Naomi Westfield is engaged to be married to the handsome, thoughtful Nicholas Rose. They are a saccharine pair, complete with their own wedding hashtag (#TrueLovesKissFromARose) and schmoopy social media posts. Naomi has a dark secret, though: she despises Nick and desperately wants out. But she can’t really afford to initiate the break-up, so she has to get Nick to want to leave her. And away we go.
I look at Nicholas and realize I am actually marrying this man. Forty percent because I love him and sixty percent because I’m too afraid to call it off.
I don’t quite know what to say about this book. I read it in the fall, and put it away for a few months so I could re-read it closer to the book’s release date. Sometimes you’re not in the right headspace for a book, and a later read can improve your impression of it. I wanted to give it a little space in the hopes that I could approach it in a different spirit later.
On the plus side, the characters are beautifully drawn. It’s hard to believe this is Sarah Hogle’s debut! And there are a lot of laughs to be found here in this lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers arc.
Here’s the thing: while enemies-to-lovers can a fun trope, there’s a delicate balance to be struck. If you can’t root for one of them, the pair can be hard to sell. In this case, Naomi is a brat. She’s an absolute, unrepentant brat. I’m not sure how old she’s supposed to be, but she’s doing a great impression of a 12 year old.
Naomi’s inner monologue is mostly immature, but occasionally vicious. You know those things you don’t say because you know once you say it, you can’t take it back? Too many of those. I find love stories don’t work as well when that’s the predominant tenor of the inner monologue of the character you are supposed to be rooting for.
(Maybe it would have worked better from alternating perspectives? Or would that just result in hating both halves of the couple?)
The couple does come around–it’s a romance, after all, the HEA is guaranteed–but I personally felt it to be too little, too late. By the time Naomi stops trying to sabotage her relationship, I was rooting for Nicholas to call it quits and find a new love.
I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley in order to facilitate this review.