10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Warning: This book is a COVID-19 doctor’s nightmare, and that’s precisely why it hit the spot. There’s no social distancing. Instead, it’s centered around a huge Italian family crammed into one house during the holidays and one incredible Nonna. Set during one of my favorite holidays, Christmas, 10 Blind Dates will scratch that itch you might have if you are missing people or family. The story follows Sophie, a high school senior who is excited about the possibility of getting some time alone with her boyfriend while her parents visit her pregnant sister, who happens to be on bed rest. Unfortunately, her long term boyfriend isn’t on the same page and they end up breaking up. She drives to Shreveport and into her Italian grandmother’s arms. Like a good Nonna, she serves up a giant piece of chocolate cake and listens as Sophie tells her about Griffin. But, the thing about having a big family is there’s no way to suffer alone. Cue the big family butting into your every problem but generously and lovingly. They all want what’s best for Sophie, and so it is decided, with an official chart and everything, that she will go out on ten blind dates. The catch is, she doesn’t get to pick who she goes out with or where they go. Her giant Italian family does, and each night someone new picks. Their intention isn’t necessarily a love match, but for Sophie to get out there again, have some fun, and get out of her box she’s inadvertently put herself inside. Once Sophie agrees, there’s no turning back, even when her ex-boyfriend shows up to try and get her back. Or when she finds out there is a family bet each date, with the winner picking how long the date lasts. Her family is VERY competitive. Sophie’s ten dates are equal parts disaster, once in a lifetime, possible love connections, and straight-up bad. She’s a good sport and doesn’t mind. This time spent at her grandparents reminds her of how close she and her cousins used to be. Olivia, Charlie, Sophie, and Wes (her grandparents next-door neighbor) were so close they were dubbed the Fab Four. The even talked about all going to LSU together, but somewhere Sophie began to feel left out. Now that she’s back, she realizes she really missed them, and they don’t miss a beat when they rally around Sophie as her sister goes into the hospital months earlier than planned. Guys, this was exactly what I needed right now. It’s fun, heartfelt, and reminds the reader of the importance of family even if they drive you nuts. Is this book predictable, yep, but with all the chaos and uncontrollability in my life right now, I didn’t mind one bit.