I really enjoyed Charish Reid’s debut novel The Write Escape. I was so excited to get a copy of Hearts on Hold from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I have been busier and more stressed than usual, so it took a couple of days before I was really able to sit down and read this book. As I was starting and stopping and getting distracted, I was having a hard time investing in the characters. Once I had a little breathing room, Reid drew me right in. I completely fell in love with Victoria and John while they were talking about their messy friends.
Victoria tried to suppress her grin. “They’re not concerned about Becca’s hair in the least,” she said in a quiet voice. “They’re preying on your insecurities as a white dude while they push us together.”
John gave a nod of recognition. “Gotcha. And why would they do that?”
“Because my friends are messy.”
“Right,” he said, biting his lip. “My best friend, Chris, might be as messy.”
It turns out they have messy friends, messy families, messy colleagues, messy lives, and they themselves are a mess.
Victoria, a professor at a predominately white and wealthy ivy league style college, is a tightly wound perfectionist constantly battling for her place in academia and defending against her demanding mother. John, a children’s librarian at the town library, is much more comfortable with mess though he often feels inadequate because his ADHD makes being organized a challenge. They meet when Victoria explores the idea of creating an internship opportunity for Pembroke students in John’s children’s program at the library. Reid grounds Victoria and John in their daily lives with their friends and family fully engaged.
Their lust is instantaneous and they quickly start negotiating an affair. Victoria looks at their schedules and plans out, as she says, “three weeks of rigorously scheduled passion.” John immediately plans to mess up her schedule. Initially it seemed out of character for Victoria to embark on even rigidly scheduled passion. As you get to know her, it becomes clear that the buttoned up and well planned Dr. Reese is one of her masks. Though Victoria is a POV character, Reid makes sure that we get to understand Victoria as John comes to understand her. It’s lovely the way he pays attention to her and is able to often understand what she’s not saying, while also being realistically insecure about a woman he is developing strong feelings for but doesn’t know well.
Hearts on Hold is a lovely romance. It’s out on February 3 and is well worth a pre-order.