Review: Too Good to be Real by Melonie Johnson (2021)

Heat Factor: It’s every Rom Com you’ve ever watched in book form. No, seriously.

Character Chemistry: Of course it’s instantaneous and soul-shaking on a cellular level. Have you never watched a Rom Com?

Plot: Julia the journalist is facing layoffs at the office–so she proposes an article reviewing a resort specialising in providing that sweeping Rom Com experience. Luke is the developer responsible for programming the Rom Com experience–but when he realizes who the journalist is, he decides to role play her love interest for REAL. You can imagine how that goes.

Overall: This book is a totally fun and ridiculous romp.

If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, you probably know that they’re as full of tropes and ridiculously effective mushy gimmicks as any romance novel. Predictable? Maybe. But satisfying? Oh, yes. Totally.

In this fresh dish of cute and funny, we have Julia the journalist. In order to save her job from layoffs, she’s proposed to visit and review a resort catering to those who love Rom Coms. The resort strategically provides all those little moments that make your heart swell in the movies: meet cutes, stolen moments, awkward encounters, etc. It’s essentially a very curated Live Action Role Play scenario. Luke, his best friend, and his sister are the team behind those moments. Hired to program the bones of the set up, Luke has always been at a distance from the actual role play. But when he learns that they’re about to be visited by a journalist, and runs into her on a beach (hello, meet cute), Luke decides to pretend he’s just a guest like any other in order to ensure Julia has the best possible experience. 

Here’s what made me swoon over this book: the author sets up all these classic rom com moments and then lists off all the movies that feature them. For example, dessert the first night is, of course, warmed apple pie with strawberry ice cream on the side. (When Harry Met Sally, anyone?) It’s like a treasure trove of little moments, both done subtly for your glee only and unpacked by the characters. It oozes adorable.

In order to make it more relatable though, the author makes the main characters…well…normal. Too normal? Maybe. The peripheral characters practically exploded with personality, but our main characters could have been anyone in your college English class. Luke is a computer nerd who likes to game, so his wardrobe consists of t-shirts with video game characters on them and jeans. He’s not tan, he doesn’t have muscles, and he says “whoops-a-daisy”. Honestly though? I melt. He’s just sweet.

Julia is witty and fun, and she quits a 45 minute hike because she’s out of shape. Relatable? Yes. Plus, I was sold on this book the moment I read the dialogue between her and her friends. This author is like the president of “show don’t tell”. The way these friends banter felt easy and unforced. They’re a little pushy and don’t have much patience for BS. But you can feel the loyalty and protectiveness without overt and tired statements. It’s just realistic and inviting, and it’s easy to fall into.

Now, did the rom com love fest overshadow the romance between Julia and Luke? Maybe a little bit. But I was gleefully enjoying it anyway, so I had a difficult time docking it too much. I’d put it at Failure to Launch more than Ten Things I Hate About You. I had a really fun time reading it, but I wasn’t kept up all night dying to finish it. 

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

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

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