After a whirlwind fling in on a romantic Italian retreat, two strangers with seemingly incompatible quirks return to London to discover that making things a love story work is more challenging when work, family, and reality intrude.
Verdict: not as to-the-point as other romances, heavy emphasis on a secondary cast of friends, idiosyncratic leads who lack self-awareness
Both the main characters in this novel, Ava and Matt, have strong quirks and a total lack of self-awareness about them, which is clearly a deliberate (if frustrating) choice by the author. Ava is a sunshiney, rainbow-loving aromatherapy stan who aspires to write romance novels, while Matt is a businessman who prefers Brutalist design, intense athletic competition, and a total lack of color.
Understandably, they spend most of the book pretty much driving each other crazy. Why does this sometimes feel more frustrating than fun? Because each finds the other’s idiosyncrasies clearly absurd, yet they remain almost stupidly unconscious of how their own quirks might affect the other person for the bulk of the novel.
That said, their most redeeming attribute is that both have a loving cohort of friends around them. Those friends’ unconditional acceptance of the protagonists’ eccentricities ultimately helps them build a similarly compassionate understanding of each other – and (finally!) awareness regarding their own flaws.
This is a story of personal growth and flawed but incredible friendships, not sizzlin’ seduction. If this is the kind of outcome that you find satisfying, then this might be a welcome variation from the more classic resolution-of-romantic-tension type of love story.
TLDR: Read this if you want to see gradual self-growth from our two obtuse but well-intentioned leads. The cuteness of their ’90s rom com storyline comes second to personal development and lifelong friendships.
(Credits: Advance review copy provided by Random House. Image c/o author’s Twitter. Hits shelves Oct 27 2020 in the US & Canada.)