THIS ROAD TO LOVE MAY HAVE A FEW SPEED BUMPS…
Former hot mess Jolene Baxter is committed to doing better. It’s why she offered to help her sister and brother-in-law move across the country. However, her goodwill is tested when last minute changes—mainly her father ditching her for an all-expenses paid vacation—forces her to make the journey with a man who is the human version of a pebble in her shoe.
Jason Akana operates on lists and bitter coffee, but none of those things will help him on a sixteen-hour trip with the most infuriating woman. Maybe they can get along and forget their heated confrontation five years ago at his best friend’s wedding…when pigs fly.
But the addition of vehicle problems, an unplanned pit stop in a small town, and chemistry that inconveniently tags along, shifts their perspectives. And once the dust settles after their trip, a tentative friendship emerges.
Will these two stubborn people successfully navigate the unexpected feelings that follow close behind? Or will they hit a roadblock before reaching happily ever after?
What is Along for the Ride about?
Along for the Ride is a romance novel about second impressions and second chances. Jolene Baxter–JoJo to her friends–has grown and matured into a smart, capable, professional businesswoman. But her brother-in-law’s best friend, Jason Akana, still remembers her disastrous first impression on him at her sister’s wedding. Somehow, all of that goes out the window when everything that can go wrong does during an unexpected road trip together.
The story doesn’t linger on their road trip for too long, though. Despite both of their plans to pretend the whole thing never happened, Jolene and Jason are drawn together time and time again.
- enemies to “friends” to lovers
- there was only one bed
- second chance at a first impression
- mysterious robbery
- road trip gone wrong
- “just friends”
- “just friends with benefits”
- oh no, feelings!
- jealousy doesn’t look good on anybody
Very much a feel good romance novel.
Both Jolene and Jason are great characters. They’re each well rounded, fully aware characters with motivations completely separate from the relationship they form. Jason’s relationships with his family, and participants in his volunteer program, go a long way towards softening his rougher edges. On Jolene’s side, her career ambitions are admirable and the story actually does a very good job of demonstrating how talented and capable she is in her role. With such well rounded characters, it’s hard not to root for them even during the downs of their up-and-down relationship (where it starts). Even some of the less interesting plot beats do in fact serve the development of either the characters or the relationship to some degree.
The spice was mild. Not bad, by any means, but it wanted to be a lot spicier than it really was. I also don’t know how I feel about Jason using Jolene’s nickname initially just during sex–it’s unclear who is and isn’t allowed to use the nickname, or how it came about, so it just seems to come out of nowhere.
I don’t have much in terms of concrete criticism. One thing I found mildly disappointing was the plot moving on from the road trip so quickly. I was surprised, at first, by how quickly the road trip plot was moving. Then, with the surprise robbery plot beat I was excited for the mystery, and especially for the longer stay in the motel for Jason and Jolene. Unfortunately for me, that plot was wrapped up very quickly. I was disappointed when it ended, especially considering the false hope that the robbery subplot gave me for them remaining at the motel a little longer.
Altogether, this is a pretty decent romance novel. The relationship is convincing, the characters reasonably well rounded, and there’s some plot aside from the romance that’s decently entertaining. I think the tropes used were used well, though I could have done without some of the Mark related plot points. I do wish the road trip–the big draw for me–had been extended somehow, and less time was spent on the day to day lives of Jolene and Jason. The spice in this novel was primarily mild, so this is more on the wholesome side of the romance novel spectrum. Overall, a quick and easy read if that’s what you’re looking for.
If you are interested, you can purchase Along for the Ride through my Amazon Affiliates link here. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.