Book Reviews

Authentically Izzy by Pepper D. Basham – Book Review

The book cover of Authentically Izzy by Pepper D. Basham

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

Authentically Izzy by Pepper D. Basham – Book Details

TITLE – Authentically Izzy

AUTHOR – Pepper D. Basham

CATEGORY/GENREromance, contemporary, clean Christian romance, epistolary fiction



MY RATING – 4 of 5


A huge thank you to Thomas Nelson Fiction and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Authentically Izzy by Pepper D. Basham in exchange for an honest review.

What It Is About

Dear Reader,
This is a cautionary tale. A tale of family, literary classics, podiatry, matchmaking, Shakespeare, and distance. Not exactly the sort of word grouping you may expect in a typical story, but some things aren’t meant to be . . . typical.

Izzy Edgewood works at a library, dreams about opening her own bookshop, communicates through quotes whenever she can get away with it, and all things considered would much rather live a fictional life than a real one.

But when her cousin opens an online dating profile for Izzy and she meets a guy who seems to be a perfect match, she has to reconsider if she truly is happy with her current life.

Because her correspondent sounds like a perfect guy – if you dream about boyfriends who can endlessly chat about Lord of the Rings. But in order to be with him, Izzy would have to overcome quite a few struggles, including her fear of flying and her family who’d much rather keep Izzy at least in the same country.

PPS: With my rather disastrous romantic history, it’s no wonder I wear sneakers. Faster getaway.

Read it if you like:

  • friends-to-lovers
  • not-so-secret pen pals
  • quirky, introverted characters
  • slowburn romance
  • tons of bookish references
  • matchmaking relatives
  • clean Christian romance

Authentically Izzy by Pepper D. Basham – My Review

But two things that never go together well are family and matchmaking, and that is the premise of this story.
Sort of.
And there are books.
Lots of books.

Authentically, Izzy by Pepper D. Basham is a sweet, nerdy epistolary romance perfect for people who like books about books. It was different from what I usually read, both regarding the form and the vibes, which felt refreshing.

I’m sure I won’t forget it that easily, which I can’t say for a lot of books I’ve read recently. The emails, the costumes, bookish references, Izzy’s family, the setting – it all had an adorable, quirky but cozy feel to it, and I really enjoyed most of the book.

Anyways. For some reason, with some reviews it’s easier for me to write them in the pros and cons form. And this is one of those books.

So, keeping in mind that I gave this book 4 stars (i.e. – not perfect, but I liked it a lot), here are my favorite things about Authentically, Izzy, followed by the things I thought were the weakest parts of this book…

I’m dying to know what his favorite books are, but I feel that may be a little too personal a question to ask this soon in our conversation. Books are intimate things.

What I liked:

  • The email form. I never read epistolary novels, so this felt refreshing and original to me. It added to the romance; yes, it was emails and not letters, but still.
    I also loved that the emails weren’t only between Izzy and Brodie, but their families as well. In fact, most of the book was in the email exchange form, which led to many funny instances, and the emails nicely portrayed the close family vibes. But, as you’ll see soon, there were also things about all the emails I didn’t like that much. In fact, I’m still trying to decide if the format helped the story or was it more a distraction. It made the book unique, I will definitely remember it for longer. And it somewhat satisfied that (albeit unhealthy) desire to take a peek into other people’s private correspondence. But there were downsides of it as well.
  • Love for books radiated from the pages. And as a book lover, I could appreciate the unapologetic, hundred percent in, pink glasses perspective on everything books and stories related.
    Both Izzy and Brodie’s families are somewhat involved in the book business, and that in its own was enough to satisfy the book lover in me. But then, Izzy and Brodie were also pretty much in love with books, spending every moment talking, quoting, role-playing and obsessing over books in every way imaginable.
  • As for Izzy, she’s not the easiest MC to connect with. There’s nothing subtle about her loving books, God and nature. I love all those things too, and am an introvert just like her. And I also turn to Hallmark movies when I feel overwhelmed.
    Yet, I often felt like we were living on two different planets. But, not being able to relate didn’t stop me from liking her a lot. Izzy is nothing if not authentic. She loves what and whom she loves, she’s figured out many aspects of her life just the way it works for her, and the fact that it wouldn’t work for most people is really not her problem. And once you get to know her better, Izzy is actually very charming, loving, caring, thoughtful and full of great ideas. So yeah, I ended up really liking her.
  • Quirky, dorky, nerdy romance. All the Lord of the Rings talk would be a bit too much for me, but good for them.
    And Izzy and Brodie definitely felt like they were perfect for each other. Their relationship started like friendship, but I could soon sense a spark there, and they just felt – right, you know?
  • Also, imagining Brodie as David Witts (as he was in Pride & Prejudice, Cut) helped quite a bit. Still trying to figure out how Izzy should look like in my head; I’m open for suggestions.
  • Where else would I hear about chewable books?

And just because Luke is always right doesn’t mean Luke is always right. I know of at least two times when he wasn’t, and both were about women.

What I didn’t like:

  • The email form. I’ve already mentioned everything I liked about it. But, emails also somewhat ended up taking away that feeling of going through things together with the MCs.
    Only past 50% into the book we got the first non-email scene, and there were many scenes (and a few of them were quite important) that I wanted to “see for myself”. It felt a bit like one of those told-instead-of-shown situations, and honestly – I felt a little bit cheated. Plus, with all the texts and emails, things soon became a bit confusing. There were several people writing back and forward between each other, and by the time they got to respond to someone, I’d already half forget what they were talking about.
  • The writing felt dense for some reason. Maybe it was the lack of dialogs. In any case, it took me much longer to finish it than it normally would for a book of that length.
  • The word authentic being used a few too many times. We get it.
  • The infamous miscommunication trope towards the end. The book did need something to happen, but I don’t think the fight we got was the happiest choice.

It’s sad when there have been so many mean girls and heartless guys in the world that we forget the worthwhile ones are still out there, and probably as hopeful in finding the “real thing” as we are.

So, that’s in short how I felt about Authentically Izzy by Pepper D. Basham. The book had its ups and downs. There were moments where I thought I’d give it less than 4 stars. But all things considered, I really enjoyed most of the read.

Have you read this book already? Let me know what you thought about it. Hope you liked it at least as much as I did…

My Signature

(5) Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this, Jovana! It was my first epistolary and definitely a learning experience! (And, for some reason Erin Cahill (actress) kept popping up in MY head when I was envisioning Izzy). Just looked up David Witts and I’m…um…staring a bit too long. Whew. Nice!

    1. I know, right?! 😳😅

      And Erin Cahill – it took me a minute to get used to, but yeah – I can see Izzy looking something like that.

      (I don’t know if everyone does this, but it’s so much easier for me to sink into a story if I envision MCs as familiar faces 😅)

      1. Pepper Basham says:

        That makes PERFECT sense to me! I’m very visual!

  2. Pepper Basham says:

    Sheesh! He looks great in glasses too!

    1. He does look amazing in glasses! 😳🤩

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