REVIEW: Matzah Ball Blues (Holidays, Heart and Chutzpah Book 2) by Jennifer Wilck

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Why is this night different from all other nights?

For starters, Jared Leiman is home for the holidays. Because though he and Caroline Weiss were high school sweethearts, their postcollege lives took them in different directions. Jared became a big-time entertainment lawyer in LA, while Caroline became a fitness instructor and stayed in town to care for her sick mother. And though her mother passed away three years ago, Caroline is finally free to go where she chooses. Meanwhile Jared, who inherited custody of his baby niece after a tragic accident, is suddenly a family man.

So now Caroline wants to leave her hometown in the dust, whereas Jared might just set up roots there. Because there is one thing that Browerville, New Jersey, offers the two of them that no other place does…each other!

CW – mention of death of family members due to a car accident and cancer. 

Dear Ms. Wilck, 

After loving “Home for the Challah Days” last year, I was really looking forward to the next installment of this series. Because yes, it’s not a Hanukkah book! 

Instead Jared and his orphaned niece Becca are coming home for Passover with his parents as he tries to work out what he wants in life. Meanwhile, his old highschool flame Caroline, yeah the woman Jared basically ghosted when her mother was diagnosed with cancer, has finally paid off the medical bills, carved out a life and a job, and plans to start doing all the things she’s longed to for years. Is the past the past or might they have a second chance to work out a future for themselves. 

Let me just be honest and admit that I’m sad to say this one didn’t work as well for me. Yay that Jared already knows he acted like a shit all those years ago and that he plans on apologizing to Caroline. But dang despite the fact that he has matured a lot over the years, he can still act like a shit at times. I was all on #teamCaroline. Even two year old Becca can act better than Jared.

It also doesn’t help that much of the relationship time between Jared and Caroline kept rehashing what we’d already seen. I also didn’t have warm fuzzies about how much Jared initially pushes Caroline to go out with him while he’s home in New Jersey with all parties aware that he plans to go back to L.A. Without their past history it might have been okay but with it — his insistence in the face of his eventual leaving felt tone deaf. Much of Caroline’s discussions with her besties about her relationship time with Jared was also rehashing. The plot felt as if its wheels were spinning in the mud and things dragged. And dragged. Then the romance part of the story swung into gear and raced along before Jared pissed me, Caroline, and his parents off. Trifecta! 

What did I like? I liked Caroline’s job and competency. She has worked hard to finish her education and after losing her mother, gotten a job at the JCC, and has plans and ambitions. When something spikes part of her plans, she doesn’t just sit back and say “Oh, well.” No, she starts to look into it, keeps her head on straight, moves cautiously, and sees this through to a conclusion. When her boss – who believes in her – hands her a “gotta get it done fast” project, Caro rises to the occasion and – I’ll give Jared credit that he comes through in assisting her – pulls something spectacular out that wows people. Go, Caroline!

The family relationship stuff is great, too. When Jared’s brother and sister-in-law died and left him as guardian of Becca, Jared was out of his depth. But he tries, he learns, and he adores his niece. It’s great that his loving parents are there for them both and unobtrusively ready with advice when he asks for it. Mrs. Leiman is fiercely protective of Caroline as well and warns her son not to mess with Caroline.

Passover preparation is something the Leimans take seriously and woe betide anyone who gets in the way of Harriet Leiman’s cleaning (which she ropes the whole family into), shopping, and cooking plans. Watching them carefully, thoughtfully (not too much horseradish for Becca so she won’t associate Passover with yucky tastes), and lovingly celebrating the Seder with their granddaughter was delightful.      

So this ended up being a bit of half and half for me. There was a lot that I really did like and enjoyed. But the romance just didn’t work as well as I would have liked to have seen. Overall, C for the romance and B for everything else.


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

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