I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn
Published by Entangled Publishing LLC (Amara) on June 17, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
All I want is to play hockey on the Ice Knights, instead, I’m in a viral video for all the wrong reasons and my mom—yes, my mom—has taken over my dating apps. Then, when I think it can’t get any worse, the fates deliver Zara Ambrose, a five-feet-nothing redhead with more freckles than inches and who’d rather be anywhere other than on a date with me.
Now a bet with her friends and my PR nightmare have us both stuck in this go-on-five-dates-with-the-same-person hell situation. But if we band together, we can get the whole thing over with and go on with our lives. It’s perfect! No feelings. No future. No fuc— *ahem* fun. No naked fun.
What could go wrong? Nothing—as long as I remember the rules. Don’t notice the way she looks in a dress. Don’t react when she does that little shivery sigh thing whenever we touch. Don’t think about the fact that she’s never had a toe-curling orgasm that wasn’t self-delivered and just how badly I want to change that.
Five dates—that’s it—and then we go our separate ways. At least, that was the plan..
I loved the concept of the dating app that lets your parents pick your dates. It’s a cute idea, and one that, frankly, once I read this book, I’m surprised doesn’t already exist. I think there may be a reality show with a similar concept, but I also could have imagined that some NyQuil-fueled night when I fell asleep with the TV on.
Caleb Stuckey finds himself in need of PR makeover, quickly. Fortunately for him (maybe?), his tough-as-nails hockey coach mom has been talking with the front office of his professional hockey team, the Ice Knights, and they’ve come up with a way to rehab his image. He’s going to use a new dating app, Bramble, that lets his mom pick his dates, then agree to be interviewed about the resulting 5 dates he goes on. That’s 5 dates with the same woman, being interviewed after each one, sometimes by his mom, and sometimes by the media, about the dates.
Zara Ambrose, for her part, also has no interest in dating a stranger for the benefit of millions of other strangers, but she agrees to do it because the resulting media interviews and press would allow her dad to get his SAG card, and fulfill his minutes-long dream of becoming an actor.
There was a lot I liked about this book. Clearly – or I wouldn’t have given it four stars. Caleb and Zara are good together from the very beginning. They have amazing chemistry, both sexual and just life chemistry. You know those people you just click with? Sometimes it’s tied up with sexual chemistry, and sometimes it isn’t. Caleb and Zara had both. The attraction was instant and obvious, but they genuinely liked each other as well. When they missed each other while Caleb was on the road, I believed it. They had that instant connection that happens in the best relationships. And while they were separated, their texting conversations were so cute and so real. A few sexy texts, but also just some general how-was-your-day updates, cute dog pictures, and funny things they’d overheard. They were adorable.
Speaking of cute dog pictures – Anchovy is such a good canine companion. He was a big part of the entire book without resorting to plot moppery or taking it over. And his name is so cute. Based on Avery Flynn’s social media, her giving Anchovy a food-related name seems right on brand. I don’t think I could handle a dog as big as a Great Dane, but I would absolutely babysit Anchovy for the occasional weekend.
I couldn’t go with a full five stars, though, because the initial concept of the story, that Caleb needs an image overhaul, didn’t quite work for me. He’s in a car with a bunch of rookie hockey players, and all of the rookies are running their mouths. They’re complaining about the team, the coaching staff, their own play time, and worst of all from a PR standpoint, bragging and being really shitty about all of the “puck bunnies” they manage to sleep with on a daily basis. Caleb doesn’t actually take part in any of this discussion, but his silence is actually his downfall, because as the most senior player in the car, he should have shut it down immediately.
Avery Flynn isn’t wrong. Caleb should have shut it down. However, I find it difficult to believe that “Pro athletes are shitty about women” is newsworthy or a PR nightmare for any sports team. It’s exactly on brand. It’s not right, and it would be great to believe that there would be consequences for talking about women that way, but the reality is that there wouldn’t be. There’s also not much mention in the book about any punishment for the players who actually said the shitty things. Caleb is forced to completely revamp his image, even though before this his image was just fine, and there’s talk that maybe one of the other players may end up being traded, but that’s it. There’s no mention of any consequence at all for the rookies.
But this book is really, really cute. It broke a fairly brutal reading slump that I’ve been in recently, and for that alone, I say thank you to Avery Flynn. Zara and Caleb are adorable together, and I’m excited to dive into the rest of the series!