Author: Angie Hockman
Source: ARC from the publisher
Release Date: January 19, 2021
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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?
I had the hugest smile on my face when I finished Shipped – I was looking for a romance novel that would make me laugh, forget about being sick (again), and of course, I wanted a very satisfying romance. Shipped is all this and more.
Shipped opens with us readers learning that the heroine, Henley, is in line for a promotion at work. Henley loves her job as a marketing manager, is absolutely career driven, and it’s almost a no brainer that she will get the promotion… that is until we learn that her nemesis (and also the hero) Graeme is a candidate for the same promotion. Henley is annoyed because Graeme, the company’s social media manager, has only been working for their company for a year, and she feels that he isn’t qualified to be a director. Now comes the clincher – their boss decides that before he decides who gets the promotion, both Henley and Graeme must go on one of their company’s cruises to the Galápagos Island, and then prepare presentations based on their experiences. Henley is understandably not thrilled to spend so much time with Graeme, and as soon as they both board the ship, the competition is on.
Early on, it was obvious to me that there’s more than meets the eye about Henley and Graeme’s rivalry. We learn what Graeme did that made Henley detest him, but that same behavior isn’t present during their interactions aboard the cruise ship. Graeme looked out for Henley when she got sea sick, and he’s always inviting her to explore the island together. Sure, Graeme is clearly interested and working hard to get the promotion, but he doesn’t do anything to sabotage Henley and her preparations. Henley sees a different Graeme than what she’s used to from their email and phone conversations, and she’s unsure what to do about it. It’s also obvious that Graeme feels… something for Henley, but she’s not aware, and is instead focused on trying to hate him. A running theme of Shipped is how first impressions aren’t always accurate, and like Henley, I enjoyed being wrong about my first impression. Henley decided that she hated Graeme based on her first impression, but she slowly learns that the way she feels about Graeme is slowly evolving.
Henley is a very relatable character, and during my early to mid twenties, I was exactly just like her. Work was my life, I was obsessed to get promoted, and everything else didn’t matter. Everything else, even her relationship with her sister, Walsh, was a far away second place. When Walsh showed up at Henley’s workplace out of the blue, Henley doesn’t stop and pause to figure out what’s wrong. Instead, she focuses on how much of a distraction Walsh is. Henley is also so laser-focused on her career, that she doesn’t notice how her boss treats her. I enjoyed seeing Henley start to notice everything else around her, and her realizing that her world doesn’t have to revolve around her work all the time.
It was also a lot of fun to see Henley and Graeme’s relationship progress to something romantic. Henley starts with always assuming the worst of Graeme, and Graeme, ever so patient, just continues to do whatever he can for Henley. Graeme was intentionally written as a mysterious character in the beginning, and it was so satisfying to see his layers peeled off, as he starts to open up to Henley. Graeme is always so supportive of Henley and her career – even if Henley succeeding means that he won’t get the promotion, he doesn’t care. He’s always there for her. The relationship though, very realistically, flows at different speed for both characters, and I understand why it’s so hard of Henley to let go of her preconceived notions, and wanting to get ahead on her career. Even when they butt heads, I love that Graeme is always ready to step and up and help Henley no matter what.
All in all, Shipped is such a fun and enjoyable read. Reading about Galápagos Island made me miss traveling so much, and I loved how Henley and Graeme’s many excursions were written. I really felt like I was vacationing with our main characters. I also loved every scene that featured Henley and her girlfriends and her sister banding together to achieve a common goal, and of course, Henley and Graeme’s fun banter. I definitely can’t wait to check out Angie Hockman’s next books!