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.
Graduation has passed, and Danny and Aryn are married. But Kevin’s in town and he has his eye on Aryn, while Carly is pursuing Danny. Can their relationship withstand the attacks?
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.
Expectations picks up where “Murphy’s” leaves off. There is enough story that it can stand on its own, though I recommend reading at least “Alfredos” so you can meet the cast. Unlike the other novellas in this series up to this point, the focus is not the band, but rather the relationship between Danny and Aryn, which gives this installment a chance to shine. Jenna does a wonderful job helping the characters – both the main cast and back up cast – grow and develop. A few pieces from previous installments come into play, which throw out threads of potential she can use to tie future installments into.
There isn’t much need for world building, as this is a well established series. The action continues to focus on the Rosini’s restaurant. There are a few new character’s concepts introduced, which I’m looking forward to seeing brought to life through Jena’s unique creativity.
The pacing was well done – brisk, but not too fast. Though I didn’t feel much in the way of tension, this could be because I’m not typically a romance reader, and so may have missed some of the more nuanced bits that would be included. The blow off was an interesting twist I did not see coming (though, after reading much of Jena’s other work, I probably should have) and made a nice surprise.
Overall, I heartily give this one a full 5 out of 5 stars. It continues with the clean, age-appropriate story that the rest of the series has established in a fun, light read. Well done!
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