June 19, 2017

Review: Once and for All

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
Grade: A-
This ARC was provided by Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine. 

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants. 

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I'm pretty sure I have wedding fever. I don't even necessarily want to get married; I just want to go to weddings and maybe help plan one. So reading Once and for All fit my mood perfectly.
Most of Sarah Dessen's latest book is set in Louna's present-day life; a few chapters jump back to the previous August and fall, to tell her love story with Ethan. While the flashbacks were sometimes annoying and dragged on, they were necessary to understand why Louna is so cynical now. Of course, part of her cynicism is due in part to her mother and her godfather, William, who runs the wedding planning business with Natalie. They've seen so many weddings that they don't have high hopes for love. I was surprised just how many couples seemed to struggle, though, and I wanted more positive portrayals of couples getting married where everything wasn't all roses and kisses, but they didn't mind and they were going to make things work. 
Back to Ethan, though. I liked how things started for him and Louna, although I felt like their relationship was too much all at once on that first night at least, and it definitely came across as insta-love (especially since, SPOILER, they said "I love you" after having known each other for less than 24 hours). Their relationship seemed to exist only in the honeymoon phase, and I think it would've been interesting to see them past that, although of course, Once and for All wouldn't be the story it is if Ethan and Louna's relationship had continued.
Ambrose was something else. I loved how his earnestness contrasted with Louna's cynicism, although he sometimes got on my nerves as much as he got on hers. The ending with them really worked, though, and I was happy with where the plot took them. (Poor Ben Reed, though. He seemed like such a good guy.)
I know I read an ARC, and mistakes will be fixed, but it definitely bothered me that one of the brides referenced changed names. She was "Marlo" at first and then she became "Margo."
A few instances of foul language. Maybe a dozen total f-bombs and s-words. There's a fade-to-black sex scene and a fair amount of underage drinking, which I can never get behind.

The Verdict: I never thought I'd like a Sarah Dessen book, but I really enjoyed Saint Anything and this one, so maybe it's just her earlier stuff that I find too cliche.

Will I be adding this to my library?: At some point, yeah.

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