The Theory of Happily Ever After

The Theory of Happily Ever After

by Kristin Billerbeck

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780800729448
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 815,687
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Kristin Billerbeck is the author of more than 30 novels, including What a Girl Wants and the Ashley Stockingdale and Spa Girls series. She is a fourth-generation Californian who loves her state and the writing fodder it provides. Learn more at www.KristinBillerbeck.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

A harsh reality is better than a false fantasy. Life is not a fairy tale.

The Science of Bliss by Dr. Margaret K. Maguire

Life is filled with irony. I mean, I wrote the book on bliss, and currently I am the most miserable person I know. Probably I'd be the most miserable person you know as well. Which is why I have been perfectly content to hole up in my tiny apartment for the past two months and binge-watch romance movies while simultaneously gorging on eggnog ice cream. There's the science of happiness, and then there's reality.

Unlike life, heartwarming television movies never let you down, and there is no unexpected twist in which the heroine looks like one big cosmic punch line. The hero in a TV movie never leaves our heroine for the mean girl — the mean girl actually gets shot down. There is no crisis too great that it cannot be overcome by true love. And everyone lives happily ever after. Isn't that how life should be? Truly blissful?

"In a Hallmark movie," I say to the cat, Neon, "your ex never tells you that his new girlfriend's hobby is aerial dance or that she's a professional trapeze artist. It just wouldn't happen."

Neon raises his head and looks at me questioningly. The cat generally stays near the door across the sparsely decorated apartment. It's as if he instinctively knows my failures might be contagious. My living room has a barren, college-dorm feel, which serves as a constant reminder that I didn't make the time to buy a condo with the royalty windfall from my book, that my hard-won title of doctor hasn't translated into practical motivation. The walls are a stark white, and there's a white processed-wood TV shelf against the wall by the door, a navy rocking chair my parents handed down to me, and the white vertical blinds that came with the place. Nothing screams home. It's like a lab experiment.

I set another Diet Coke bottle on the lonely IKEA coffee table. "Well, it wouldn't," I reiterate.

Neon meows. Even the cat is annoyed with me.

I scoop up a giant spoonful of ice cream and let it touch my tongue and linger momentarily, then devour it as though I haven't seen food for weeks. For one incredible moment, I feel only unadulterated joy, and Jake Stone's epic departure is not fresh on my mind. Dirtbag.

There is nothing more fantastic than the sappy, sugary-sweet love of a television movie followed by a creamy chaser of gelato. My life's work — the scientific study of how people find joy in life — isn't proper science. I see that my research is all unfounded now. Perhaps to find the secret of happiness, I should have studied miserable people and found out what they were missing. True bliss, it seems, is found in the avoidance of ugly truths and evading reality. Reality bites.

My phone trills and Jake's handsome face lights up the device. Argh. Why does he have to look so good? This would be so much easier if he were troll-like in appearance. I debate answering. Do I really want to hear anything he has to say?

Curiosity rules out.

"Hello," I say in a clipped business tone.

"Maggie, hi. I'm so glad you answered."

Silence. Inwardly, I'm congratulating myself on my self-control because I really want to resurrect my nana's barrage of Italian swear words.

"So, I know it's awkward that I didn't invite you to the wedding, but we didn't —"

"We?" I don't know why, but the word set me off. "There's no we, Jake. There's you and this ridiculous acrobat you've decided to marry on some wild whim or early-onset midlife crisis. We would be the couple who were engaged for one year, an appropriate, reasonable length of time to plan a wedding."

"You're still mad."

"I'm angry. Dogs get mad. People get angry. You made the university question my judgment. My chances of getting to work for Dr. Hamilton are nil." Dr. Hamilton is the renowned expert in the science of happiness at NYU. He takes on very few neuroscientists, and without my university's glowing recommendation, the chances of me going anywhere have evaporated, along with my dignity.

"So it's my fault you'll never work with the esteemed Dr. Hamilton?" Jake asks. "See, Maggie, you're so miserable to be around, and you take no responsibility for your own failures. It's comments like those that make me necessary in your work. You can't be Eeyore and go preaching about the science of happiness. We'll talk to the university together when I get back. We are fantastic together. As a working couple."

"Is there a reason you called, Jake?" Besides wanting to create a reason for justifiable homicide?

"Maggie, you're a terrible speaker. You excel in your data gathering and research, but you need me to sell it. You always have. You're a scientist. Don't let your feelings cloud your judgment. If you ever want to get to NYU under Hamilton, you need me."

I pull the phone away, stare at it, and slap it back to my ear. "This is about your job?" I mean, one assumes when you dump your boss in front of the entire tenured faculty, you're going to accept that you must look elsewhere for work. Am I right?

"Think about those awkward speeches you've made on the speaker circuit. People were walking out in droves."

My TED Talk did okay without you. Half a million books sold in twenty different languages! I need you? The data tells a different story!

But I don't say any of this because some part of me — some icky, feeble part of me that I clearly need to shed along with the gelato weight — must think his version of the truth is genuine. He's rendered me a complete cliché. Kicked to the curb for a younger, hotter, more inane version of myself, and I never even saw it coming.

He doesn't stop here though. Apparently he hasn't completely destroyed me emotionally and professionally. "I'll be back from our honeymoon on the 27th. I'll see you in the lab on the 28th and we'll work on your presentation skills. Anichka is anxious to meet you. I think you'd be a great mentor to her."

Then he hangs up on me. He hangs up on me! I'm left shaking with rage, obsessing over everything I should have said.

I clamp my eyes shut and mumble some divinely inspired mantra to get his voice out of my head.

I am enough.

I am worthy of love and respect.

I choose success.

I forgive Jake as a gift to myself.

But it's no use. The murderous thoughts don't stop coming, and I'm pretty certain that my Lord Jesus along with all decent people would frown upon that. Without looking, I press the volume button on the television until the sickly-sweet movie channel, and not the positive thought mantras, quiets the phone call.

It isn't five minutes until my peace is once again shattered. My front door slams against the wall with a loud crash, and a framed photograph falls from the top of the TV. Ironically, the picture in the silver frame is of my two best friends, and they are now standing across my Kristen Billerbeck, The Theory of Happily Ever After living room by the open front door. A flash of blinding sunlight forces me to shut my eyes again, but there's no mistaking their distinctive forms. When I open my eyes the tall, muscular outline of Kathleen and the petite, girlish figure of Haley begin to take shape in shadows.

"Go away," I moan.

"Enough of this." Kathleen's bark is like a drill sergeant's. "Get up!" She's pushy like that. A personal trainer by day, she gives marching orders as if protests are not allowed. Usually Haley and I follow blindly, but not today. Today I want one more bite of gelato and to finish my movie.

As I lift the spoon toward my mouth, Kathleen yanks it away, and ice cream splatters onto the dingy brown carpet. Neon is there to lick it up.

"You're in my way," I say, trying to see the television screen. I try to watch around her, but Kathleen has a booty and fills out her yoga pants well, so I can't see around her Nicki Minaj impression.

I love my friends. They're amazing for being here and trying to rouse me from my binge-watching stupor, but I'm not ready yet. It's not time.

"I'm blocking the screen on purpose," Kathleen says, too loudly through my sugar hangover. "We've given you more than enough time to wallow. It's time to get up. Jake's moved on, and you've got no choice but to move on too."

I point at the television. "The hero just found that dog. Look how sweet. It just appeared like that, and there's no one to take care of it. He's going to take care of it because there's no one else to do it. Where are the men like him?"

"Are you crying?" Haley asks. She has the sweetest voice to match her tiny, pixie figure, and I wish I possessed an ounce of her honeyed charm. Maybe Jake would still be here. Maybe he wouldn't have been out scouting the circus talent that had come to town. "Maggie, this is insanity! This TV hero wouldn't take care of the dog if it wasn't scripted that he had to take care of the dog. Let's go."

Kathleen moves my legs onto the floor and scares the cat in the process. I do my best to ignore her, thinking she will eventually give up and leave me be. I try to explain the importance of the moment — the dog, the hero ...

"The hero is going to fall in love with the heroine because of the dog. Isn't that the sweetest thing? I mean, who doesn't love a dog?"

"You're going to get bedsores from that sofa," Haley warns, bending over me with her long strawberry-blonde hair that I've coveted since childhood. She pets Neon. "Maggie, whose cat is this?"

I shrug, but my eyes widen.

"You stole that little old lady's cat from outside, didn't you?" Kathleen's face settles into incredulous accusation.

"I didn't steal it. He meowed at me, and he wanted some attention, so I left the door open and he wandered in. There's raccoons and stuff out there. Maybe even a bobcat or two." Orange County, though in the heart of Southern California, was still very rural in places.

"There is a little old lady outside on a walker looking for that cat." Haley picks up Neon, opens the front door, and gently deposits him on the porch.

"That was mean," I tell her. I call to Neon, but he ignores me and shoots out of sight.

"Don't bother talking to her." Kathleen shakes her head and sighs. "She's gone. She stole a cat. What sane person does that?" She pulls my slippers off. "Just go get her packed. I'll force her into the shower."

"Shower?" I sit up quickly. "I don't want a shower! Oh." I zone back into the screen and try to block out the chaos around me. "Look at the dog. Who could give up a dog like that?"

"No one," Kathleen says gruffly. "That's a two-thousand-dollar dog. Only a TV movie thinks we will believe that a two-thousand-dollar designer dog is a mutt running loose in town needing to be rescued. This is fantasy, Maggie. Reality is better than fantasy. You said it yourself. Page 218." She points to my book on the shelf. "I looked it up."

"That thing," I tell Kathleen, nodding at the book. "What a bunch of Kristen Billerbeck, The Theory of Happily Ever After drivel. I can't believe people bought that book. The science is wrong. My premise was based on the falsehood that Jake was a decent man, that if you live your life right, God will reward you. The lie that there are any decent men outside of romantic heroes paid to play their part on the romance movie channel. Really, some people get Job's luck. No rhyme or reason to it."

"That drivel, as you call it, is paying your bills, and the science isn't wrong. You simply applied it incorrectly to your own life. Common scientist mistake, from what I understand. Operator error. But if your readers find out the truth of how you've been living? That money is going to dry up faster than a bottle of Evian dripped on an LA sidewalk."

I scrunch up my face. My friends have way too much energy. "You need to go. Really. I'm happy here."

"What are you eating?" Haley takes my ice cream and sniffs it. "Is this gelato?"

"Maybe."

"Do you know how many calories are in gelato?"

"I know that I don't care how many calories are in gelato. Have you ever had eggnog gelato on homemade banana bread? Because I'm here to tell you there is nothing outside of this house that compares with that kind of bliss. I have no current plans to leave this heaven that I've created."

"This heaven, as you call it, smells like soured bacon. This is no paradise. This is a precursor to a Hoarders episode. You are one movie away from a fridge full of expired meat and cat bones under a pile of old newspapers."

"Maggie," Haley says more gently, "you need to take a shower because our flight leaves in three hours." She leaves the room, and soon, to my dismay, I hear water running. I'd make a break for it, but like a linebacker poised, Kathleen is ready for me by the front door.

"Our flight?" My heart starts to pound as I realize my friends really might make me leave. I straighten my shoulders. "I can't go anywhere. I have to see how this movie ends. It premiered last night." I lean in toward Kathleen. "That means it's new."

Kathleen rolls her eyes. "It ends like they all end. The couple falls in love, they keep the dog and any orphaned, unloved children they happened to pick up along the way. Oh, and if there's a real Santa in the mix? He will mysteriously disappear on Christmas Eve. The end. Let's go."

"Fun sucker."

Haley comes back in the room. "Come get in the shower. We really have to get moving, Maggie. What should I pack for her?" she asks Kathleen.

"She needs at least a couple of suits and one fun, sexy dress." Kathleen laughs. "We both know she doesn't have one of those. Just get her fanciest dress. I'm sure she wore something to one of her nerd events. Oh, and find her some shorts if she has any."

My jaw drops. "Really?" At the same time, Kathleen's totally right. The last dress I wore was for the global summit on happiness science. "Sexy is all about intellect. The brain is the sexiest part of the body."

"Sure it is, Maggie. That's why the men are lined up outside the science departments trolling for hot chicks."

"I'm not going anywhere." I burrow into my sofa and flop the throw blanket over my feet.

"We're going to have fun if it kills you!" Haley claps her hands together like she's playing a princess at Disneyland. "It's a 'New Year, New You' cruise."

"For singles," Kathleen adds.

"A singles' cruise? Ugh. It's even worse than I thought. You expect me to go from bingeing on romance to a singles' cruise with no warning?"

My friends are wonderfully devoted, but this time they're expecting far too much from me. It's not just the breakup. It's the reality that all of my work may be completely inaccurate. My unrelenting pursuit to the secret of life — and happiness — has been fruitless, and I've been walking in a great scholarly circle.

"We are going to have a blast," Haley sings in her typical cheerleader voice. "You've been a hermit long enough, and it's time to move forward." She twists a red tendril around her finger and stares at me. "Jake is moving forward," she says softly.

"Well," Kathleen says, "technically Jake moved forward before they broke up, but that's another story. It's no reflection on you, Maggie."

"But it sort of is, isn't it? I mean, he's getting married this weekend and has managed to convince my entire department that he's the resident expert." I stuff another shameful spoonful of ice cream into my mouth.

"They'll see through him eventually, but you've got to fight, Maggie. You can't just let him win." Haley puts her hand on my shoulder. "That's not the Maggie we know."

He already has won. He's happy and I'm miserable. Doesn't take much data to figure that one out.

"His joke of a wedding," Kathleen says, "is the reason we're not going to be anywhere near this town this weekend. You're not going to be near a cell phone, a computer — anything that allows you to stalk him on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or any other form of social media. Our queen of effervescent bliss will return home triumphantly, and we are here to make sure we have a front row seat for it. Living well is the best revenge, and this" — Kathleen waves a judgmental hand around the room — "is not living well."

I seriously love how my friends believe in me and my hackneyed science that probably has a million statistics wrong with it, and they still love me. Logically, I know that a guy who would drop me for someone barely out of her teenage years who hangs on silk scarves and twirls, deserves her. I don't think she deserves him, but that's hardly my problem. I need my heart to catch up with my head, that's all. So far the only remedy — which I could probably not prove scientifically — is more fattening desserts and sugar-coated dialogue. If someone must investigate the science of gelato and romantic movies, I volunteer as tribute.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Theory of Happily Ever After"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Kristin Billerbeck.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Theory of Happily Ever After 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
RuthieJonesTX More than 1 year ago
The main character, Dr. Maggie Maguire, in The Theory of Happily Ever After is a complete mess. But all is not lost for this scientist and best-selling author on the science of happiness. Unfortunately, before she can find her true happiness, she must experience complete despair and heartbreak. While Maggie is an annoying mess for a large portion of the book, her character is a little too relatable for comfort. I must admit that I am the first to bury my head in the sand and hope that trouble will mysteriously and effortlessly disappear. News Flash: it usually doesn't, as Maggie finds out. The singles cruise that Maggie's friends, Kathleen and Haley, drag her on is an interesting touch and provides the main backdrop for the overall story. Can true happiness be found in a fabricated happy environment in only a few days? Read The Theory of Happily Ever After to find out for yourself. But don't be surprised if not everything goes as you expect or predict. While Maggie's caustic attitude toward pretty much everyone is aggravating, the reasons for her meltdown and subsequent bad attitude are anything but predictable. What I like most about this story is that it is a humorous reminder that still waters run deep. We don't always know what's going on in people's heads, especially those we think we know so well. The writing style is interesting as it is heavily laden with Maggie's internal ruminations. We spend a lot of time in Maggie's head, so maybe that is why I wanted her to snap out of it already. Dr. Maggie Maguire is the perfect example of the perils of over thinking, over analyzing, and over criticizing. The good news is that happily ever after is alive and well, but the path getting there is often filled with pitfalls and second guesses. I thoroughly enjoyed the little 'excerpts' from Dr. Maguire's book, The Science of Bliss, because they provide thought-provoking, scientific tidbits of advice on happiness. But can we extract the secret to happiness using cold, hard scientific facts? Isn't love unpredictable and blind and messy and typically non-compliant with our expectations? For Maggie and probably most us, the answer would be a resounding Yes, but that doesn't mean we can't set the stage to let happiness naturally flow into our lives. Maggie's friends have the best intentions, but I have to say that their constant pushing and prodding to get Maggie back on track annoyed me to no end. Let's talk about romance. Maggie has been dumped, almost at the alter. We find that out right away. Who doesn't lament the loss of the fairy tale? On that note, two incredibly attractive men are aboard the same singles cruise as Maggie and her friends, setting the scene for romance, jealousy, explosions, excitement, and, ultimately, Maggie's revelation that happiness has been hers for the taking all along. It's not tagged as such, but The Theory of Happily Ever After has a Christian influence, but it's not overly preachy. The Christian aspect fits smoothly with the characters and the overall concept of finding happiness.
StoreyBookReviews More than 1 year ago
What in life makes you happy? There are many possibilities but only you can know what works for you. Maggie is having a hard time figuring out what makes her happy and if you look deeper into her history/childhood you will understand why she has such issues. I'm amazed she is as stable as she is considering she lost a sister and her parents' personalities appeared to have done a 180 when they lost their other daughter. While it is understandable, I can't imagine growing up in that sort of family. Maggie's behavior/thoughts are hard to take because she is one hot mess, but when you realize that this story takes place over a week,it is a little easier to understand and accept because you can't have a complete turn around in just a few days, or at least not the kind that Maggie needs especially after wallowing for two months in her apartment with the Hallmark Channel and gelato! Maggie's two best friends, Haley and Kathleen, are interesting characters and add a dynamic to this story. Haley does become unlikable later in the book all because of a man. I had a hard time with Haley's attitude and was surprised that Maggie tolerated it at all. I appreciated some of Maggie's observations about Haley, that perhaps she was spoiled because no one ever told her no because it helped make sense of Haley's actions and comments. Kathleen is a hoot and apparently an adrenaline junkie. I admired that spunk and she rounded out the trio of friends nicely. The story would not be complete without a couple of hunky men. Brent the bartender from Texas teaching a mixology class on the cruise, and Sam, the man that doesn't think intelligent women can be happy. Let's just say that statement doesn't bode well for his happiness. But there is more to his story and he is immediately taken with Maggie. Because of his misstep at the beginning of the cruise and Maggie's insecurities, it takes quite some time before they are on the same page. But the road to that place was interesting between Maggie's desire to prove him wrong (she is a scientist after all) and Sam's desire to get on her good side. I wasn't sure whether I should root for Brent or Sam to end up with Maggie. Brent was great for the impulsive and daring side that I think Maggie wanted to have, but Sam was more grounded and has similar beliefs to Maggie. There is a little bit of suspense too when it comes to the ex-fiance, Jake, and some of his actions back home. The one conversation that happens between Jake and Maggie explains a lot of Maggie's insecurities. There are some twists regarding Jake but you'll have to read the book to find out those details. Overall this story has some laugh out loud moments, along with some thoughtful lines that gave me additional insight into all of the characters.
Fitzysmom More than 1 year ago
Kristin Billerbeck is an author that you can count on for a lighthearted story that also contains a fair amount of depth. Her stories are the perfect accompaniment to a lazy afternoon and a cold glass of iced tea. The Theory of Happily Ever After is both funny and sad. I know funny and sad don't seem to go together but in this case they do. The opening scene finds Dr. Maggie Maguire drowning her sorrows in way too much ice cream and Hallmark Channel movies. She's just been dumped by her fiancé in a very humiliating way. To add insult to injury she's written a best-selling book on happiness and she's anything but. Maggie's two best friends, Haley and Kathleen, have decided she needs an intervention. But their idea of an intervention isn't what a normal person would expect. Haley also functions as Maggie's publicist so she booked them all on a singles cruise to promote Maggie's new book. Her rational is that it gets Maggie back on her feet and also helps book sales. To say that Maggie is less than enthusiastic is an understatement. Did I mention that her friends were well meaning? They are, but a singles cruise is probably not the best idea for a recently dumped girl. The cruise is anything but smooth sailing for Maggie. One mess after another seems to follow her. But in the midst of the mess is Sam Wellington. At first he appears to be just another irritant but before long he becomes the balm that Maggie's hurting soul needs. As Maggie and Sam's relationship deepens so does the story. At first I wasn't sure that I was going to like this book but the farther I got into it the more I liked it. There was a vulnerability to both Sam and Maggie that was easy to relate to. If contemporary romance is your genre of choice I would definitely recommend this book. It's a light read but not loaded with fluff. I think you'll enjoy the characters and sympathize with the crazy situation. Treat yourself and go pick it up! I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
Pattistep More than 1 year ago
This is a funny, entertaining Christian “chick lit” book. It’s fun following Maggie through the story as she makes one well-intentioned mistake after another. It was a great book to read during a long weekend when I wanted something lighter yet still well-written. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Mylittlebirdie More than 1 year ago
The premise of this book is promising: girl gets dumped, goes on a cruise with friends, and meets the right guy. While this book covers those plot points, it doesn't do it in a way that's endearing. The main character, Maggie, is supposed to be very cerebral, but she comes across as a wishy-washy hot mess. She goes back and forth so many times on her feelings for Sam that it's frustrating, and I can't empathize with that level of indecision. Her interactions with him are confusing, and they spend more time arguing and debating than falling in love. Her two best friends are supposed to be her support, but Maggie spends more time resenting them than bonding with them, and I can understand why. They're not likable, and her friend Haley in particular is just rude. She continues to pursue Sam even after she sees him kissing Maggie. Seriously, what kind of friend is that?! From what I understand, this book is supposed to be Christian fiction, but the faith element is weak, and Maggie is quick to use derogatory names for people that she doesn't like. I admit that we probably all do that sometimes, but it just threw me off a little to find it in this book. This was my first book by Kristin Billerbeck. I'll probably read some of her other books to see if they are more enjoyable. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Melissa Andres More than 1 year ago
What a fun summer read! The setting of a cruise ship makes you feel like you're on vacation. I really enjoyed Maggie, the main character, and her quirky personality. Not just a self-help guru, but a happiness scientist, which means she's super smart; just insecure in her genius. It was fun to follow along on her self-awareness journey in realizing she doesn't have to be perfect to be loved, she doesn't have to try to make everyone happy, and she's beautiful just the way she is. The chemistry between Maggie and Sam is absolutely delicious! Reading about their time together just left me wanting more. The only negative I found was in Maggie's two best friends, Kathleen and Haley. Both of their personalities are strong and pushy. I'm not sure if this book will be a series, but I felt like both of them need a story of their own just so they can learn some serious life lessons. It was obvious that they both love their friend, but they were very pushy in what they thought Maggie should be doing with her time and career. I was glad to see Maggie stand up for herself to these two. All in all, I really enjoyed The Theory of Happily Ever After and look forward to reading more from Kristin Billerbeck as this was my first book from her.
jebsweetpea More than 1 year ago
What it's about: Dr. Maggie Maguire is all about happiness. That's her job. Researching and publishing the science behind happiness. But happiness is far from Maggie's life as her fiancé broke off the wedding and she finds herself enjoying happiness with a pint of ice cream and Hallmark movies. That is until her friends intervene and practically push her on to a singles cruise. Maggie has to learn what true happiness is the hard way - not in things, but in who she is made to be. Thanks to a perfect stranger who raises her defenses, she finds out what true happiness is...not in science, but in the heart. What I thought: This was a great feel-good story about the journey of Maggie Maguire and her heart. There was a lot of soul searching, a lot of making mistakes and learning from them. Kristin did a great job in telling Maggie's story. The humor sprinkled throughout and the internal conversations the character had with herself made this book realty. How many times have I had conversations with myself? All the time. That's what I liked about this book. It seemed like the main character kept going back and forth in her thoughts, but that's how people are. Throw in a lot of laughter and learning from mistakes and that's this book. Would you like it? If you enjoy a good laugh, a light read and a feel-good story-line, this book is for you. For a rainy day or a sunny day on the beach, pick up this book as it'll make your heart feel good (and give you reassurance that you're not the only one who has conversations with yourself). And if you base a book by the cover, this one is eye catching and I'd pick it up based not the cover. Reveal Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.
MinaRRaulston More than 1 year ago
I almost didn’t finish this book. I order a lot of books, so I couldn’t remember what this was when I first received it. I thought it might be a nonfiction book on marriage. When I read the first few chapters, all I saw was a book that was silly and frivolous. But, I persevered and discovered that this was a novel, a comedic novel on romance. As I read through it I realized that the author had written a somewhat bizarre novel that was more of a caricature of people going through the trials and tribulations of romantic encounters. I can’t imagine anyone that I know going through these experiences. I don’t want to give a spoiler of the actual events, but let’s just say that some of the experiences in this book are at the extremes of the imagination. It is a well-written book, but the comedy is what I would describe as “zany”, which is I’m certain was the author’s intent given the cover art and her other books. Kristen Billerbeck writes zany well, even if this type of story is not exactly my cup of tea.
ARS8 More than 1 year ago
The Theory of Happily Ever After was such a fun cute book to read. The concept that the study of happiness is a science and the whole background of being on the singles cruise ship was just a different and enjoyable setting. Dr. Maggie Maguire is the star of the science of happiness except, she is not happy and hasn’t been for some time. She was supposed to get married, but her fiancé has left her and is marrying someone else. So not only her life but her career hinges on her writing and studying the science of happiness. Maggie is depressed and has two favorite forms of escapism. In steps her two best friends to help and off on a cruise she goes where she is the main speaker. While trying to salvage her career and life she meets a couple of different men. One was a very happy go lucky guy, Brent, and then there was Sam, who put me in the mind of a modern day Mr. Darcy. Lots of chaos ensues and if you are looking for a rom-com with heart this would fit that bill. This story made me laugh in many places and made me sigh with how romantic it was. This was a very enjoyable story. I received a complimentary copy of this novel. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
bellesmoma16 More than 1 year ago
The Theory of Happily Ever After (2018) by Kristin Billerbeck is a standalone Contemporary Christian Romance. This book comes in all forms including eBook, and is 288 pages in length. With a full-time job and a very busy six-year old at home, this novel took me two days to read. I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from Revell Publishing via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my opinion of the story. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give The Theory of Happily Ever After 3.5 STARS. I am a bit torn with this book. On the one hand, I really love the concept — a happiness MD who is miserable. I mean, that screams hilarity. And, I absolutely love Maggie, the main character. I think she behaves EXACTLY like a person in her position would behave. She endeared herself to me almost immediately. I have been where Maggie is emotionally, so I completely get the sense of loss and exhaustion and depression that she experiences throughout this book. I get that desire to want to do something for yourself instead of doing what is expected of you. BUT, I do not like Maggie’s “best friend”, Haley, and Maggie’s mother. I actually had to put the book down to get away from those characters a couple of times. I also struggled some with the first-person narration. To me, it felt like Maggie is unreliable at times, and I don’t know if that was done on purpose or not. Overall, The Theory of Happily Ever After is an enjoyable book, it just had two aspects that I struggled with. I do recommend this novel. It’s engaging and fast-paced, and there are some really hilarious moments that had me laughing out loud. And, I could relate to a lot of what Maggie goes through and how she deals with it. If you are looking for a contemporary novel that’s quick, easy-to-read, and hilarious at times, check out The Theory of Happily Ever After. To see the full review, go to: https://christianfictiongirl.blog.
Mocha-with-Linda More than 1 year ago
Kristin Billerbeck is known for her chick lit romantic comedies and I've enjoyed several of them. The Theory of Happily Ever After contains plenty of humorous moments and witty banter, making it a light beach read. I definitely felt my age as I read because some of Maggie's actions, as well as those of her friends, rather annoyed me. For someone with a doctorate, Maggie struck me as rather immature, and some of the situations were a bit over the top. Single women in their twenties will likely love this book, however, and that is the target audience for this novel. I did enjoy Sam Wellington's portrayal. In fact, he was my favorite personality in the entire story. His sterling character and his ability to challenge Maggie to look deeper into her theories--as well as her heart--is a delightful twist and adds a bit of depth to this light-hearted tale.Check out the other reviews and add this to youer suumer reading list. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Baker/Revell. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
gatorade635 More than 1 year ago
Pretty much the only other books I’ve read by this author, were her Perfectly Misunderstood series, but this book sounded cute and fun so I jumped at the chance to read it! There was witty banter, hysterical (minor) misfortunes, and entertaining relationships. I was laughing out loud quite often while reading! Maggie was quite the amusing heroine. She’d been dealt a bit of a blow and it was fun to watch as she overcame it and discovered who she really was. There were blunders along the way (that were really funny) but she emerged from it all stronger. I liked Sam a lot too! It takes a little while to really figure him out (because Maggie has trouble doing the same) but under his, occasionally less than tactful, exterior is a really great guy who wants to help others. Maggie’s friends alternately amused and annoyed me but in the end they just wanted what was best for their friend. In short I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it makes for the perfect summer read! So if you’re looking for a book to make you smile while you’re getting some sun this summer, look no further! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kristin Billerbeck's writing is snappy, snarky, filled with humor and a fun release from the worries and woes of the day. I love escaping into her novels!
JuneMJ More than 1 year ago
This book is advertised as a romantic comedy. The setting is a singles' cruise called, 'New Year, New You'. The main character, Dr. Maggie Maguire, is a research scientist working at UCLA. She is known as a happiness expert after her first book on the subject became a bestseller. At the beginning of the story her close friends, Haley and Kathleen, seize control of Maggie and whisk her away to the cruise because she has completely withdrawn from her professional and personal life after her fiance broke off their engagement two months ago to marry another woman. Haley, Maggie's publicist, has booked them on the cruise so that Dr. Maguire can present talks to the cruise guests about happiness. I thought it was clever how the author wrote chapter headings featuring quotations from the main character's bestselling book, 'The Science of Bliss'. Maggie's ex-fiance, Jake Stone, was well-framed as a villain by the author. He was whiny, dependent, and manipulative. Towards the end of the story an explanation is given for all of Jake's awful behavior. I have read dozens of book by Baker Publishing Group, one of the top Christian publishers in the United States. This particular novel did not have the strong faith element which is the usual focus of Baker's books. Maggie lies--a lot. She calls it "lying by omission" when she discusses her untruths with her friends. I felt Maggie's best friends, Haley and Kathleen, overfunctioned throughout the book. The way the three women interacted with and treated each other seemed odd to me. Perhaps some readers would consider their snarky dialogue to be humorous. I kept thinking, why would you want to be friends with people you treated with such disdain and vice versa? There were a lot of twists and turns in the plot and several unexpected revelations popped up at the end of the story which appealed to the mystery fan in me. Disclosure from reviewer: I received a paperback copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review to be posted on my blog and on retailer sites and Goodreads. I received no compensation for my review or posts here or on any other site. ############
Bringingupbooks More than 1 year ago
I was drawn to this book by the cute cover and it’s light and funny tone. I have been trying to branch out and try more “new to me” authors and this is my first Kristen Billerbeck novel. I love funny one liners, references to modern day pop culture, and the promise of romance in a book. I thought this book was cute, but I had trouble connecting with the characters. I thought the dialogue was funny and entertaining for the first half of the book. However, I found Maggie to be very had to relate to. Maggie came across as very negative, sometimes rude, and she seemed to be judging her self worth by her failed relationship. Obviously these obstacles provide a lot of opportunity for character growth throughout a story, however Maggie was hard to like, and therefore hard to root for. I thought the concept of the book was fun and I enjoyed the atmosphere that the cruise ship provided, it was a nice change of pace from the books I usually read. Humor, fun in the sun and a bit of romance are the selling points of this book. Fans of rom-com novels will likely enjoy this latest release from Kristen Billerbeck.
Christianfictionandmore More than 1 year ago
My favorite part of this book is the quotes at the beginning of each chapter from the book Science of Bliss written by our fictional main character, Dr. Margaret K. Maguire, a scientist who studies happiness. It is surprising that someone who had personally experienced so little happiness could possess so much knowledge of it. From childhood Margaret, who goes by Maggie, had worked to please her parents, to keep them happy. This resulted in very little true happiness for her, and landed, her caught in an engagement with a man who made her feel unworthy and whom she desperately tried to make happy, well at least until he broke their engagement to marry an aerial dancer/trapeze artist. Whisked away from a two-month Hallmark movie and gelato binge and onto a singles cruise by her two best friends, who neglected to mention that she would be required to give a talk on happiness to a ship full of happiness seekers, Maggie is on a search of her own to discover personal happiness. What could go wrong? You will have to read The Theory of Happily Ever After to find out. Kristn Billerbeck deals with serious issues in a lighthearted manner without making light of them. I will admit that as a sixty-year-old grandmother who has been happily married for almost forty years, I may not be in the best demographic group for this book. I think I would have appreciated it more in my twenties or even my thirties. I do thank Revell Publishing for providing me with a copy of The Theory of Happily Ever After in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for providing the review and was not obligated to provide a positive review.
NadineTimes10 More than 1 year ago
(My rating reflects the portion I read.) I found the premise of this novel interesting, and I don't come across many contemporary romances and chick-lit-ish tales with heroines who are doctors or scientists. The first quarter of this book is light reading with a lot of humor but also some serious life issues sprinkled in. However, a couple jokes are rehashed far too many times, with repeated references to gelato and Hallmark movies, along with Maggie's bunch of disparaging inner barbs about her ex's new woman. Plus, I usually can only take so much of a heroine who seems as down on herself as Maggie does, besides how down she is on her ex, as her constant thoughts and mentions of him indicate. And, in all honesty, as much as I love romantic stories, I think I'm finding I can only take the romance genre in smaller, more concise doses these days, for the most part. Some of the scenes here dragged for me as I waited for the story to move on, and I eventually decided not to continue. Still, from what I've read, I can see how this novel might be right down another ChristFic romance fan's alley. __________ Revell provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
Maggie is quite a smart young woman.She thinks she has it all figured out about what it takes to be happy. All her scientific facts don't prepare her for a big breakup with her fiance. She sure didn't see that coming. How embarrassing for her to be an author who is suppose to be an expert on happiness. Now what can she do to fix her life? To the rescue is her two best friends. What a plan they have for Maggie. I'm not sure that the idea of a cruise is what she needs but off they go. The characters are fun to know and I liked how the author showed how we can laugh at ourselves and be okay with our mistakes. Can Maggie find true happiness on a cruise? Will she be able to open her heart to a new romance? The story is fun with a great theme of trusting God and finding true happiness in Him. I received a coy of this book from Revell Publishing. The review is my own opinion.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
Maggie is quite a smart young woman.She thinks she has it all figured out about what it takes to be happy. All her scientific facts don't prepare her for a big breakup with her fiance. She sure didn't see that coming. How embarrassing for her to be an author who is suppose to be an expert on happiness. Now what can she do to fix her life? To the rescue is her two best friends. What a plan they have for Maggie. I'm not sure that the idea of a cruise is what she needs but off they go. The characters are fun to know and I liked how the author showed how we can laugh at ourselves and be okay with our mistakes. Can Maggie find true happiness on a cruise? Will she be able to open her heart to a new romance? The story is fun with a great theme of trusting God and finding true happiness in Him. I received a coy of this book from Revell Publishing. The review is my own opinion.
joyful334209 More than 1 year ago
Theory Of A Happily Ever After Is such a joy to read - get it - joy - you may find yourself laughing out loud that's how much enjoyable this is. This book is set on a cruise - how fun is that? The main character is Maggie the mess - that is what her life is - a mess - all she wants to do is - Hey now I can't tell you everything., you have to find some things out for yourself - now two friends get her to the cruise by - nope you have to find out that too - I will tell you there is romance in the book - now is it with one or more? - interesting. This book does talk about certain types of things that woman like to do when they are depressed about things - they go and watch certain types of these - you have to read it to find out what it is. I received a copy of this review from the Publisher and Netgalley; all of the opinions expressed in this review are all my own. if you would like to read more of my Christian book reviews go to christianlybookreviews.blogspot.com
SemmieWise More than 1 year ago
** “I’d give it all up for the chance to sit still and be. To be still and know that he is God, like the Bible says. To figure out what does make me happy, what my dream is. What does God want from me next?” ** Kristin Billerbeck brings another delightful rom-com to the table with “The Theory of Happily Ever After.” Dr. Maggie Maguire is extremely accomplished, yet miserable. She has written a bestselling book about the scientific study of how people find joy in life, so you’d think she’d be an expert on happiness. But after being dumped by her fiance so he can marry another woman, and losing her mojo for her work, she’s far from happy. So when her two best friends — personal trainer Kathleen and Haley, who just happens to be Maggie’s publicist — drags her off her couch and her away from her beloved Hallmark Channel to speak on a single’s cruise about finding your bliss, Maggie is horrified. Going begrudgingly, everything Maggie seems to do just makes her seem more and more incompetent, allowing her to fall deeper and deeper into her insecurities. Will meeting the handsome and fun loving bartender Brent and the enigmatic and also handsome Sam turn the tide for Maggie? And what deeper role do Sam and his sister Jules, also attending the cruise, have in Maggie’s life? “The Theory of Happily Ever After” is a great Chick Lit novel that will leave you laughing one moment and tearing up the next. Billerbeck does a great job of injecting tongue-in-cheek humor and even self-deprecating moments that we can all relate to, but then turning around and serving up some seriousness that we all need to hear. This story may be a romantic comedy, but it also reminds us of the importance of finding our bliss and what makes us happy. It shows us the necessity of finding our purpose in life, and what can happen when we lose that purpose; we need to stop running from our problems; we must learn to trust in not only ourselves and loved ones, but in God and His purpose for our lives; and that there are always consequences for our actions, and those consequences can hurt not only ourselves but those we love. “The Theory of Happily Ever After” is a great feel-good story, and I’d love to see it made into a movie (maybe featured on the Hallmark Channel?!?!). Five stars out of five. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of THE THEORY OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Kristin Billerbeck from Revell in exchange for an honest review. This is chick lit at its finest. If you’re feeling sad or just need to unwind, pick up a copy. This book was hysterical. I was sad that a new job kept me from reading more than one chapter at a top. From start to finish, you’ll become absorbed in the characters. The writing is fluid and catchy; it really sucks you in. The romance is a perfect supplement to the humor. In a nutshell, Maggie is depressed after a break up, so her friends put her on a cruise. I’ve never been a on a cruise, but I found the details well described and it made a wonderful setting for some quirky antics. A solid four stars from me. Some of the witty banter felt forced, otherwise it would have been 5 stars.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
When you figure out that these women have been college friends, and are there for one another, and they also work for our main character Dr. Maggie. Be ready for some great laugh out loud moments, and for some big bombshells being dropped, as we go for a wonderful, rather luxurious, and kidnapped cruise. You can see there is a lot going on here, with giving speeches and ending up in a fire, to choking, and they all meld into this story. Cruising with friends and a bit of romance, what could go wrong? You will soon be quickly page turning to see how our Dr.’s life is going to continue after this sudden vacation. I received this book through the Publisher Revell and their Blogger Program, and was not required to give a positive review.
Nicnac63 More than 1 year ago
To put it plain and simple—The Theory of Happily Ever After, by Kristin Billerbeck, is So. Much. Fun. It’s been quite a while since a book has made me laugh this much. The wit is superb, yet doesn’t take away the depth of its meaningful spiritual message. Dr. Maggie Maguire is a unique and intriguing character. She is the author of a successful book revealing the science behind happiness, yet her tumultuous love life makes her feel like a fraud. Who is she to tell anyone anything about happiness when she’s reduced herself to a broken-hearted, gelato-eating, cat-stealing, cheesy-movie-watching couch potato? Maggie’s two best friends, Haley and Kathleen, secretly book her on a singles cruise where she learns that she must give a speech on her scientific happiness theory. That’s when things go completely awry. Two men show interest in her when she doesn’t want or trust the attention, her publisher has looming expectations, she’s lying to her parents, and her ex is determined to dump a second helping of misery on her plate. This book is an entertaining rom-com that’s sure to penetrate your heart while offering plenty of high jinks and giggles. I was blessed to receive a complimentary copy from Revell.
Abold24 More than 1 year ago
This is the first book that I have read by Ms. Billerbeck. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! The positive quotes at the beginning of the chapter were beneficial to gain a positive perspective on life and happiness. Not only did this book make you take an introspective look at oneself, but it was funny and comical at times. This tale is about Dr. Maggie Maguire who is a research and statistical fanatic. Her specialty is “happiness.” However, it is hard to tell others how to be happy, when you are miserable. This book takes the reader on a journey of how Dr. Maguire finds the key to happiness. There is a romantic story to be told for those who enjoy romance. I highly recommend this book! You will not be disappointed. ***I was given a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher. This is my honest opinion. Even though I received this copy free, this is my own opinion.