Book Review: Murphy’s (Pretentious 4)

Danny promised his dying father he would take care of the family, but a promise looks much different when someone is twelve than it does at sixteen. When his sister leaves for college, he realizes he’s trapped in his father’s dream. He runs the family restaurant with his mother and tucks his own dreams away, until he falls in love with Aryn, a girl in his chorus class.

In volume 4, – Heartbroken, Danny and Aryn deal with a bad break-up, and her father’s resistance to Aryn pursuing a future with Danny.

Pretentious is a series of YA/NA novellas that follow Danny and Aryn in their attempt to create a band and follow their dreams, while honoring Danny’s commitment to take care of his mother, a nurturing Italian woman everyone calls Mama, and his sister, Becky. It’s a story about family, commitment, love and the confusion of betrayal.







Murphy’s is an excellent addition to the ongoing Pretentious series.  It picks up where The Battle ends, and moves on from there smoothly and with a few unexpected twists to keep things interesting.

Since this is a continuation, there is minimal world building or scene setting necessary.  A brief sketch of the two or three new settings, and all is set to go.  As most of the story takes place in the old familiar haunts, Jena does an excellent job of feathering in reminders of what is in these places without detracting from the vivid story, or the overall pace.

The characters continue to grow and evolve.  Even in the short work, there is quite a bit of growth.  Some from internal reasons, some from external.  This goes for all of the familiar cast.  We also get to meet one of the names that has been flitting around in a couple of the previous installments.  Though it is a quick sketch, almost a cameo, I think there is quite a bit of depth that can be explored (and probably will be in later installments) than most would expect for such a brief appearance.

The pace of the story is well set  with quick witty exchanges, the emotion-laden scenes slow some out of respect for what is going on; and the happy bubbly scenes bounce right along.  As I mentioned before, the pace, setting, and characters create a vibrant tapestry that the story plays out on.

I did catch a few minor punctuation issues – mostly with quotation marks that either didn’t get placed to start a piece of dialogue, or ones that were misplaced at the end of a dialogue.  In a way, the “oopsies” make the story even more endearing and intimate.  Like someone is actually sitting there telling the tale, not the sterile environment of words printed on the screen (or page).

Overall, I’ll admit I’m not just hooked, but addicted to Jena’s writing.  So, this one gets another hearty five out of five stars from me.  I would never have considered an urban romance to be something I look forward to the next installment as eagerly as I did some of my favorite fantasy, but I do.  The fifth installment is out on Amazon, and I know I’ll get it as soon as I can.  (From someone who tries to avoid the romance genre, perhaps that can give you a better idea of just how GOOD this story is!)


If you’re interested by the review, and wish to pick up a copy, you can find it Here on Amazon.  If you haven’t read the first three, you need to, as I don’t think this one’s capable of standing on it’s own.  You can find Alfredo’s (Pretentious 1) Here, Summer Shade (Pretentious 2) Here, and The Battle (Pretentious 3) Here.

If you enjoyed the review, and wish me to review some of your work, please stop by my Offered Services page and fill out the simple submission form.  I’ll get back to you soonest to discuss details.


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