Side Trip by Kerry Lonsdale is a romance novel with a fun couple who find acceptance and understanding on a week-long road trip on historic Route 66.
This is a great, fun read. All the way until you get to the end, where the author seems to have decided to throw out 90% of the plot to change the ending that they’ve been building you up for the whole time, without warning. As much as I enjoyed the first 90%, the ending was so unbelievable that I can’t really recommend this one to you without warning you first.
Kerry Lonsdale is a really good writer, and she is good at chemistry between characters. If you decide not to read this one because of my critique of the ending, I suggest you give another one of her novels a shot. She’s talented.
Full Review with Spoiler Hidden at End
I purchased Side Trip as an Audible Daily Deal a couple of months ago, and recently had a solo-road trip by myself. I listened to the entire book on the road, and it was a good book for the ride. I’d recommend it if you’ve got a solo road trip or a road trip with adults who like happy-ever-afters.
Joy has recently lost her older sister. Early on, the reader knows that Joy is going on a road trip to fulfill her deceased older sister’s bucket list. Her sister was really into Route 66 nostalgia so the road trip involves driving from California to New York. Once there, Joy will have fulfilled her sister’s lifelong dream and will move on with her own life – and marry her fiance. Mark, her fiance, is a perfectly nice guy that she dated all through college and plans to marry. Of course, she feels a little like this is what she is supposed to do, as opposed to what she wants to do. Mark is nice enough and will make a good husband.
On the road one day, she’s eating at a diner when Dylan Westfield’s car breaks down in the parking lot. She smiles at him from the window, and he ends up needing to borrow a phone. Since his car is a complete bust, and they’re headed the same way, she decides to give him a ride. Dylan Westfield is the son of a famous rock star, and he is out on a mysterious road trip, playing dive bars and performing on street corners.
You can guess what happens over the next few days – they have adventures, they become friends, and they start to fall in love. It’s completely mutual and neither of them wants to act on it because she is engaged.
This part of the book is done really well. It is fun to see the adventures Joy and Dylan experience, and the author is really good at drawing out the tension between the both of them. I had butterflies in my stomach several times as Joy and Dylan struggled to keep their hands off of each other. I don’t usually do spoilers, but I do need to give an honest critique of the book ending. What I’m about to say will likely keep you from wanting to read it. Do not read any further if you don’t want the spoiler. Highlight the following two paragraphs to read.
Side Trip by Kerry Lonsdale SPOILER – Highlight to Read
I gave Side Trip three stars – despite the ending. If the first 85% of the book hadn’t been so fun, this book would have received one or two stars because the ending is .. really poorly done. Throughout the entire book, the timeline switches from the road trip to their lives after the road trip. One chapter will be Joy watching Dylan perform at a dive bar, and the next will be two years into the future, when she is married to Mark. You know from the beginning that they don’t end up together.
Except.. at the end of the book, it’s like the author got advice that the ending was wrong and that they should end up together. Instead of following along with the well-established plot line, the author writes that it actually didn’t happen and instead it was all just a flash of imagination of what the future would look like if they parted ways at the airport, and then makes the characters decide to stay together anyway. This does not make sense at all, and it felt kind of like cheating. You can’t write two hundred pages of a plot and then on the last page say it was just all a dream. It is a shame, too, because there was a lot of potential for this to be a great read. These characters could have come back together after the events that were laid out in the “future” chapters had concluded, and it could have been a great happy ending. Instead, the author says “oops! Just their alternate futures flashing before their eyes!”
If you like romance novels, I recommend you try out Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey.
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