Review: Love & Other Mushy Stuff (ARC)

Expected publication: February 12th 2021 

Author: Lyndsey Gallagher

When it comes to love, sassy psychotherapist Abby Queenan has a hard time accepting her own advice. Jilted at the alter by her childhood sweetheart, she prefers to invest in other people’s happy ever afters than strive for her own. When the radio station she works for announces a once in a lifetime competition, she searches for a swoon-worthy famous male guest to feature on her show and up her ratings.

Irish rugby legend, Callum Connolly is the classic example of male perfection. He’s not looking for ‘the one’, merely ‘the next one’. That is until his teammates bet he can’t keep the same woman long enough to attend his best friend’s wedding.

The two strike an unlikely, but alluring deal.
Can Abby finally learn to take her own advice?
Or will Callum nail his most elusive touchdown yet?

A fun an entertaining take on the fake dating troupe!  Similar to The Ex Talk, we have at least one of our main characters working at a radio station. In this case, though, the fake dating is not solely based on the talk show and instead has a fun bet thrown in.  The characters actually meet before the bet takes place, but come together for a common purpose. An overall super fun read for fans of the contemporary romance genre. This novel is the start to the Professional Players series and you can guess how the other novels in the series will turn out and feature.

Let’s start with our male lead, Callum Connolly. He is a professional rugby player in Ireland and is the typically player, who dates around, but never has a girl around long enough to become his girlfriend. While with his teammates, Callum wants his teammate’s Audi and his teammates all wager that he can have it if he dates a girl long enough to attend one of their weddings in three months. Originally, Callum seemed like nothing more than a pretty face, but it was nice to see how he had depth as you read more about him and how he interacts with those around him.

Callum meets radio talk show host, Abby Queenan, during a chance encounter. He immediately hits on her, but she is not interest in become another notch on his bedpost. Abby has her own thoughts about romance as she was jilted at the alter by her childhood sweetheart, Sean Fitzpatrick. Abby goes to a pschic with her friend. The psychic gives Abby three predictions: she will excel in her career, someone close to her would die, and she would marry somebody named Patrick. When Abby meets Callum, not only does she initially reject him because of her past, but also due to his reputation. Abby becomes the source of Callum’s bet with his teammates. One thing that I liked about this novel is that Callum is very upfront with Abby about the bet so there is no secret or tension because of it. Abby agrees to be Callum’s “girlfriend” in exchange for him guest hosting on her radio program. Hence, the fake dating troupe begins in this story.

Both Abby and Callum have excellent communication with each other. There are obstacles like any couple, but they have far better communication than a lot of couples that I’ve read about in other novels. It was a very refreshing take as the two of them have a natural progression with their feelings and how they talk to each other about them. As this novel is set in Ireland, there are some sayings and mannerisms that don’t translate as well or feel as relatable from people who have never been. It doesn’t take away from the story in any way, but I think it becomes more enjoyable in some parts if you are familiar with Ireland.

The writing has some humor mixed in with a few serious topics mixed in. It is definitely an overall light-hearted novel that is perfect for a romantic read, especially in time for Valentine’s Day. The characters are fun and the novel moves at a decent pace to where you want to keep reading until the end. Both Abby and Callum were enjoyable in their own way as they came together well, but also shined on their own. Love and Other Mushy Stuff was an entertaining read and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

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