Sharon’s review ~ Love, Lists & Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Posted November 24, 2021 by Sharon in Mainstream, Reviews, Sharon/Slick / 0 Comments

Sharon’s review ~ Love, Lists & Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder RuizLove, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Published by Penguin on November 23, 2021
Genres: Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Romance / General, Fiction / Women
Pages: 336
Format: ARC, eBook, Paperback
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4.5 Stars

Sometimes a yacht, a bold bucket list, and a kiss with a handsome stranger are all a person needs to dive into the deep end of life.

For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things she wants to accomplish by her thirtieth birthday. Jo has almost everything she's ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she's the youngest resident by several decades) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.

Jo is on track until the death of her nephew turns her life upside down, and the list falls by the wayside. But when her two nieces show up unannounced with plans to stay the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping Jo finish it. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in twelve weeks, Jo takes on the challenge.

When she summons the courage to complete item number five--kiss a stranger--and meets Alex Hayes, all bets are off. As her feelings for Alex intensify and Jo's inability to confront difficult emotions about her family complicates her relationships, she must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses what matters most.

I loved every emotional, touching, sad, funny, and sometimes outrageous moment of Love, Lists & Fancy Ships! ~ Sharon – Simply Love Book Reviews



Author Sarah Grunder Ruiz, blew me out of the water (no pun intended) with her debut novel,  Love, Lists & Fancy Ships. I knew going in this book was going to be more of a women’s fiction story with a romantic side and I was okay with that, but what I wasn’t expecting was the emotional journeys of so many of the characters in this story. That wasn’t a bad thing; in fact it was a beautiful thing.  A bit of a warning this book deals with the loss of a child (recent) and the loss of a parent (in the past) and they way those losses have not only changed the heroine of this story, but also those around her. I loved every emotional, touching, sad, funny, and sometimes outrageous moment of this story.

Jo is a yacht stewardess, a career she fell into purely by accident, but she loves the travel and the down time when she has it. Closing in on her 30th birthday, Jo has twelve weeks to complete her 30 by 30 list, thirty things she wants to accomplish by her birthday. She was off to a good start until a tragedy hit her family and she’s found it hard to get her footing again. At the end of the regular yacht season, while celebrating at a bar with her fellow crew members, Jo is pushed into kissing a stranger in a bar by her best friend and co-worker, Nina. Even Jo has to admit the kiss was a bit magical, but then he’s gone and she figures that’s probably a good thing as she has no intentions of having a relationship any time soon. When Jo’s nieces arrive to spend the summer with her, something she wasn’t expecting given the recent tragedy in their family, she finds that they are just what she needs even though they also remind her of what they all have lost. She also doesn’t expect for Hot Bar Guy to wind up being her neighbor or the fact that he has a teenage daughter that fits right in with her two nieces.

Alex gave up life as a Michelin star chef to raise his daughter and he’d do it all over again. Moving to Florida and accepting a job as a yacht chef so that his daughter could attend the best school for her was a no brainer. While she’s not happy with him right now, he knows in time she’ll realize it was the right thing to do. Discovering the woman who laid a hot kiss on him is his neighbor is a bonus although he’s vowed no relationships, his daughter must come first and then finding out they’ll be working together, another reason to stay clear but the more he’s around Jo and her nieces and he see the way she treats her daughter like one of her own, makes it so damn difficult.

For me this book had three parts; one was Jo’s journey in finishing her list and dealing with her grief, two was her relationship with her nieces as they too deal with their grief, and third was the flirtation, possible romance with Alex. Yes, they were all connected yet there was a process to all of these parts that kept the story forever changing, funny one minute and bringing tears to my eyes the next, watching Jo roll her eyes at her nieces antics yet then acting a like a teenager herself around Alex, balancing work with home life, and a potential relationship.  I loved all these pieces and I credit Ms. Ruiz for seamlessly rolling them into this incredible story.

If you enjoy books with real emotion, one that doesn’t shy away from tough subjects, yet also contains happy and lighthearted moments then Love, Lists & Fancy Ships is the perfect book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more from this author.


4.5 Stars

About Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Sarah Grunder Ruiz is a writer, educator, and karaoke enthusiast. Originally from South Florida, she now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and two children. She holds an MFA in creative writing from North Carolina State University, where she now teaches First-Year Writing.

Posted November 24, 2021 by Sharon in Mainstream, Reviews, Sharon/Slick / 0 Comments