**I received an eARC from the publisher through Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**
Book: Shipped by Angie Hockman
Release Date: January 19, 2021
My Rating: 3.75 stars
Rep: Korean-American side character, lesbian side characters, gay side character
CW: loss of a parent (mother), mentions of emotional abuse, emeto (seasickness)
Summary: The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.
Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.
The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.
Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.
With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?
Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.
“All work and no play makes Henley a dull girl.”
“Or it makes her your boss.”
Let’s be honest, I requested this book purely because of the rivals-to-lovers trope in a workplace, and it did not disappoint. This was such a great debut! Set against the backdrop of the gorgeous Galápagos Islands, Shipped depicts a rivalry for a major promotion and what happens when you start to fall for the competition.
Henley Evans has been working hard both in her night classes and in her day job at a cruise line. She’s up for a promotion that would launch her career, as well as help her pay off her student loans faster. However, her hated enemy at work is also up for the job: Graeme Crawford-Collins. When their boss leans that neither of them have been on one of their company’s cruises, he sends them on one to the Galápagos with the goal of drafting a proposal to boost sales. The best proposal wins the promotion, and Henley is willing to do whatever it takes to win, even if it means ignoring her undeniable attraction to Graeme.
I really liked the writing! It’s easy to fall into Henley’s head; she’s hardworking and determined, planning for anything and everything. Her voice was strong and clear.
The other characters were great as well. Graeme is caring and thoughtful; his enmity with Henley mostly stems out of miscommunications or unknown circumstances. Her sister, Walsh, joins them on the cruise, and I really liked seeing her relationship with Henley grow since they’ve fallen out of contact lately. Henley also has two best friends at her workplace, and they are incredibly supportive.
The romance was so good; I will say that the hate is mostly one-sided on Henley’s part though. Again, her irritation with him mostly occurs because they’ve never met in person: Graeme works remotely in another state, so they’ve only communicated though email or phone calls. I wouldn’t say there’s miscommunication necessarily, more like she had preconceived notions about him based on short correspondences. Any problems she has with him is explained easily. Anyways, together, the two of them were so sweet and I loved reading about them.
When I read the summary of this book, I was a little hesitant about the fact that it takes place in the Galápagos Islands because I was scared about the tourism feeling more like voyeurism. However, it didn’t feel like that at all; rather, it leans into ecotourism in fact. I thought that was really interesting and added more depth to the story.
This book does take place on a cruise, which lent quite an atmosphere to the book. You really feel both the cramped feeling and the joyful adventure of being on a large ship in a new place. I’m not sure if I’ve read a book that takes place on a cruise honestly, so this book will definitely stand out in my memory.
I also liked that this book calls out the sexism Henley faces at her job. Although Graeme has only been working there for one year, as opposed to her three, he’s still being considered for this job. This, in part, fuels Henley’s desire to win even more.
Overall, Shipped had an adorable romance and great characters. I liked the fact that it takes place in a vacation setting; it made the story even more fun. I definitely recommend this book if you like rivals-to-lovers and/or if you are a fan of The Unhoneymooners!
About the Author: Angie Hockman is a RWA Golden Heart Award® winner. Her professional background includes stints in law, education, and eco-tourism, but these days you can find her writing romantic stories, enjoying the outdoors with her family, or dreaming of her next travel adventure. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, young son, two cats, and one ornery golden retriever.