This post contains a gifted item and affiliate links*. All quotes taken from an ARC.
Hi pals! So it’s been a while since I posted a full review on here and I’m excited to be back with another one! Today I’m sharing my review of Shipped by Angie Hockman, which was one of my most anticipated romance releases of 2021 and I was very luckily granted access to an ARC through Netgalley.
I read a ton of romance last year and it’s definitely a favourite genre of mine so I was super excited to kick the year off with one I had been looking forward to. Keep reading for a spoiler free review of Shipped by Angie Hockman!
Publisher: Headline Eternal [Hachette]
Genre: Adult contemporary romance
Length: 336 pages
Source: Advanced copy via Netgalley
Link: Book Depository*
Spice Rating: 🌶
Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.
The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.
Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.
With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?
Content warnings: sexism, gaslighting, suggestion of an abusive relationship, loss of a loved one, grief, drowning
In a few words:
A hate to love romance between two colleagues who are competing for the same promotion, who end up taking a cruise to the Galapágos to help create their proposal
My Review of Shipped by Angie Hockman
Okay pals this was such a fun contemporary romance read! Truly, it was the perfect pick me up which gave me lots of fuzzy feels and was a lovely slice of sunshine in this less than bright time.
Graeme was a top tier love interest. Always up for some back and forth, a snarky comment here and there but more often than not super thoughtful and caring. He was always there to defend and support those around him, and though he is dealing with some past trauma he does try not to let that define him.
Without going into spoilers there’s a lovely scene where he helps Henley out in the sea and given that I share a fear with her I enjoyed seeing her being encouraged to try this new activity. Also, he is super good looking so win win?
I was definitely on team Graeme from the beginning. Not that I didn’t support Henley, she was a likeable character and definitely relatable, but at times I did feel a little exasperated with some of her decisions. I understood however that all of this tied into Henley’s personal journey so I could appreciate it. Though how could I not root for Graeme when you can see what a nice guy he is!
I enjoyed that Angie introduced added depth to this story, as our main character faces and tackles sexism in the workplace. As a young woman I have encountered and seen some similar situations and the secondhand anger was real! I also loved how Henley knew her worth and that she was bloody good at her job. Her ambition and the way she takes ownership as a woman in a male dominated industry was definitely inspiring.
I close my eyes and find my center- the smoldering coal inside me that fuels every ounce of ambition and drive and longing I have. I won’t let my fear rule me. I won’t.
The relationship between Henley and Graeme was so sweet and full of chemistry. Throughout the story their perception of one another shifts and changes as they get to know one another better. The banter between them was top notch and it made them feel so much more three dimensional.
While yes there is an element of hate to love in this book, it’s not necessarily enemies to lovers as I initially anticipated. Well, it almost is, but a lot of the ‘hate’ is one sided for the most part. I wouldn’t have turned my nose up at a little more hate or angst, but that’s a personal preference and indicative of some other enemies to lovers books I’ve read, but I think the relationship worked perfectly for these characters.
I loved the sexual tension between the pair, even when technically they weren’t on the same side. I particularly enjoyed how humour was woven into these moments too, like when Graeme catches Henley putting on a sort of show as she strips down to her bikini and he realises she’s caught him staring, so he walks into a bench. I could easily picture this and it made me chuckle.
There were lots of “almost” moments, even for just a kiss, and as the story progressed I was almost as frustrated as Henley and Graeme were. JUST KISS GODAMMIT. Also it’s worth noting that this isn’t really an explicit read. There is no on page sex and fade to black vibes.
“May I?” he whispers. His lips ghost against mine, only the suggestion of space between us.
There was a little bit of miscommunication in this book but I don’t necessarily always mind this, though what I did appreciate was that the main characters were quick to apologise for judging one another or the situation too quickly. They see and acknowledge their own flaws, especially if it may have hurt somebody else.
You can definitely expect a few laugh out loud moments too, a particular favourite being the whole lip syncing to ABBA moment. Trust me.
While this is definitely a romance, I liked that this was also a story about Henley and her self progression. I read a review that said the ending reminded them of 13 Going on 30 with a presentation she has to do and yes! That is such an accurate representation!
Henley had a great group of friends, who fully supported her and were always there to boost her up, including a queer couple expecting a baby. They even took Graeme under their wing too!
There was an element to this story that I can’t remember reading about in any other contemporary romance (off the top of my head anyway!) and that’s the focus on eco tourism. While it was a pretty integral theme to the book, I didn’t feel that it was too much or too preachy. In fact I found it interesting and definitely gave me some food for thought and inspired me to visit the Galápagos Islands one day.
Heat sizzles through my veins when he reaches up to run his knuckles along my cheek. “And staff meeting Thursdays? They became my favourite day of the week…”
The excursions and adventures the characters went on definitely gave me holiday envy. Now I’m even more desperate to escape to a sandy beach with crystal clear waters where I can just sit (under a large umbrella because I burn far too easily) and read for a week straight with a cocktail. Of course, only when it’s safe to do so. But for now, this was enough to tide me over as a lovely piece of escapism.
I absolutely raced through this book and I would definitely pick up future books by this author. A fun and flirty adult contemporary rom-com with added depth, sun, sea and sexual tension!
Thank you for checking out my review of Shipped by Angie Hockman, and huge thanks to the publisher for this advanced copy too.