I Want It That Way
Carolina Classics Book #3
by Karen Grey
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Pub Date 25 May 2023 | Archive Date 06 Jun 2023
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Fake relationship? As if.
I don’t need a man to complete me, but to get my tubes tied before I turn thirty, I do need a husband.
When the former child TV star turned producing director for the angsty hit drama series currently shooting in my hometown comes to me desperate for a favor, the exchange of my services for his seems like a great idea.
I help him relearn how to drive a car, and he acts as my fiancé for a few doctor’s visits.
What could go wrong?
Bingeing 90’s TV shows like Seinfeld and Ally McBeal have you jonesing for a time when email and cell phones were strange new things, and an app was something you ate before the first course? Then this steamy, slow burn, fake relationship, entertainment biz romantic comedy is just what the doctor ordered.
Link to Press Kit: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1baQFwuHoQiCk9EO1aHZTKipDWPo_ouLrTkkRGN0sBhk/edit?usp=sharing
Contact for review copies of other books in the series or audiobooks: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you want to be transported back to the days of pagers and Bermuda shorts? To Bittersweet Symphony on the radio and answering machines? Karen Grey's "I Want It That Way" is a fake dating romance set in the 90's that follows a heartthrob actor turned director and a location scout/driver as they navigate a fake relationship that is quickly getting real. The story looks at women's reproductive rights, mental health issues, grief, and complex relationships.
This slow burn rom com turns up the heat past the half way mark and Dani and Luke's chemistry is something else. This is book three in a series and I'm going to have to go back to the beginning to find out more about this retro 90's world.
Thank you to Karen Grey and Victory Editing for the ARC and the opportunity to read this book early.
*I received this ARC through Netgalley*
I haven’t read any of Karen Grey’s other novels, more specifically her other Carolina Classics. I think that if I had, I wouldn’t have felt lost at times with some of the side characters. However, I enjoyed this one. This book tackles some of the viewpoints from the past that weren’t as easily accepted as they are today, and it just makes you appreciate where we are a little bit more despite some of the other things we have to deal with. I Want It That Way is written with both main and side characters that you want to befriend and be their shoulder to cry on, and it ends on a note that leaves me wanting to read the rest of the series in order to find out more of their stories!
Dani, a driver for the stars who also works as a location scout, finds herself in the front seat once more for former childhood star, Lukas Keith. The difference this time, is that he’s sporting a different name and job title. Dani has been going from doctor to doctor for years in hopes of getting a procedure done, with no luck as every doctor seems to think it’ll cause her future husband to be unhappy with her decision. So when the former Lukas Keith needs her help and asks for a refresher on driving lessons, she approaches him with a proposition of a fake relationship.
I adore Karen Grey - as a person and as an author. She's super sweet, and she's so firm on the issues that really matter to her. Right now, women's rights and most especially, women's reproductive rights are at the very forefront of what she's most vocal about. This book is all about that topic! It's sort of an anti-accidental pregnancy, if you will.
Even in the 90's (I guess it's coming full circle again these days), women weren't allowed to have any say in what happened in their reproductive lives. This book takes place around the same time I was Dani's age - she's a touch older than I was when it occurred in the late 90's. She had a firm stance about her decision to not have kids. Doctors would not listen and told her that even though she is 29 and doesn't want to have children and is firm and knows her mind about the choice, she cannot have her tubes tied until she's 30, or unless her non-existent husband signs off he agrees with the surgery because it is irreversible - I'm still in disbelief about this (although when I was 16 and asked my Candian Dr if I could have that whole system removed, he disagreed because I might change my mind - and nearly 30 years later, I have not because I knew then and unwavering in that decision). She's told countless times she will change her mind. As women, we know ourselves, and we don't need doctors, or other random people, to tell us we will change our minds.
The doctors in this book frustrated me to no end - because it's not just in the USA, and it wasn't just 25 years ago. It's still today, and for Dani to have to find herself a fake fiancé and to strike a deal in order to get the doctors to listen to her, and give her the tubal ligation surgery she wanted because she does not want to have children - it's hard to believe but in this day and age, this is still a problem. And not only that, it's even worse now with so many reversals and removals of a lot of options.
So anyway - Dani has one part time job of driving film crew and actors around her town of Wallington, SC, where a lot of filming happens, including a former actor a couple of years ago that she didn't even think knew her name by the time his film wrapped. He's returned for the new Lawson's Reach series as a producer (yes, a spin on Dawson's Creek), and not only did he remember her, but they form quite a friendship, and if he comes to the doctor with her as a fake fiancé so she can get the surgery, she agrees to help him get behind the wheel of a car again (because the show will only pay her for the first two weeks he's back in town, and he'll have to drive himself after that). Something happened a few years ago and he has a problem - he can't get behind the wheel and even has difficulties as a passenger on a highway...
Their bargain of the fake fiancé leads to a lot of doctors appointments, and a requirement of something even more for the pair, and the intense driving lessons leads to deep conversions. The blossoming friendship and slow burn romance between them is beautiful. Karen always has such a great way of writing, and I'm just such a fan of everything she does! I highly recommend this one to everybody. You can definitely get away reading this as a standalone (the former book characters backstories aren't necessary for this one), but it's always good to know their stories instead of going back later and knowing a few things!
I received an advance copy from the author, NetGalley and Home Cooked Books PR, and this is my honest feedback.
This is the first book in the series that I have read, actually, it’s the first book by this author I have read… But that will immediately change
I so enjoyed this book. I loved Dani and Luke. Two souls who truly need each other in life.
I especially love the time.… Well, this is not historic it is definitely before cell phones before text messages, before social media!
I will be reading many more by this author
What is there to say except that super-talented author Karen Grey has done it yet again: brought back all our favorites elements from her previous books and series, brought us up to speed on everybody we met and loved in the past, and then pointed her expert writerly laser focus on another member of the Carolina Classics gang? We met Violet, Sully, Ford, Whitney and Dani in 1991, when we were getting a delicious little peek at our favorite characters from Grey’s fabulous Boston Classics series. What a way to segue.
Book One in this Carolina Classics series, You Get What You Give, brought Violet and Nate hilariously and sweetly together. Book Two, Hold On To Me, saw Sully, recovering from a serious accident, surprisingly and perfectly paired with Helen. Whitney, tired of years of competition between Sully and Ford for her affections abruptly married someone more suited to her parents’ liking and faded into the background. Ford and Sully patched things up, so the gang is still mostly intact, just expanded a little.
Which brings us to this book, I Want It That Way, the third in the series. Dani’s turn to be in the spotlight. It’s the late 1990s and Wallington, North Carolina is still going strong as the Hollywood of the East Coast, and everybody is more or less involved in some aspect of movie and TV production. Dani still bartends, but now also drives for the actors, executives and crews working on the movies and TV shows being filmed locally. If anybody hasn’t changed over the years, it’s Dani. She’s not against (very, very short) relationships and men, but isn’t looking for anything long-term, marriage is a maybe-someday-but-not-on-my-current-to-do-list thing, and she is adamant that she does not want, and will never want, to bear children. Growing up saddled with much of the responsibility for her siblings by a mother who liked having babies but raising them not so much, and surrounded by extended family always with a hand held out for her time or money has convinced her that motherhood is not for her and never will be.
All Dani wants is a tubal ligation. Now. Not when she’s thirty, not when she’s married, not when she’s had time to “think it through.” No, not then. Now. But no doctor will agree to do it. So what’s the problem? Well, there are several problems: It’s the 90s, it’s North Carolina, it’s the culture, it’s just one giant roadblock after another. Come back when you’re 30 and maybe we’ll think about it. Come back when you’re married and you can prove to us you have your husband’s permission. Come back – wait, what’s wrong with you? What woman doesn’t want children? When (not if) you change your mind you won’t be able to reverse it. Dani is a clever, independent, self-supporting single woman but obviously she’s not “normal” if she doesn’t want to be a mother.
Enter Lukas Keith. Child star-turned-TV producer. Dani has driven him before. Not rude, but not a talker. Adorable as a child; more than adorable as a man, steamy thoughts whenever he floats into her mind (hey, she just doesn’t want a serious relationship – she’s not dead!). And when he gives her that thank you gift of sticky notes: well, wow, whoa. If Dani had a dream man Lukas would be it. And now he’s b-a-a-a-c-k. And of course there’s a lot more under the surface than she thought. So through a series of hilarious, sometimes sweet, sometimes sexy encounters while she’s driving him they come up with the perfect fair exchange: she’ll teach him to drive, he'll be her fake husband so she can finally get a doctor to perform the surgery. What could possibly go wrong with such a sound scheme? Well, it’s Karen Grey, it’s a Carolina Classic, and it's an outrageous premise, so I guess we’ll have to read on and see.
I Want It That Way is an amazing story. Author Grey takes a difficult, controversial topic and tackles it head on. Thoughtful. No flinching. Dani is a woman who knows her mind and Grey makes your mind step back and think about this. Amidst the always well-written, well-plotted humor, heat, romance and difficulties to be dealt with by well-formed, likeable, loveable characters, Grey inserts a very serious subject and deals with it very seriously. Excellent job with a little cliffhanger to make you eager for the next book. I was sent a free copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving this honest review; all opinions are my own. I recommend it and the other Carolina Classics and the Boston Classics without hesitation.
Fake relationship romance is always a great trope to read and have a good time with. This book was very enjoyable and I liked the story line.
I just reviewed I Want It That Way by Karen Grey. #IWantItThatWayCarolinaClassicsKarenGrey #NetGalley
"Watching this woman discover her own sexuality is the honor of a lifetime and a hell of a turn-on."
Wow, Karen Grey has done it again! I Want It That Way is a lovely forced proximity, workplace, fake relationship romance. I have been rooting for Dani from the beginning of this series. I knew she would be one of my favorites, but I wasn’t prepared for how deeply her backstory and motivations would affect me. Her story is relatable, poignant, and sadly relevant to many women’s stories then and now. Lukas’ backstory hit home for me as well. This is a true testament to Grey’s authentic storytelling; the writes such beautifully heartfelt stories that readers can connect with on many levels. The Carolina Classics Crew is tight-knit, yet each friend and significant other is unique and fascinating in their own right. I love that Dani and Luke don’t question each other’s motives for their life choices; they respect one another’s decisions and offer help without interrogation. The depth of kindness and friendship that shows, despite not knowing each other well, warmed my heart. Their slow-burn love story was so engaging, I couldn’t stop reading. I loved their genuine, heartfelt, spicy marriage of convenience romance. Oh, and I know you’ll love Lukas’ “my wife” moments too. I enjoyed each character cameo from past series and novellas. I loved spending more time with Tina and George; their comic relief was perfect as always. It was wonderful to read more about how the lives of each of the Carolina Classics characters have progressed since Hold On To Me. It was lovely to revisit with Violet and Nate, Sully and Helen, Whitney, and Ford. My heart ached for their hardships and rejoiced for their triumphs. With perfectly placed pop-culture references, expressions, and music, Karen Grey has a magical way of making her stories a visceral experience and transporting readers back to the nineties. Grey’s vivid imagery took me back to certain tv moments; it was like watching a re-run play out in my mind. I cried, snort-laughed, and I swooned hard for Dani and Lukas.
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