Review of Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Once and for All
Sarah Dessen
Published June 6, 2017

Sarah Dessen is one of the queens of YA contemporary books, with loads of best-sellers. I tend to read more fantasy YA than contemporary, so I’ve only read one of Dessen’s books in the past. But Once and for All sounded like the perfect summer read, so I decided to give Dessen another try.

Once and for AllOnce and for All is a great beach read. In one sense, it’s a light read, but it also has a lot of depth. It’s the story of Louna, who doesn’t believe that love can last. She had a perfect romance, but it ended tragically and she doesn’t think she’ll ever find another lasting love. She works for her mother Natalie’s wedding planning business, and Natalie and her business partner take bets after each wedding about whether the marriage will last. All this cynicism about lasting love isn’t exactly helping Louna’s attitude toward love.

Then along comes Ambrose. He’s the charming, but disaster-prone brother of one of Natalie’s clients. To keep him occupied and out of his sister’s hair, Natalie hires him, and Louna is stuck working with him all summer, the firm’s busiest season. Ambrose is the opposite of Louna. He believes in love, so much so that he finds a new love every day. He’s all about the chase and is not interested in the follow-through. Louna finds him very annoying at first, but they grow closer as they work together and Louna begins to question whether it’s possible she can find love again. (I also found Ambrose annoying at first, but he grew on me, just as he does with Louna.)

I really enjoyed the behind the scenes look at the wedding industry. Natalie runs a tight ship, and no detail is too small for her planning services. They deal with last-minute wedding cancellations, jittery brides, and annoying relations. (There’s a really funny bit with a mother of the bride from hell who tries to walk off with anything that isn’t nailed down.) Louna and Ambrose have to work together on all kinds of weird tasks, and it’s a nice way to watch their relationship grow.

There were two things that I found a little annoying about this book. One is that Louna’s best friend, Jilly, is constantly trying to get Louna to date new people. This seems like bad best friend behavior when she knows all about the horrible way that Louna lost her first love (no spoilers, but it’s very sad). It’s been less than a year–let the girl grieve. The other issue I had is that there’s a wrench thrown into the romance in the third act that felt unnecessary, as if it were just there to extend the book another 50 pages.

Despite these issues, I really enjoyed Once and for All, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a light beach read. It’s a solid 3.5 stars.

I received an ARC from Amazon Vine.

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