I know I'm weeks behind everyone else in the blogging community in reading and reviewing Isla and the Happily Ever After. Better late than never? Honestly, it wasn't a huge priority for me as I liked but had some pretty serious issues with Perkins's prior two books. And I didn't want to have issues with this one. I liked Isla and I LOVED Josh in Anna and the French Kiss and was afraid this wouldn't live up to my expectations as the other two sadly hadn't. No worries on that score. This is definitely the best of the three in my opinion.
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.
I was destined to fall in love with this particularly story as Isla and Josh have the character dynamic I love in my romances, because it is one that reflects my own reality. Isla is a reserved, book reading, quiet, good girl. She studies and works hard, wanting to prove her worth to the people in authority over her. Josh, on the other hand, doesn't care so much to jump through hoops for the sake of proving he can. He knows he can. He also knows most of those hoops aren't necessary for what he wants to do in life so he finds ways to circumvent them. A lot of people perceive him to be lazy or a slacker for this. But Isla sees that he is actually brilliant. He is going to choose where and when and with whom to use that brilliance. She forces him to inspect his work and life from different more serious angles. He forces her out of her shell and into actual adventures rather than just book adventures. They fit together very well.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Isla and Josh's relationship unfold as it went from longing crush to flirting crush to actual relationship. I also appreciated the obstacles that were placed in their paths to happiness were real to life. They fit so well the struggles one has in senior year of figuring out life and where your next phase is going. Isla's responses and reactions to Josh fit with her characterization and the insecurities she felt. The one thing I wasn't completely convinced about was her choice in college. Still not real sure why she made that particular decision. (Other than Josh's proximity affecting it.) What I appreciated the most is that there is NO CHEATING in this book. YAY! This is all about Isla and Josh and the lives they are building and the demons each needs to deal with. It didn't require any other drama and I was relieved that there were no other romantic entanglements to deal with.
One thing that really did bother me, like it's driving me nuts bothered me is that Josh voted in his first election of his dad's reelection as Senator in November and then the Olympics were the following February. As in 3 months later. THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE. Those things both happen in the same year. I'm a person timeline matters for a lot and this is driving me crazy every time I think about it.
If you're a reader out there who didn't love Anna and Lola, I recommend you still give Isla and the Happily Ever After a try. The romance is wonderful, the city settings marvelous, and the characters real and vibrant.
Content Warning: Some sexual scenes with light description.