Review: Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail by Ashley Herring Blake


Title: Astrid Parker Doesn't Care (Bright Falls #2)
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Publication Date: 22 Nov2022
Genres: Small town f/f romance

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Instagram

My rating: 4 Stars


For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she's been focused on her career--her friends might say she's obsessed, but she knows she's just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn's renovation, which will be featured on a popular HGTV show, Innside America, Astrid is thrilled. Not only will the project distract her from her failed engagement and help her struggling business, but her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her a nod of approval.

However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru's granddaughter and the lead carpenter for the renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family's inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into some light sabotage to ruffle Astrid's perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other evolves into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she's expected to lead or the one that she wants?


This was lovely and fun and very, very queer.

This is a story of self-discovery and growing into your own self and coming out as queer later in life. As someone who is not queer myself, I don't feel knowledgeable enough to discuss how this was presented in the story. From an outsider's perspective, I liked seeing Ashley's journey and felt convinced in her happiness in the end of the book.

This is an opposites attract kind of kind of romance where a buttoned up, closed-off heroine meets am open and self-confident heroine. Both of them are in difficult stages in their lives, trying to hide the fact they are basically falling apart from everyone. For Astrid this means being perfect in everything - the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, the most successful designer. For Jordan it means not sharing her dreams and hopes and fears with her closest people anymore and finding a new direction in life.

Just like in book 1, I felt the characterisation was really good - both Jordan and Astrid stand out as real people to me.

I liked how well-rounded the whole story and how in synch all the different elements in it were - there is lots of humour and funny dialogue, great sexual tension, supporting friends (Astrid's) and family (Jordan's).

Astrid's relationship with her mother is especially fraught. They do reach some reconciliation but there is no magic cure - it takes time and effort on both sides.

I have mixed feelings re Jordan's ex-wife. I can't help but feel she is a terrible person. She did try to help Jordan but at the same time she was completely ignoring Jordan's wishes/boundaries, speaking and acting over her on numerous issue. Her actions were the nudge Jordan needed in her career but I just can't let go of all the hurt she caused her before.

Finally there is a bit I don't feel very competent to comment on but feel it should be mentions and it's about the language regarding gender and attraction used in this book. I felt there were one too many instances of "women and non-binary people". It is most often used by Jordan to describe the people she is attracted to but sometimes it read like equating non-binary people with women and I am not a fan of that. I could be reading things wrong but a couple of instances really stood out to me. I would recommend checking reviews by queer, especially non-binary and trans, readers for their take on these instances.

Iris' book is next and there was a whole plotline with her that I found unnecessary and superfluous to this book but still I am very much looking forward to her finding her own HEA/HFN.

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