Friday Reads: AFTER I DO by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’m starting a new series on the blog! I haven’t blogged about books in forever, so the hope is one per week. I’ll only be blogging about my favorites (no room for negativity here), and I’ll end with a writing prompt. Ideally I’ll post ever Friday, but life happens! So be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already, and then you can be sure to not miss out. Adult fiction, YA fiction, MG, graphic novels, picture books—I’ll cycle through them all.

Starting off, After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’d heard so much about this novel on Twitter, I had to pick it up, even if Women’s Fiction isn’t usually my bag.

First Impressions

The Title

“After I Do” is a great title. Immediately we know it’s about what happens after a wedding, rather than before, regarding a married couple.

The Cover

The color, the illustration that leans on the doodle side, the tagline—these tell me this is women’s fiction, possibly bordering on “chick lit.” The hip, handwritten typeface tells me this is a contemporary novel.

The illustration itself, with the knocked over champagne glass, tells me the celebration—the honeymoon—is over. This isn’t a romance after the wedding, this is about a broken marriage.

The Blurb

From the publisher:

From the author of Forever, Interrupted—hailed by Sarah Jio as “moving, gorgeous, and at times heart-wrenching”—comes a breathtaking new novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.

Let’s break this down.

“They decide to take a year off … anything goes.” Already I think this is a stupid idea, that if two people want to fix their marriage, they should learn how to communicate, not take a break and do whatever falls under “anything goes.” But I’m intrigued. I’m just expecting some dumb choices from the characters.

“Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery …” This tells me that this book will be an emotional journey, with plenty of introspection, and probably not much action. It also tells me that this book is primarily about Lauren, not about Lauren and Ryan.

“This is a love story about what happens when the love fades.” This is what really sold me on reading the book. It’s a love story but not a romance. I’m not a fan of romances—the tropes, the miscommunications, the lies. But I love love stories.


This is a character-driven, theme-driven novel. It’s not plot- or action-driven. So if you start reading and don’t like Lauren, or if you aren’t interested in exploring marriage from all different points of view (in the book, the opinions come from the surrounding cast of characters), then this isn’t the book for you.

I like Lauren’s voice. The tone is depressing but funny, and I really enjoy that contrast. It’s like grief. Sad one moment, funny the next.

The way Reid can characterize through her characters’ dialogue makes me excited about any future movie deals. All of the characters are three-dimensional, even if they only make cameos. Even if I didn’t agree with their opinions or decisions, I felt like they were complex, real people, and not just that, but they were all sympathetic characters. Reading is an exercise in empathy, and I think I’m a more empathetic person after reading After I Do.

I really enjoyed this book. I even marked the letters in the book to have my husband read them (don’t tell his fellow Marines he enjoyed it). It sparked a great discussion. Reading it was almost like preventative couple’s therapy. I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s married or who plans on becoming married—it’s definitely a cautionary tale.

Author Chat

Taylor Jenkins Reid talks about After I Do in this interview from USA Today.


If you like After I Do, you might like books by Emily Giffin or Amy Hatvany.

If you’d like a personalized book recommendation from Penguin Random House, check out The Penguin Hotline.

Writing Prompt

One of the plot devices this novel employs involves letters written between characters. Choose two people at odds with each other, whether fictional or real, and have one write a letter to the other. Let the writer assume that the reader will never receive the letter, so he or she can be completely honest and uncensored.

#CPPitch—Choose your Top 5

If you entered #CPPitch before September 1st, you may choose your five top picks below. It might be a good idea to have the list open in another tab while making your list here. Remember that you can choose from any category. On September 3rd or 4th, you’ll receive an email from me with the query letter and first 250 words of their MS. Reply to that email with the names of your top 3 choices by 11:59 on September 6th.

On September 8th, I’ll email everyone with their CP matches. Depending on everyone’s top 3, you might be critiquing someone’s MS, and a different person might be critiquing yours. That isn’t to say that you can’t ask other people to be your CP! The point of CPPitch is to give you a sampler before you pick a CP, and also to make sure that as many people as possible get a critique partner.

All CPPitch-ers have been matched! Thank you for participating.

#CPPitch List


Here’s your list of fellow “single” writers searching for a CP! These will be arranged alphabetically by first name on the 22nd and every two days following. That way, if you come check the list again in two days, you can see who was recently added.

Want to enter? Find the Rules and Entry Form here.

Entries are closed! Thanks to all who participated!

Bold entries below are ones selected for an edit of their query and first chapter.

Comp Titles

Does one of these pitches remind you of another book or author? Tweet the author to let him/her know. I know how difficult it can be to find comp titles to put in my own query! Remember, the best Comp Titles tend to be less than 5 years old or were debut novels.

Spread the word

The more the merrier! Consider mentioning #CPPitch to your friends on social media or by email to get them involved.

New entries are marked with an asterisk. More entries will be posted on the 28th.


To protect the kingdom he’s sworn to serve, Morgan McRobbie must become its worst enemy.
Keith Willis‘s TRAITOR KNIGHT, adult, 124K

In the 12th century, time-traveling musicians must save their kidnapped sister from almost certain marriage.
Lara Willard‘s ROBIN EVANS AND THE WORLD SONG, adult, 65K

One girl’s magic makes her an outlaw from her own people, and she must join with those who burned her home in order to save herself. (Note: MC is a teen, but there are multiple POVs)
Mary W. Jensen‘s FEY MOON, adult, 98K

A gangster in a heathen port city learns that he’s becoming a god, only to find out that they die too.
Justin D. Herd‘s OF GODS AND MADNESS: THE FAITHFUL, adult, 85K

Fantasy Romance

When twenty-year-old Aidelle smashes a timepiece as her fiancé leaves her, sealing herself in a timeless reality, she must cross the volatile ‘timestreams’ to rewrite their argument or be erased from existence.
Alexandrina Brant‘s WHEN THE CLOCK BROKE, adult, 80K

A slave and a prince work together to catch a murderer and find themselves falling (illegally) in love along the way.
Melanie DeWitt‘s DUSTRIEL’S BLESSING, adult, 74K

In Mithos, where True Love is the strongest form of black magic, Martia must make a choice—kill her other half or submit to their wild new power.
Tiffanie Lynn‘s THE SINNER ROSE, adult, 90K

Beta tried to forget the alien freaks that took her. But they aren’t having that. To survive she needs to remember what they did to her—fast, or risk everything she loves.
Colleen Myers‘s CAN’T FORGET, new adult, 65K

Historical Fiction or Historical Romance

Forgotten silent film star Hester Carmella chronicles her rise to fame in 1920s Hollywood, her career given an unexpected boost when her sister is brutally attacked by the future Black Dahlia killer.

The tangled love story of a tortured hero who must choose between letting go of the pain of his past, and the love of a woman he tried so hard to hate. WWI Europe.
Sarah Bailey‘s ALONG CAME RUTH, adult, 71K

A family sacrifices everything, including each other, in order to build the Brooklyn Bridge.
Tracey Wood‘s A BRIDGE BETWEEN US, adult, 78K

Treating his invention of a time machine like a superpower, Horatio becomes The Forever Man and returns to Belfast of 1909 to prevent the Titanic disaster—before the ship even sets sail.

Romantic Comedy Crime Solvers & Fighters

Texan Colt Ryder uncovers a cryptic letter in Dublin Castle and the hunt for the Irish Crown Jewels is on!
Anne Lipton‘s THE EMERALD EYE, adult, 76K

Single mom/artist/house-cleaner Jules must uncover how her deeply unpopular boss Ray ended up in a tote filled with bloody fish and slush, hopefully without ending up in a fish tote herself, a challenge for someone with her testy disposition and abrasive personality.
Diane Carley‘s THE PROBLEM WITH RAY, adult, 73K

Other Genres, Either Funny or Romantic

When Diggs, a physically unfit graphic artist, unwittingly signs himself up to run a half marathon, it pits him not only to accomplish the training and finish the race, but to save his town from extinction.
Alden Gilroy‘s NA Contemporary LOOK HOW FAR YOU’VE COME, 79K

Every book has a story to tell, separate from the one written on its pages.
Ashley Brannan‘s Adult Contemporary (w/ paranormal elements) SILVERTHORNE AND BLOOM USED BOOKS, 80K

Monsters versus Mobsters versus Monsters in 1929 New England.
D.R. Perry‘s Historical Paranormal THE CHANGED, NA, 74K

Fresh from a breakup, Michelle Fortes moves to France to heal her broken heart with cheese and wine, but instead finds culture shock, medical mysteries, and her wildest fantasies come true in Alexandre.
Elle Marr‘s Romantic Mystery HEARTS IN ROUEN, NA, 76K

A duffel bag of money found under the floorboards of a double-wide trailer funds Mara’s fresh start, but when her past and her present begin to overlap, Mara is forced to face the lies she’s been telling and the dangerous man that’s hunting her down.
Jillian B. Paige‘s Contemporary Romance THE LAST BITTER WORD, NA, 61K

While hoping to find a cure for a sexually-transmitted disease, Scarlett, a university student, has to avoid becoming sexual prey to a professor. A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.
Jo Wu‘s Steampunk Fantasy PLAYING PREDATOR, NA, 85K

An angel-museum curator is drawn into the secret world of a real winged warrior she is forbidden to desire.
Kimberly Cooper‘s Paranormal Romance THE SKYRIDERS: RISE OF THE SUNBIRD, adult, 80K

Astrid just had the best day of her life with Theo, the man of her dreams, but a day later she has completely forgotten him.
Margarita Montimore’s Upmarket Contemporary AWAKE AND ASTRAY, NA, 91K

Jody’s grandmother burns her own house down with Gramps still inside, and Jody must decide whether her loyalty lies with Gram or with the deceased Gramps.
Gabby Gilliam‘s Women’s Fiction THE FARMER’S WIFE, Adult, 67K

Ivy knows that she could have avoided the whole scene, shown Adam the door and then quietly and consistently stalked him like good girls do, but quiet desperation just ain’t her style.
Jessica Boothe Frye‘s Contemporary Romance SOME GIRLS DO, NA, 67K

Twenty-five-year-old doctor in love with her shy, stuttering best friend must overcome her mother’s disdain and his insecurities to live happily-ever-after.
Shaya Roy‘s Contemporary Romance WWW.PERFECTMATCH.COM, Adult, 82K

LIFE AFTER REDBY is a magical romp through the mind of a deranged ex-soldier reliving her survival in Zombie Hell.
Kaitlin Caul‘s Thriller LIFE AFTER REDBY, Adult, 74000

Professional demon-hunter Lazarus will take on any challenge, certain that anything he can’t punch through, his beloved boss can guide him around—but this time, his deadliest enemy is the one inside his own mind.
Melanie Weisberg‘s Urban Fantasy CHAINBREAKER, Adult, 115,500

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#CPPitch—a Critique Partner Mixer


Have you written (or are you writing) an adult or new adult novel?*

Do you want a critique partner to work with and improve BOTH of your novels?

Is your novel between 60,000–120,000 words?**

*For the case of this mixer, any novel with a main character 18 or older, or a novel with a young protagonist but adult themes (like The Ocean at the End of the Lane) in the genres listed below will be eligible. A “New Adult” novel has a protagonist between 18-25 and concerns itself with the transition into adult life: starting a new career, navigating college, or engaging in a serious relationship.

Young adult, middle grade, or other children’s books are not included in this mixer. However, if you decide to organize your own, I will link to your information!

**If your novel is not yet finished, you can still participate if you have written at least 60,000 words in this novel. You will need to critique your partner’s work first, and he/she should not critique yours until you are finished and have edited it yourself. If you have written more than 120,000 words, you can’t expect your CP to read more than that. My advice? Cut the fat, then have your CP read your novel. Otherwise find a CP with a longer word count also.


Since I’m running this shebang, I’m picking my own genres to include. If you write straight-up romance or mystery, you can easily find critique groups online. If you wrote erotica, please organize your own CP mixer! 

Is your novel one of the following genres?

  • Fantasy
  • Fantasy + Romance
  • Historical Fiction (also Historical Romance)
  • Romantic Comedy Crime Solving / Crime Fighting (Yes, I am that specific. Think Stephanie Plum novels, The Thin Man, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, or the TV shows Castle and Veronica Mars)
  • Other (Other genres like mystery, thriller, contemporary, or literary MUST include a generous helping of either comedy or romance. Erotica is not accepted.)
  • Time Travel (I can include this under Historical Fiction or Fantasy—whichever you think will be the best fit. For Science Fiction that is not time travel, it must include either romance or comedy, and it will be listed in the “other” category.)

These are how I’ll arrange your pitches. If you wrote a time travel novel, for example, decide which category has the most family resemblance. If you wrote a funny mystery or a romantic thriller, those would go in the “other” category.

I’m going to pick one pitch from each category and give that person a free line-edit of their first ten pages!

What I will not accept

Do not enter this mixer if:

  • …your pitch/query/first 250 has words in it that will trigger my safe search or result in my getting spam emails for penile enhancement
  • …your novel is erotica, a novel about a person’s sexual journey. If the O is more important than the connection made during a sex scene, then it’s too erotic for this mixer.
  • …the romance contains infidelity
  • …the film version of your novel would garner a NC-17 rating, either for gore or sex

This mixer is for fantasy, Historical fiction, and genre fiction with romance. One or two sex scenes is fine! Rated-R sexiness is fine! If you wrote a different genre but your novel is funny, enter it into the “other” category.

Again, if you organize a mixer for other genres, let me know in the comments and I will link to your information. 

How to enter

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your name
  • Your Twitter username (if you want people to connect with you)
  • Your email (this is how I will communicate with you. It will NOT be released to anyone else without your permission)
  • Your novel’s title
  • Age category
  • Genre (see above)
  • Word count
  • A one-sentence pitch (If your protagonist is in college or is younger, include that in your pitch)
  • Your query letter (Just the main pitch, not your bio or any salutations)
  • The first 250 words of your novel (250 words MAX. Stop mid-sentence or go under.)

You have until August 31st at 11:59 pm EST to enter. 

I will post your name, Twitter handle, word count, age category, genre, and one-sentence pitch in a new post on September 2nd. Entrants will be organized by genre, not age category.

See the current list here! Check back September 1st to see the final list.

If you write several one-sentence pitches and don’t know which one to enter, tweet them with hashtag #CPPitch, ask your friends to vote, and see which has the most favorites.

Add other authors and follow them on Twitter!

September 1st and 2nd

Pick 5 stories you think you’d like to read, at least 2 from your category. (That’s right! If you wrote a fantasy, that doesn’t mean you can’t pick a funny mystery to read!) I will publish a form on the 1st which you will use to submit your list to me.

September 3rd and 4th

I will mark any entrants that got chosen to be #PitchWars mentees. Congrats to them! But they can’t participate in #CPPitch. Then I’ll email each of you the query and first 250 words from each of your top 5.

(If there are more than 100 entrants, I am NOT going to email everyone. See disclaimer below.)

September 5th and 6th

Narrow down your top 5 to just 3. Email me back with your choice by 11:59 on September 6th.

September 7th

Wait patiently while I play matchmaker. Do not email me on any other subject, please. If you have questions, ask on Twitter. I will not respond to other emails at this time.

September 8th

Continue to wait patiently until you receive an email from me with the name of your critique partner(s).


I have no idea how the turnout for this mixer will be. I will sort up to 100 entrants, starting with Fantasy and working my way down. If more than 100 enter, then I’ll still list the entrants and pitches for the remaining categories, but y’all will have to choose CPs amongst yourselves.

Final words:

Of course, you can ask other members if they will critique your work, but no one is obligated to work with anyone else. Besides, you want a CP that will enjoy your story, right?

I recommend exchanging one to three chapters at a time. If it turns out one of your CPs isn’t contributing, you don’t have to give them feedback. Then you don’t critique 50 pages for someone that only critiques 2 for you in return.

Remember, be cordial to each other. Be professional. Set reasonable deadlines, but be understanding if something comes up. And be honest if something comes up for you that will keep you from contributing.

Above all, be an easy person to work with.

Submissions are now closed. Thank you to everyone who participated!

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