A review by sherpawhale
Entangled, by Melissa Brayden


This one really grinded my gears.

There's a saying in fantasy books that I'm going to paraphrase, but about how you have to get the minutiae of say, black smithing right, or readers will never be willing to suspend their disbelief for the magic.

And this small town Entangled takes place in really messed up their blacksmithing.

Seriously, it's like Brayden transplanted a fictional town from the 70s or 80s in the 2020s. And it didn't just make me mildly mad, it made me actually angry.

In my day job, I go out to restaurants, and sometimes I go to the tiny small towns that are dying year after year, their last big heyday taking place before the completion of the Interstate Highway project. These residents would KILL for someone to invest an upscale resort in their town, something that would keep the wolf away from the door.

Real small towns may grouse about "outsiders" ruining the town, but they greedily lap up every single tourist dollar they can get, and for good reason.

So the central conflict between the two protagonists revolving around one being a small town girl grown up to be a winery owner vs. a ritzy resort manager really fell flat for me.

Another thing that fell flat? The twee interactions between the friends who are obviously being set up for continuing novels in this series. "Kill your darlings" should have been employed in force here, particularly with Gabriella, but apparently weren't because... all of the rest of the side characters are so "charming" and "quaint." I seriously felt like I was reading someone's novel from when they were 15 when it came to the cast of townies. Stop being too cute and let your story and romance stand on its own.

Aside from that, the chemistry was very strong between Joey and Becca, but I never really felt the "enemies-to-lovers" vibe I think Brayden was going for, for reasons mentioned above.

All that said, when I like Brayden, I really like her, but I would hesitate before picking up another book in this series if it was about Gabriella.