Review: Nicole (Sewing in SoCal #3) (ARC)

Expected publication: January 7th 2021, 198 pages

Author: Sarah Monzon

Who has time to date when she’s trying to raise a miniature human by herself AND save the planet from its irresponsible inhabitants? Not to mention my winning personality (snort) and my curves-have-curves figure (eyeroll) don’t exactly attract the opposite sex. Unfortunately, none of these reasons have stopped my best friends and SoCal sewing sisters from taking on the archaic role of matchmakers, and they’re not beneath a little bribery if that’s what it takes to get my cooperation. Let’s just say everyone has their weak spot, and donations to my favourite charities is mine.

If I were to consider a romantic relationship, my dream guy certainly wouldn’t be immature, everything-is-a-game Dr. Drew Bauer. The man raises my body temperature faster than global warming does the Earth’s! But life seems determined to keep throwing us together, especially now that one of my SoCal sewing sisters is engaged to his best friend, in which case there can only be one of two outcomes:

1. I kill him in a fit of annoyance.

2. My common sense escapes me, and I fall in love with him.

Honestly, I’m not sure which would be worse.

Nicole is the third novel in the ‘Sewing in SoCal’ series. Each novel follows the story of one of the members of the sewing group so you could technically read this as a standalone, which is what I did. You do not have to read the others to understand what is going on in this novel although there are some pieces about the other characters that were referenced from the previous two novels. The cover is what drew me to read this as it caught my eye while I was scrolling for my next novel to read. I looked at the other two novels and I love how fun each of them are as it draws you to read them.

Nicole Applegate is a single mother to an eight-year-old girl named Sierra. She has recently separated from her husband, Greg, who is not winning father or partner of the year any time soon. She is curvier at a size US 16, which is a nice twist for a main character as they are typically smaller. She’s pear shaped with a larger lower half and a smaller waist and the novel never lets you forget this fact as it is repeated multiple times. Although I love having a curvy main character, I feel that it became too much a part of her identity as a character and the body positivity becomes lost. I wish that it were dealt with in a more organic way than just a fact repeated stated over and over again. It was a missed opportunity as the character is stated to be comfortable in her curvier body, but she keeps having inner monologues as if she is ashamed of it and judges others that are thinner than she is. As a curvy girl myself, I completely understand the back and forth thoughts on your own body image and the envy we can sometimes feel, but I feel as it was a missed opportunity as a character that is trying to portray a body positive image to their audience.

Her love interest, Drew Bauer, is a doctor and peewee football coach. He has a tragic backstory that is easy to guess, but it does not get the full attention that it deserves. It is glossed over as the novel goes over it a few times, but there is so much more that could have been discussed. His chapters in the book I feel could’ve been longer as even though they are from his perspective, you somehow feel like you don’t learn any more details compared to if they were told from an outsider’s point of view. It was completely the opposite of Nicole’s, where I felt that I could understand her inner thoughts and actions.

Nicole’s main defining character trait is her activism to save the planet. She is a vegan and does as much as she can to save the planet and instills these beliefs on her daughter. As an environmentalist, I completely agree with saving the planet like Nicole, but I feel like that becomes all she is as a character. Every action is to ensure that she does something positive for the environment and it seems that is her sole purpose in life so it is nice that Drew balances her and opens her mind a little about also including some fun while doing good deeds. I am not against Nicole’s passion, as I know many people, including myself, that do what we can for the environment, but I just feel like there could have been more to round out her character. I really do want a sequel or something as I really do not understand how this will be a lasting relationship. Although Drew is not against Nicole’s activism, he does not share the same passion. Drew is also not a vegan and also he respects Nicole’s choice, it does make you wonder if he will end up changing entirely for her or how the two will balance their opposing beliefs in the long run.

The dialogue between Drew and Nicole was very enjoyable, as they seemed to have the same religious beliefs, which helps in their connecting with each other. (As a side note, there is many mentions of scriptures and spiritual content, which might not be for every reader. It does not take away from the story, but it does come up a lot.) The two of them define the definition of there is a fine line between love and hate as they apparently do not like each other in the beginning, but they always straddle the line between actual dislike and flirting. The banter between the two of them is entertaining and it was nice that they opened up to each other more and more as the story went on to actually learn about the other. I enjoyed how Sierra brings them together as she is on Drew’s football team, which gives Drew a chance to get to know her and bond. The single parent with an outside love interest was well done as Drew focuses on gaining Sierra’s approval as well as Nicole’s. He treated Sierra with respect and was a good coach for her as she was the only female on the football team.

Overall, this story was entertaining and a good quick read as I finished it in only a few hours. It was a very sweet story, although I wish it were longer as I felt that some topics and events did not get the attention they deserved. There are mentions of political topics, such as kneeling during the national anthem that are rather glossed over as they are briefly discussed between the characters. It feels like the author wanted to mention it for the sake of mentioning it rather than actually exploring it fully. Similar to the environmentally positive message, it was fantastic that it was included in the story, but it just felt like more could have been done with the topic. It’s a very cute romance story surrounded by some heavier topics that needed some expansion to give it a more well-rounded feeling. It was a good read overall, but not quite for me.

**I give a special thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for an ARC to read and review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.**

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