#BookReview: The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh

Snarky Romance Reads Shorter Than Its Actual Length. This is one of those fun, snarky, steamy – yes, there are numerous sex scenes, for those that care either way about such things – romances that doesn’t quite work as a true “enemies to lovers”, since the initial fight is more a miscommunication when these two characters – both introduced in 2020’s The Boy Toy – first meet up in the aftermath of that tale. It officially clocks in at around 350 pages, but Marsh keeps the tale pulsing along so well that this reader never really noticed the actual length and indeed by the end the book feels much shorter. For technically being a Book 2, this is also a fairly loosely coupled “series” – yes, these characters are introduced in the first book, and yes, the first book’s primary couple (and another character or two) appear in this book, but neither is truly dependent on the other and each totally work fine as standalones in a shared universe as well. Overall a fun book, maybe not an “end of summer” book but definitely a fun, summery feel. Very much recommended.

This review of The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh was originally written on June 29, 2021.

#BookReview: The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh

Excellent Case Study In Storytelling. Over the last month, I’ve read all three of the books Marsh is releasing (from three different publishers) over the course of six weeks from early October 2020 through mid November 2020 (when this, the last of the books in this “series”, releases). And each has been dramatically different from the last, which speaks to Marsh’s true skill as a storyteller. Second Chance Lane, the first of the series, was a Hallmarkie romance. My Sister’s Keeper, the second, was a weaving, winding, soap opera of a tale that my wife says would work well as a Lifetime Movie.

And here, with The Boy Toy, we get arguably the most cinematic of the three books, in the vein of a multicultural Knocked Up / Hundred Foot Journey. We get an older lead female. We get a look at various facets of Indian culture (that as my friend Ritu says in her own review, many of Western cultures won’t be as familiar with – more on that momentarily). We get a more-balanced-than-usual look at the struggles of infertility as it relates to those who actually want children. (Vs childfree people like me that *don’t* want children and thus infertility is actually a blessing of sorts.) We get an age-gap *ish* romance with the *female* being the older person in the couple.

And yes, we get sex. A lot of it. And all over the place, beginning as little as 10% into the book. If you’re looking for a “clean” / “sweet” romance… you’re not gonna want this one. 😉 Similarly, getting back to the cultural issues… Marsh does a good job of not hiding at least one Indian equivalent of what I call “Talibaptists” in the US. She does a great job of showing the pressure they can wield socially and the damage it can wreak, and she doesn’t shy away from this aspect at all – instead giving a solid example of how to overcome it. Every culture has these types, sadly, but Marsh shows them in depths not often explored, particularly in a romantic comedy, and again – shows her strength as a storyteller in doing so.

Ultimately though, this is a fun and funny romantic comedy that hits all the right notes, discusses some heavy topics, but leaves you satisfied in every way text on some surface can. Very much recommended.

This review of The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh was originally written on October 23, 2020.