Book Review: For the Love of the Bard by Jessica Martin

About the Book:

Title: For the Love of the Bard

Author: Jessica Martin

Page Length: 352

Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Books

Synopsis: To go for it or not to go for it? That is the question when two former high school flames return to their Shakespeare-obsessed hometown for a summer of theater and unexpected romance, in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jessica Martin.

Literary agent and writer Miranda Barnes rolls into her hometown of Bard’s Rest with one goal in mind: to spend the summer finally finishing her YA novel, the next installment in her bestselling fantasy series. Yet Miranda’s mother, deep in the planning stages for the centennial of the town’s beloved annual Shakespeare festival, has other ideas.

Before you can say “all’s fair in love and war,” Miranda is cornered into directing Twelfth Night–while simultaneously scrambling to finish her book, navigating a family health scare, and doing her best to avoid the guy who broke her heart on prom night.

When it comes to Adam, the veterinarian with a talent for set design and an infuriating knack for winning over Miranda’s dog, the lady doth protest too much. As any Shakespeare lovers knows, the course of true love never did run smooth, and soon Miranda realizes she’ll have to decide whether to trust Adam with her heart again.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

For the Love of the Bard is a fantastic contemporary romance by Jessica Martin. I’m a big fan of William Shakespeare and have read over two dozen of his plays and many of his sonnets, so, as soon as I saw the title, I knew I had to read this one. The story takes place in a charming New England town called Bard’s Rest, which has an annual Shakespeare festival. Can this be a real place in New England, please? I would love to visit this charming small town during festival season. It sounds like so much fun, and I love how the whole town gets into it.

Miranda Barnes, a writer and literary agent, has returned home to finish her novel when she gets roped into helping with the festival. She also comes face-to-face with Adam, the handsome vet who broke her heart years ago. Between finishing her book, preparing for the festival, dealing with a family member’s health issues, and facing her feelings for her first love, Miranda has a lot on her plate.

The story is a perfect balance of light and serious, with some touching moments that brought a tear to my eye balanced amid comical moments that had me laughing out loud. And I enjoyed the messages about forgiveness, sisterhood, friendship, family, career paths, and more. The characters are all dynamically developed and relatable, especially Miranda, and they deal with issues that many people face. Complicated sibling relationships, aging parents, opening up to love, dealing with feelings of inadequacy – there are many aspects of the story that are realistic and easy to connect with.

Miranda and Adam have a complicated second-chance romance, and it’s clear there is unfinished business between the two. A prom night betrayal that they never really discussed is a huge obstacle for them to overcome, and Miranda is especially hesitant to let Adam get too close. As they work and spend time together, they both learn that “the course of true love never did run smooth,” and they must decide if their feelings are worth exploring. Adam and Miranda have great chemistry, even though so much stands in their way, and I love how they slowly get to know each other again. It’s interesting to see how they deal with their fears, resentments, guilt, and growing feelings for each other.

One of my favorite aspects of the novel is the literary references. They appeal so much to my literary-loving heart, especially the Shakespearean references, which are in abundance. From the town festival to the characters’ names to the store names, to Miranda’s Shakespearean-esque exclamations, the Bard’s influence knows no bounds, and it’s pretty fantastic. I love how much this community embraces Shakespeare, theatre, and literature in general, and the author’s knowledge and admiration of the classics are fantastic. The scene when the men start hurling Shakespearean insults is hilarious, and the little ways in which the book pays homage to the Bard speaks to the former English teacher in me.

I thought this was a great read. It has wonderful characters, small-town charm, fantastic literary references, great messages, an adorable dog, and a unique romance. Thanks so much to Berkley Books for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance.
  • The literary references.

Favorite Lines:

We can’t control our fate. But we can control how we face it.

You gotta let people in. The right people. Not the asshats. You have to learn to trust the people you pick to be close to you and be upfront about your needs, otherwise you’re not really in a ship together, whether that ship is a relationship, friendship, or partnership.


You might want to check the content warnings before starting the book. There is a parental illness and hospitalization that could be upsetting to some readers.

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