Review: Then Came You by Kate Meader (2019)

Laws of Attraction, Book 3

Heat Factor: Orgasm central!

Character Chemistry: Irreconcilable emotional differences plus banging sexual compatibility

Plot: Divorced divorce lawyers take a road trip and rehash the demise of their marriage

Overall: Less light-hearted than expected, but still a rewarding read

From the blurb, I expected this to be a zany Fake Relationship slash Seducing My Spouse comedy. There would be witty quips and some steamy seduction scenes, and our protagonists would once again find their sexual mojo through their shared deception as they navigate a road trip and a birthday party.

That is… not exactly how this book goes. Aubrey and Grant never lost their sexual mojo, and not a lot of seduction needs to happen before they’re back in the sack together. Instead, they need to fix the emotional core of their relationship, which means that there’s a lot of introspection and self-flagellation and rehashing of past hurts. In other words, instead of a zany comedy, this book is an angst-fest.

Now, an angst-fest it not necessarily a bad thing, especially if the characters’ anxiety is deserved and if they process it in a thoughtful manner. In this case, Aubrey and Grant hash out some emotionally fraught stuff; specifically, a miscarriage and their dramatically different ways of dealing with the associated grief. Directly after the miscarriage, Aubrey wanted Grant to treat her like things were normal, instead of like she was suddenly delicate, and Grant wanted to talk through things. As Aubrey reflects at one point: “He wanted vivisection, I wanted a burial.” Meader treats both of these ways of grieving with empathy – even if the characters cannot immediately be empathetic to one another. Things get messy, but the reflection and emotional growth that occurs never feels forced or cheap. The conflict feels real.

Grant plays the role of Aubrey’s emotional savior. This gender role reversal made for a refreshing change of pace from the standard trope of the love of a woman fixing her damaged partner. However, Meader keeps things messy (a good thing!) by making the dynamic of Aubrey needing to open up emotionally more complicated. Some of Aubrey’s coping mechanisms are legitimate ways to deal with grief, and having a partner who tries to fix you emotionally seems like the fucking worst; on a related note, Grant definitely has white knight syndrome, and explicitly acknowledges that he has his own shit to work on.

(Sidenote: The way their relationship ultimately unfolds, however, means that Grant’s coping method is valorized over Aubrey’s, which sort of undoes the empathy that Meader builds for Aubrey. Basically, Aubrey has to learn to do things Grant’s way, and Grant has to learn not to be her crutch – which is not quite the same thing as realizing that sometimes it’s ok to not hash through every little thing. So… the ending felt a bit one-sided in terms of emotional growth.)

My main criticism of Then Came You is that it felt a bit repetitive. The relationship unfolds through a series of flashbacks. Shortly after a given flashback scene, the characters will rehash whatever issue the flashback portrayed – so we get to read the same fight in the past and in the present. While the dynamic between Aubrey and Grant has shifted over the years that have gone by between past and present, it still felt like too much. And… I never thought I’d say this, but maybe there were too many sex scenes? They were fun to read, but many of them didn’t do much to advance the plot or the readers’ understanding of the characters and their relationship.

While you should only go for this book if you are up for some emotional heavy lifting, please note that there are some extremely funny bits. Aubrey in particular is quite witty (but not in that overly snarky sitcom way), which means that the chapters written from her perspective include some cutting little gems of wit. Also, the grumpy old cat says “meow” like this: “M#%@!”

Cat Damon for the win!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Release date for Then Came You is today, May 7th!

Buy Now: Amazon

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