I recently just finished the second book of Ashley Herring Blake’s Bright Falls series, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail. This series, along with the the Witches of Thistle Grove series were series I picked up around the same time. I wanted to read some more romances and with me finding them in June, I ended up working it into a LGBTQ+ focused reading month (note that this wasn’t the only time I’ve read LGBTQ+ book, I just ended up deciding that I would try to focus on LGBTQ+ centered books since it was Pride Month).
I was initially hesitant if I wanted to continue on with this series, because after finishing Delilah Green Doesn’t Care and reflecting on issues I had with that book after, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to continue the series. However, I ended up decided that I would read Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail to give the series a chance outside of the first book. The reason for giving it a chance was because I didn’t want to decide if I wanted to drop it solely on the first book. I wanted to give it a chance in the event the second book ended up being better than the first. And I ended up enjoying Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail.
Though not perfect, I do think Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail was a better book when compared to Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.
I can narrow it down to characters, how they developed, and the story. This story does see the return of characters from the previous book, like Delilah, Claire, and Iris. And Astrid, who Delilah and the gang plan to end her engagement to her fiancé, is one of the main characters alongside Jordan and part of the eventual main romance. That said, the secondary returning characters were solid enough for what they were needed for and the new characters for the most part worked.
Off the characters, I feel like Astrid and Jordan, mostly the former, had some of the best development in the story. Granted, that’s to be expected with them being the leading ladies, but their progression was done well and felt natural. They didn’t rush into a relationship and both tried to figure out what they wanted in the relationship and for the other person. I enjoyed how Astrid was able to become her own person and not what her mother wants, while also making mistakes along the way. As for Jordan, I’m glad she was finally able to find happiness after how things ended with her ex wife Meredith.
Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail also had a pretty solid storyline. While mostly from the perspectives of Astrid and Jordan, there was enough time to give the secondary characters time to shine. Astrid’s mother, Delilah, Claire, and Iris had good moments and helped Astrid when needed, with her mother being a source of conflict that she needed for personal growth. Then there’s Meredith and Jordan’s brother. Jordan’s brother brought a nice sibling dynamic between the two with her brother looking out for Jordan, while Meredith is a character that Jordan had her own personal conflicts over as Jordan started to realize that she deserved happiness and love too.
And while I may have felt like the plot was relatively simple, I thought it did a good job with the story it wanted to tell. I also feel like it did a better job with it compared to Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.
As far as criticisms, I only really have two. This critique isn’t super serious, but it’s fine that I feel like addressing. That being some tropes that this book falls into,
Now, tropes aren’t inherently a bad thing. They are just elements that aren’t uncommon. When done well, they can be good. When not done as well, it’s noticeable. It really just depends on the book.
The tropes used here aren’t bad by any means.
- Opposites Attract: Both have different visions for the project they’re working on, one’s vision is more modern while the other is traditional, Astrid aesthetic is bright and girly while Jordan’s ids rugged and kind of tomboyish.
- Second Chances: Both Astrid and Jordan find second chances at love with each other. Astrid finds love after calling things off with her ex fiancé and Jordan finds love again after the rough divorce between her and Meredith.
- Work Partners: They start off as work partners on renovating a house for a show. From there, they end up falling in love.
Again, I am not saying that tropes are bad. However, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail does utilize a few romance tropes. And while I might not mind them, for the sake of critique I will say that is the one criticism I have. They don’t diminish the story enough for me to say I dislike the book. If these are tropes that you don’t particularly like, than this is your forewarning.
What I feel it did Better Than Delilah Green Doesn’t Care
As I mentioned at the beginning of this, I was debating if I wanted to continue on with the series. While I had initially enjoyed Delilah Green Doesn’t Care after some time had passed, I did feel like it could have been better. I was going to do a review on it, but ended up not getting it up due to motivation and my thoughts not being as concise as I would have liked when I was working on it.
Initially, my main issue with Delilah Green Doesn’t Care was that, similar to Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail, it did feel like it hit some common tropes (ex. the bet, Claire being the best friend to Astrid, Delilah’s stepsister, and happy ending). However, unlike Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail, the plot for Delilah Green Doesn’t Care to me felt like it fell to something you’d find in a Hallmark movie. Namely how it’s about Delilah coming back to her hometown, a past that had Delilah and Astrid become estranged into adulthood, making a bet with her sister to get Claire to like her, how and when it was revealed, and how it seemed to clear up almost instantly in the last chapter or two.
This isn’t necessarily a jab at Hallmark movies, but based on the ones I have seen, they do tend to share a lot of similar stories and/or tropes. And while I can say that both could possible fall into that umbrella, something about Delilah Green Doesn’t Care felt more blatant with it to me.
Since then, I have come to agree with a particular critique with Delilah Green Doesn’t Care. That being how the whole plan to break Astrid and her fiancé up feels unnecessarily over the top, where a simple conversation might have been better.
Initially, I didn’t think about that. It was just kind of there. But after reading over the criticisms of this, and actually thinking about it, I agree. I do think the story could still work for the most part with a tweaked version of Delilah and the group breaking Astrid and her fiancé up without going to the lengths they did. Maybe collect evidence as to why they feel that way, but actually sitting down with Astrid about instead of going to the lengths they did.
I would give Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail a four out of five stars. I thought it was a nice little romance with a natural progression and character growth that didn’t feel rushed. My only real critique would be that it utilizes a few common romance tropes. Though they aren’t done poorly, so it doesn’t really hinder the book.
Since I ended up enjoying this book, I will be continuing with this series. Which as of right now, appears to be a third and potentially final book in the form of Iris Kelly Doesn’t Date. Said third book is set to be released on November 7th 2023.