Don’t let the blurb for Emma Barry’s Chick Magnet fool you; this is a surprisingly serious romance with a lot of dark issues floating about in its prose to match its sense of personality. But while it lacks the sense of easy-breezy fun the synopsis promises it’s beautifully poetic and romantic.
Nicole “Chick Nic” Johnson is trying to move on in the wake of her very public breakup with a YouTube star who used her for attention and lied to everyone about his intentions. Nic’s fans still love her in spite of it, and they have been loving the antics of her flock of chickens since the pandemic. She moves to Yagerstown, Virginia to make a fresh start, and hopefully get over her broken heart.
As if on cue, a veterinary emergency brings her into contact with the handsome Will Lund, who has long been a hate-watcher of her vlogs. He accuses Nic of using her chickens for social media clout without caring about their health and well-being and of giving out bad veterinary advice. Nic genuinely loves her animals and is fit to be tied. She and Will instantly dislike each other, but obviously can’t avoid one another, because guess whose clinic Nicole has moved in next door to? While she deals with depression connected to a stalking incident, Will deals with his failing veterinary business. Might the answer to their troubles lie in one another?
This one sparkles wonderfully – even though yes, it’s a Covid-era romance, and there is discussion of quarantines and the impact the pandemic has had on everyone (although there is surprisingly little talk of masking). If you’d rather not think about it, then this definitely isn’t the story for you. Otherwise, Chick Magnet is your classic enemies-to-lovers romance with a lot of surprisingly unique conflict.
On Will’s side, it’s the fact that his practice is slowly but surely dying and he’s dealing with fallout from the pandemic. On Nic’s, she is being stalked by her ex. In between there’s light romance and animal antics, but a big chunk of the plot revolves around the two of them dealing with their issues and coming to therapy. As I said at the beginning, the blurb here does not fit the tone of the novel at all.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good story. I liked Nic and rooted for her, and I really liked Will. They’re good people and their love story is great; there’s sparkle to the romance and their lives together – whew, are they a loving pair! – and their romance is well-written with Barry’s typical flair. Of course we also get some cute stuff with the chickens thrown in on the side.
If you’re willing to put up with its darkness – like Psyche being drawn out of the darkness by her Eros, as Nic aptly says – then Chick Magnet may be just the read you need.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
|Review Date:||February 4, 2023|
|Book Type:||Contemporary Romance|
|Review Tags:||enemies to lovers | small town romance | veterinarian|
I’m interested (despite the cover, which makes this look light and fluffy). Thanks for the review Lisa! I really liked this author’s Fly Me To The Moon series FWIW. One question about this book: I assume Will is a good vet who deserves to be a vet – and the “failing business” plotline is part of “and fallout of the pandemic”? Thanks.
I would rate it a bit lower, it was slow going insome parts, but lovely overall.
Good people, good community, very real people and relatable problems, nicely solved.
It’s a really fine little small-town romance. Would you’ve gone with a B or a B-?
I think I would give a B – my personal feelings would be B- or even C, but I knew going in that I do not really relate to small towns, and the heroine’s interest in chickens. So it is not quite fair to downgrade for that.
Actually, it was much better than my expectations- I was interested in the whole story because most of it was well told. And your review made me willing to give it a try.
EB is just that good of an author TBH. I’m glad you gave it a shot!
I’ll be giving it a shot. I like small town settings *and* this author’s writing. ;-)
Yep, that’s the reason why his clinic’s failing!
Which clearly shows the author has done zero research on the veterinary profession. Our work load skyrocketed dramatically during COVID. Hard no from me to this book. I’m yet to read a book with a vet with even a vague resemblance to what the profession is. Gets off soapbox now.
This is me with with almost every romance that features surgeons…..
Me, but romances involving journalism.
That was my first thought! Pandemic puppies (and kitties) were a thing. It got to be SO difficult to get a quick appt with my vet (who I’ve used for almost 40 years). Thankfully they implemented a messaging app with the ability to upload videos and photos, and they could handle a lot of minor things that way. It’s great, and it doesn’t tie up their phonelines for questions or appt scheduling.)
Unfortunately, we also had several random emergencies with one of our dogs during that time, and even the emergency vets were so slammed (it always happens on a Sunday evening) that for one emergency we had to drive well over an hour to find an emergency clinic that could take her.
And this is me when they talk about horses. For example: Authors (and TV and movie people) need to understand that horses are really very quiet unless they are separated from their companions or they hear someone getting their feed ready! No need to have them whinnying every time they’re mentioned in a scene.
It’s too bad the site doesn’t allow pictures, because I have two little figurines of horses, so after that discussion about people being uncontrollably aroused by horses mating, I arranged the figurines in a “mating! so sexy!” pose and took a photo of that.
Regarding the COVID references, I’ve recently read a few contemporary spy novels written in various decades of the 20th century and they’ve been fascinating windows into how people lived through the political upheavals of the time. I feel that it’s important for fiction to deal with the issues of the day. That’s especially true for the romance genre, as it is a supreme documenter of social history. Some romances just won’t work with the reality of COVID rearing its ugly head, but I hope the genre doesn’t mostly ignore the pandemic.
I absolutely didn’t mind it personally, but it’s always good to throw out a warning for those who don’t wanna think of it!
The best Covid-aware romance I’ve read is Tanked by Mia Hopkins. The hero is the youngest brother in a family that owns a brewery, which has been hammered by covid. There are scenes where characters rapid-test and where supporting characters catch covid and isolate in the background.
Couldn’t agree more oceanjasper. Just finished reading Honeytrap and much of the first half of the novel is set in the US in 1959. One of the main character’s is Soviet and I was impressed by the author’s note at the end, which included many references to how/what was incorporated in the novel. Author did an excellent job of creating a “time and place” for the novel.