In fulfilling the color squares that form one of the diagonals on the Bingo Card this year I have decided to go all-in with Romances. They have some of the most vibrant covers in publishing right now, and I’ve got a bunch to choose from. First up, because I feel particularly suited to choosing one at all, is the glorious violet color covered Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher.
I had every hope of this being a book for me, reviews from emmalita and Malin (#BlameMalin) gave every indication that this was something I would enjoy, and I had been holding off until I felt like I could really appreciate it. I ended up ripping into it after a truly awful week in my professional life and needing some emotional salve.
Christopher takes the rom-com How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days and gender swaps it and updates it. Christopher wrote in her Author’s Note that when she sat down to write this book in 2017 she was writing with the express purpose of seeing herself on the page – a biracial woman who had been through the dating wringer – and the type of hero she hopes will enter her own life. Christopher goes on to expound on how being part of the Loving Generation (children of interracial couples who were legally allowed to marry following the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case) impacted her youth and her time in the dating pool. Short version – people suck. Christopher brings that lived experience into her book and takes what could have been a light, frothy retelling and imbues it with real stakes and a place in the world as it exists, not just out there in Romancelandia.
Not the Girl You Marry is the story of Hannah Mayfield and Jack Nolan neither of whom wants to be in a relationship right now, but each with a workplace incentive to be in one. Jack is a a journalist, and his viral success at “How To” articles and videos has pigeon-holed him and kept him covering hard-hitting politics – the beat he would like to be following. With a lead that he thinks can make the change happen that he wants professionally, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final fluffy bit of clickbait: How to Lose a Girl. Problem is, he’s already met Hannah and is trying to win her over and isn’t sure that he really wants to ruin his chance with her. Hannah is a successful event planner, focused on climbing the career ladder at her firm which is one of the most prestigious in the city. Determined to secure her next promotion Hannah has to deal with her image problem, she needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.
Christopher could have gone down a couple different trope avenues with this one, in fact having either character fess up to what was going on and setting them down a fake relationship narrative was what I kept expecting. I’m both sad and relieved that Christopher chose instead to have her leads make the same big mistake – they lied, and they lied until they were caught. She then gives herself a few chapters for them to right their lives and their relationship in a way that was very satisfying. It also felt amazing to have Hannah be difficult and to have that reckoned with. As someone who has decided to wear that label proudly, it was refreshing to see.
Bingo Square: Violet