life, mainly it's financial and mental toll on individuals, and on a town.

While Nic might have moved across the country, this is very much about Will's journey. How he applies so much pressure on himself, and feels like a failure because he cannot keep his practice afloat. How it leads to spiritual depression. How he seeks help both with his mental health, and in other areas of life.

Do yourself a favor, if you haven't read Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn yet, read these two books back to back. If you've read it already, definitely put CHICK MAGNET on your TBR, and read it as soon as possible.

While I received access to the eARC from @amazonpublishing, I read and listened to it as part of my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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This was a cute read that managed to be lighthearted but also emotional. Emma Barry managed to deal with the fallout from COVID really well and with a lot of care. I loved seeing Nicole regain her confidence after her previous relationship, as well as seeing Will deal with his mental health and professional issues. And of course the chicken content was amazing!

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I requested this book from Netgalley solely due to the fact the female main character is a CHICKEN INFLUENCER. No joke, she's like this homesteading social media darling who has a huge following of people who like both her and her chickens.
Nic has just got out of a toxic relationship with a fellow YouTube influencer and has fled to a small town. Of course she runs straight into her neighbor Will who is a big tall sexy Viking and also happens to be the local vet. Nic is a sunshine-y girl with a charming personality, Will is terse and grumpy with most people.
I almost gave up on this romance in the middle as the pacing was a bit slow, but by the end I was fully back on board. Lust and love grows between them as they are drawn together like magnets. I loved that they spend a lot of time on the porch of their houses talking about their personal issues - Will's business is failing and he has a lot of angst/guilt about it, Nic is dealing with the fallout of being in a relationship with a terrible person for a long time that also ended in her losing her best friend.
The spice level was medium, I was actually worried it was going to be mild but it turned out it got spicier as things went along!
Recommended if you like small town romances with large gruff male love interests!

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This was actually a pretty cute fun read. It’s an enemies-to-lovers romance between two neighbours, an influencer and a veterinarian set in a small town. Honestly I expected it to be cringy but it’s a cute kind of cringy and I really enjoyed this one.

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I was charmed by every page of this book. The chicken-loving YouTuber and the small town vet is an adorable idea and Emma Barry executes it with wit and care. More than that, however, it's a novel about the ways we allow other people to define us, the ways we believe in ourselves and one another, the ways we struggle with mental health. I love that Nic and Will are both damaged but still fully functional. I love how she sees him and knows him from the jump. I love how he is UNDONE by her. It's a delicious and careful dissection of how it can feel to fall in love when two fundamentally decent people take a chance together.

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I’ve enjoyed Emma Barry’s romances since reading her histrom, Brave In Heart. I have great, sentimental affection for it because it was one of the first romances I reviewed on this very blog (turning TEN in May). So I was awfully glad to see another Barry romance on the horizon, except I admit approaching it with a gimlet eye: while I love Barry’s romances, I really really hate chickens. When I used to spend summers in my parents’ Greek village, stray, mangy dogs and squawking, fluttering, pea-brained, eat-anything, gag-inducing-smelly chickens were what I hated most about it (also roosters crowing at sun-rise when you’d been pickled in ouzo the night before). Like Chick Magnet‘s hero, Will Lund, I never warmed to heroine Nicole Jones’ chickens, but like Will, I liked Nicole and I liked what Barry wrought. I don’t think Chick Magnet has the wit and sheer fun of Barry’s Political Persuasions series (once in a while, it peaked through), but I still read this in one sitting during a work-week from hell (five-hour Zoom, anyone?); and, except for an uncertain beginning, it got better and better with each page-turn. To give you a more-details picture, the publisher’s blurb:

Nicole Jones needs a fresh start. “Chick Nic” to millions of internet fans, the social media star and her flock of chickens bask in the spotlight—until she’s publicly dumped by a YouTuber for clout. She has no choice but to round up her birds and move on.

But when one of her hens has an emergency, Nic gets her first taste of her new stomping grounds—and it isn’t good. Veterinarian Will Lund is wildly attractive, yes, but he’s also surly. In fact, he comes right out and calls her a menace for parading her chickens on social media.

As neighbors, Nic and Will can’t exactly avoid each other. Then again, maybe they don’t want to. The two can’t deny their smoldering attraction, and it isn’t long before late-night confessions lead to backyard shenanigans.

Is this the start of a neighborly relationship—or could something more be hatching?

Barry’s Chick Magnet offers much, especially how she worked in what the pandemic lockdowns did to small-town, small-scale, small-animal vet practices, but, hey, this is a romance, so the best part was the growing love between Nicole “Nic” and Will. Unlike my previous “listen”, Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun, this is NOT plot-driven. It’s a beautifully developped romance, about two mature, flawed people falling in love. And to build her romance, Barry made choices that I think bring out the best in the genre and also happen to be personal favourites. She has a giant of a hero and a short-scale heroine (personal fave); she has sunshine to grump (Nicole to Will, another fave); she has a dilapidated, loving, supportive small-town setting; she has a hero and heroine who need other people almost as much as they want, need, and love each other (nothing worse than an insular couple-dom for your HEA). I loved that she delays their love scenes till after they have feelings and friendship, affection, flirting, healthy lusting, and care, and those love scenes? They are terrific: not closed-door, not coyly euphemistic, but tender and real.

And Barry can write: there was a flattening of her previous witty style in the romance’s first third, but there was also some recovery. And the recovery was good. Witness Nic’s first glimpse of Will: “An enormous, wide-shouldered, sandy-blond-haired, broad-faced man — good-looking in a pillaging-Viking sort of way — stood on her steps”. Barry knows her lit and her genre and she hits many a delightful note with allusions. For a reader like me, I practically sat up and cheered every time I read something along those lines; my heart sang with: “…he’d declared that he was going to be a vet because his mother had been reading the James Herriot books aloud,” or “It made him want to…move to Casablanca, open a bar, and say cynical, cutting things to Nazis”. Sometimes, it was the sheer fun of a particular metaphor that made me smile: “Nic had a way of shaking him up like a snow globe, stirring up a blizzard of change inside him.” I also love the wonderful interplay between allusions to Greek myths and what love still can mean in this post-pandemic, apocalyptic-rumblings “brave new world” we’re living: ” ‘I was Psyche, alone in the dark. And if you can let me care for you, if you can feel worthy of that, you could be my Eros.’ “

It’s good to read Barry again. But like the way the genre has gone these past five years, so have her themes: Barry has left ideas for issues and I was intellectually disappointed with that. But the romance is absolutely lovely and Miss Austen would agree, Chick Magnet is “a mind lively and at ease,” Emma.

Emma Barry’s Chick Magnet is published by Montlake and has been available since January 24th. I received an e-ARC from Montlake, via Netgalley, and this does not affect my opinion.

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I love this book! It's an honest look at how the pandemic affected people's lives and how so many came out different. It's also funny and sweet and so well-written.

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This is a good book. The two main characters are Nic and Will. Nic moves to Will’s hometown. Nic is a social influencer. Will is a veterinarian. They are neighbors. When they first meet one of Nic’s chickens has escaped. Will helps her find her chicken. Nic tries to help Will by putting him on her social media. They each have issue but together they work them out and fall in love.

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Chick Magnet is available now in Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ Book Review

Meet the Author: Emma Barry is a teacher, novelist, recovering academic, and former political staffer. She lives with her high school sweetheart and a menagerie of pets and children. She occasionally finds time to read and write.

Synopsis: Nicole Jones “Chick NIc” is a social media star who is dumped publicly by her no good youtuber boyfriend. After he kicks her out, she packs up her chickens and moves to a small town. Her next door neighbor, Will Lund, is the town’s veterinarian. Post pandemic, his business is failing and he can barely stay afloat. On numerous occasions Nic finds herself seeking out Will’s assistance with her chicken shenanigans. He can’t resist helping the gorgeous women he has watched so many times online. Now that Will has Nic in the here and now as his neighbor, and not just behind the computer screen, will he be able to contain himself?

Reader’s Thoughts: Chicks! Kittens! and Hot Vet’s! Oh My! Chick Magnet by Emma Barry is a small town, opposites attract, slow burn contemporary romance. Nic and Will both bring quite a bit of troubles to the table in this novel. The way the two become friends, encourage one another to be the best they can be, and teach one another how to trust again is so pure. I enjoy that there is so much more to this story line than spice. The side characters are just as amazing as Nic and Will, playing an important role throughout. This one was hard for me to put down, completing it in two separate sittings. I will definitely be on the lookout for some new reads from Emma Barry in the future. I received a free copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review. In no way has that influenced my voluntary review.

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Chick Magnet is a contemporary romance between a social media influencer (who has chickens) and a down on his luck veterinarian.It was really interesting to read a contemporary novel that spoke directly about the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects so front and center. I found it a bit strange, because I tend to prefer romance novels that don’t really place themselves too firmly in a specific time. The author did use the current events well to build her character’s backstory. But it just didn’t work as escapist for me. And I’m not sure I would want to revisit the trauma of Covid for future rereads. Overall, Chick Magnet was a good read, though not as light and fluffy as the cover and title would suggest.

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This book wasn’t bad by any means, it just simply wasn’t for me and I really struggled to connect to it. It’s a lot heavier than the cover and synopsis suggests - it’s marketed as something light and silly and that’s what I wanted, but it was a lot heavier. That’s not necessarily bad, but I unfortunately didn’t enjoy it as much because it wasn’t what I was looking for at this time. And that was frustrating, as I probably would’ve liked it more if I knew what it was and picked it up when I was looking for that!

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3.5 stars.

content notes: depression, toxic/stalking ex-boyfriend, hurt/unwell animals, grandparent grief

This overall turned out to be a... darker? book than I really expected going in. I don't think the blurb, cover or even first chapter really prepare you for that - Will's POV hit me especially hard through the middle of the book (because it was a really stressful week for me anyway), and the stuff with Nic's ex was icky. I think this is a very YMMV book (and re: COVID especially - being in New Zealand I have a different relationship to COVID books than others might, so be aware that althought it's set in 2022/2023, the pandemic is a fairly key point)

That being said, it was nice to read an Emma Barry book again!

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This book sucked me in from the very start and I couldn't put the book down. I was hooked right away with these two characters. The banter in this book was great, the attraction betweent these two was amazing. I loved this book and please add it to you TBR list and you won't be disappointed.

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Content notes: gaslighting, depression

Dear Emma Barry,

Nicole Jones, aka “Chick Nic” is a YouTuber with a big following, promoting Chickens for All. She posts regular content about owning, raising and maintaining backyard chickens. During the pandemic her channel took off – which is just as well as she was laid off from her job in marketing when the lockdowns happened. Nicole had been in a relationship with Brian who was also a YouTuber but who turned out to be a toxic gaslighter. After he accused her (falsely and publicly) of having designs on her best friend’s husband (who happened to be Brian’s best friend – Nicole and Brian met during Rose and Tony’s wedding festivities), her world imploded. The scandal caused her a lot of pain in YouTube land but worse, Rose and Tony believed Brian’s lies and Nicole also lost her best friend.

As the book begins, Nicole has just moved to Yagerstown, Virginia (Google tells me this is a fictional place) which is where her beloved Granny grew up. Even though she’s never been there before, it is a homecoming for her.

Her neighbour is Will Lund, the local vet. Will’s experience of the pandemic was not so positive career-wise. His small veterinary practice is struggling and unless he gets a break from the bank and a miracle, he will have to lay off his staff and close. He feels like a failure and he’s very depressed. He also has thoughts about Chick Nic and what he sees as her wanton encouragement of the owning of backyard chickens. He has experienced chicken owners not knowing what they are doing, suffering buyer’s remorse and dumping their chickens or not taking care of them properly and the chickens suffering for it. It’s fair to say he has a somewhat skewed view of just how responsible Nic actually is for this and how often it actually happened and, as I said, he’s depressed, so he’s inclined to take the worst view possible. He doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s nonetheless watched all of Chick Nic’s videos. She beautiful but she’s also magnetic and compelling. To cover his attraction, he leans hard on the disapproval and his general grumpy nature.

Will is beloved in Yagerstown but he’s very closed off. He has a strained and difficult relationship with his younger brother and this is enabled and abetted by his parents. His sister and he are closer but Will isn’t really close to anyone. He’s too embarrassed to admit his practice is ailing and so he has closed himself off even further from his community.

Nicole is looking for connection. Will is closed off from them. Between chasing an escaped chicken together (Mitzi) and a sick chicken emergency (Camille) necessitating a frantic trip to the vet, Nicole and Will begin to get to know one another and what they get to know, they like.

Nicole has decided to take a break from men after the heartbreak of her relationship with Brian. She isn’t pining for Brian but she feels embarrassed and humiliated that she was taken in by him for so long. And, she’s worried that maybe she somehow contributed to some of his nastiness toward others. She’s still healing and still dealing with the results of Brian’s machinations (which are continuing). She’s in no place for a new relationship. But then there’s Will.

Will, respecting Nicole’s boundaries and not wanting to get hurt by letting his emotions go when he and Nicole aren’t on the same page, tries not to act on his attraction but it’s a losing battle.

This would be a quick visit. He wouldn’t think about her hair. He wouldn’t confess anything. Under no circumstances would he flirt.

Inside, in worn jeans and Chuck Taylors, stood Nicole. She had her back to him, and her hair fell loose around her shoulders, long and shiny with the slightest curl to it.

Right, he’d already failed to ignore her hair. This was going to be disastrous.

But the thing is, as Will is failing to put on the brakes, so is Nicole. Will isn’t social but he knows that Nicole is. He hooks her into the local chicken-owning community and thereby expands her world. Having learned a bit about Nicole’s Granny, Will helps her make connections to her roots. It’s a powerful aphrodisiac.

If he kept this up, it was going to be difficult to remember she was off men.

As Nicole gets used to her new home and deals with the ongoing Brian fallout, Will tries to save his dying practice. Chick Magnet deals with the economic impacts of the pandemic directly; the swings and the roundabouts. I appreciated the representation of a small business failing; how customers were driven online by the pandemic and the hard and too slow recovery after people started going outside again. Things manage to end positively overall for Will but it’s not easy and it’s not his original dream – I thought the book deeply respected the lived experience of so many people who tried but could not get out of the hole. I liked what the book had to say about a thing failing rather than a person, that the closing of a business did not have to define a person, that it was one thing in a larger story. I liked that Will had things to work out himself and it wasn’t up to Nicole to fix it for him. I liked that Will sought therapy. I read the depiction as sympathetic, not condescending and extending grace and understanding for those adversely affected by Covid-19 and its aftermath.

Will and Nicole have excellent chemistry and their interactions were compelling to read. For different reasons, they felt like kindred spirits, notwithstanding their differing personalities. Through late night porch discussions, each found a confidant they could rely on and who would listen without judgement. In Nicole, Will found someone who would take his side and go into bat for him – something he was not getting from his family.

I couldn’t help but notice similarities between Chick Magnet and Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn which I reviewed here. They are very different books but there are some common themes. Zeitgeist I guess. Both are about coming home/finding a place of belonging, both have elements of repairing family relationships, both are grumpy/sunshine (to one degree or another) and the conflict at the end of each had commonality too. They were even released on the same day. I enjoyed Georgie, All Along very much but of the two I liked Chick Magnet better.

I also loved the way you described Will’s earlier romantic relationships.

Will knew what it meant to love someone. When it came down to it, he loved his family, which was why their criticism stung. He’d loved some of his ex-girlfriends, and that love continued to exist in some ossified form in the museum of people who he used to be.

I mean, is that not a beautiful description?

There were a couple of very little things that confused me. For example, what vet doesn’t have a pet?? Is that a thing? I thought it was kind of mandatory. Also, I was a little confused about the orientation of Nic’s and Will’s houses. They seemed to me to be both across the road from each other but also behind/adjacent to one another? This could be just me lacking spatial awareness however.

Those things did nothing to detract from a story which felt realistic (particularly as to the effects of the pandemic on small businesses and which did not try and wave magic wands for romance reasons), which made me laugh, which made me think and which had me rooting for Nicole and Will’s success and HEA.

Grade: A-


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Chick Magnet by Emma Barry is a charming contemporary romance, set in a small town, with an unusual premise.

Our heroine, Nic, had a marketing career with a winery in Sonoma County, and when she lost her job due to the pandemic, she began to capitalize on her chicken farming hobby on social media. With her good looks, charm and the help of her horrible boyfriend, she becomes a success and inspires people nationwide to take up chicken farming. Her relationship blows up and she leaves California to make her new home in her late grandma’s small town in Virginia.

Our hero, Will, is the grumpy, hometown veterinarian, whose practice hasn’t and won’t recover from the pandemic. He has too much pride and shame to share this burden with his family or his community and he’s about to achieve full failure when he and Nic meet after one of her hens escapes on her rainy move-in day.

There is chemistry from the beginning and it’s refreshing to have a successful heroine and a nearly impoverished hero. Chicken health brings them together again, of course!

There’s a lot of detail about a vast array of secondary characters and more internal dialogue than actual dialogue. I also think this book could benefit from a lot of trimming of unnecessary scenes. I’m generally not a fan of books that meander aimlessly, without intention, even if they are cute scenes.

Barry does a good job of writing a post-pandemic book, which is courageous and not seen very often in romance, so I definitely give her props for that.

Charming and entertaining, and now I know a lot more than I ever expected to know about chickens!

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Nic has found success by sharing the antics of her chickens on social media however her boyfriend wasn’t content with just ending their relationship, so he tried to destroy her life as well. She has relocated to her grandmother’s hometown looking to escape her past however she has her doubts about the outcome when she meets her cantankerous new neighbor.

Will is struggling professionally and his coping mechanism is to distance himself from everyone and everything he cares about. When Nic moves next door Will finds her equally infuriating and intriguing but despite all the differences between them they support each other through all the challenges they are facing.

You can’t help but feel for Will and the situation he finds himself in as with the help of Nic he makes peace with the twists and turns of life and realizes what truly matters when it comes to life and love.

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Chick Magnet is a gorgeously written book that honestly feels so grounded and real in the world. It doesn't shy away from talking about the consequences of the Pandemic, though it does sort of talk about it like it's over? More in the way that in most Southern small towns, people are just out here recovering from it and ignoring the fact that we should all still be wearing masks. Anyways, Nicole has moved to the small town her grandma was born in following an extremely public break up. She is a chicken influencer, which, I'll be honest, I did not know that was a thing. Her next door neighbor is a very grumpy and gruff veterinarian, who turns out to have such a sweet and soft underbelly. Will's got a lot going on and getting to see his perspective was so, so powerful. His veterinarian practice is failing because of the Pandemic, mostly, but he really is taking the failure of his business entirely personally and is struggling. I loved his perspective so much.

Honestly, everything about this book was really well done. I'm not sure what it is that kept me from falling head over heels for it and giving it a five star, but even without that last .5 star, I cannot recommend this book enough. (Hence my rounding up here on Netgalley!) It's on KU and you can get the audiobook with your subscription as well. If you haven't read it yet and you want an emotional (but not emotionally manipulative) read, please pick this one up. Emma Barry is SO talented and I cannot wait for book two in this series!

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This was a heartwarming read but it also delved into some deeper issues.
Chick Magnet (I love the pun) opens up with a loose chicken in Nic's garden where a mysteriously handsome neighbour, who is actually the town vet. What ensues is a goose - or chicken - chase.
Nicole moves to the town her grandmother lived in for a fresh start after breaking up with her manipulative ex-boyfriend and losing her best friend to his lies as well.
She is a social media influencer. Not lifestyle, make-up, or even fashion but with chickens. Actual poultry, airborne birds. This was not what I expected in a rom-com but it surprisingly works.
Will is a vet, struggling to keep his practice open following the pandemic. I liked how the author included the effects of COVID but it wasn't blatantly written and she wrote it really well.
I wouldn't class their relationship as friends-to-enemies but maybe more of a frenemies-type situation. Their chemistry is great, It's funny but cute and you root for them.
The only reason my rating isn't higher is there were scenarios and points I felt disassociated from. Parts that I felt a bit bored in. I think the situation with Nic's friend and ex could have been explored further. The reconciliation with her friend was very fast and was resolved very quickly. It provided an opportunity for growth and a chance for Nic to explain what her ex did and the way it made her feel when her best friend believed him over her. It was the same with her ex-boyfriend. He persistently put her down not just in private but all over social media and news stations. She told him to leave and that was the end of it. I think something that narcissistic and egotistical wouldn't have given in with a simple "go away".
I think on the surface, it was a fun and cute read, but looking deeper there were missed opportunities for the author.

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