10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 1, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever... or is it?

There’s little I love more than a book that can make me smile the whole way through, one that’s funny and fluffy and shippy as hell. They have a bit of magic because they can make all the stress and pain of daily life disappear for a few hours. I read with a goal of escapism, wanting to get out of my life into someone else’s. Some would argue that this is inferior to other forms of reading, but those people can shove it. Escaping into a thoroughly joyful narrative leaves me with more hope for life than I had when I started it, and how can that not be a good thing? 10 Blind Dates absolutely did all of that good stuff for me, and I loved it from the start to the end.

10 Blind Dates reminded me of a couple of other pop culture things, not in a too-similar kind of way, but in a “hey, if you liked those then you might like this” kind of way. First off, it reminded me of a one woman show called The Twelve Dates of Christmas, not to be confused with the ABC Family movie of the same name, where a woman sees her fiance cheat on her at the Thanksgiving Day Parade, after which the play runs through her dates over the next year, ending with cuteness. It’s sort of like that, only all in one holiday season.

It also reminded me of Morgan Matson very strongly, though her books can sometimes be rather heavy, so think the fluffy end of the spectrum. Particularly, I feel like I got from 10 Blind Dates what I wanted from Save the Date. Both deal with big, quirky families, but I felt so much more connected to both the family and the romance in this one.

10 Blind Dates has an unrealistic but perfectly rom com premise: after breaking up with her boyfriend Griffin, because she found out he was bored of her, her big family decides to set her up on 10 dates over the holiday season to bring her joy back. It’s so gloriously silly and charming. The family turns it into this big competition, complete with betting on date outcomes. Her family’s a mix of deeply lovable, super odd, and loathsome people, but as a whole I fell really hard for this family. Over the top the 10 blind dates plan may be, but the goal was to help Sophie move on and have fun over the holidays, and it succeeds.

There’s a romance in here, obviously, and I shipped it so hard from the very beginning…but I also like that the blind date scheme was proving successful long before the romance really appeared on the horizon. It’s not finding a new boyfriend that helps Sophie get over the breakup but the mere act of going on a bunch of dates, some terrible and some fantastic, that helps Sophie figure out what wasn’t working with Griffin. It’s not a method that would work for everyone, but it’s super convincing here.

It’s always a sign that I’m super in love with a book if it has long chapters, and I don’t care. In this case, I didn’t even notice. Since the ten dates are just one chapter each, the chapters are mostly quite long, but they’re all so entertaining that I never wanted to put the book down or flip to see how much of the chapter was left. I just wanted more.

The dates are all exciting, which is a serious feat. They’re not all exciting in the same way, of course. Some are sweet, some are awkward as hell, but they’re all very cinematic. It’s nigh impossible to believe that all of these events could exist and be going on, but that’s fictional magic tbh. Some stand outs were the date to the fancy party and the dinner and a movie date, for completely different reasons.

This book’s so much about friendship too. Sophie’s grown apart from her childhood friend group, consisting of two cousins and a neighbor kid, Wes. I love how, when they finally address the distance, it turns out to be a complete miscommunication, but not in the normal melodramatic way that’s usually done in fiction. I also really admired how kind most of the people are in this story, like the guys who clearly are not real prospects from the very beginning of a date but who work hard to make the night fun anyway and maybe even become friends.

If you want a fluffy, romantic read that will make your smile spread from ear to ear, I cannot recommend 10 Blind Dates highly enough. This makes me want to read more Elston so badly, but her other books are thrillers, and I’m not a huge thriller person. Anyone read those and have thoughts on whether I’d enjoy them?

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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