Cover of With a Little Luck, featuring a girl holding a guitar looking at a guy holding a sketch pad in front of an ocean sunset

About the Book

Title: With a Little Luck (Fortuna Beach #2)
Published: 2024

Cover Story: Don’t Be That Girl
BFF Charm: Eventually
Talky Talk: In His Head
Bonus Factors: Nerd Love, Rejection, Fortuna Beach
Relationship Status: Let Me Into Your Heart

Cover Story: Don’t Be That Girl

This cover is very sweet, and I love the sunset colors. But I can’t help but think about the stereotype of the guy who pulls the guitar out at a beach bonfire. The guy who’s overly confident in both his playing skills and also singing ability. The guy who is the definition of the word cringe. Please don’t be that guy, Ari. You’re better than that!

The Deal: 

Jude Barnett has been in love with the same girl since elementary school, but he’s never taken the opportunity to do anything about it—until the day he wins tickets to a concert of her favorite singer on the radio, thanks to a streak of extraordinary good luck. Good luck that he attributes to the shiny red D20 in his pocket, a D20 that he found unexpectedly in his family’s record store and has since seemed to bring him good fortune from everything from the concert to getting multiple bags of chips from a vending machine.

Life certainly seems to be going Jude’s way, until he loses the dice. And begins to wonder if his feelings for The Girl are really true. And if the way he feels about his best friend, Ari, isn’t just friendship. And if anything in his life will ever go right again …

BFF Charm: Eventually

BFF Charm with a sweatband on

Jude is a sweet, nerdy dude who Teen Mandy would have likely been all about. But Adult Mandy had to roll her eyes at him more than once, both for his self-depreciation and his inability to get his own head out of his … way. I understand what it’s like to doubt and not want to face rejection, but there’s a level of defeatism in Jude’s life that was hard to reconcile with his otherwise good life, even before the D20 found him. He grew on me by the end of the book, and I could see up being good friends after he stopped being such a drag, but it took me a while to get to that point.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Jude’s “loved” Maya Livinstone since they met in elementary school, but he’s never acted on those feelings. And, when he gets the chance to know her better, he eventually realizes that his feelings—because they were unrequited and likely never to be requited—were a way to keep himself from getting hurt. When he begins to realize that there were other feelings underneath his “love” for Maya, feelings for his best friend Ari, he wants to hide them away because they are so real. He reads a lot into every situation and second guesses his instincts at every turn, selling himself short and never giving anyone a change to prove him wrong. All because he’s afraid of rejection.

But—spoiler alert—this book does have a happy ending. And even when it’s scary, Jude realizes that some leaps are worth the fear.

Talky Talk: In His Head

I’ve long loved Meyer’s books, and the way she crafts stories that ride so heavily on the characters in them. Her characters are always well-rounded and interesting, and Jude’s no exception. (Even if I did get a bit exasperated with him for much of the novel.) His internal monologue was filled with nerdy references, which made my nerd heart happy—and made me like Meyer all that much more.

“Why doesn’t he just ask her out?” says Pru.

To which Quint, Ari, and I all respond, “It’s not that easy.”

We all tense and look at each other like people do when they suspect they may have been assimilated by the Borg.

Pru looks duly freaked.

“Resistance is futile,” I whisper.

Bonus Factor: Nerd Love

A person holds a Spider-Man mask in front of a setting sun

In addition to making Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, and Marvel references, Jude is a Dungeon Master and leads a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for a group of his friends. (This is why his lucky object is a D20, natch.) He’s also an artist who leans toward the fantastical, and draws a comic of the group’s D&D adventures. (There are actual comic pages in the book; they were drawn by Chuck Gonzales.) I adored the many references Jude makes to nerdy things, because they are references I would likely make as well.

Bonus Factor: Rejection

Red neon sign of a broken heart

This might seem like a strange thing to think of as a bonus factor, but when Jude gets rejected by Maya, it’s a learning experience for him. And a scene that I think a lot of young folk might get something out of. It’s OK to put yourself out there. And it’s equally OK for the object of your admiration to decline. Hopefully all rejections are as nice as the one Maya gives Jude, but even if they’re not, this example shows that it’s possible to just be friends!

Bonus Factor: Fortuna Beach

Blue house on the beach with a dock and a palm tree

In my review of Instant Karma, which is also set in Fortuna Beach and follows the (love) story of Jude’s twin sister Prudence, I talked about how much I loved reading about the quiet little seaside town. As I didn’t realize Instant Karma was a first book in a collection, I never thought I’d get to visit it again. I’m very glad I did! (With a Little Luck isn’t a direct sequel—Jude’s story is separate from Pru’s—so you don’t have to read them in a specific order. Although you might get more of the references in this book if you’ve read Instant Karma first.)

Relationship Status: Let Me Into Your Heart

I am not surprised that we had a fun time together, Book. You’re a delightful mix of nerdery, swoon, and teenage angst. Although I struggled with that last trait for a bit, that’s more on me being an Old than it it on you. You’ve got promise, kid. Just never let the masses dull your shine.

Literary Matchmaking

Instant Karma (Fortuna Beach #1)

Jude’s not the only Barnett kid to experience a bit of magic in Fortuna Beach; you can read about his sister’s experience in Meyer’s Instant Karma.

Along for the Ride

Many of Sarah Dessen’s books, including Along for the Ride, are set in a similarly cute seaside town, but Colby is slightly less magical, in the literal sense of the term.

Reggie and Delilah’s Year of Falling

Elise Bryant’s Reggie and Delilah’s Year of Falling also features a Dungeon Master who falls for a beautiful musician.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Feiwel & Friends, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. With a Little Luck is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.