by Lindsey Leavitt
To be published by Bloomsbury
on May 6, 2014
Source: giveaway at ALA
Synopsis from Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance? And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is she running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money--fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax. Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.
My take: Charming! This might be a premise I've seen before in rom-coms -- girl inherits a failing business and must make a go of it -- but the quirky Vegas setting and the unique, well-developed characters really make The Chapel Wars shine.
Holly's not a rom-com girly girl. She's got short hair, she's a math whiz, and she hangs out with a group of guys. When Holly's adored grandfather dies and dumps his albatross of an asset on her, Holly's not one to back down from a challenge, so she's determined to keep his wedding chapel going.
Like Going Vintage, this author's previous book, The Chapel Wars features a complex and realistically flawed family. Holly's parents seem amicably divorced, but Holly's not sure that's possible. Their family also includes Holly's snarky college-aged sister and her absolutely hilarious evil younger brother. James cracked me up -- I want to read his book in a few years.
Then there's the book's romance. Yes, it was a tad insta-lovey, but I don't usually have an issue with that. Plus, all Dax and Holly's encounters featured lots of adorable banter. As the synopsis indicates, this couple's relationship is complicated by the fact that their grandfathers were business rivals and arch-enemies. Dax is also reeling from a recent family tragedy, a sad event that's got him making some questionable choices.
Given all the serious issues -- death, divorce, financial troubles -- that The Chapel Wars addresses, I was happy that it didn't try to be a sappy, happy romantic contemporary. The book's ending definitely left some problems unresolved. But this isn't a sad book either. I was smiling at Holly and Dax's adorableness and laughing out loud at some of the really funny things in the book -- James, some of the themed wedding chapels, and Holly's relationships with her guy friends.
If you love contemporaries that are a good blend of serious and funny, of romantic and realistic, definitely check The Chapel Wars Out.