Book Review, Comedy, Contemporary, Enemies to Lovers, Opposites Attract, Romance, Series

The Belle and the Beard (Adventures in Modern Dating #3) by Kate Canterbary


Jasper-Anne Cleary’s guide to salvaging your life when you find yourself publicly humiliated, out of work, and unemployable at 35—not to mention newly single:

1. Run away. Seriously, there’s no shame in disappearing. Go to that rustic old cottage your aunt left you. Look out for the colony of bats and the leaky roof. Oh, and the barrel-chested neighbor with shoulders like the broad side of a barn. Definitely look out for him.
2. Stop wallowing and stay busy. It doesn’t matter whether you know how to bake or fix things around the house. Do it anyway. Dust off your southern hospitality and feed that burly, bearded neighbor some pecan pie.
3. Meet new people. Chat up the grumpy man-bear, pretend to be his girlfriend when his mother puts you two on the spot, agree to go as his date to a big family party. Don’t worry—it’s only temporary.
4. Cry it out. Screwing up your life entitles you to wine, broody-moody music, and uninterrupted sobbing.
5. Get over it all by getting under someone. Count on your fake boyfriend to deliver some very real action between the sheets.
6. Move on. The disappearing act, the cottage, the faux beau—none of it can last forever.

Linden Santillian’s guide to surviving the invasion when a hell-in-heels campaign strategist moves in next door:

1. Do not engage. There is no good reason you should chop her wood, haul her boxes, or pick her apples.
2. Do not accept gifts, especially not the homemade ones. Disconnect the doorbell, toss your phone over a bridge, hide in the basement if you must, but do not eat her pie.
3. Do not introduce her to your friends and family. They’ll favor her over you and never let you forget it.
4. Do not intervene when she’s crying on the back porch. Ignore every desire to fix the entire world for her. By no means should you take her into your arms and memorize her peach-sweet curves.
5. Do not take her to bed, even if it’s just to get her out of your system.
6. Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with her.


When a big burly arborist meets a beautiful down-on-her-luck former political strategist, the wordplay begins and the sparks fly.

You cannot fail to enjoy a Kate Canterbary love story. Her writing is inspiring, heartwarming, and entrancing. Again, I realized I picked up book 3 of a series, but it reads well as a standalone.

When Linden Santillian discovers an unlikely woman breaking into the abandoned house next door, he never knew his single life would change forever. Her constant refusal of his help is aggravating and intriguing at the same time. Who is she and why does she insist on moving into an old uninhabitable house filled with bats and water leaks? And why does he even care?

Jasper-Anne Cleary did not expect her aunt’s house would be in such bad shape. Unfortunately, it was the only place she had to stay considering her long-time career and reputation have blown up in a very public way. And then there is her new growly, sexy guard dog of a next-door neighbor who insists on being in her business. Help was the last thing she wanted from anyone. There was always a catch and she wasn’t accepting.

Jasper is fearless, stubborn, and at a crossroads in her life. Unknowingly dissing her boss on the air was a death sentence to her career as a political strategist in D.C. and everything is falling apart including her Aunt Midge’s dilapidated cottage that she is now calling home. When Linden offers his home to her while she fixes up her own, her instinct is to say no, but he slowly wears her down with his straightforward reasoning and no-nonsense manner. The chemistry between these two is off the charts “hawt!” Linden enjoys being alone and minding his own business, but from the moment he meets the captivating Jasper with the fake mask and switched on Southern social graces, he is obsessed with getting to know her better. I love Linden with his unending patience and ability to read Jasper like a book. He is exactly what she needs. Someone who listens and who follows through with his promises. My heart broke for Jasper with her sad upbringing filled with loss and loneliness that lead her into politics and a lifetime career that dumped her like a hot potato. No wonder she didn’t trust anyone until the big tree of a man barreled into her life and broke down her walls one by one. 

It’s Linden’s family that really brings everything together. Linden’s triplet siblings, their significant others, and Linden’s quirky and loving mother make Jasper feel welcome and part of the family.

I highly recommend this romantic comedy with fun banter and an appealing storyline that shows us that we can learn from the past and that it’s okay to change your life at any age.

Adventures in Modern Dating Series:

Magnolia Chronicles (2019)
Boss in the Bedsheets (2020)
The Belle and the Beard (2021)


The Belle And The Beard_Ebook

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Kate CanterbaryKate Canterbary doesn’t have it all figured out, but this is what she knows for sure: spicy-ass salsa and tequila solve most problems, living on the ocean–Pacific or Atlantic–is the closest place to perfection, and writing smart, smutty stories is a better than any amount of chocolate.

She started out reporting for an indie arts and entertainment newspaper back when people still read newspapers, and she has been writing and surreptitiously interviewing people—be careful sitting down next to her on an airplane—ever since.

Kate lives on the water in New England with Mr. Canterbary and the Little Baby Canterbary, and when she isn’t writing sexy architects, she’s scheduling her days around  the region’s best food trucks.

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