Last year Emmalita reviewed the second book in this series, and it intrigued me. I’ll be honest, instalove is a huge pet peeve of mine, but I was curious by a self aware attempt to create a meaningful connection over a single day.
Plot: Angie is going home, to Cape Town, for the holidays. This is really hard for her since she hasn’t been back home for three years, since a tragedy struck the family and she couldn’t face it. To delay the inevitable, she takes a break in Caledon, a small town about an hour away with some familial nostalgia. She gets sucked into a wedding that has totally blocked the exits because she’s wearing a dress that looks like the bridesmaids and goes to slapsticky extremes to get away from them. One of these attempts leads to her meeting Ezra, a professor hiding out in a near by caf
e, avoiding his own family reunion, whereupon they try to hide from the wedding together. Shenanigans ensue.
The thing is that it sure sounds like the author understands the challenge of having two strangers fall in love in a day, but I don’t think it actually works. Outside of them periodically going “well it’s impossible to having feelings like this so soon” or “we’ve only known each other 90 minutes” it reads like instalove in slow motion. So much of their connection seems to be, for lack of a better word, magical. They just know, without knowing anything about one another, exactly how to interact, exactly how and when to probe, exactly what the other person needs to hear. There’s this fallacy the novel relies on that just having a bunch of deep conversations is the same as intimacy. It doesn’t work that way. Sharing painful bits of your past, particularly bits that you’ve been avoiding for years and are on the cusp of being forced to deal with, so naturally gravitating towards an impartial third party to share with, is super great, but it’s not some secret recipe for falling in love faster. I’ve had plenty of deep, difficult conversations with people that I literally never spoke to again.
If you can stomach instalove, this is very nice. If you LIKE reading about characters that instantly understand one another in a way no one else has in their entire lives within literal minutes of meeting each other, then you will like this. The writing is excellent. The dialogue is great. The scene is set very well, and though I have never been to South Africa, Beharrie gives you plenty of information to situate yourself and visualize the world, without overburdening you with exposition.
It’s a good book. But if you like your romance more realistic, this one is probably a miss.