April 16, 2011

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

Release Date: April 11, 2011
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: roughly 87,000 words [pdf was 358 pages]
Review Source: eARC from author

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.

When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

My Thoughts:
I loved this book! I loved it so much that I had to tweet about it after finishing it. I loved it so much that I’m already considering how long I should wait before re-reading it. Yes, I loved it that much. There was just a really special feel about this book. It totally gripped me in this really interesting way, and I hope that my descriptions can do it justice.

What I really loved about this book is that it is the perfect mix of family issues and love and romance. It is filled with impecible characterizations: even the smallest characters had personality. No one felt like they were just a filler name and face. Julie, our main character, is lovely. I felt like I knew her. In fact, all of the main characters felt real to me. It was a true family unit, and I cared about their situation.

Contemporary romance is one of my favourites, and the romance in this one is amazing because it’s a slow building, feel it in your stomach kind of love. I also love love when it’s not the only story being told, because that’s what real life is. Life is messy, with all kinds of issues getting in the way, and ‘Flat-Out Love’ doesn’t shy away from that. Like I said, this is also a story about a family and their issues. That drama spearheads the book and has the spotlight just as much as the romance does. My one minor qualm is that I wish there had been more about Julie’s first year in college, since that was what the book started off being about. However, I can understand why other things were focused on, and it didn’t minimize my enjoyment of the book.

Basically, this book just grabbed me and drew me in. The romance was quiet but lovely, and the family drama was always there, whether it be in the foreground or background. At times this story is intense with emotion, and other times it’s just funny, or sentimental, or silly. It has a delightful quirkiness to it (a whole character that is a lifesized cut-out of the absent brother? what?), yet you can tell throughout the story that there’s some deeper, possibly sinister, reality to it all. Unravelling the whole plot was fascinating, even when I made some correct guesses before Julie did herself. I don't often say that I highly recommend a book, but in this case: I highly recommend this book! Please check it out and support this awesome self-published author who has a ton of talent.


You can find Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park on Goodreads & you can buy it for Amazon Kindle.

For non-Kindle people (like myself, actually), the paperback should be out within a couple of months. Bloggers, you can also contact Jessica (view the book's blog here for details) if you would like a PDF review copy.


  1. No author could ask for a more spectacular review. You're an angel. Thank you to the moon and back. (Matt would know of a more nerdy location, but "moon" will have to do.)

  2. Great review, I can't wait to read it!!

  3. "the romance in this one is amazing because it’s a slow building, feel it in your stomach kind of love."

    That is my very, very favorite kind of romance! This book sounds amazing, thanks so much for sharing Ashley! And I love that there's family drama worked in with the romance so you run through the full gamut of emotions:)

  4. I'm waiting for the mass trade paperback. Then I'll have to purchase a couple for friends. I love these reviews. Also, Ms. Park can't seem to write anything less than spectacular novels.

  5. Wow this sounds incredible! I'm starting to get more interested in contemporary romance books and this one sounds like a good fit for me. Sounds like an emotional read. Can't wait to read it.

  6. Thanks for the comments! Yes, Flat-Out Love really does have a wonderful romance. I love that sort of angst-y, gut-wrenching, tear-your-heart out stuff, and I think it works in this book (without getting too melodramatic) because there is so much else to the story, too. It makes the romance all the more believable (hopefully!). One of my friends who helped me with editing said that she normally *never* likes romance in a story, and even her hardened heart got sucked in, LOL! So I considered that a success. :) Hope you all enjoy it!

  7. Great review Ashley :)
    How wonderful to find a gem that is self-published; hope the author has much success with it!

  8. You must read this book. It's amazing. Jessica has out done herself!!!

  9. This one sounds very original and cool, and I hadn't heard of it!!
    I think I'm going to try to check it out!!! :D


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment; I appreciate each one!


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