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Holly Freakin' Hughes

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"People like you don't fall in love with people like me."

Meet Holly Hughes, a moderately successful teen advice columnist living in a studio apartment on the Upper East Side with her boyfriend Stephen. She has it all, but at the ripe age of thirty-one, she wants more. She wants to be married, she wants a family, and she's going to have it all with Stephen.

At least, that's what she thought, until Stephen announces he's gay, and the domino effect of unfortunate events begins. She soon finds herself unemployed, single, and living in her sister's house on Long Island, working as her niece's babysitter for less than minimum wage. She's pretty certain she's destined to live in the Land of Mediocrity forever.

And then, her niece runs face-first into a tall, handsome man at the bookstore.

* * *

Holly Freakin' Hughes is an HFN title about acceptance, feeling good enough, and the reality that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

NOTE: This book contains some strong language and sexual situations. Age discretion is advised.

This book will also be a part of a series of at least three books. They just haven't been born yet. Patience is appreciated.

339 pages, Kindle Edition

Published August 1, 2017

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About the author

Kelsey Kingsley

25 books2,755 followers
When I was a wee lassie, I was told by my preschool teachers that I was a natural at storytelling. When I was just a little older than that, an old friend's mother said to me, "Kelsey, one day your books are going to be on the shelves at the library."

Well, Diane, I don't know if my books are ever going to be on the shelves of libraries, but I'm sure as hell going to try.

When I'm not writing stories destined to be bestsellers, I enjoy devouring TV shows, listening to every type of music there is and going to concerts, reading pretty much anything (with a soft spot for romance and certain books located in 18th century Scotland), obsessing over makeup, and pretending to workout.

I also have a fondness for cats, my family, tattoos, and a really good French fry.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 294 reviews
Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,548 reviews3,988 followers
July 12, 2017
3 Stars

Overall Opinion: I am torn about this book and how to rate it, because it was enjoyable but it also rubbed me the wrong way at times. I think this author definitely has a lot of potential, and with the great attitude that she will take any feedback as constructive -- she'll have no problem in getting there! I think this would be a good read for fans of instalove with sweet and sensitive Hs, and characters that want a HEA.

I liked the overall storyline, and I also liked that both characters expressed that they wanted that coveted "HEA"! So often we have characters want the HEA subconsciously, but one of the characters has to work to get them to realize it - so that was definitely a positive change!

I believe that I have been conditioned to like the alpha male, so when I read about a beta they end up not being my favorite -- and I think that happened here for me. I wanted the H to go after what he wanted! I get that he cared for her and wanted her happy, but I really wanted to shake him! He was also sensitive and he would cry. While I understand that lots of females like that quality in a man, it's not my personal jam. I also wasn't a huge fan of the h. She was in a low part in her life, and I get that! I just wanted her to get back on her feet at some point in the book and be motivated to make some positive changes to make it better! The major conflict was a little too OTT for me with the h's reaction and the way the H fixed it, and the ending felt lacking in that I had some unanswered questions in the end.

All in all, I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either -- so a solid 3 "just ok" Stars for me.

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Holly and Brandon's story. They both have been recently hurt by their ex-partners in long-term relationships, and meet one day at a bookstore when Brandon literally runs into Holly's niece. They form an instant friendship, and even though they are strongly attracted to one another they label their relationship as just that - "friends". The more time they spend together, the more they start to feel stronger feelings towards one another. There is some OM and career drama, some cute and sweet moments, a few sexy times...and they get a HFN ending.

POV: This alternated between Holly and Brandon's POV.

Overall Pace of Story: Good. I never skimmed, and I thought it flowed well.

Instalove: Yes! The H claimed (internally) "love at first sight", but the h took longer to get there.

H rating: 2.5 stars. Brandon. I'm not a huge fan of beta males, and I would definitely say he was that. I get that he was hurt in his past, but he was just too passive for my liking!

h rating: 2.5 stars. Holly. She was ok, but then she would do something that rubbed me the wrong way. I think her reaction to the H's "big secret" was OTT, and that made the final push for me not to like her that much.

Sadness level: Low, no tissues needed

Push/Pull: Yes

Heat level: Low. They have some decent tension, chemistry, and scenes -- but minimal and not so much it takes away from the story.

Descriptive sex: Yes and no. Some are more fade to black type scenes and some get more descriptive by the end of the book. I wouldn't necessarily say they are hot, as they are more about the emotional connection between the characters.

Safe sex: Not really

OW/OM drama: Yes

Sex scene with OW or OM: Yes, but not all that descriptive.

Cheating: No

Separation: Yes

Possible Triggers: Yes, but mild

Closure: This didn't have enough closure for me! I wanted that glimpse into their future to see that they got to the point that the h had dreamed about!! I would call it a HFN ending, but others might be just fine in calling it a HEA .

How I got it: **This was given to me from the author in exchange for an honest review**

Safety: This one should be either Safe or Safe with exception for most safety gang readers depending on personal preferences.
Profile Image for JewelsyGoolsy.
566 reviews98 followers
July 30, 2017
3 Stars

I gratefully received an arc for an honest review.

All 3 stars goes to the author who needs to be given kudos for her bravery by sending me this book to review (even after I warned her that I was a picky cow when it comes to my romance tropes). She definitely has a talent for writing and I encourage her to keep pursuing and perfecting her craft.

So although I'd love to give more than 3 stars for her skills alone; unfortunately I need to rate the storyline and characters along with it, and unfortunately that would have got a 2.5 star rating from me.

Everything I felt for the characters can be summed up in my dear friend TheresaDK's review (who was brave and amazing enough to BR this with me). Here is her more detailed review that mirrored my thoughts and is waaay more informative than my vague crap here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

All in all, these characters and their situations, actions and thoughts weren't for me, but I'm sure more tolerant, understanding and patient readers out there will find much entertainment from this, so don't let my uninformative and picky mind turn you off.
Profile Image for Natalie  ~ The Biblioholic.
2,568 reviews1,249 followers
July 16, 2017
When I first saw the cover of this book, I must admit that I was a bit thrown off and had no idea wht to expect. However, after thoroughly enjoying this story, I found the cover to be quite apropos. I can easily picture Brandon with his coffee and Holly with her tea.

So what's this story about?

Holly was in her early 30s, had found some success as a teen advice columnist, and lived with her boyfriend of 5 years, Stephen. And then her life fell apart. Thinking that Stephen was about to propose, he surprised her as he announced that he was gay and in love with someone else. Ouch!

Brandon was in his late 30s and after being with his girlfriend for 10+ years, he proposed. He also happened to land a lucrative publishing deal and his career had skyrocketed. His life fell apart because his fiancee was jealous of his success and ended up leaving him. Damn!

These two literally meet by accident and although there is a strong mutual attraction, Brandon fears being burned again and has sworn off relationships, thereby leaving Holly in friend-zone purgatory. I found that the author did a fantastic job of building up to their eventual love story and there was plenty of humor, friendship, and romance along the way. The connection, chemistry, and overall tension was realistically explored and made these characters even easier to like.

For a debut book, I feel that Kelsey Kingsley knocked it right out of the park!

Release Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
POV: Dual - 1st person
Heat: 3 out of 5
Type: Standalone
Profile Image for ✰ Bianca ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰ .
2,178 reviews1,233 followers
December 31, 2021


Five years ago Brandon's fiancée left him. They were together for 11 years. But back then, at a time when his books were finally becoming successful, she just couldn't handle it anymore. She wanted to be the famous author in this relationship.

Holly kind of lives through the same thing now. She's just been un-fiancéd by Stephen. He told her he can't marry her because he's .... gay.

Holly leaves NYC to move back home to Long Island; into her sister's house, to take care of her little niece. Because, yup, she also kind of lost her job together with her fiancé!

That little Long Island town is also Brandon's hometown - and he's just back from a 3-month-long book-tour.

The little book store in town is where they meet for the first time....

But can a woman who was just left by the love of her life, start something real and everlasting with a guy who stopped believing in love a long time ago?





I loved this book!

I had no idea what to expect. I had never heard of this author before! ☺

This book goes straight to the heart somehow. No idea what I mean by that.
You start reading and you immediately fall in love with Holly and Brandon and you want them to end up together one day soon.
While reading it I felt like I was sitting in that little coffee shop in that little Long Island book store watching the Holly and Brandon show play out live in front of me. I sooo need to see this on Netflix or the big screen one day.

This book is full of love, disappointment, fun, laughter, fear .... but most of all HOPE!
I loved every second of it!

Of course it's not all insta we-meet-and-get-married between Holly and Brandon. They quickly become real good friends, but both are not really ready for something serious. But for Brandon that might change pretty quickly - he's been single for much longer. Now he just has to wait for Holly to get all her rebound stuff done, before he can tell her how he feels. And also, it might be good to finally tell her who he really is - because she has no idea he's a superstar author!

HOLLY FREAKIN' HUGHES was such a beautiful love story! A very emotional and hopeful friends to lovers to forever ever after romance with lots of adorable and funny and just perfect moments! Run to your nearest amazon for your own Brandon - this one is MINE! ☺

if I had to find some tiny little things I didn't like? Hm, maybe just that it wasn't sexy enough for my tastes. And the whole romance between Holly and Brandon wasn't enough for me. I wanted more of just the two of them. But it was more of a Holly-has-to-find-herself-first kind of thing. Which is totally understandable, she's only been single for a few months! I still loooved it, but I wanted more couple time! And also, Holly's reaction to who Brandon really is was way too exaggerated. And then she didn't even try to apologize or talk for a month.
BUT, I still loved the book very much!!!!! And also - best thing ever: THERE WILL BE AT LEAST 2 MORE BOOKS ABOUT THOSE TWO!!! Kelsey is busy writing book #2 - but don't worry, this is a total standalone with a happy end!!


Smokin Hot Book Blog Smokin Hot Book Blog Smokin Hot Book Blog Smokin Hot Book Blog Smokin Hot Book Blog
Profile Image for The Sassy Bookworm.
3,467 reviews2,365 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
September 10, 2017


Alas, I am going to call it a day on this one. The author has a lot of talent for sure, but I just wasn't connecting with the characters especially the hero. I think I just prefer mine to be more alpha and this guy was definitely a beta.

But like I said there is undeniably a lot of potential with this author and I will be keeping my eyes peeled for future books (hopefully with some strong alpha males *wink-wink*).


Profile Image for Jo - •.★Reading Is My Bliss★.•.
2,408 reviews208 followers
August 20, 2017
Holly has had the week from hell, her long time boyfriend has dumped her for the person that he says his heart truly belongs to and her long term employment has been terminated. She is now single and unemployed at 31 years old.

This is how Holly finds herself living with her big sister and looking after her niece, Anna. She settles into life in a small town, nursing her broken heart and trying to figure out her next move. These life changes may be difficult to adjust to right now but they also open the door on a new chapter of her life.

At the local bookstore one day she meets a handsome man who she has an instant connection with, the connection is so intense that the next time she sees him they share a ‘moment.’ A moment where everything else fades into the background and they only see each other.

This handsome man is Brandon. He is a best selling author and a town local. He too is nursing his own broken heart and bruised ego after his relationship ended several years ago. He is completely taken with Holly and thinks she is beautiful. However, his stubborness and pride keep him from pursuing anything more with her.

These two just click and if they could put all of their fears aside they could have something amazing together. However, that is not the case and Brandon has to be content on the sidelines as he has cemented himself into the ‘friend zone’ with Holly. This means watching her date other men and move on with her life without him.

There were moments when I wanted to give Brandon a shake and tell him to man up but he needs to work things through in his own time and hope that by then Holly will feel the same way as he does.

This was a fun story to read, I loved the banter between Brandon and Holly. I felt like she completely over-reacted to the ‘secret’ he revealed and couldn’t understand why she did that and then took so long to get her shit together but I’m glad that she eventually did.
Profile Image for TereseDK.
474 reviews14 followers
July 28, 2017
1.5 - 2 - Holly Frea... oh stop it already Hughes - stars!

This was, unfortunately, not the book for me. At. All.

I didn't care for either MCs and I really didn't like how they got together in the end. The h was whiny and self deprecating and the H was too passive and never once fought for the h. He claimed to love her at first sight, but if that was really the case he wouldn't have accepted her dating (and sleeping!!) with someone else.

Personally, I prefer it when the H does the chasing and claiming, this one had a begging h and a rejecting H who friendzoned her after their first make out session. So not my jam.

There were instances of humor, unfortunately it wasn't MY kind of humor so this fell a bit flat, but humour is very subjective so this had no bearing on my rating.

I will say I felt the writing had a nice flow to it and... well, that's it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Mindy Lou's Book Review.
2,700 reviews658 followers
August 1, 2017
Poor Holly just can't really cut a break in life. She's dumped by her boyfriend of 5 years, only to find out he's gay and has been cheating on her with anther man. Days later she loses her job which forces her to move in with her sister and become the babysitter for her niece. After a few months of wallowing in her relationship woes, she meets a man that ignites her interest only to have him reject her.

This may sound depressing but the author did a good job of making this into a rom com and introducing funny side characters. Out of all of them, Ester, the elderly neighbor was my favorite character. She almost stole the show for me.

For a debut book, this was very good! Personal preference in the Hero is the only reason I didn't love it. I like a strong Alpha Hero who goes after what he wants. Brandon is more of a beta and was too fearful to pursue Holly because of his own relationship fail. This does lead to some very funny date nightmares for Holly as she tries to move on while keeping Brandon as a friend.

It was without a doubt entertaining. Overall, this was well written and I will read more from this author. ARC provided by author.
Profile Image for Kelsey.
Author 25 books2,755 followers
Want to read
February 14, 2019

Standing outside the door, I inhaled and exhaled slowly before knocking, making a conscious effort to clear my brain of anything but excitement for the night ahead. I told myself that Brandon didn’t want me, Brandon was only a friend, and with a final deep breath, I knocked.

As if he had been waiting right on the other side, the door flew open. There to greet me was Ben and three large tail-wagging Labrador Retrievers, two black and one yellow. The three beasts pushed past Ben, tripping up his legs as they rushed toward me; pushing against me with their huffing black noses and slobbering mouths.

One of them, the biggest of the black dogs, jumped up to rest his heavy paws against my chest. A thick tongue lapped out of his wide mouth to slurp over my face. My eyes squeezed shut through the sloppy assault, hovering somewhere between amusement and panic. After regaining his balance, Ben grabbed the dog by the collar and gently pulled him back to the ground.

“Jesus, Rocky, that’s not how we make friends,” Ben told the dog, crouching next to the excited animal, mushing his snout affectionately with his hands before standing to flash me a genuine grin.

“Hey, I’m sorry about that. We don’t get too many strangers around here. I hope you’re not afraid of dogs,” he said, apparently noticing the way I clutched my hands to my chest in an attempt to guard myself from the watering mouths of his hellhounds.

“O-oh, no, I, uh, I-I …” I closed my eyes, taking a deep controlled breath. I opened them again to Ben scratching the ears of the dog named Rocky, and I smiled then. “Let me try that again. No, I’m not afraid of dogs. I just wasn’t really expecting that to be the first kiss I got tonight, but you know, here we are.”

“Rocky just has a thing for the ladies, but here, let me make it up to you.” And before I knew what was happening, he was standing and snaking an arm around my waist. He pulled me into him to press his lips firmly against mine for all of a couple seconds before backing away with a dimpled grin. “Better?”

“Much,” I said with a relaxed smile.

Brandon who?
Profile Image for Nadwa.
189 reviews28 followers
July 26, 2017
[I was generously provided with a free advance review copy by the author in exchange for an honest review; that doesn't affect my review in any way]
I understand what the author wanted to deliver through this book; the friends-to-lovers trope is one loved by a lot of people out there, myself included. But there were a lot of things I couldn't cope with. The first was that the main character, Holly, seemed to me like the kind of person that cannot cease complaining although she literally had everything she needed. I understand that was she'd gone through was life-altering. But even after that, when here sister provided her with a cozy home and a good-enough job, she started complaining about how her room was like 'Harry Potter's little cupboard of a room underneath the stairs'. Like, her sister genuinely opened up her house and welcomed Holly with open arms, why can't she be thankful for that? Then there's that thing with Brandon. The insta love was cringe-worthy, to be honest. I have no problem with insta-love, but it just didn't feel right here. Which brings us to the third thing that didn't click with me; Holly & Brandon's relationship. I saw no chemistry between the two characters whatsoever. And honesty? Breaking them up and putting them back together does not make their relationship any stronger or any righter. Other than that, I was honestly fond of Holly's devotion to her job. And I liked the parts featuring Ester, who was really funny at times.
Profile Image for Coco.V.
50k reviews4 followers
Want to read
November 27, 2018
💝 FREE on Amazon today (11/27/2018)!💝

"People like you don't fall in love with people like me."

Meet Holly Hughes, a moderately successful teen advice columnist living in a studio apartment on the Upper East Side with her boyfriend Stephen. She has it all, but at the ripe age of thirty-one, she wants more. She wants to be married, she wants a family, and she's going to have it all with Stephen.

At least, that's what she thought, until Stephen announces he's gay, and the domino effect of unfortunate events begins. She soon finds herself unemployed, single, and living in her sister's house on Long Island, working as her niece's babysitter for less than minimum wage. She's pretty certain she's destined to live in the Land of Mediocrity forever.

And then, her niece runs face-first into a tall, handsome man at the bookstore.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,254 reviews
July 9, 2017
~~~Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.~~~

4.5 🌟 Stars

Loved this romantic and heartfelt story! Holly feels like she's lost a lot, including her long-term boyfriend and her career, as well as the satisfaction and prestige that came with them. She's at a new low. Brandon has it all: a successful career, the accompanying money, good looks, and plenty of attention from women. He should be at an all time high, but something is missing.

Mild to medium steam level, some swearing, and an awkward situation with regard to one sister subsequently dating another's ex. There is no cheating, but a few readers might be unhappy with the relationship timelines.

I absolutely recommend this book and look forward to more from this author!
Profile Image for Lisa.
620 reviews23 followers
August 2, 2017
I was given an ARC for an honest review.

Three words: The B. Davis *swoon*

For Kelsey Kingsley's debut album I thought she did a great job. This book had everything I love in a book. Laughter, witty banter, heartache, romance, warm-hearted, and the frustration. Yes, I wanted to throw the iPad a time or three. But hey, that's what makes a great book, right? Holly Freakin' Hughes was all that and most importantly, it left me wanting more. Definitely a fab new indie author that I've added to my list of fab new indie authors. Can't wait to see what Kelsey Kingsley has in store next...because I'll be one-clicking!

490 reviews6 followers
May 28, 2019
One of the worse books I have ever had the misfortune to pick up,
Consider: A man decides to marry the woman he has been with for 10 years (Really - 10 years?) She decides to reject him (I would have a lot sooner than that), so he decides to become celibate for the rest of his life (come on!)
Now we have a woman who has been living with a man for 2 years and he decides to reject her stating that he is gay, which she never realized (really?) even though they never had sex. (hint, hint) So she moves away, takes a job babysitting her niece and meets our rejected, celibate swain - who proceeds to reject her. Then she accepts an online date and when she turns up at the restaurant designated for them to meet, her date rejects her, not even giving her the chance to sit down. Well, at this point one wonders if this poor woman is ready to dig a hole and jump in. So, she is looking to validate herself by, as she put it, getting laid. She finds someone and, although the sex is good, it really isn't fulfilling her.
Now our celibate swain decides that he is in love with our rejected woman, but fears that because he has never told her that he is a celebrity and multimillionaire, she will reject him. Which he does and she does.
Then, after a lot more silliness, they get together, which could have happened a lot sooner than it did. I think that Kelsey must have been paid by the word, because there was so much superfluous , dumb happenings going on that really did not add to the story and if they weren't there, wouldn't have detracted from it one bit, that I can find no other reason for the length of this book. It dragged on and on, till I just started skimming through it just to see what was going to happen. Plus this author knows little about sex and nothing about romance, two traits that are necessary when writing a romance novel.
Don't know if Kelsey has a day job, but, if not, she should get one.
Another to add to my Author Non Grata list.
Profile Image for Tarrah Anders.
Author 56 books343 followers
July 11, 2017
~~~Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.~~~

What can I say?
Holly freakin' Hughes!

She's down on her luck and then a friendship comes along with some inklings of ... unrequited romance? Or is it?

First, I wanted to punch Holly a few times and say 'perk up buttercup'! Then, I wanted to punch Brandon for being a dipsh*t!

I loved the story, the characters, and the words. The relationship between Holly and the neighbor was hilarious.

I thought the story was great and I couldn't put it down once I started!
Profile Image for Amy.
110 reviews6 followers
July 8, 2017
Wow I was really impressed with this story and reading it you would never know that this is the authors very first book. The characters are really well developed and relateable, the editing was flawless and the actual story was captivating I found myself not wanting to put it down. If you’re like me and your TBR list is longer than remotely possible to concur it can be hard to take a chance on a new author but this one is worth a shot.

This story is between Holly and Brandon both who think that they are destined to be alone after being dumped by the people they expected to spend their lives with. Holly finds out her boyfriend of 5 years is gay and loses her job all within a few days. Lost and feeling hopeless she moves in with her younger sister to take care of her niece. Brandon and his fiancée have spent the past 11 years together both working to publish their own books. While getting ready for his release party which should have been a day of bliss turns into a hate and jealousy filled breakup.

As luck would have it Holly and Brandon meet at the local book store when Holly’s niece Anna goes running face first into Brandon’s leg. Immediately you are able to see how caring Brandon is as he starts to take care of Anna. When Brandon catches sight of Holly he is immediately taking back by how beautiful she is. Leaving the book store he can’t seem to get her off his mind and wishing he had caught her name.

One of the things I love about this story is its growth of a friendship that when it grows to something more it makes their love for each other so believable. Their flaws are flaws that anyone could have and their relationship hang ups are more than understandable. This is told by dual points of views and really gives you a nice insight to how they are feeling. It also makes you understand the fear of why Brandon is keeping a secret from Holly hoping that she will understand when he finally tells her.

The secondary characters are really good to especially Holly’s older next door neighbor who is focused solely on Holly getting some action, she is a riot and offers plenty of comedic relief. The situations Holly gets herself into with her niece also provides some great humor. All in all this was a great read, that you won’t want to put down and I can’t wait to see what Kelsey has in store for us next!
Profile Image for Flavs is Mrs David Gandy♥~♥’.
3,026 reviews2 followers
September 5, 2017
I Voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book

Five years ago Brandon's fiancée left him because she couldn't face the fact that he was becoming famous and she wasn't. 11 Years and she just packed up and left. Now he's a famous author, travelling all over and not home all that much.

Holly had almost the same experience, well almost. Her boyfriend who she thought was going to be propose told her he can't marry her, because... he's gay! After all that, she lost her job, and had to move back home, live with her sister and became her niece's nanny! And back home is the same place that Brandon calls home.

Brandon and Holly meet when Holly's niece run's into Brandon. Then they meet again when Holly receives a invitation to her ex's engagement and he listens to her heartbreak. They are both attracted to each other but will they able to actually be with each other.
Will Brandon be able to believe in love and a relationship with Holly and will Holly be able to let go of her past to move onto her future.

I liked this book, but I just felt that Holly complained too much about everything. I felt that she needed to face her past and try to move on, but she was stuck on where she was now. And for a guy who claimed to have fallen for Holly he just didn't show it more for my part. I wanted him to fight more for her, but well I guess we all can't be Alpha's, lol! Even though that, I still liked him
An okay read for a first time author.

Profile Image for Maren Lee.
Author 11 books239 followers
July 17, 2017
I received an ARC in exchange for a honest review. I loved this book. I can't believe it's her debut novel! Such great writing - some of her descriptions took my breath away.

The story is super sweet. The main characters both have baggage and need to get rid of that baggage before they can be together. I really loved their journey and was not disappointed! Highly recommend! I will read more from this author!
Profile Image for Reads & Reviews.
668 reviews15 followers
September 11, 2017
I struggled with how to rate Holly Freakin’ Hughes, the debut novel from Kelsey Kingsley. Kingsley is a talented writer. She has a delightful voice that made this very easy to read. Despite all my issues with HFH, I was engaged in the story of Holly Hughes and Brandon Davis, two characters I really struggled to like. To me, that says a lot about this author and where she’s headed. Kingsley did a great job of bringing each scene vividly to the reader, making me laugh at times with some of the character hijinks. I loved the small-town feel of this book and the quirky people who inhabit it.

Here’s the thing: Brandon and Holly are a great couple. Kingsley completely convinced me how perfect they are for each other. They’re exactly what the other needed. I liked their passion for each other and how they could make each other laugh. They are an easy couple who have realistic issues with relationships.

But… there are things that kept me from truly liking HFH. I didn’t know what to make of Holly. After she’s sent packing by her long-time boyfriend, Stephen, because-surprise!-he’s gay, she spends the rest of the book feeling sorry for herself and doing nothing to improve her situation. Nothing. Instead, she wallows in the fact that she’s moved in with her sister and has been reduced to being a nanny. There’s not a single time in the course of the book that Holly even considers what she can do to move on professionally. Her thought process regarding her personal life was even more frustrating as she saw herself as unworthy, settling for a guy that’s obviously in love with another woman (beware, the h sleeps with another man during the book) after being friend-zoned by Brandon.

And… Brandon. He cries in the prologue. It’s not the last time he cries in HFH. I don’t mind a sensitive hero, I really don’t, but it was too much. After his fiancée breaks up with him 2 months before their wedding and on the cusp of his success as a writer, he swears off relationships. Honestly, I don’t blame him. In the most compelling scene of the book, his fiancée, Julia, rips his heart out. This scene was raw and emotional, filled with her hatred and his heartbreak. And, like I said, I get Brandon. But he falls in love at first sight with Holly and then spends the rest of the book being a complete-but likable-wuss. He even keeps his celebrity status from Holly (which I completely understood, he wants her to see him for who he is, not what he is).

Holly Freakin’ Hughes does have an interesting cast of supporting characters. There’s Esther, the elderly woman next door. She’s outrageous and a good friend to Holly. Bill, Jessie, and Scott own the bookstore that’s the primary setting for the book and they each have their own charming quirks. I liked Nick, Brandon’s best friend and agent. He’s a great support system for Brandon and, I thought, really shined.

This book has a lot of potential, one that could easily go from a 3 star read to a 4 or 5 star read with a good editor, one who would fine-tune some of the overall plot issues I found (don’t’ want to spoil anything). I would definitely read Kelsey Kingsley next book and I look forward to seeing where she goes from here!

3 Stars for Holly Freakin’ Hughes. Heat level: 2.5

I received this book from InkSlingerPR in exchange for honest feedback.
Profile Image for Sissy's Romance Book Review .
8,195 reviews16 followers
September 3, 2017
'Holly Freakin' Hughes ' by Kelsey Kingsley is the story of Holly and Brandon.
Holly was in a 5 year relationship when she thought her boyfriends was going to ask her to marry him...instead he told her that he was gay. Next she lost her job and had to move in with her sister and become a baby sister to her niece. When she happens to meet Brandon she is quickly attracted to him.
Brandon also had a harsh break up with a women he was about to marry. Julia broke it off with him two months before they were to marry after being together for about 10 years. Brandon had become a famous author and Julia was jealous and told him she hated him.
So Brandon was slow to come back from that when he met Holly. Although it didn't take him to long to know he loved her, he didn't act on it. A matter of fact he told her after they had a heat kissing session that they could only be friends. So when Brandon put her in the 'Friend Zone" Holly tried to move on with a guy named Ben.
Brandon had not told Holly he was a famous writer and he enjoyed just being Brandon with her. So he feared that once she learn who he was that it would impact their relationship / Friendship.
I enjoyed this book but wish that Brandon could have been a stronger person when dealing with his feelings for Holly. I also wish Holly wouldn't have moved on with Ben for that time period as I feel that when you love someone that you have a hard time sleeping with someone else. (Although that is the Old Romance Book Reader in me).
Overall read the book in on sitting as I wanted to see how there story ended.
"My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
Profile Image for Tina "IRead2Escape".
1,473 reviews88 followers
August 5, 2019
I loved this book! I mean loved it, loved it! The author states in the blurb "This book will also be a part of a series of at least three books. They just haven't been born yet. Patience is appreciated." I can't be patient. I need more. It's not like this is a little book that you zoom through and you're left wanting more because it wasn't enough. This is a story packed with everything you could want - great dialogue, strong story line, characters so well written you feel like you know them, love, loss, friendship, family, coming out, overcoming broken hearts, learning to date again and learning to love yourself. I need more because this book was so good!!!!!

Holly was the best kind of hot mess. Her life is in shambles after her boyfriend of forever comes out to her and admits that he's been cheating on her for a while. This destroys her. Not only did she love him but he was her best friend. With nothing to do but go back home her sister moves her in and gives her a job babysitting her niece. It was hilarious to see how Holly dealt with all of this. She felt it was a huge step down in life for her but she didn't take it out on her niece or those around her.

When Brandon hit a career high he just knew all of his dreams were coming true. Finally for his books to get the attention they deserved was huge and he was just 2 weeks away from marrying his fiance of 10 years. How could things get any better? At least that's what he thought until the night of a huge party celebrating his best selling novel his fiance throws her engagement ring at him and tells him she hates him because his career had taken off and hers didn't. This devastated Brandon and left him convinced that he couldn't have both love and career.

When Brandon and Holly's paths crossed everything just got better. They didn't have this immediate love and happy ever after thing. It was a slow build starting with a fun get to know you, budding friendship and then a heartbreaking fall out that left both parties broken. I will definitely read more from Kelsey Kingsley.
Profile Image for Avigail.
929 reviews46 followers
June 30, 2019
Yes, I am a person that like the books that I read to engross me and stay connected with the characters. The romance in this book is a slow burner, and Holly and Brandon build their relationship base on true friendship, especially after they get hurt from a traumatic relationship they had.
Brandon is a dream boyfriend; he is down to earth, with perfect gentleman manners, his mother should be very proud of him. I wish men like this will come to my way, but a girl can also dream.
Kelsey Kingsley is such a talented author, and I can't wait to read more of her work!
Profile Image for Whit.
121 reviews9 followers
July 12, 2017
Thanks to a budding friendship I was privy to a pre read . I am halfway through as I tend to read 5 books at a time but this is probably one of the best written first releases I have ever read by an indie author. It is obvious the author enjoys writing AND reading. Well written. Well placed dialogue. POV that is not like most every other book. I will wait for the kindle release I preordered to finish it as I can adjust the screen better in that format. I am sure I won't be disappointed. And I typically would never go for a romance novel. This one is poignant and well played.
Profile Image for Colleen.
60 reviews2 followers
August 2, 2017
I enjoyed this book. It was a quick read. Greasy storyline, but I would have liked a bit more character development. Loved the ending, but I felt like it was a bit unbelievable. Things came to a resolution a bit too perfectly to be believable.
Profile Image for L.J. Evans.
Author 26 books1,183 followers
December 20, 2017
What a truly lovely debut! I can't wait to read more by Kelsey Kingsley. Holly Freakin' Hughes and Brandon Freakin' Davis made me laugh and hurt for them both. Were there predictable moments? Sure, but it was a love story that made you want to be a part of it. It was a story where I will remember the characters years from now. And for someone who loves good lines, like me, the book was a trove of them. Here are some that I tagged.
1)"I wasn't in fact stupid. Just a woman in love with a man she knew would never want her in the way she wanted him."
2) "All that mattered in that moment was the realization that everything he had ever wanted had destroyed everything he had needed."
3) "I wished they only wanted the sarcastic bastard with the cat and the Keurig."
4) "She understood what it was to not be enough for the person you thought you needed more than the world."
Highly recommend to everyone who loves a good romance.
91 reviews
April 27, 2019
Jaysus this book was BAD. Why is it so difficult to find a good easy happy read?

So the female protagonist's dream is to meet a rich man and have his babies? Eh. Great. She whinges about being just a babysitter and not having money, without having even tried to do anything different. She appears to think someone owes her some millions, but why? And then the whole plot of meeting a secret millionaire celebrity and the cheesy writing... "Winning graciously"? "My ovaries aches just a little"?!

I could go on (and on) about how terrible, boring and infantile this book was, but will instead move on to something better to do with my life.
Profile Image for Audrey Edits.
119 reviews4 followers
July 19, 2017
** I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review **

Wow...the fact that this is a DEBUT novel by a new indie author just blows my mind!! I would have never guessed that in a million years! I was sucked into this story immediately, and once I started reading, it was driving me crazy every time I had to stop for real world things! The way the author created the characters, the settings, the chemistry, the humor, and all the intricate details in between was amazing!! I laughed, teared up several times, and swooned HARD over THE B. DAVIS (many times!!). I even got mad a time or two and quite possibly voiced my thoughts out loud to the offending character at the moment, deserving the typical eye roll and head shake from the hubby! LOL
The series of unfortunate incidents that happen to Holly freakin' Hughes (whom I absolutely adore and thoroughly enjoyed her whole personality and dialog, even when it was negative because it was real), pretty much all at once, would be enough to knock anyone down. She's not a weak, spineless girl by no means, but life has a way of pushing you so far down that you truly start to believe you will never get back out on top and be completely happy again; that you don't deserve it. Sometimes, it becomes ingrained so deeply in your mind that even when a great thing is right in front of you, waiting to prove all of those thoughts are false, you still can't believe it is possible. But you can't choose who you fall in love with, and you can't ignore those feelings forever because you know that if you do, you will be miserable for the rest of your life, regretting letting that person go.
And when that person is someone like Brandon freakin' Davis, you most certainly don't let them go!!! Let me tell you, that man is the WHOLE package!!! He had my heart melting, my body temperature rising, and my thighs clenching!! He definitely has his own baggage and issues to work through, as life has dealt him some really great and really bad hands over the years. And those are the exact things that lead him to sticking his relationship with Holly in "the friend zone"!
I could go on and on about these characters, along with several of the side characters as well, but that would take all day. Just know that I absolutely loved each and every part of this book, and I cannot wait to read more from this amazing new author!! This story was romantic, funny, relatable, and uplifting! A 5 star must read book in my opinion!!
Profile Image for Romance is my Jam||Victoria.
272 reviews20 followers
August 6, 2017
I'm afraid this book didn't hit the mark for me and I really, really wanted to love it. The title and cover are awesome and I've loved the hype about it for weeks now on instagram, but for a romance it just didn't feel very romantic at all.

The hero was so beta passive he actively saw the heroine with the other guy she was sleeping ( midway through the book ) and did nothing about it even as the reader knew he was in love with her. That's not what I want in my heroes. I'm used to the alpha bossy males that Brandon just wasn't my cup of tea at all. I wished we'd seen more of Brandon's writer status, I love when the heroine or hero is a famous writer.

And call me old fashioned but in a romance I can't stand another man/woman being introduced as story drama. I find it takes my enjoyment out of the story quicker than anything else, especially when we get details of the sex with other man/woman ( you expect it in a dark romance or erotica but not comtemp romance ) so when this happened with Holly I couldn't get back into my initial investment between Brandon and her.

I do love slowburn romances, had this been one with a lot of angst only between the H/h and hot frissons/flirtations I could have happily read pages worth but damn Ben and his stupid crockpot ruined it for me.

I do not apologise for my inner smut-lover and whattheheck, when the sex finally happened between H/h it was skipped over. Come on!! you made me sit through Ben and his stupid crockpot, at least give me descriptive Brandon D!

Liz, Birdy, Nick, Esther .. too many secondary characters that felt like page filler, I didn't feel they added anything to the story.

If you enjoy slow burn romances, in a cute town setting then don't let my opinion deter you in any way, this was just all my own personal bug bears in one, it by no means indicates this is a bad book. I love supporting debut authors and I'm sure KK will release something I instantly fall in love with another time, I look forward to what she has coming up, this was just my picky-reader opinion. I know we all don't love alpha heroes.
Profile Image for Deborah G..
596 reviews5 followers
December 8, 2018
I enjoyed this book but also have some mixed feelings about a character that I will explain in further detail later. Holly, an advice columnist for teens, has had a week she will never forget. After the loss of her job, she retreats to her sister's home in Long Island where her new job is watching her niece during the day. At 31, not exactly the career choice she had for herself. Twice a week, the two venture to the small town bookstore, sit for stories & some quiet time.
Brandon, 37, had a bad week himself five years ago. A writer of a very popular series that made him millions, also retreats to the same small town to mend his heart & re-focus on continuing his writing.He is also an avid fan of the same bookstore & this is where the two meet.
I loved Brandon from the very beginning. He was a true gentleman, kind, thoughtful & hot as hell. With his talent, looks & fortune he could have bedded any woman every night of the week, but he didn't. He was sensitive, caring & wasn't interested in one-nighters.
Both of our main characters were scarred & traumatized from past relationships. Brandon chose to be on his own & wait for someone to excite him, someone worthy of his good heart.
Holly, had a somewhat different approach. Maybe it was how & why her last relationship ended, but Holly didn't feel complete without a man in her life. She also put herself down, relentlessly, without reason from the details that I could see. This bothered me, greatly. I liked her character but found this trait very annoying. As time went on, she did nothing to sharpen her job skills or even choose to take a quick glimpse into a want ad. She felt incomplete being a single woman.
Over time, Brandon & Holly developed a strong friendship & sparks were a-flying but very little transpired until deeper into the story.
As much as I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I'm grateful that I have not experienced many stories where the heroine gets on my last nerve. This is the exception.
`Holly, shake yourself & smarten up!`
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