**Thank you to Netgalley for the free copy of Shipped in exchange for an honest review**
Henley Evans is Marketing Manager for a cruise line and has very little time for herself. She sees and talks infrequently to friends and family, and has no time for dating. Between night classes for her MBA and a full-time job, Henley only has time for work. Then, she’s short-listed for the dream promotion she’s been waiting for and everything she’s sacrificed is worth it.
Her excitement about the short-listing is short-lived when she realises she’s up against Greame Collins, the companies remote Social Media Manager, who happens to be the bosses favourite. Henley and Greame have daily email battles, and she can’t stand him.
To land the promotion, they both need to come up with a proposal for how to boost sales in the Galápagos and the boss sends them on a cruise together to fully immerse themselves in the experience. The best proposal ‘wins’ the promotion. Henley is dreading the trip, but when she meets Greame, she suddenly realises she may have been wrong about him all along. As the saying goes, there is a thin line between love and hate. Will Henley be able to let down her guard, and let Greame in? During the trip of a lifetime, she starts to realise that there’s not much point to life if you’re not really living it.
Shipped reeled me from the get-go and kept me hooked until the end. In fact, I pretty much devoured this book in a day. There are several laugh-out-loud moments, and the characters go on a soul-searching mission (unintentionally).
Henley and Greame were destined to be together, that much was obvious. Henley reminds me of myself in her steely determination to never give up on her dreams even when the rug is swept from under her feet multiple times. I ended up really admiring her character and understanding why she acted the way she did. More often than not, it seemed as if her career was the be-all and end-all and if she didn’t get the promotion her life would shatter into a million pieces. It’s understandable why others might have found that irritating, but for me, it really reminded me of myself and how career-oriented I am. Being able to relate to a character as much as I did to Henley made this an even better read for me. The only thing I don’t relate to is that fancy trip to the Galápagos Islands – uh, if only!
Greame, uh, where to begin? If I’ve ever fancied a book character, my gosh it’s him. Wow. He’s flirtatious from the word go with Henley, even if that just makes her hate him more. Greame was never unkind to her intentionally, and he did whatever it took to prove to her he wasn’t an awful person. Put it this way, he knew what he wanted and he went for it. I like how their relationship developed, but also that they grew so much individually. I think without the trip neither one would have been able to see different perspectives for their lives and be able to move forward. I’m all for enemy-to-lovers tropes, and this has been one of my favourite’s of all time.
The side characters were brilliant too. They were all the most supportive, lovely friends a girl could wish for! Henley’s sister, Walsh, came off as entitled and spoilt at first but as the book progressed, her backstory revealed something extremely terrible that was happening in her life. She was flirty and fun, but it was all a mask to cover her real feelings. Nikolai… poor, poor Nikolai the misguided soul who became a little over-zealous in his attempts at wooing Henley. He was harmless, and the way his dancing scene was described had me rolling with laughter. Most of Henley’s co-workers were also the absolute best! Whenever she needed a shoulder to cry on or help with anything, they were there in a heartbeat. They were a true blessing in Henley’s life. There were a couple of a** holes, but I’ll let you find out about them yourself.
I don’t usually delve into Author’s Notes – apologies – but for this book I did. After realising that Hockman has visited the Galápagos Islands herself, it brought a new level of realism to the book as it made the island come alive in my mind. I could feel the sand between my toes, see the beautiful wildlife and feel the heat from the sun (and other things, possibly). It’s one thing to write about a place you’ve never visited, but it’s something completely different when you write about one you have been to as you want to do it justice. You want others to feel the way you did when you went there, and I feel Hockman really did that with Shipped. I loved the focus on eco-tourism as well, it brought a new element to the book that has never – to the best of my knowledge – been included in a romance before.
This is easily my first 5-star read of 2021. For being a debut novel, it is exceptional and it’s clear that Hockman is an incredibly talented writer. I can’t wait to see what she releases next! I highly recommend giving Shipped a try if you’re into rom-coms.
Want to read more of my reviews? Take a look at them here.