In this sequel to Josh and Gemma Make a Baby (2022), Ready continues his story of a couple as they face major changes in their lives.
The author begins this novel where the last one left off, with her two main characters, Gemma Jacobs and Josh Lewenthal, poised on the brink of a perfect life. Gemma has a career in social media marketing, Josh is an author, and the two are deliriously in love with a baby on the way; they’re about to be married in a ceremony with Gemma’s extended, loving family in attendance. They’ve put the shocking events of the previous novel behind them, which involved an encounter with Ian Fortune—a former “self-help guru” who’s now known as an “employee-abusing conniver who misled millions.” Gemma was directly involved in Fortune’s downfall, but she’s contentedly refusing all phone calls from the press about it. However, the couple’s pregnancy coach tells them that “everything is about to change,” and soon afterward, Gemma is at the altar when disaster strikes: She collapses, and when she awakens, she learns several things in quick succession: She’s given birth to her baby, Josh is not around, and Ian Fortune is back in her life. Most notably, she finds out that several months have passed while she was in a coma. Her picture-perfect future is now in tatters, and as the novel picks up steam, Gemma not only wonders if she can put it all together again, but also whether she really wants to do so.
The underlying concept of Ready’s novel is intriguingly unconventional. Most contemporary romances take their adorable couples through a series of minor tribulations before smoothing things out and leaving the characters ready to live happily-ever-after. Indeed, these are hallmarks of the genre. But in this sequel—which stands well enough on its own—the happily-ever-after moment is merely the starting point, after which Ready piles on one complication after another to darken the picture that she painted in the first book. Gemma’s world is suddenly in turmoil—not only because her own health has drastically altered for the worse, but also because Josh is nowhere to be found. Ready makes the winning decision to lighten up the narrative with quipping humor. As in the previous book, she uses Ian Fortune as the vehicle for the most amusing material, and he almost completely steals the book. When Gemma tells him that she hates him, for instance, he quips, “Please. Try to be original. The whole world hates me. Wouldn’t it be more fun to love me? Don’t be a follower, Gemma.” For a thrillingly long section of the book’s third act, Ready effectively leads readers to wonder if she isn’t going to upend every single one of the genre’s expectations. It’s a testament to her exceptional writing skill that even the most romantic-minded readers won’t be sure which outcome they prefer.
A charming and disarmingly tough story of the many ways that love can adapt to crises.
Pub Date: today
Page Count: 352
Publisher: W.W. Crown
Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2023