Blog Tour Review: Red Velvet by Carla Luna

About the Book:

Faking it has never been so much fun…

In her ultra-competitive family, April Beckett is used to taking last place. For years, she’s put up with jabs about her modest job and her pathetic love life. Especially after she tried to impress her older sisters with a fake boyfriend in college and failed miserably. But now she has a smoking-hot date for her brother’s wedding, guaranteed to wow them.

Until he bails. Cue total desperation.

Without April’s friendship, Brody Blackwood wouldn’t have survived his last breakup. So, if she needs a plus-one for a family wedding, he’s all in. Even if it means pretending to be her boyfriend. And committing to six days of activities at a wooded resort in Wisconsin. But how hard could a relaxing getaway with your best friend be?

Too bad there’s a grueling 10K race and a cutthroat trivia night to endure. Not to mention a massive secret to protect. But will the biggest secret of all turn out to be that this fake relationship feels more real than April or Brody ever imagined?

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About the Author:

Carla Luna writes contemporary romance with a dollop of humor and a pinch of spice. A former archaeologist, she still dreams of traveling to far-off places and channels that wanderlust into the settings of her stories. When she’s not writing, she works in a spice emporium where she gets paid to discuss food and share her favorite recipes. Her passions include Broadway musicals, baking, whimsical office supplies, and pop culture podcasts. Though she has roots in Los Angeles and Victoria, B.C., she currently resides in Wisconsin with her family and her spoiled Siberian cat.

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My Review:

Red Velvet is such a great contemporary romance! The story has many tropes that I love – friends-to-lovers romance, only one bed, fake dating, and more. It follows April, who must spend a week with her super competitive family for her brother’s upcoming wedding. Used to being teased and picked on every time she is with her family, April is thrilled to have her handsome boyfriend with her for the week. However, when he bails at the last minute, April despairs. Luckily, her best friend, Brody Blackwood, offers to pretend to be her boyfriend. As the week progresses and April and Brody try to maintain their ruse, the pair begins to face their more-than-friendly feelings for each other.

The romance between April and Brody is fantastic and equal parts sweet and steamy. Both April and Brody are nerds, and I loved their references to Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and more. They are the best of friends, and they are a great support to each other. They have such fun together, and it’s clear that they can be completely themselves when they are together. Both have had bad and recent breakups and are a little hesitant about love. However, they have a special connection and care deeply for each other. I love how they slowly admit their feelings for each other and how their relationship grows and transitions throughout the story. They have such fantastic chemistry, and their ease with and love for each other is relatable, realistic, and swoon-tastic! I totally related to this couple, as my husband and I were friends before we became more. We are also big nerds, much like April and Brody.

Both April and Brody have complicated family relationships, though the story focuses more on April’s family. Her sisters are particularly difficult and antagonistic, especially toward April. They are a highly competitive family, unlike April, and April often feels like the odd one out. She and Brody are alike in that way. They both struggle with feelings of worth and not living up to the expectations of their family. Neither feels like they fit in with the rest of their family, and they always seem like they are trying to prove themselves to those who should accept them without reservation.

I love how hard Brody works to make things easier for April. He knows how anxiety-ridden she becomes when with her parents and sisters, and he does everything in his power to alleviate her stress. It’s clear long before he realizes it that Brody loves April, and I love how he supports and defends her throughout their trip. From running in a 10k to participating in trivia night to enduring painful events with her terrible family, Brody puts his own problems aside to be there for his best friend, which says so much about him and their relationship.

I did struggle to like April’s family, and even after the explanations of why specific family members acted so nastily to April, I found them difficult to understand and forgive. They were unnecessarily mean, hyper-competitive, and often cruel to April, and even her parents prove difficult to please or even appease. They never really try to understand April, and they seem very selfish and self-centered. One sister in particular is so degrading and spiteful, and her attitude is toxic. The family’s lack of acceptance and understanding of April stands in stark contrast to the unwavering support, friendship, and love Brody offers.

Luckily, Brody and April do have people on their side. April’s brother and his fiancée, April’s quirky cousin, and Brody’s friends are all supportive, accepting, and encouraging, and I loved their roles in the story. Considering Brody and April have such complicated relationships with many of their family members, it’s wonderful to see that they have people in their lives that accept them without judgment.

I thought this was a fun and entertaining friends-to-lovers romance! It was the perfect light summer read, and I adored April and Brody. It is the second book in the Blackwood Cellars but can easily be read as a standalone. I did not read Blue Hawaiian, the first book in the series, though I intend to now, and I had no problem following the story. I’m eager to read more by Clara Luna, and the characters and love story from the first book sounds fantastic! Thanks so much to Rachel’s Random Resources and Clara Luna for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


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