Cover Image: Chick Magnet

Chick Magnet

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This was a very cute book that also did a nice job with addressing the damage done societally by the covid epidemic, both in terms of the mental health tolls that people experienced, to the financial hit taken by many small businesses. There is some discussion of emotional abuse in this book that may be triggering for some readers. The descriptions of the animals, particularly the chickens ("lawn dinosaurs") and an adopted kitten, were adorable.

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**Thank you to Emma Barry, Montlake, and NetGalley for allowing me to receive an ARC of Chick Magnet in exchange for an honest review!**
This book was just *fun*, there isn't really another way to describe it right off the bat! I truly enjoyed the relationships that Nicole made around the town. You can definitely tell that this was written during the pandemic but it really makes sense when you think about it. A lot of people were exploring new hobbies and raising chicks was something that I know multiple people that I know did. It also makes a lot of Will's complaints and worries throughout the book more realistic. I liked the ways that both of their characters improved when they began to become more involved with the town around them. I also liked the realistic way that Nic's past relationship was handled because it made it extremely relatable. I look forward to reading Emma Barry's backlist!

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Heat Factor: They go to bed around two-thirds through, but it feels like an extremely slow burn

Character Chemistry: They recognize each other’s sadness

Plot: Vet falls for new neighbor (who happens to be a chicken influencer)

Overall: I’ll be honest, I was feeling kinda down when I finished this one

When I grabbed this ARC, I was expecting a full-on rom-com. If you only read the blurb and the first chapter (wherein Nic and Will run around in the rain chasing an errant chicken), you may also be expecting a rom-com. But I did go back and check after I read it, and nowhere in the marketing materials is this book described as a “comedy.” Which is good, because it is definitely not a comedy.

I have also seen people touting this as a grumpy-sunshine book. But given that the main attraction that Will and Nic feel for each other is that they each understand that the other is deeply sad (they call themselves the “Sad Friends Supper Club”), the grumpy-sunshine dynamic feels reductive and not entirely earned. Yes, Will is taciturn, but he’s also depressed (technical term) about the impending closure of his veterinary practice. Yes, Nic smiles for the camera, but she’s also deeply lonely and struggling to trust anyone after her recent breakup. Is depressed grumpy? Is smiling enough to make someone a sunshine?

I guess what I’m saying here is that these are complex characters who are working through some stuff. The greatest strength of the book: the depth of the characters, and the independent growth journeys they undergo.

This book is also an interesting contemporary romance in how it deals with COVID, in that it’s set in 2022, and the impact of COVID is a reality, particularly in how it changed the work lives of both Nic and Will. We’re in a post-COVID world here, rather than the perpetual 2019 that I see in the majority of contemporary romances.

Now, before I get into the romantic relationship and how it develops, I want to talk about the ending, so here’s your warning about spoilers.

Will is a small-town vet whose practice is struggling. During most of the book, he is actively worrying about the imminent closure of this practice. He’s cutting the hours of his tech. The receptionist takes early retirement to give him a few more weeks to hold on and pray for a miracle. They have a cute small-town carwash to buy a new x-ray machine. Will pleads with the bank for leniency in paying for office space. And at the end of the book, faced with having to close his practice despite all of these efforts, Will sells out to a corporate conglomerate, so at least the office stays open and he can continue to care for people’s pets.

Now, on the one hand, this is both subversive (in terms of genre conventions, where all small business owners succeed) and realistic (in terms of real life). But on the other hand, I kind of wanted the fantasy of things working out? My reaction was really interesting to me because I was so inordinately disappointed in how Will’s story turned out, but hyperrich megacapitalist heroes really grind my gears (and not in a good way). Maybe because the hyperrich megacapitalist corporate is the entity that really won here—though in some ways, Will also won, because he no longer has to deal with the parts of the business he doesn’t like. He gets to be a cog and clock in and clock out. Maybe I’ve internalized too much of the individualist American dream of constant growth to take joy out of Will becoming a little bit smaller.

Anyway, I had a lot of feelings about the business side of Wil’s story, and they utterly overshadowed the romance. I think that if I had bought the spark between him and Nic, the downness I felt about Will’s business would have been mitigated by hope in the HEA. I could logically see all the pieces, but I didn’t feel much emotional connection to their journey together.

This is a really well-constructed book that does some interesting things, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for escapist fantasy. But if you want romance that reflects real life, it might just fit the bill.

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

This review is also available at The Smut Report

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It's so wonderful to read a new book by Emma Barry! I loved the concept of this story, very modern and topical, with Nicole, a social media influencer who keeps chickens and has her own YouTube channel moving to the small town where her grandmother lived, and meeting her next door neighbour Will who happens to be a small animal veterinarian (with Viking vibes). The reality of the pandemic isn't glossed over as Will is in danger of losing his practice and is also experiencing depression as a result. While he doesn't have any relationship hangups (except that he has no time for one), Nicole was gaslighted by her previous boyfriend with whom she'd set up her social media life, and is trying to get over having been fooled by him for so long, thereby not trusting that Will can be as good as he seems. It's a thoughtful, sweet, sexy, finding the right partner who'll support you through good and bad times romance.

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This grumpy/sunshiny story was adorable, with a healthy dose of real life problems.

Summary: A popular chicken social media influencer, “Chick Nic” is making a fresh start in a new town, and moves in across the street from a surly veterinarian.

My Thoughts: I loved how cute Nic and Will’s interactions were, while still making room for them to work through some real world problems with each other.
It’s been interesting to see how some newer books approach working Covid-19 into storylines, and I liked how it was done here—It wasn’t the focus by any means, but did contribute to some of what the characters are dealing with.
Some great reviews on Twitter convinced me to give this book a try, and I’m so glad! I definitely recommend for those who like the grumpy/sunshine trope.

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This was a fun and quick read. It has some great characters and fun moments. I loved that Will falls first and realized that he might have been outline at their first meeting. I love a neighbor romance and this one worked so well. This book does fade to black. It has some fish out of water feels which work welled in this story. I am looking forward to chatting with the author on and upcoming Youtube Live Stream.

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Chick Magnet by Emma Barry begins with Nic Jones, an internet sensation, moving into a new house in the town that her grandmother grew up in. She has just come off a bad, public, breakup with her narcissistic boyfriend, Brian. Nic raises chickens and posts about them on the internet. One of her chickens gets out and that is how she meets her neighbor, Will. Unknown to her at that time, Will is the town vet. She finds this out when one of her chickens has an emergency and needs medical care. This book is somewhat slow moving, but it is still engaging and I really like Nicole. Will is pretty winey for a lot of the book and sometimes it is annoying to hear his inner dialogue. I would have given this book 5 stars if Will's negativity hadn't lasted almost the entire book. That said, I still really enjoyed it and give it 4.5 stars that I have rounded up to 5. Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy for this honest review.

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Nic is a social media influencer known as "Chick Nic" online with millions of fans, until she is dumped by a YouTuber for clout. She was known for her flock of chickens until the breakup forced her out of the spotlight. After one of her chickens gets sick she meets veterinarian Will, who calls her a menace for having her chickens on social media.
This was a light and fun read, and I liked it a lot. Sunshine character meets grumpy character, small town setting, and a herd of chickens. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy.

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This romance follows Nicole and and Will. After a disastrous, very public internet breakup, Nicole needs a fresh start. She moves herself and her flock of chickens across the country to her grandmother's hometown. There, she meets Will - her neighbor and local grumpy vet. He has certain opinions of Nicole and her chicken YouTube content - specifically about her lack of advocating for vet care. While the two initially butted heads, they find themselves spending more time together through the coincidences of small town life. I enjoyed so many parts of this book, but it just didn't come together for me. I've seen a ton of folks loving this book and I think that's great since most of my issues are entirely personal preference. My main issue that might just be a me-thing is that Covid is a pretty significant part of this book. Nicole's internet stardom started when she lost her job due to Covid, she got into backyard chickens, and wanted to share/encourage anyone who was also getting into backyard chickens since Covid. Also, Will's vet practice is going through some tough financial times due to Covid and the post-Covid economy. This is the first book I've read where Covid was such an integral part of the plot and I'm just not in the right mood for Covid to become that much of a part of the books I read. I loved Nicole and Will as separate characters and I thought their initial friction was super believable. They have a bit of a grumpy-sunshine dynamic going on, but both have some pretty significant baggage going on that they're working through with support from each other. I loved the small town setting and how Nicole's personal connection to the town was played out. While I liked Nicole and Will as characters, I did find myself not feeling the chemistry between them all the way. I thought their flirting was fantastic and the chemistry for their makeout sessions was *chef's kiss* but when they actually got together and started a relationship I wasn't feeling it. I liked their chemistry so much more as friends who sometimes made out for a while and that is so weird. But, again, I've seen so many folks loving this that I think this just wasn't the book for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and Montlake for the ARC. Expected publication date is January 24, 2023

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The premise of Chick Magnet sounded really cute, but sadly I wasn't connecting with the book. Have decided to dnf for now.

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Chick Magnet is a romance novel wrapped up in a love of backyard chickens. Is Nic always the best person? No, but she's learning and recovering from her relationship with her abusive ex-boyfriend. Is Will the nicest person to everyone? No, but he's very competent as a vet, even if he is a total jerk to Nic when they first meet. 

It was a pretty cute novel of both of them learning how to ask for and accept help from people, and how to learn navigate small town life. Wasn't thrilled with how Will's half of the story ended (what with him accepting the buyout offer, even if it does keep his practice afloat, as he doesn't like the company he sells to), but it's very sweet.

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CW: gaslighting, bullying, mental health, depression, grief

Romanceopoly 2023 square: Flirt's Corner

Nic moved clear across the country when her boyfriend broke up with her live on the internet. She found a house in the town where her Granny spent her younger years in. She meets Will, the town vet, when she has to catch when one of her chickens that gets loose after she moves in. Nic wanted to just be friends with Will because she doesn't trust herself after being with her ex and the mess he made of her life. There is a definite slow burn between Nic and Will. The sunshine is Nic and the grump is Will. I enjoyed watching them dance around each other. I liked how Nic relearned who she was from how she had seen herself within her previous relationship. I liked how Nic continued to extend friendship to Will even as he tried to isolate himself from everyone because he saw himself as a failure. I enjoyed this book a lot. I'm glad I picked it up because it shares a name with a chicken sandwich restaurant.

**ARC provided via NetGalley

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DNF @46% —I prefer my eggs sunny side up and a little runny in the middle.
Turns out I'm not that all into chickens and also not ready to read about covid centric premises. Maybe it does come later on but I desperately needed something to alleviate the heavy stuff permeating the pages, the blurb and cover were a bit misleading to me

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Cute, spicy, intriguing and a great time! Great book to spend your time with and interesting plot. The cover is also stunning!

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There are so many wonderful things about this book. Grumpy small town vet meets peppy chicken influencer. Endings and fresh starts. Rediscovering family pasts and reconciling with the ones still around. Bad breakups and healing and reconciliations. Cute animals.

Chicken influencer Nicole Jones is looking for a fresh start while veterinarian Will Lund is confronting the reality of his practice failing. They clash. They flirt. They become friends and possibly something more.

The wildest thing about this book is that, despite knowing that it was a romance novel with a guaranteed HEA, I still felt myself doubting that Nic and Will would figure things out. Their tension was top-notch, as was the pining, but every time I thought they were finally going to get together, they pulled back. They danced around things. The whole thing drove me crazy in the absolute best way, and it seemed more like a relief than a foregone conclusion when they finally did manage to make things work. (This isn't a spoiler. It's a romance novel, after all.)

Alongside that tension was tons of sweetness and meditation on growth and change. This is a book about a love story, yes, but it's also a book about healing and picking yourself up from a low point and learning to let other people in while you do that. For every hilarious rom-com moment involving a chicken or a kitten or a precocious child, there was another that seriously pondered what it means to be depressed and recovering, to go to therapy, to try again. Chick Magnet struck a perfect balance between the two moods, and was a joy to read.

Anyway, come for the tropes and the opposites-attract romance and stay for the mental health discourse. And also the chickens.


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“Chick” Nic buys a house over the phone and moves to a small town in VA, where her beloved granny grew up. Nic is a social media influencer specializing in chicken homesteading.

Her neighbor, Will, is a grumpy vet struggling to keep his business afloat. They meet during a rainy chicken hunt but establish a friendship after Nic brings in one of her chickens for help.

I was surprised to read that this wasn’t just a fluffy romance. Nic moves away from a manipulative ex who humiliated her on social media and Will is dealing with the trauma of post COVID business loss and depression. They are both lonely people. Finding and helping each other with their emotional and professional struggles is handled well here. I think Barry did a great job with the present aspects of dealing with a worldwide pandemic. I like the more realistic take on romance post COVID.

Read this if you like:
🐥 Small town romance
🐥 Grumpy/ sunshine

Thanks to NetGalley and Montlake for this eARC. Chick Magnet comes out Jan 24, 2023.

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This was a funny and engaging small-town romance. From the "catch the chicken" intro to the navigation of life post Covid, Chick Magnet kept me reading and wanting more. I loved the grumpy/sunshine relationship between Will and Nic. Both characters evolved and grew as the book went on, and I really enjoyed their development.
The predictable third-act angst is present but feels organic and real. There is a happy ending; it's a romance after all. It isn't a super steamy book but it's a great love story that will leave you with the warm fuzzies. Plus, there are chickens!! I received this as an ARC.

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Five Star Review

I loved this romance book! Will is a financially struggling veterinarian in his small home-town. Nicole (Nic) is a hobby chicken-farmer social media star. She moved to the town where her grandmother grew up, to start a new life after a messy breakup with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend. Nic and Will are new neighbors. This book has everything from a meet-cute, humor, chickens, caring townspeople, character development chickens, heat, and a very satisfying HEA. Did I mention chickens? I loved reading the dual points of view as Nic and Will’s romance story unfolds. Their first kiss was written so well that it should be required reading for all aspiring romance writers. Ultimately, this book’s very likeable characters have a wonderful love story. Highly recommended. I received an advance copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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A great fun read. Nic and her chickens have just moved house. When she meets neighbor Will things don't go so well, and then she finds out he is the local veterinarian so they end up clashing again. Entertaining read, told from both point of view.

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This book absolutely took me by surprise. In its gentleness to its characters, in its representation of depression, in its compassion for people and for the post-pandemic world. I was hooked from the start by Nic and Will and couldn't put it down. This is a wonder of a book and I loved it with my whole heart.

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