Heat Factor: There’s no whoopie and there’s actually very little overt sexual tension but somehow I am still TOTALLY invested in this book.
Character Chemistry: They’re meant to be, and it’s adorable. Think “13 Going on 30” meets “Failure to Launch” with a hint of “Bridget Jones’ Diary”
Plot: Dylan and Alyssa were BEST friends growing up, until Alyssa confesses her love for Dylan and ghosts him overnight in embarrassment. When she and her two friends create a side business for nudging reluctant partners in the “right” direction for their clients, Dylan ends up being the job…only Alyssa doesn’t think he needs any fixing. At all.
Overall: This one might be a tiny bit smut adjacent, but it’s AMAZING and I’m completely obsessed with it.
Let me just tell you how beautifully this book is set up, because the tension builds like an elaborate room of dominoes and then it all comes crashing down in the most satisfying way.
Essentially, Alyssa is stuck. She’s spent her entire adult like in relationships with men who need “fixing”. When her friends realize this, they make a list and determine that, in fact, every single man she’s ever dated has ended up better off for her having been with them. This sparks an idea, and she and her friends end up making a business with Alyssa’s expertise, essentially nudging “stuck” partners into a better place. Only, while Alyssa enjoys helping people, she also has some pretty big reservations about what she’s doing with her life. This discontent is further amplified by the sheer number of hot messes she’s got constantly sucking the life out of her–her mother, who is still hung up on her father, who has a whole other family and only blows into their lives to screw everything up again, her boss, who essentially uses her drive and self-sacrificial nature to keep her on the hook while promoting other people. And then all the men she dates. There’s simply no more energy left for her own life! It’s…relatable.
But then they get a client, a rich social media heiress named Nicki, who is desperate for her boyfriend to launch his tech company and propose to her…and it just happens to be the one guy Alyssa has never gotten over–her childhood best friend, Dylan.
Dylan does need some help, to be fair. For starters, he’s one of those people who disappear into their partners. He is actively WITH Nicki the whole time he’s rebuilding a friendship with Alyssa. (Like, the author does make an attempt to call it out, and it’s very clear he’s 100% sleeping with Nicki while in love with Alyssa…this was a bold choice not often seen in romance, in my personal opinion, but he and Alyssa don’t do anything physical until literally the last few pages…so it felt different, but okay. Some readers may hate it, though.) But he does seem to evolve as the story progresses, regaining a sense of who he wants to be and what his values are. So that was satisfying.
What was very, very satisfying was Alyssa. She starts out a clear cut self-sacrificial people pleaser and starts to see very slowly what she’s actually giving up to make other people like her. She also sees that while she feels like she has more control over her life by fixing other people’s messes, in reality she’s being shamelessly used and has LESS control over her life because of it.
This dynamic is ultimately why I feel this book hinges on being women’s fiction. I could see some valid arguments coming from both sides–that the plot revolves around Alyssa more, and that the plot revolves around their relationship. It’s first person, from Alyssa’s perspective–but it’s heavily focused on her budding connection to Dylan. While the whole plot revolves around their relationship, the transformation of Alyssa really does steal the show. Ultimately, the incredibly romantic ending brought literal tears to my eyes (which rarely happens, I’m a swooner, not a cryer), flipped some trends on their ends, and I LOVED it. Loved it.
If I’m totally honest, the Creative Writing major in me geeked out big time over the incredible character development (even the secondary characters had banging backstories), and the tension was just…delicious. Little kernels dropped right and left. Small glances and inside jokes. This is how you end up with that bereft feeling after you close a book, and it was certainly true here.
If you’re interested in a book that will leave you feeling like your chest has too much air and like perhaps someone has been cutting onions and playing violins under your window, this is it. Happy Reading!
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.
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