Quarantine Post #3 – Bleach anime/manga

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So recently it was announced that a favorite anime of mine, Bleach would be brought back to the television screen. It brings delight to my friends and I. We waited 8 years since the conclusion of the anime to be brought to the screens. Bleach was on the television from 2004-2012 and originally ran for 366 episodes. Now people can say what they want about the show’s run. (Mostly it will be bellyaching about filler episodes, which are still awesome if not in the some of the worst places lol.) but this has been my favorite anime from recent years for several reasons. I waited for the announcement of the rest of the show for as long as I could. I admit I lost faith every day. But a friend of mine who had been pointing out that I need to read the Thousand Year Blood War arc since I bought the whole manga collection and then I would know how the story ends… finally convinced me to do so. It is funny… because I was just holding onto it because I didn’t want it to be over. I was so satisfied with the last arc that it only renewed the vigor in my heart for the final arc to be brought to life on screen. As far as holding on to my favorite story… there is good news on that end as well. Tite Kubo announced that his one shot… Burn the Witch will be serialized so that gives me new characters and a new story to fall in love with. I trust in Kubo.

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Bleach follows Ichigo Kurosaki who at the outset of the show can see ghosts… It was so funny to me because it reminded me of Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense. But I will say it was refreshing to see a main character that just wanted to be a regular high school kid. But such a thing was never in the cards for Kurosaki. He obtains the powers of a Soul Reaper (死神, Shinigami, literally, “Death God”) from another Soul Reaper, Rukia Kuchiki. His newfound powers force him to take on the duties of defending humans from evil spirits and guiding departed souls to the afterlife.

So now to my countdown…

  1. Bleach was the first thing to bring me out of my depression. I started watching Bleach in 2013. Well after it went off the air but that was a rough time in my life. I lost my job and my relationship ended. Both of which caused me at the time to feel super down. The issue being that I couldn’t focus on anything. I found nothing entertaining at all. I was just kind of going through the motions. What is funny is that I watched anime for many years. (Dragonball Z, Speed Racer, and Sailor Moon as a kid before and after school.) So I met up with an old friend and he was telling me about shows that he watched that he thought I would enjoy… the first being One Piece… (maybe I will do a post about that some other time.) While I enjoyed One Piece… it was Bleach that struck a chord with me. The Main Character just wanted to be a normal teenager and protect his friends and family.
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  2. Standout Characters: You know that story has hooked you when you are interested in every character and every character’s back story. Some people comment that the side characters are more interesting than Ichigo. And while I love Ichigo, I have to point out dynamic characters which also made it easier for the show to suck me in. The mysterious Urahara, Uryu, Kenpachi, and Byakuya. I loved each and every character that was introduced. They all had their dynamic personalities and each had something different that they brought to the table as well as their stories all tie together.
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  3. Each character story ties together… and the reveals are breathtaking. The thing that comes to mind here is the backstory of Urahara. When we first meet Urahara, he seems stupid. (But that, of course, is his thing, as you find out later on.) My first thought when learning that he was a soul reaper was Why in the world, is he in the world of the living and not in the Soul Society? Besides being the trainer to my beloved Ichigo… what was his deal? Well as is Kubo’s way… that story is told in a way that left me speechless. A tale rooted in events from 100 years ago… the battle of geniuses… Urahara is a scary dude though… you never know how much of the truth he is telling and he never lets on how much he actually knows. There are other cases like this…the other one that stands out to me is Ichigo’s father being the leader of the Shiba clan (which everyone Ichigo meets in the Soul Society knows… but never says a word!) as well as his mother being a Quincy. Such epic story telling and not a thing introduced that doesn’t have a reason for being there.
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  4. Ichigo deals in real emotions. This is normally what I debate with other people about especially on twitter. When we meet Ichigo, he is 15. As most kids his age, he is a bit rough around the edges. I attributed that to his mother’s death. But the introduction of the Grand Fisher solidified it for me. The guilt that he feels about his mother’s death drives his need to protect his family and friends. Looking at a situation, more things appear the older you get. At 9, he felt bad because he should have been the one to protect her but also he didn’t get the whole story. He learns that he was sucked in by the Grand Fisher.. and he carries the weight of his role in her death. It drives him to get stronger. This weight was sad for me to watch him carry as he had no idea what was going on at the time. There are periods when he attempts to push away the people that care about him for their safety which is SUPER ANNOYING. Let people love you, sir. (I love him anyway.) He loves his friends dearly and doesn’t ever want to be the reason that someone else close to him loses their life. Sadly though he misses that they care about him because he is too busy trying to keep them at arm’s length. He even struggles with letting them know about his own inner hollow because he is worried that they will turn away from him. A 15/16 year old that suffers from feelings of doubt, inadequacy, etc touched close to home but him constantly learning that his friends and family cared about him no matter what touched my heart.
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  5. Isshin Kurosaki is badass and a damn good father. There are a lot of discussions online about who in anime wears the crown for the worst father. Or the joke that the kids in these shows have almost no parental supervision. Isshin is a very hands-on father… when attacking Ichigo to keep him on his toes… maybe too much so. The discussion Isshin has with Ichigo at his mother’s grave made a real impression on me. Ichigo finally asks his father why no one blames him for Masaki’s death. Isshin asks why would they? His wife died protecting her child and to not be so glum and waste the extra time given to him. (I was annoyed to know that Isshin was a Soul Reaper and that there were things he kept from Ichigo… for the longest time… but everything happens for a reason. I always thought maybe Ichigo could have been more prepared for the things he was expected to do if people told him things upfront but eh.) Isshin gave up his powers for Masaki. He helped Ichigo get his powers back when he lost them… He helped extend the time Ichigo had to learn the Final Getsuga Tensho… He was another character that used goofy humor to mask what he really knows.
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  6. Aizen… I mean really… The villain for much of the story is my favorite to love to hate. He systematically dismantled the Soul Society. First by blaming Urahara for testing out hollowification on others and getting the smartest man that could oppose him sentenced to death. Creating the Vizards, creating and mastering the Hōgyoku, staging his own death, and so on. While maintaining his cool and calm demeanor, he wins everyone over or lulls them into a false sense of security before striking. He is super intelligent and has planned everything out 100 years prior to us meeting Ichigo. He is the villain others should strive to be. He is great in his terribleness but also I couldn’t believe when it was revealed that he faked his own death (which I thought prior to the big reveal.) His speech to his subordinate Hinamori blew my mind… JUST BEFORE HE STABBED HER!
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  7. QUINCY…. and their rivalry with the Soul Reapers. When we meet Ishida, he has the pride of being the last Quincy and hatred for helping the Soul Society and Soul Reapers in general. It is soon revealed why he harbors resentment. The Quincy (Kuinshī; Japanese for “Monk of Destruction“) are Humans that have the ability to detect the existence of Hollows. It all started when they began training to confront Hollows in order to defeat them, the same as Soul Reapers do. However, because of the way the Quincy dispose of hollows… a war erupted between the two groups. (I found this to be fascinating.) The biggest difference between the Quincy and Soul Reapers, since ancient times, is whether or not to kill Hollows. The Soul Reapers purify Hollows with their Zanpakutō and send them to Soul Society, while the Quincy killed the Hollows. The idea can be seen as comparing justice and vengeance: “Hollows devour souls of Humans, so why must it be that those who harm and kill friends and relatives get sent peacefully to Soul Society?” Soul Reapers felt that the Quincy would bring about the collapse of the world. Soul Reapers govern the souls between the Human World and Soul Society, which maintains a balance that if not kept would result in the mutual destruction of both worlds. All souls, including Hollows, are subject to maintaining the balance. Since Quincy completely extinguish Hollows, the souls that come to the Human World do not return to Soul Society.  Therefore the souls increase only on the side of the Human World. As a result, the Human World becomes heavy in souls, causing Soul Society to spill over into it, mixing life and death together. Chaos and Destruction ensue. Hypothetically. To the Soul Reapers credit, they attempt on several occasions to have discussions with the Quincy about leaving the treatment of hollows to them. However, the Quincy cannot be reasoned with. Or maybe they refused to care. As time went on, the number of Quincy increased and the cycle of souls became more unstable, forcing the Shinigami to reluctantly wipe out the Quincy in order to maintain the balance of the world. The remaining Quincy end up being Ishida who learned his powers from his grandfather who is killed by hollows. (He hates the Soul Reapers because he felt that they did not show up to help and did so on purpose.) A long sordid history? Let me tell you I was here for it. It is especially dark but I love a good backstory and Bleach was filled with them.
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  8. Female Representation. Now Shonen is not normally the best at female representation, I chalk this up for the target audience being boys from the ages of 12-18. They generally want to see the girls being rescued by the boys that they can see themselves being and winning the girl’s heart. A bit old fashioned but it is a selling formula for a reason. (Now this is not something I am going to debate about… I will just say… each genre plays to things that it’s target audience enjoys whether you like that or not. Romantic Comedies drive tropes about dating and men that aren’t necessarily true but people – women still eat it up, so say what you want but these tropes happen for a reason.) I will say that as the years pass representation has been getting better. Although, I don’t believe that it is going to change dramatically as boys and girls are different and what they want to see differs. Bleach offers a cast of strong female characters. They have epic personalities, epic fights, and command respect from their male counterparts. These female characters help Ichigo and build him up for his impending battles. Rukia and Yoruichi take no bullshit. Orihime being a healer… (I don’t know what is wrong with people… being a healer will never be useless to me. But people don’t like her because much of her mind was occupied by the boy she liked… and while that is the case in middle school and high school the world was divided on her.) She was essential to Ichigo in the Espada arc… Neliel and Harribel are bad ass espada. It was enjoyable to have female characters that didn’t annoy me.
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  9. Sometimes the good guys don’t win. I found that this was one of my favorite things about the series. It lends credence to the villain or in this case villains. It shows the villains as legitimate threats rather than just fodder for the good guys to show off their new abilities against. It was never believable to me that a boy who was just beginning to learn and understand himself and learn about soul reapers, in general, would defeat those who were hundreds of years older than him in the first go-round. If that had happened, I would have been disappointed. Bleach put its heroes through harrowing losses which made the victories all the more badass to watch.
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  10. Fillers. The only complaint that I had about the fillers was that they were stuck in the worst possible places. Since I was watching after it finished airing I was able to skip them and jump back into the main story. I understand the need for longer running anime to have filler (If you do not, look up Gintama where Gintoki talks us through filler.) However, people will say that these lack a good story or failed to hold their interest. Well… that is because we wanted to know what was going to happen with Aizen. But all of the filler arcs I found to be interesting when I went back and watched them. I wonder what I must have been craving to have gone back and watched the filler episodes. But the Zanpakuto Unknown Tales Arc & Gotei 13 Invading Army Arc I really enjoyed. The Bount Arc wasn’t as terrible as people made it out to be and the Fullbring arc is NOT filler.. lol. (You have no idea how much people claim that it is.
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  11. The 4 Bleach Movies. I enjoyed these very much. They shed a spotlight on other characters… I think about Urahara in action in the Soul Society or the issue with Tōshirō and having the same Zanpakutō as another soul reaper and how they deal with that. These were animated well and had stories that were just as interesting or compelling to me as the show which never happens to me.

    In the end, I was intrigued enough by the story of Ichigo and company to find out what happened to all the characters. This intrigue kept me interested enough to focus on something else during my depressive state where nothing else seemed to work. There was just enough action to satisfy my need for fights as well as emotional moments. Another thing that I enjoyed was the fact that there was a meeting between a male and female character in the beginning and is the basis for an extraordinary friendship that doesn’t end in a romance between the two characters… (I know I will get a lot of flack from people on this.) I will say… men and women can be friends without there being a need to enter into a relationship so that was also refreshing.

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Anyways, that is all I have for now. If you are interested, read the manga… and watch the anime. In the meantime, my friends and I are looking forward to the last arc being animated and it’s a long time coming. I’m 1000% sure that I will love it too.

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Quarantine Post #2 – The Hating Game

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I usually go through periods of boredom and I will log into Audible and download a book to listen to on the way back and forth to work… Takes me about 90 minutes in the morning to get to work. So I could finish a book in a week. Audible is great for me… as an English Major… College ruined reading for fun and within the past year and a half I have gotten back to wanting to even crack open a book. To crack open a book, I would need to carve out time to actually sit and read and with my busy schedule there is not enough time in the day. So much so that last year, I added reading more to my list of New Year’s Resolutions.

With the order to isolate and quarantine, I had to look for ways to entertain myself. I figured I would start with number one on my list. (Read more.) This blog covers number 2 (blog more). I am not really one to criticize something and it is very hard to get me to not like something. So you’ll find that my posts have more to do with how I felt reading or watching something than giving a star rating. Needless to say… one of the books that I read that stuck with me… that I now have time to blather about is The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I heard they are making this into a movie… So I am definitely going to be at the theater to see it. I have pretty basic tastes… I hear that a story has a haters turned lovers kind of thing….. fake dating trope (or in this case, wedding date trope.) and I am all for it.

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I am usually not great at picking books but I hit the nail on the head with this one. I got it done in less than 24 hours. And listened to it two more times. I have not had that type of dedication in a long time. But enough about me… onto the story….. *SPOILERS* The Hating Game is set in a publishing house where Lucy and Josh are Executive Assistants to the co-CEOs. And not only do the CEOs hate each other, but so do Lucy and Josh. (Sexual Tension everywhere if you ask me.) They’ve hated each other since the first moment they met.  But maybe that is not as true as we are first told. Oddly enough, I had an experience like this at a previous workplace.

The story is told from Lucy Hutton’s POV. She starts off by telling us just how much she HATES Joshua Templeman. (She uses a version of I Hate Joshua Templeman as her password to work computer.) Lucy works as the executive assistant for Helene Pascal, one of the co-CEO’s of Bexley and Gamin. Originally, Gamin had been a small independent publisher, but it merged with the corporation Bexley so that both houses could survive the recession. Lucy sits across from Mr. Bexley’s executive assistant, Joshua Templeman. The two of them play immature and unprofessional games with one another all the time, in an attempt to one up each other everyday. There’s the Staring Game, The Mirror Game, The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything.

I check Joshua, who is glowering at me with contempt. I stare back. Now we are playing the Staring Game.” – Lucy Hutton

These games are a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other. Lucy does not do anything at work without turning it into a competition with Josh, who she thinks of as her nemesis. The most interesting thing to me was going through his desk and making copies of his planner. (More on this later.) There is a thin line between love and hate indeed… It is revealed that they have called HR on each other a few times…. leading to each of them getting a warning. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

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For me, Lucy is an interesting and relatable character. AKA “Shortcake” (a nickname given to her by Joshua.) She had always dreamed of working with a publishing company and she leaves her parent’s house at the strawberry farm (hence the nickname) to work at Gamin in the city. I remember being that ambitious. Lucy was actively working through getting her dream job since she was a kid. She feels insecure about the merger as she is a people’s pleasure and worries about whether or not people like her. It didn’t help that Joshua lead the charge to cut the fat around the newly merged company and one of her only friends lost her job. This friend blamed Lucy even though Lucy knew nothing about people losing their jobs and even if she did wouldn’t have been allowed to warn anyone. Joshua, for his part, manages to save both sinking ships. But his push to let some employees go cause a ripple effect throughout the company. He is scary and intimidating to other workers who prefer working in Lucy over Josh. Although there is a scene that shows more why that is actually the case. Lucy gets a call from an older woman in another department… ( Her name is Julie…. and  I was so annoyed at her blatant rudeness…) It is made apparent that this character is supposed to have a report on Lucy’s desk either weekly, or biweekly (if I can recall)… but she always calls the day it is due to get an extension…I was left to wonder did this woman ever turn in things on time… and why she wasn’t let go of Gamin… She has a headache or sinus or some such other nonsense. Lucy, in her extreme need to be liked, always lets her get away with it. Meaning that it is Lucy that has to work extra hours to be sure that her portion of the report is done for her CEO. The coworker even points out how understanding Lucy is and how she is glad she doesn’t have to speak to Josh. (Well obviously because he wouldn’t stand for the bullshit and is not a pushover or really concerned what other people think about him). This isn’t a dig at Lucy as I have been there and done that but I so couldn’t wait for her to get a backbone. There is even a point in the story where this woman signs Lucy up to take her niece on for a shadowing internship. She doesn’t really ask Lucy but sort of politely demands that Lucy do this. She skips right over the fact that Lucy says she doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. Unlike Lucy, Josh runs a tight ship and is not looking to make nice or friends with those that report to him. He has an eye for numbers and governs by the bottom line. His decisions are not made emotionally or in a rush. They are opposite in their approach but seem to fit together perfectly.

It gets interesting when Mr. Bexley and Helene announce at the staff meeting that they are creating a new position, chief operating officer, and they both want their own executive assistant to fill the position. Lucy wants the position badly but feels insecure when comparing herself to Joshua. She thinks she deserves it because she loves books, works hard and has been her dream job since she was a kid whereas this is just another job for Josh. She is somewhat defeated at the outset as the person who wins the position will be the other’s boss. The idea of having to answer to Joshua drives her nuts. She vows that she will quit if he gets the job convinced that he will make her work life more of a living hell than he normally does. Oddly enough, this job posting starts a new game between them of “When I’m Your Boss”. The conversation, as per usual, goes off the rails after Joshua says, “When I’m your boss, I’m going to work you so fucking hard.” This statement leads Lucy down an interesting path.

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While not at work, we see that Lucy spends time Skyping her parents. Internally, she wonders why her mother settled down with her father on the strawberry farm. She views her mother as being a talented writer/journalist. Lucy believes wholeheartedly that her mother would have been at the top of her field. She wonders to herself if her mother envisioned something else for herself other than being married and being a mom or if she harbors resentment. Lucy feels as though her mother gave up everything to be with her father… whose life changed minimally. (This was an interesting take to me as I realized that the older children get they look at some of their parent’s decisions critically). Lucy’s very talented mother now keeps a blog on all things going on with the strawberry farm. In my mind, she was comparing her life to her mothers at the same age. Lucy sees herself as a single woman who is trying to jumpstart her career and also trying to determine if, in order to get and maintain a relationship with a man, will she need to give up her dreams like her mother had done. (Do I also need to give up the things that I want in life in order to have a husband and possibly children in the future? Should I downplay who I am and what I want in life for a chance at love?) Her parents are super supportive of their daughter. They seem to know all about Josh (who her father, in an attempt to lighten the mood and be funny, calls him every J name under the sun but Josh.) Aside from trying to coax Lucy into coming home to visit… they tell her that she is a shoo-in for the position.

Here is where shit really starts hitting the fan….. The sexual dream… Which in itself is not an odd thing. But it throws Lucy for a loop. She has a dirty dream about none other than Joshua Templeman. (In my mind, she spends more of her work time with him so that seemed natural…) This dream is based on the statement Josh makes about being her boss. Lucy is mostly perturbed by the fact that she was so turned on by the idea of her and Josh together. The next day is hard for her as she is super flustered by Josh. She can’t seem to meet his eyes. Josh notices something odd is going on even for her. She tells him about the dream in a roundabout way… leaving out the fact that it was sexual in nature and that he was the man in it. Of all people to share things with, Lucy chooses the guy she claims to HATE…. (interesting indeed.)

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Circling back to the company meeting, Danny is being celebrated because it is his last week… (it could be his last day but my memory is foggy.) Lucy and Danny manage to lock eyes with each other. It is revealed that he will be branching out to start his own graphic design company. Lucy makes small talk with Danny instead of spending time playing the antagonistic game with Joshua (which seems to set Joshua on edge. I mean, does he hate her or not?) It is this brief flirtation that Lucy uses when Josh questions her about why she is dressed up for work. ( “Wowsers,” he drawls, and I watch his pencil make some kind of mark.  “Got a hot date, Shortcake?”) She blurts out that she has a date at a local bar after work… He doesn’t believe her and allows her to explain more to hang herself. Josh lets it drop that he enjoys that bar and will be there that night. Letting Lucy know that he can’t wait to catch her in a lie. Lucy is quick thinking so she meanders down to Danny’s desk to ask him out. Her flirting is flawless. Danny is all game mostly because he is attracted to Lucy. (Enter the 3rd point in the triangle… Everyone romantic story needs a triangle.) She is satisfied that she has thwarted Josh’s ‘I know your attitude.’ Sadly, I have done this several times and it always leads to trouble.

Joshua Templeman, from Lucy’s POV, is very prim and proper. Everything on his desk is in the proper order. He is the exact opposite of Lucy. He even wears the same shirts in the same order of color. She finds comfort in being able to predict exactly what he is going to wear. But Lucy is also intrigued by him and I will admit so was I. On the way out of the office, Joshua asks if she needs a ride to the bar for her date. Why would she need a ride to her date…? Why wouldn’t you assume that she is taking a cab or that this other person was picking her up? But because she can’t think of a good excuse quick enough, she allows him to drive her. (Now, of course, I am listening to this on audible… but I was talking to my Alexa at this point…. like DON’T GO ANYWHERE WITH THIS MAN!!! They never listen to me. I suspect Lucy was still on a high from her dream.) They climb into the elevator together and this action is the beginning of the end for life as she knows it. Josh reaches over and stops the elevator. Lucy is thinking that he is going to kill her. (Why would you have gone somewhere with a man you thought was going to kill you? Why would he kill you in the elevator of his job?) Seems irrational but the fear was palpable. But Josh reaches down and kisses her passionately. The kisses between Josh and Lucy become more heated and she finds herself being picked up and propped against the railing as Josh kisses all over… (what kind of hate relationship is this? In my mind, I saw this coming but I wondered how it would play out. Dating someone you work with is not my idea of a good time.) But as abruptly as he starts the kiss… he ends it, leaving Lucy’s reeling. She clamors into the car and is solely focused on getting to the bar. When Josh pulls up to the bar, Lucy jumps out before he can say anything else to her.

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In her mind, Lucy is surprised that she enjoyed the kiss as much as she did and or the fact that Josh is a great kisser. She finds Danny but isn’t able to enjoy the night. Danny attempts to compliment her and Lucy excuses herself on the verge of tears. She made up in her mind that the only reason that Josh kissed her is to gain the upper hand for the presentations that are going to happen in a week. (Are people really this vindictive?) When she bumps into Josh on the way to the restroom, he notices that she is on the verge of tears and is at a loss for what to say. (Really, Lucy gives him and piece of her mind and doesn’t really let him get a word in edgewise.) She manages to salvage the night with Danny. It gives her something else to focus on besides Josh. She decides to call into work the next day…. (Apparently not something she has done in a long time.) She receives a dozen roses with a card (“You’re ALWAYS beautiful.” ) but it doesn’t say who it is from… She believes it is from Danny. (More spoilers…It isn’t.)

The next event for our two characters is planning a company team-building event designed to bring both sides (Gamin and Bexley) closer together. Josh and Lucy, being the two representing each side and with everyone knowing that they hate each other, are supposed to come up with an idea and run the events. Lucy comes up with a basic idea of meeting together and talking out idea… Joshua usurps with an idea of taking everyone paintballing and he solidifies his idea with making each employee pay for themselves. (He explains to Helene that employees will gladly pay out of pocket to shoot at their coworkers.) Lucy is annoyed that she is already being outshined by Josh. On the day of the employee retreat, Lucy and Josh are standing outside the buses collecting everyone’s $20 and their release forms… Danny makes an appearance even though his last day was earlier in the week. He is excited to see and talk to Lucy, but Josh steps over any tender moment and is SUPER RUDE to Danny. Lucy and Danny make plans to be on the same team for one of the rotations, which Josh points out can’t happen as all the teams have been chosen for the day… and that Lucy is with him ALL DAY…. (coincidence? nah son…. ) Danny is unperturbed and makes plans to sit with Lucy on the for the ride up but Josh makes sure to ruin that. She ends up sitting next to Josh and switches back and forth between feeling angry and annoyed to feeling feverish and queasy. The games get underway and in the first game, even though Lucy has no clue what she is doing, manages to hang on until second to last…. it is her and Josh left. She decides to bite the bullet for him…. as he is larger and faster than her…. (They are trying to capture the other teams flag.) In the end, he shields her from the onslaught of paintballs…. taking the brunt of the shots to the back. She enjoys being close to him more than she wanted to admit at the time. After the first round, she can’t take Josh’s unfamiliar behavior so she decides to switch around the teams. She moves herself to play with other coworkers. By the end of the day, she is not feeling any better… the day’s activity made her feel worse. She ends up throwing up and almost passing out.  Danny offers to take her home and Josh brushes him off insisting that he does it. (Really? You two are having a pissing contest, or continuing a pissing contest when Lucy is sick.) Josh takes Lucy to her house and stays the weekend with her. He manages to take care of her. Delirious with fever for most of the time, Lucy’s not sure she trusts her recollections of Joshua’s care. He makes sure to change her clothes, her sheets and cleans up her vomit. And while she’s being overcome by the vapors, he cleans her apartment. This seems like a lot for a person that hates her. At one point, she wakes up to another man in her apartment attempting to take her temperature… It turns out to be Joshua’s doctor brother. Lucy through her fever hears them arguing about attending his brother’s wedding. Josh has not responded to the invitation and we the readers start to get a glimpse into the character of the so far quite distant Joshua. Josh’s brother Patrick states that he expects Josh to be there and for Lucy to be his plus one. (This conversation is set up like Patrick already knows who Lucy is, like he has heard of her already.) Lucy and Josh manage to talk in between Lucy slipping in and out of consciousness. There is a lot of nice and interesting guy that is revealed in these talks. Once Lucy recovers from whatever has ailed her, she overwhelmed with Josh being in her apartment and practically pushes him out on his ear. She is so embarrassed that has not only seen her at her absolute worst but also took in all her private things while she was passed out. (I remember when I invited a guy over and he took it upon himself to walk into my room and look at my bookshelf… I felt so violated… but alas.. I got over it as he meant no harm but I got how she felt.) She gets a call from Danny who is worried about her. She finds out that Danny had been calling while she was slipping in and out on consciousness. Danny asserts that Josh is an asshole… And when Lucy begins to explain that Josh looked out for her while sick… Danny’s response is: “Oh, I’m sorry… I thought we hated him.” He offers to take Lucy to work… and brings her flowers in the process. Daises… which she likes but not as much as the red roses… the kind of red that matches her lipstick she enjoys wearing. Danny proposes they go out on a second date and she accepts just before exiting the elevator to her desk. When dropping her off at work, Danny makes a scene with Josh, mostly attempting to push his buttons, and while I recognize that Danny wants to even the score with Josh… Why are you doing this at her place of business? It seemed like he really gave her the daises to one-up Josh rather than because he actually thought she’d like them. Danny is attempting to draw lines in the sand and state his claim to Lucy in the worst possible way and Josh who is usually cool and collected is even more snarky than usual, pointing out that Danny doesn’t work there any longer and needs to leave.

“Danny kisses my cheek, and I am almost certain he did it because of our audience. It was a petty move on his part.”

She realizes too late that there is a single rose with a note on her desk… and it finally dawns on her who actually bought the roses for her. They have a fight as newsflash… Josh is not great at expressing himself… and he tells her that it obviously should have been Danny to help take care of her. When things didn’t unfold the way he thought they would, he reverts back to his old crappy self. When attempting to bring him out of his silent… ‘I am ignoring you because you hurt me even though you had no clue what was going on state’ Lucy offers to be his plus one for his brother’s wedding…. (Let me tell you guys… it is DRAMATIC.)

They have an interesting discussion in a broom closet at work where she tells him she wants to be friends… OR SOMETHING… and when asked what the ‘or something’ is, she is at a loss. It was interesting to me that she seemed to be okay with making out in the broom closet (or trying to since Josh puts a stop to things) and feeling Joshua up, but she did not want him to tell people what was going on between them. Fearing that it was going to make people talk about her or jeopardize her chances of getting the COO position… but then you wonder why do it in the first place? I mean the broom closet is a hell of a place to get caught. (Not shaming though… Get yours girl.) Lucy decides (more like insists) that she accompany Josh to his brother’s wedding. And Josh is skeptical at first but he eventually relents.

Lucy decides that she wants to sleep with Josh but that it will only happen once. Once it is over, both parties will go their separate ways.  Josh, however, is resistant to just sleeping with her. Telling her that he wants her to want him and that he can prolong gratification as long as he possibly can. Josh explains that he wants her to go on the date with Danny and to kiss him … in some sort of weird dare. But it is to prove that she has no feelings for Danny… He wants to be told that he is the better kisser. (Someone needs their ego stroked indeed.) But he maintains that he doesn’t want to be her experiment before she picks Mr. Nice Guy. It annoys me because Danny is not necessarily a nice guy. And while Lucy’s date goes as well as can be expected, (Danny spends much of the date attempting to dig for information about Josh’s background and making jokes at Josh’s expense.)… the kiss pales in comparison to the heated one she shared with Josh. They end the night by asking each other if they can remain friends… I wouldn’t have… but Lucy has no other friends…  She high tails it to Josh’s house (he gave her his address earlier in the day) after the date to confess that he is in fact the only one who can kiss her properly… Josh grants her the right to look around his apartment as she fears he did while she was passed out. Later on, they watch ER and he tells her a horror story of trying to make it through medical school in a past life…. as well as only watching medical dramas to point out their inaccuracies. No matter how much she tries, he blocks her attempts of kissing him continually throwing herself at him, and puts her in her car and sends her home.

She makes several trips to his house in the coming days for one reason or another. Where she spends the evening in his lap and kissing him all over. It becomes annoying to listen to her throw herself at him. It is apparent that he is used to women glomming onto him just for his looks and body and she is quickly falling to that category. However, she keeps missing that he is trying for something more than that. On some level, I understand not wanting to give yourself fully over to your feelings right away but Josh isn’t a piece of meat and there would be hell to pay if this was vice versa. I digress.

“You’re the sort of person who needs to be eased into things slowly.”

I open my mouth to protest, but he silences me.

“I know you, Luce, and you do. Your freak-outs are pretty impressive. Imagine we have sex right now. Right here, on the counter.” He slaps his hand down firmly on it.

“You’d be so awkward afterward, you’d never speak to me again. You’d quit ahead of the interviews and go and live in the forest.”

“Why would you care? I’d like to live in a forest.”

“I need you to compete with me. And maybe we can find a scenario that doesn’t involve running out of time.” He sighs and checks the omelet. “Do you have one-night stands? Like, do you go to clubs and pick out some hot guy and take him home with you?”

Even as he asks the question, his face grimaces. Maybe I’m not the only one who can imagine faceless suitors.

“Of course not. Unless you count. And I can’t even get one night.”

“I’m trying to make sure that when we do, you don’t have any regrets.”

After this conversation, when Josh asks if Lucy would rather be with Danny… She replies that Danny would have probably taken her to a movie… Joshua lets it slip that he would have been glad to take her to a movie. Like an actual date but Lucy misses it completely. She is too on her guard. While she wants to dive face-first into all things Josh, old habits die hard. She constantly questions Josh on whether or not his closeness is genuine or if he is trying to con her out of the promotion. The good thing is that her time with Josh has hardened Lucy to the bullshit… too bad for our rude and incompetent Julie who calls and attempts to get over AGAIN without having to do any work… needing a damn extension. With the help of Josh (who is sitting across from her), she tells Julie in no uncertain terms that reports are due by a certain date. To which this loser had the nerve to tell her:

“You don’t have any family here, or a boyfriend, do you? Late nights don’t affect you like they do for people with husbands and . . . well, people with families.”

I almost screamed at my Alexa. You keep getting extensions for bullshit and making this woman stay late for no reason… family, children or not… I wanted Julie to be slapped… but you know… I had to settle for her telling Julie…. to kick rocks… Well of course she was more polite than I would have been but nonetheless, Lucy was ecstatic and Josh was proud of her. What killed me was Julie crying about how Lucy must be spending more time with that awful Josh…. I guess that means Lucy must be a jerk for telling Julie that her job needs to be completed by the deadline…. or that if she is sick she needs to bring a doctor’s note….  Lucy extends her victim list to Mr. Bexley who usually is lurid when attempting to view her cleavage…. but she sends him packing too. (Go girl.) However, Bexley does stir up a tiff between the two causing Lucy to head out of the office for a break…

She meets Danny at a local Starbucks to discuss the presentation. Her ideas and how his graphic design company will fit in. But who should show up but Josh Templeman? (Insert eye roll.) I imagine he just had to have coffee at that exact moment. Lucy and Danny decide on her helping him get his name out there, talking up his self-publishing software and $300.  (Seems reasonable to me.) Danny points out the weird vibe he is getting from Lucy and Josh….. Lucy tries to deny there is any sort of vibe… But Danny pushes past her denial.

“But you know he’s in love with you, right?”

Danny and Lucy can’t make it out of the coffee shop without bumping into Josh. For some reason, they explain to him why they are together (which is the truth) but it comes out like they are keeping some sort of tawdry secret… (other than the topic of the presentation they decided on.) Does that stop Josh from being a jealous jerk… no… no indeed.

“You’re working on your presentation. Right. Okay.” Josh takes his coffee when his name is called and gives such an accusing look my face nearly melts off. “And were we doing that too, Lucinda? Last night on my couch?”

Now you know that she doesn’t want people in her business. Especially people that work or used to work where she works. I lose any sort of respect that I had built up for Josh in this moment. I really can’t stand people who kiss and tell….(Or Kiss and let slip in this case). He wanted to embarrass her and that did not sit well with me. (But alas, good people don’t always do great things…) Of course, Danny is super interested in this turn of events. Once they shake Danny and are on the way back to the office… Josh wonders why she is so hellbent on not letting one know about them. It is clear that while Lucy may want to sleep with him… She doesn’t trust him and on some level, she is still wrestling with what she views as an issue with her parent’s relationship and not wanting to do what her mother did.

“So, you’re embarrassed of me?”

“No. Of course not. But no one can know. I think he’s a gossip. Oh, don’t give me that sourpuss face. People will talk about us.”

“Newsflash, people have always talked about us. And you don’t care if people talk about you and him, but not you and me?”

“You and I work ten feet from each other. It’s different. I want to reestablish some level of professionalism in this office.”

While I feel that some of this is true… I mean could imagine what someone like Julie would attempt to insinuate if she knew. Here is the difference between men and women at the workplace… (or at least how it stuck out to me in for this book). Josh wants to know why it is a big deal if people know… It is not a big deal, and never will be because no one is going to say anything about him anyway. If people found out, his life would not change at all. In Lucy’s case, it really could jeopardize her chances at this new position. One rumor that Lucy slept her way to the top could ruin her. And while what Josh says may be true, (that people are already talking about them) the person of discussion would be Lucy especially since everyone is scared of Josh anyway. Josh continues telling her that since she should bring her clothes for the wedding to work with her on Friday as they will need to leave as soon as possible after work. She is freaking out because she is not sure that she wants to be in close proximity to him anymore. But she volunteered so she would feel bad if she backed out. She resigns herself to going but is not thrilled that she has to ride with Josh a few hours away and possibly spend the weekend with him.

At home, Lucy Skypes her parents again. Mostly in an attempt not to call Josh or speed off to his house. It is a very rare occasion as her mother is alone when she answers… Lucy endures her mother bellowing her father’s name but for a few moments, it is just the two women. Before Lucy can stop herself, she blurts out the question that she has been longing to ask.

“Before I was born, and when you met Dad . . . how could you give up your dream?” After her mother gives her the response she knew she would get… She puts the final nail in the coffin by asking:

“But don’t you wonder where you’d be now if you chose your career instead of him?” Her mother is sharp though (like most mothers are…) She pinpoints what is really bothering her daughter. She tells Lucy that she doesn’t need to give up anything. She can have it all as times have changed. There is no need to worry about the road not taken or the opportunity cost of being a businesswoman or a wife. Her mother points out that she just has to give it her all so she has no regrets. This conversation is one that I have with my mother regularly. I get the same response as Lucy does in the book. My mother was a stay at home mom and when I was younger for many years, I imagined this was the way of the world. So this must be what I had to look forward to in life. In recent years, my mother pointed out that she was a stay home mom because that is what she wanted, she didn’t give up anything. She took care of children because that is what she enjoyed doing. But if that is not what I want to do then that is fine. If it is, that is fine too. But I know the feeling that Lucy has here. Her father crashes Skype like a bomb… much like my dad would have but I find more and more that my parents are full of great advice. He comes in asking about if she is ready to beat Josh and win her coveted position… it brings sadness to the forefront. Obviously, she doesn’t see how she can not compromise what she wants out of her career much less life in order to be with Josh (even if she not sure yet that she wants to be with Josh… she totally does.)

Friday comes quickly… too quickly for Lucy. She will be leaving that evening with Josh to meet his family and do the wedding date thing. (Another romantic story/comedy trope.) Josh is in Mr. Bexley’s office and there is a lot of yelling going on. While talking with her boss, she lets it slip that she is worried about Josh’s wellbeing.  In preparation for the interview, both Lucy and Josh have cleared off their desks in case they are let go. It stands out that Josh has dressed differently that day.

He lifts a shoulder carelessly, reminding me of what he’s wearing. When he walked in today, he was wearing a pale green shirt I’ve never seen before. I’ve spent today trying to decide if it’s a harbinger of doom, or if I love it.

“What’s with the green shirt?”

“Green seemed appropriate, given my little scene in Starbucks.” I like a person that recognizes their shortcomings or their bad behavior and is at least apologetic about it. He says later: “Green, the color of envy. I’ve been a jealous psycho lately.”

The car ride to the wedding is interesting after a bit of a freak-out. Lucy admits to Josh that part of her insecurity about this interview is that her last friendship dissolved in the merger. They have an actual conversation and Josh opens up slightly but when she asks why he needs her, Josh doesn’t give a straight answer. Only telling her that he has baggage… and wrapping it all up in medicine. He points out that no one has ever tried to get to know him. At one point, they admit to why each of them plays passive-aggressive games and Lucy tells him the truth about her dirty dream. Lucy even tells him her initial date with Danny was founded on a lie. (I would have left that out but you know I get it.) I understand the want to clear the air. But somethings should be taken to the grave. They finally make it to the hotel. They have been given the same room…. (I smell another trope.) He attempts to get her the separate room that he promised her earlier in the week but alas… the wedding has booked up all the rooms. And they are stuck in a room together.

And the hot and steamy make-out session is underway.  Lucy is insistent on trying to get in his pants. There is a point in the session where he asks her to slow down. And she wonders if he is really into her. (I wonder why it is so unheard of for men to want to take things slowly. Or why women’s first thought is that they aren’t attractive or desirable as a result of a man wanting to take it slow. Been there done that. It struck a believable cord to me.) But no hot and heavy session is complete until it is interrupted. Here comes the annoying phone ringing, it while Josh ignores it for the first few times… but the person on the other end will not be ignored. (GOOD LORD YOU HAD BETTER BE DYING!) It is Josh’s mother who needs his muscles to move things. Lucy is now embarrassed. (Again been there done that.) Now that the sesh is over, she doesn’t want to be seen by either Josh or his family. Josh leaves to help his mother and Lucy is left in the hotel room with her thoughts. Lucy takes a shower and climbs into bed to wait for him. But she falls asleep waiting. They are so comfortable that they sleep well into the next afternoon. While rushing to get ready, Lucy asks Josh again for the 100th time if there is anything that she should know, and lets it be known AGAIN that she wants to know what she is walking into. Josh is purposely vague (RED FLAG). Josh has been down since deciding to come to the wedding. (That is a flag in and of itself but maybe not… because I mean, who doesn’t have family drama.) But prior to heading out for the wedding… They have a conversation about past relationships or past lovers… which could be seen as foreshadowing.

At the wedding, it is apparent that everyone is so surprised that Josh showed up. I wondered what that is about, I mean Patrick is his brother. Why wouldn’t he come? People are even more surprised that he brought a date. So something obviously went down. They make their way to sit next to Josh’s parents. His mother is super excited to see Josh and meet Lucy… (Ever been in a situation where everyone knows you but you do not know them? Yeah… it is odd to hear other people talk about you like they know you. Been there, done that.) …while his father is… not so much. Which is also odd to me anyway. Earlier in the story, on several instances, it is alluded to that Josh first went into the medical profession and couldn’t take it. While people at work (Danny, Mr. Bexley.) tease him about it, it is odd to imagine his parents being that upset about it still to this day. The ceremony is beautiful… but I wonder if most women see weddings as beautiful anyway. Once it is all over, Josh sweeps Lucy away from his family and the guests. He makes it known that he does not want to attend the reception. Which Lucy thinks would be rude. She tells him the ceremony went fine and they need to at least stop by the reception as it is only polite. (Now the only thing I am going to say about this is… she was warned he didn’t want to do it.) She gets annoyed during the reception when he is less than talkative with his family… (Probably because he knows something she doesn’t). He doesn’t do small talk well so he kind takes time to introduce Lucy… and then lets her handle all the questions… Mostly everyone wants to know where and how they met and what Josh does now. Another thing that strikes Lucy as odd is the sympathetic look they give Josh and the cryptic comments on how glad it is to see Josh with someone new. (Odd. But old people say weird things.)

When she tells Josh that he needs to stop playing at being shy and participate in conversations, she realizes it. He really is shy. Lucy fell for the old “good looking people must not have issues thing” (SMH… If I told y’all what I learned in this past couple of months about a particular person who I used to believe the same thing about… your mind would be blown. It is easy to look at someone and believe they don’t have inner demons or don’t struggle with the same things as you.) She realizes Josh is shy and struggles with dealing with people. It quickly becomes apparent why Josh doesn’t want to be bothered with the reception dinner. They have to sit with his family and his father is less than pleasant (that is what I will type for now… but just know I have some words to call him.) Scoffing at the mention of their job and how busy they are with work… UGH. I have no nice words for him so I shall move on. I will skip the speech he makes at the wedding where he pretends that Patrick is the only child he has. (Jackass.)

Josh excuses himself with the promise of explaining everything to Lucy when he gets back. Lucy can’t seem to figure out why all eyes are on the two of them. Lucy introduces herself to the bride (Mindy) to thank her. Mindy is yet another person who is super intrigued by Lucy. During their exchange of pleasantries, Mindy lets it slip that her and Josh used to date. (Not trying to be rude or mean but in a matter of fact way as if she thought Josh had already told her.) Mindy is interested in Lucy as the woman that caught Josh’s eye. Nothing more but it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. Now… Maybe it is just me… But I wouldn’t date brothers… or relatives in general. Not my thing. But to each his/her own MINDY. Mindy figures out that she put her foot in her mouth. She points out what she sees just as Danny had done earlier.

“…He’s so happy with you. I never would have imagined he’d be so completely smitten. He never was with me. I suppose it does make sense. Intense men like him usually fall pretty hard, when they eventually do.” This statement solidified it for me. Many times throughout the book, Josh makes references to being left for the nice guy. Sarcastically stating that everyone likes the nice guy or all women want a nice guy. I am guessing that being left for his brother may have something to do with that cynical outlook. However, don’t get me wrong, We have seen him be a jerk and overly possessive so… I am sure he had a hand in being left. I am simply pointing out… it came full circle.

Josh returns just in time for the throwing of the bouquet and Lucy, who is on the verge of tears is looking for a way to escape. (She is like me in more ways than one. I hate it.) Josh pushes her to participate with disastrous results. The flowers hit her right in the chest (as football players say… right in the numbers) and she makes no move to catch them. She turns on her heels and runs off with of course Josh on her heels. It is Josh’s mom who gets to her first. (Odd. Next to the last person, I would want to talk to beside Josh.) His mom talks with Lucy about how much she knows about Lucy through Josh. She knew when she heard Josh’s nickname for her that it was love. (WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?)

When his mom exits, Josh enters. Without really an explanation for why he didn’t tell Lucy of the drama, she was walking into. He insists that she is his date because he wanted her to be. He isn’t putting on airs because he couldn’t care less about his ex marrying his brother. (On some level, I believe this is the truth but come on dude.) Lucy tells him that she believed that he really cared about her only to find out that she was a rent a date. She points out that he had a whole week to prepare her and chose not to. He points out that he knew she would freak out and not come and he both needs and wants her to be there. The real issue is that she has just discovered how she really feels about Josh and doesn’t want to admit it. But while Josh acknowledges what he did (more like didn’t say.) he asks the right question.

He looks at me sideways, his face tense. “Now that I’ve promised that you’re not here as some part of an elaborate revenge scenario, can you tell me the real reason this bothers you so much? Other than my lie by omission, and people staring at us? People, that you never have to see again?”

Now I have a friend of many years who is bold and would have blurted out exactly what she was thinking at that moment and had it out. I imagine her getting annoyed about a lot of things in this book as she is more direct in life than Lucy (or I am). So I can say with certainty… what happens next she would never do. HAHAHA. Lucy, instead of admitting how she feels, storms off saying that she was going to take the bus back to the city. Running away… totally the only sane answer. She can’t lose him as she is so much shorter than he is. She even attempts to shut the elevator on him… (Good Lord, she really is trying to get away. Also she is a lot like me and I am not sure I like that.) Doesn’t matter though, Josh sticks with her up back up to the hotel room… and who should pop up again… DANNY! Mostly because he has been attempting to contact Lucy about his work for her presentation. She calls him back much to Josh’s dismay. (I really need him to deal with jealousy a bit better. UGH.) Josh manages to snatch the phone from Lucy, at Danny asking her what she is wearing… Josh hangs up on Danny… before pocketing her phone… (SIR.) Both of them are seething…. they are either going to kill each other or have sex or both. I find it funny that both of them have jealous outbursts and only end up staring at each other. (2 people come to mind when I read that.) Leave it to Josh to try to get the ball rolling because me and Lucy are the worst. Pointing out the obvious…

“In between Danny and Mindy, we’ve kind of had our fair share of jealous revelations today, don’t you think? I’m going to crack if you don’t just listen to me for once.” He wrenches out his cuff links and tosses them on the dresser and shoves up his sleeves, muttering to himself. “Little fucking asshole. What is she wearing? That guy has a fucking death wish.”

Our love triangle has become a square mostly because no one communicates… (This would be the point where my friend would say it would be a lot easier if they did _____ fill in the blank. I love to point out that this is how people actually act. ) After both of them admit that they don’t have feelings for either Danny or Mindy. This leaves Josh to tell the story of his family. Not a great one. His father is a douche and the very intimidating Josh is scared of his father. It is revealed that his father only wanted one son, obviously Patrick. Josh talks about wanting to do something to make his father proud. Patrick got his tuition paid for while Josh did not. (Odd thing to do…. mostly because it pits children against each other for no reason.) Josh goes on to state that Patrick is so nice and will go out of his way to help people (hence coming to help Josh when Lucy was sick.) making it hard for Josh to hate him… even though he wants to. The story of growing up with his father makes you understand why Josh has such a cold-hearted exterior… (although… It doesn’t mean being mean to people is the answer either.)  Josh continues to tell Lucy that he attempted to become a doctor to make his father proud. The height of sadness is when Josh describes completing pre-med. His mother through a huge party to which his father could not be bothered to attend. Apparently, in comparison, Patrick was given their father’s Rolex when he completed pre-med. After leaving the party where no one noticed he was missing, he decided that he would give up and take the first job that comes his way. Hence how he ended up sitting opposite of Lucy. Lucy is dumbfounded by the story. Her own father being so full of love. She is angry and sad on Josh’s behalf. Josh tells her the real reason he wanted her to accompany him to the wedding. In his mind, he is the failure of the family… right on down to having his ex marry his brother. When he says that Mindy and Patrick can have 10 kids and good luck to them I believe him. Needless to say that this conversation gives way to SEX.

SEX. Two long chapters of Josh and Lucy finally sealing the deal. To me, it was like FINALLY. I mean after all the tension and nonsense we deserve it. It does not disappoint but Lucy does make me cringe. Josh is very clearly against making this a one night stand and wants some sort of clarification that they are in this together. Her response makes me want to claw my eyes out. Although, I get it. She doesn’t want to admit she loves him as she is serious about trying to get this job. I mean, look what happened to her and her friend when the merger was complete. But COME ON LUCY….

“If we do this tonight, I’m not going to let you get weird on me.” His eyes are solemn as he braces himself up a little. “Are you going to have one of your infamous freak-outs?”

“I don’t know. Very possibly.” I try for a joke but he’s not remotely amused.

“I wish I knew how much I have of you. How much do I get?” He’s kissing me on the throat again, fingers tightening on mine.

“Until the interviews, you get it all,” I say into his skin, and he lets out a shaky breath, like I’ve offered him forever, not a few days.

I die a little inside for Josh. Poor guy… and really poor Lucy. She has had no personal life at all… Live a little, have a little fun. Let your guard down for someone. Anyways the morning after is riddled with shower sex and them arguing about going to breakfast with his family. She wants to go because… she’s hungry and he would prefer not to because… his dad is a dick. But of course, she wins out. They head down to check out of the hotel but not before the blonde behind counter attempts to throw her vag at him and he acts like he doesn’t notice. Breakfast is a disaster with Josh’s father making increasingly condescending remarks about Josh. What is great is that there is really no ill will between Josh and Mindy. He is genuinely happy for his brother and his brother’s new wife. Lucy decides that she is going to get more pastry. No lie she is gone for like 2 minutes and she returns to a shouting match. WTF. It annoys me when adults can’t be adults. Josh tries AGAIN to get her to leave with him but she decides to take matters into her own hands and tells his father off… (and while I enjoyed it… it seemed so out of place. Like this is your first meeting. I would have left and set up my life with Josh and never mentioned his father again but… I am the silent type. )

Once they make it back to his apartment they have a discussion about her starting to freak out about their sex. What is fun about their question and answer session, is that they turn it into a Truth or Dare game which is mostly them picking truth and actually being truthful. He finally answers what the marks are in his planner… shocker they are a record of Lucy’s actions in the office… she never could have guessed. They fall into a conversation about the interview and presentation for the COO position…  He apologizes for his poor behavior in the past. A genuine apology. They finally admit they love each other. Josh never actually hated her. It is just something she made up in her mind. He finally reveals that on his off day he interviewed with another company. That company offered him the position and he accepted. He is not competing with Lucy for the position and never really intended to. He tells her he didn’t want anything that meant he couldn’t have her. (How sickeningly sweet. Still doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love a guy to say that to me.) He will be working at B & G’s biggest rival and trying to get them up to speed. In a weird way, he will still be in competition with Lucy. (Is this legal? I have questions.) It is implied that with everything worked out… they live happily ever after… (That is what I choose to believe.)

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THINGS THAT WORKED FOR ME:

  • I loved the writing filled with witty banter between Lucy and Josh.
  • I am always game for a book whose main female character is an over-thinker like me.
  • I enjoyed her questioning her place in life as a woman… should she have to sacrifice her career for love? Like her mother or should she plow forward in her career to the detriment of everything else in her life…? Can she have the best of both worlds? Can any woman?
  • They worked out a system of communication that works for them.
  • Josh being a well-rounded character with flaws and actively trying to work through them.

THINGS THAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME:

  • The notion that Lucy is a “good girl.” What does that even mean? That she does whatever people tell her? Or that she is clean in the ways of a relationship? I was so over the labels of nice and good… And the way Lucy goes from hating Josh to wanting him to be some sort of piece of meat… annoyed me. (She gets past it eventually but it was annoying nonetheless.)
  • The notion of Josh being a Bad guy… He is a bad guy because he doesn’t take shit from people?
  • I was over Lucy being so naive… and needing approval.

Anyways… I have listened to this a few times and recommended it to several of my friends. I enjoyed it very much. It has quickly become one of my favorites.

My Quarantine Movie Reaction #1 – Leap Year 2010

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My mother and I have already been sent home from the office. For the next three weeks. Not a big deal when I already work from home two days a week anyway. The biggest issue I had was not losing my mind to cabin fever… So I made a list of things I should do in my spare time since I would have a lot of it. One of the things was to watch a movie with my mother…. she wanted to watch a romantic comedy… and not a thriller or scary movie… So we settled on Amy Adams and Matthew Goode both of whom I love. It is important to know that this is not a review of the movie… it is more of a reaction to the events that occur. I am not good at writing reviews as something has to be especially bad for me to negative about it. So if that is what you are looking for here… stop reading… I enjoyed the movie… And I understand what I am getting into when I watch romcoms so… it is what it is.

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So from this point on…. I will be speaking candidly on the movie. So ***SPOILERS**** ahead. It was so cute… and if you are isolated and don’t have anything else to do… check it out. I’m interested in hearing comments about it. You should know that one of the things on my bucket list is to visit Ireland and the UK as a whole. So this was right up my alley.

So the film opens up with Anna Brady showing her expertise as a stager. So that an apartment can be sold. She has the furniture arranged just right and has a very “about business/by the book” air about her. She is revealed to have a Cardiologist boyfriend named Jeremy (Adam Scott) who randomly gets texts from his other doctor friends diseased hearts and arteries. They seem like a very competent individuals but I am not sold on the idea that they are a couple. Something about their very blasé attitude toward each other. In the small interactions I get from them in the beginning, it seems like they are together because they are just expected to have a significant other at their age and with their jobs. They then head to an interview to get a super expensive apartment. (Do people really interview tenants? This seemed like a lot for me. Maybe I am just not in the right tax bracket yet? Would I want to live in a building such as this….?) Old people wanting to judge younger couples and impose rules on tenants is nothing new. It tends to be a common theme for the rest of the movie. More on that later.

Anna and Jeremy

At one point, a friend of Anna’s tells her that she witnessed Jeremy coming out of a jewelry store while they are trying on dresses. The two friends then discuss the excitement of the upcoming proposal. It was cute aside from the friend’s obvious jealousy. She makes a comment about Anna having a better ring than her. Seemed odd to me as I would not say that to any friends of mine nor would they say it to me. Anna also said that she wasn’t shocked to hear that Jeremy had gone to the jewelry store… as she had added his email to a mailing list for weddings and wedding rings so he must have gotten the hint. Do people actually do this? Why not just say you want to be married? Why haven’t these things been discussed? Anna then meets with her father who is super late. At one point, the father makes the statement that Leap Year is coming up and in Ireland the Irish tradition is that a man who is proposed to on Leap Day must accept the proposal. Fast forward to dinner with Jeremy… where she gets her jewelry box… a box of beautiful earrings. Sadly, Jeremy misses the hurt look on Anna’s face. He then proceeds to leave the dinner early to catch his plane to Ireland (Dublin)… for a medical conference. Coincidence? I THINK NOT!!!

Anniversary Dinner Leap Year 2010

So Anna puts her plan into action with the help of her father’s words of “wisdom.” She decides to surprise Jeremy in Ireland. AND PROPOSE. (I really take issue with this. It is supposed to be presented as a reasonable idea. But as I have already stated…. why not have a discussion with your boyfriend and be sure you all are on the same page? That is too much distance to travel for nonsense.) But she boards a plane nonetheless. She has everything mapped out, boring the priest next to her about her plans for a perfect life. And you think it is his job to listen to people’s problems….

Here is where the hijinks ensues…. Her plane hits a serious storm and turbulence and ends having to land in Wales. This is unacceptable for Anna who needs everything to go her way. Her character annoyed me when she maneuvered her way to the front of a long ass line to say that she was surprising her boyfriend and needed to be in Dublin as soon as possible…. Don’t worry the agents gave her a taste of her own medicine. Anna hires a boat to take her to Cork. The storm forces her to be put ashore at a small seaside village called Dingle. (Super props to Amy Adams for walking/running all movie in those heels). She notices a tavern and tries to see if she can enlist the bar patrons to taxi her to Dublin…. (Why she didn’t just call Jeremy? Makes no sense to me.) As I rule, I try not to get into cars with people I do not know…. Taxi’s, Ubers and Lyfts are not my thing and yes I understand the utility but unless I really have to… I don’t… ) But the tavern is great. The patrons are cute… they argue about various superstitions…. (this goes on all movie). Here is where we meet Declan O’Callaghan (Matthew Goode). He explains to Anna that he would rather die than go to Dublin. (So we all know who is going right?)

Declan

Anna manages to destroy the room while attempting to plug in her blackberry…. and when the phone is actually plugged in… she cuts out the power to small town. Poor people… Hurricane Anna has come through. Besides being surly and rude…. Declan has his own issues. He is behind on his payments for the Tavern and decides to accompany Anna to Dublin…. for a price. He proposes driving her into Dublin after bursting into her room while she is dressing… She is mortified but he seems unperturbed. After Declan is made to turn around and face the door, they agreed on a dollar amount and that they would meet out front of the tavern. He pulls up in his old Renault 4. It is small and somewhat cramped which Anna comments on right away. Now here is a person doing you a solid and you want to complain. Things do not get any better for the two as they start their journey and she explains to him why she needs to make to Dublin by Leap Day which Declan declares is “The stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” He continues by telling her that she is attempting to trap a man that clearly doesn’t want to be married. Anna, who is already annoyed with Declan for nicknaming the Louis Vuitton as if asking what kind of man buys luggage for his girlfriend as a gift….  (I agreed with Declan). This of course pisses Anna off further. She asks him what he knows about love. He’s probably never been in love. Yes Declan is cynical but I think Anna had some fairy tale eyes.

Anna and Declan

The first hitch ends up being when they have to stop for cows in the road. Here is where you get to see the difference in their approach. Direct contrast to her and Jeremy (who seem to fit perfectly together.) Declan decides he is going to sit and eat until they decide to move. Anna wants Declan to spring into action and herd cattle. When he doesn’t budge, she decides to take matter into her own hands which ends with her stepping in cow shit. (Again props to Amy Adams for wearing these heels all movie). To top things off… She leans back on the car trying to clean her very expensive shoes, and it starts rolling backwards…. SMH. I was so annoyed that Anna went and sent the car to a watery grave. And on top of that, she had Declan get her luggage only to storm off on her own. He has to get his car towed and she was just going to up and leave him….

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Anna storms off down the road… which also made no sense to me… Does she know where she is going? She doesn’t have a plan but damn if she isn’t going to get her proposal. Of course, enter the van… 3 guys ride up and pull up next to her. THIS IS A BAD IDEA. Even Declan… who has to follow her to call someone to help him get his damn car… He tells her it is not a good idea. She has to spite him though. So she allows the guys in the car to put her luggage in the van with them. But when she tries to get in the car with them… they drove off without her… (in my mind I am screaming THANK GOODNESS) who makes that kind of decision.. even in a romcom???? Declan… bless him… for his part… never said a word. He marches on right past her still on his way to find a phone. Anna, at least, has the capacity to look sad.

Anna actually makes it to the “nearest” pub only to find Declan there sipping a pint. It is obviously easier to get somewhere when you are not wearing heels. When Anna glances his way he says that the tow truck will be there in an hour. While using the phone, (Calling Jeremy to let him know that she is in Ireland to surprise him) she notices the 3 guys who stole “Louis” going through her belongings in the next room. She bursts in attempting to get her luggage back. (Another move that made absolutely no sense. Was she going to fight them?) Declan has to step in and rescue her. (romcom trope? I am here for it.) Declan fights the three men, displaying unexpected strength for a man of his size, and retrieves Anna’s bag. Anna and Declan are ejected from the pub by the owner for fighting on the premises. So at this point in their short journey, Anna has pushed his car down a hill and into a stream or lake of some kind and then got him into a fight. SMH. I would have left her to her own devices. But then there would be no movie.

Anna and Declan finally reach a railway station and decide to wait for the next train. Anna is told the next train to Dublin will be along in the next 2 and a half hours. Declan manages to talk her into going to talk a look at the nearby castle. They hike their way up to the castle while waiting for a train. Declan uses this time to try and get to know Anna…. He asks her if you house was on fire and you had 60 seconds to grab something special what would you take before fleeing. While Anna doesn’t really have an answer, she turns the tables on Declan who explains he knows exactly what he would grab. However, they abandon that conversation. Declan beings to tells her an old Irish legend about a young woman promised to an elderly lord that she did not love. She gave her wedding guests a sleeping potion so she could run away with the man she does love. The legend told is loosely based on “The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne”. Anna responds to the story by stating she knows Declan is flirting with her…. (What an ego on this one.) However, they lose track of time and miss the train. It begins to rain and while attempting to get down the hill back to the train station Anna slips down the hill and ends up in a puddle of mud.

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The train conductor brings them to the bed and breakfast that he owns. However, it is revealed that the conductor and his wife have very conservative views and have already turned away a man and a woman who need a place to stay because they weren’t married. On the spot, they decide to pretend to be married. When asked their married name Anna says “Brady” (Her last name) at the same time Declan says “O’Callaghan” (his last name). To me, I didn’t understand why she would blurt out her own name. So to save things… Since Anna clearly can’t lie, Declan states their name is Mr. and Mrs. O’Brady-Callaghan. They come from a long line of O’Brady-Callaghan’s and it is way too much for an American to say.

Another romcom trope… being stuck in a room with the man you really can’t stand… and only one bed…. (Again I am here for it.) Anna and Declan stare at the bed before they begin arguing about who is going to sleep where…. Anna tries the whole I am woman thing… to which Declan replied… “You lot wanted the vote. Deal with it.” They decide on a flipping a coin for the bed. Declan tells Anna… “Heads, I will.. Tails, you lose.” Anna who loses whines about where she is going to sleep and he suggests that she sleep in the tub. Anna points out that it is a shower… (but do we really not like each other so much that we would rather sleep in the tub?) When Anna comes to her senses, she declares that the bed is hers and cheaters forfeit. The conductor’s wife shows up saying that dinner will be served soon and they will be eating tripe. Now for those that don’t know…. Tripe is a type of edible lining from the stomachs of various farm animals. Most tripe is from cattle and sheep. And while I am sure someone can make that to my liking… Just knowing what it is would be enough for me to pass. Declan decides to take matters into his own hands and suggest that he make dinner for all of them.

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Anna seems like she likes the idea of not eating tripe. As the wife leaves, Anna glances over to the shower that Declan jumped in… and gets a glimpse all her own. Declan pointed out previously that you could see right through the shower curtain…. Anna finds herself staring before bumping into the door behind her and leaving the room entirely. Let us marvel at Matthew Goode.

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Listen I get it Anna. I would look upon him too…. but it is what it is. They head out to the garden to gather ingredients for dinner. Anna frets on the size of the carrots she has vs what she actually needs for the recipe. The control freak in her is starting to take over. I didn’t think that she knew anything about gardening at this point. Declan notices her frustration and offers his own personal advice: “Why don’t you stop trying to control everything in the known universe. Have a little faith that it will all work out.” Anna then talks about her less than trustworthy father. How he blew the family’s money on the latest get rich quick scheme. How he used to tell her to have a little faith that things will work out. She ended up having to work two jobs to help bills. Hence why her relationship with him seemed strained at the beginning of the movie. Declan states that he is sorry that she had to deal with that. They decide on Coq au vin for dinner. Which results in Declan capturing one of the chickens on the farm and breaking its neck, startling Anna. She storms off leaving Declan with a dead chicken in his arms….

– Declan: “I’m wondering where it is that you think chickens come from?”
– Anna: “The freezer section.”

The cooking montage starts. What romcom is complete without a montage….? They are working together, laughing and flirting. (for the record, I am still here for it. ) They both are able to show off their skills. Declan being a chef and Anna being a stager.

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When dinner starts things get really awkward. Question to my readers…. What is it with old people pushing for displays of affection from younger people/couples? Why don’t you go and do a puzzle or something and mind your own business? The only other couple besides the owners… is an older Italian couple. When they all start complimenting Declan on his cooking, Anna takes it upon herself to blurt out that Jeremy complains about her cooking and says her chicken is too dry. The question that ensues of course is… Who is Jeremy? Anna, who can’t lie, looks to Declan for support who states that he is the next door neighbor… who is a bit slow and has a love for Anna. She stares at Declan wondering why he is talking down about Jeremy… It seemed obvious to me…. but then again… Anna probably saw it is Declan being his rude self….. But the attention is shifted again when the other couples kiss to show their love for each other, Anna and Declan are “forced” to kiss as well. This was odd to me because the other couples seemed to want to watch and don’t get me started on the Italian couple who almost had to be hosed down… bunch of old voyeurs. Declan and Anna try everything in their power to not kiss but they have already told their host and hostess that they were married so they have to do it. This stirs feelings that neither had expected.

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BOOM… and just like that things change. Instead of making him sleep in the shower like he was going to do her, she agrees to share the bed with him. That night, they sleep in the same bed, but do not admit their new feelings for each other. It was so awkward to watch and I could only imagine being in that situation. Check out the struggle.

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Now I am not a good movie watcher because at this point I had forgotten all about Jeremy. Why are we going to Dublin? Can’t we just stay here forever? LOL. Anyways… the next day, Declan awakens before Anna and makes her breakfast… but while on his way to bring it to her the food… He overhears her on the phone to Jeremy. She reveals that she has had a setback but should be there soon and that she misses him and can’t wait to see him. This causes Declan to abandon his idea to surprise her and pretend it never happened. She comes in and notices the breakfast tray while Declan is attempting to not engage her in conversation. The journey continues… Poor Declan. He spends much of the movie walking behind her.

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While hitch-hiking down the road, Anna and Declan are caught in a hailstorm ( a freakin hailstorm…. ) and take shelter in a nearby church, where a wedding is taking place. They burst through the door, yelling and talking loudly….. but they are invited to the reception nonetheless and Declan is more sour and surly than usual. Begging to go (on foot) to the bus station. He would rather walk to Dublin than watch two people in wedded bliss. Anna obviously turns down leaving as she is still wearing those damn heels. He storms off, Anna follows and the two fight. Anna tells him… that he has obviously never been in love or married…. Declan tells her again that she is being stupid for asking Jeremy to marry her. Her solution is to go back to the reception and drown her sorrows. Declan returns to the reception eventually but not before admitting to Anna that he is “not good at weddings.” They take part in a dance with those at the wedding where Anna has the misfortune of clocking the bride in the head with her heel…. (She is a walking disaster….. I would have left her to get to Dublin on her own a long time ago.) After apologizing and spilling wine on the brides dress…. Anna disappears to sulk and drink on her own. When Declan finds her…. she goes on a drunken tirade about she has figured out that he is putting on a front… (it comes out in a weird allegory about a tiger or some such thing…) However, she leans into kiss him and he seems all for it… only for her to throw up on his shoes…. earning her the nickname “pukey.” Declan carries her away bridal style. When Anna wakes up next she is in Declan’s lap on a bus station. He is asleep himself. (Makes you wonder what the night with drunk Anna would have been like.) Anna gets up and is seen walking away…. (one would imagine to get bus tickets).

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Declan is awakened when he hears a bus pulling off… The panic on his face is significant for a woman that he just met… He attempts to run for the bus and is super hurt that she would leave him there on the bench. But she returns with his ticket for the next bus and a coffee for him. He teases her about vomiting on his shoes. It is a running gag through the movie that he constantly tacks ducketts for everything he has had to do up to this point. They manage to catch the bus to Dublin and we get a glimpse off Anna asleep on Declan’s shoulder… (who is Jeremy again?)

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When they arrive in Dublin the next day, Declan reveals that he was once engaged but his fiancée ran off to Dublin with his mother’s claddagh ring and his best friend. They all used to own the Inn/bar together… (Hence the reason he never wanted to come to Dublin and his overall surly disposition.) Anna suggests to him that now that he is in Dublin, he should ask for his mother’s ring back… he wastes no time in trying to flip things back on her… basically telling her that they are there in Dublin for her to get married…. to get her guy.

Anna: “I am glad to see you are finally onboard.”
Declan: “It’s got nothing to do with me. I am just the old bag carrier around here. Why should I care?”
Anna: “So you don’t?”
Declan: “Would it make a difference?”
Anna: *silence* *looks away*
Declan: “Come on… Let’s go.”

He just drops the conversation. Internally, I was screaming… Talk to him… he put it out there… say something… ( I have to scream this because in the end I would have run away my damn self… He is just too straight forward for me… and on some level I may need that in my life. But that is a post for another time.)

When they finally arrive at the hotel where Jeremy is staying, Jeremy interrupts their banter and there is so much tension you can cut it with a knife… it was so uncomfortable to watch. Anna attempts to pay Declan for bringing her to Dublin and I assume the damage she did to his car… but he declines to take it… Anna and Declan are making eyes at each other and prolonging their goodbye. Jeremy, for is part, is oblivious to the tension. He is attempting to get Declan to leave by asking if he’s been paid and is completely dismissive. Now, don’t get me wrong… at this point in the story… I don’t dislike Jeremy… Jeremy surprises Anna by proposing to her right in the lobby. Poor Declan is mostly uncomfortable and becomes more and more silent as time passes. When Anna turns around to look at Declan, she sees that he has already left the hotel, and she accepts Jeremy’s proposal.

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At their engagement party in Boston, it is revealed that Jeremy and Anna were approved for the apartment and moving into a new place as well as planning a wedding. Here is where the friends need to be poked in the eye… Anna’s friend is clearly super jealous about the new place and the engagement. ( I loathe women who are always in silent competition with each other.) Her husband blatantly says to Jeremy, in front of everyone… that Jeremy didn’t need to propose… the apartment should have been enough… WHO SAYS THINGS LIKE THIS?? He needed to be tossed out the window… But the big bombshell comes when Jeremy opens his mouth…. Anna learns that Jeremy decided to propose only because he thought it was the only way to appease the co-op board of the apartment building. He figured it was the best way to get the approval… which he also admits in front of their guests. WHERE DO YOU FIND THESE PEOPLE?? (Yes I know it is fiction….) I felt bad for Anna… She was clearly trying to move forward with a man who didn’t want to get married and was content with the relationship as it was. Jeremy is pretty detached which probably makes him a great doctor but it doesn’t work for their relationship. In the end, Anna pulls the fire alarm and waits, testing the 60-second concept she had discussed with Declan earlier. Jeremy’s instinct is to retrieve all of their electronic materials such as mobile phones, laptops, etc., and shows no concern for Anna’s well-being. (Mostly because the proposal hadn’t been uploaded to Facebook yet.) At that moment, Anna fully realizes that there is nothing in the apartment that means anything to her, including Jeremy. Declan is seen in a bar in Dublin meeting his ex to get his mother’s ring back. Thank Goodness… this woman ran off with his friend AND kept his ring. Come on lady…

Anna arrives back at the tavern in Dingle, where Declan is running his seemingly successful business having pulled together the balance he owed to his property owner with the help of the community. She gets him out of the kitchen by complaining about the food…. When he realizes it is her… his first question is “Is Jeremy with you?” (Jealous much? She obviously came back to see you and that is the first thing out your mouth…?). Anna is a trooper though… she powers forward… in a dining room full of people… full of strangers. She reveals to him that she has broken off her engagement to Jeremy and tells Declan that she has come to believe that all she needs/wants is right in Dingle.

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This next part makes me want to poke Declan in the eye… but in the end it fit with his character… When she proposes that they get together, ignoring her controlling nature and saying they should not make plans, Declan walks away leaving Anna in the middle in the middle of a crowded dining room. Thinking that she had been rejected, Anna rushes outside and makes her way to the edge of a nearby cliff overlooking the sea to cry in peace… poor Anna. Declan finally comes to find her (knowing exactly where to find her….). He reveals that he went out simply to retrieve his mother’s claddagh ring so that he could give it to her. Taking her offer even further, Declan says he wants to make plans with her, and proposes on the cliffside. Anna happily accepts. It would seem to me since he thought the idea of her proposing to Jeremy was dumb… he wasn’t going allow himself to be proposed to either… but in the end…. I enjoyed the movie.

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So in the end they get married. And for the record, this is in the top spot for proposals… so if my future husband is reading…. Definitely fly me to the UK and propose to me on a Irish cliff… LOL… my mom enjoyed the movie too… which made me laugh because she hardly ever enjoys anything…. My mom had 3 major points though…..

  1. Don’t fly across country to propose to anyone…. if you have not had a real discussion about the future prior to.
  2. Jeremy was an okay guy right up until he tried to marry her for an apartment… did these two not ever speak to each other about their relationship at all?
  3. And most importantly…. even though Declan is great… Still do not marry strange men you have only known for a few days.

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It is one of my favorite romcoms… It is on Hulu… for now… Go and watch it and let me know what you think.