Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads: Starry-Eyed Love (Spark House #2)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: 10 May 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Charming, hilarious, and emotional, Starry-Eyed Love is Helena Hunting at her very best!
Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.
As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.
As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.
TL;DR: I genuinely enjoyed this so much more than the first book! Although it was slow at the start and there were communication issues that I wished had been handled better, London and Jackson had great chemistry and I liked how their romance played out. They had sweet moments with just the right amount of cheese to make it cute and I really liked how they supported each other. I also loved the sibling dynamic between the Spark sisters and although I’m not sure if Hunting’s books are 100% for me, I’m looking forward to Harley’s story because she’s my favourite sister so far!
CW/TW: mention of parental deaths due to cancer and car accident
Starry-Eyed Love is my second Helena Hunting book and I went into it with my trepidation because of how much the first book in this series was not my cuppa. I’m happy to say that I enjoyed this one so much more! Once again, it’s a fast and easy romance that I managed to finish in one sitting. It is a very slow-burn romance but the payoff, even with the third-act breakup drama and all, was worth the HEA they get in the end. It was great to see more of the work that goes into Spark House and the different events they can come up with, plus, I enjoyed getting to know London and seeing her relationship with her sisters, especially Harley!
I appreciated how the romance between London and Jackson developed slowly. Their initial meet-cute was a meet-awkward as London turns Jackson down and when they unexpectedly meet again a few months down the road, they enter a strictly business arrangement that prevents them from becoming more. I would say the first half has a more serious tone to it as it’s largely focused on the business relationship that develops between Spark House and Jackson’s environmentally conscious new venture. Although there’s a clear mutual attraction you don’t find much of the flirty fun banter that you’d expect to find in a romance in this first part but I enjoyed getting to know more about Spark House and the work London does. I appreciated how Hunting addressed the power dynamic between London and Jackson, and that Jackosn actually doesn’t push crossing that professional boundary.
It’s a very slow-burn romance but they take months to really get to know each other and I loved the support Jackson gives to London and Spark House over the course of the novel. Also, as a result of the slow burn, there’s a delightful simmering tension that builds between them that makes it all the more satisfying when the business side ends and they finally get together. I’m surprised by how much I liked London in this book because I wasn’t a fan of her in the first. She’s hard-working and passionate about her work for Spark House, even as it regularly puts her out of her comfort zone, and she’s a loving sister. I loved the close bond that she has with Harley and I loved seeing so much more of the sibling dynamic in this book. I still wasn’t a fan of Avery (sorry, not sorry) and this book didn’t change that but their relationship was so relatable and I think anyone with siblings will say realistic.
Surprisingly, although I did like him for the most part, I struggled a little with Jackson… I loved how he supported London and Spark House and brought them so much attention but some of his actions were slightly off-putting and there were a few moments of frustrating poor communication that had me gritting my teeth and wondering WHY. There were also times in the first half of the book when I wasn’t sure whether he actually felt anything for London cos he was so emotionless. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory but there were several missed opportunities for better communication between him and London, and there were some omissions that had me feeling “eh” (and again had me wondering WHY). Not saying that London was perfect as I also found her reaction to be a little overdramatic, but I think I empathised with her character more. I didn’t think he was a bad guy but I had trouble with those communication issues. However, I do like how the third-act break-up was handled overall—the woman-to-woman moment was great and helped redeem this last bit for me.
Have you read Starry-Eyed Love or is it on your TBR?