This book is full on bonkers, in the best way. It constantly borders on being too silly, too ludicrous, too impossible to believe, and then pulls back just enough to keep you in on the ride.
Plot: Thea is very nearly a manic pixie dream girl who loves pranks so long as the cause is good and the people being pranked suck. Rafe is a very nearly standard alphahole who is being maneuvered into marriage to Lady Arabella (fancy lady and Thea’s close friend) to access badly needed funds, but he REALLY doesn’t want to be married. Thea is there pretending to be her sister while said sister is off to marry a Poor Match their parents won’t approve of because yes, this book STARTS with shenanigans. Rafe figures this out very fast and realizes that if he married Thea while she’s pretending to be someone else, he could get the money and then void the marriage. Shenanigans ensue.
This book is hilarious and sweet. I say Thea is very nearly a MPDG because she is relentlessly cheerful and fun to Rafe’s stick in the mud personality and this story absolutely could have just been your middle of the road book about a Sad Guy learning to be happy again thanks to a Magic Girl. Only we learn how hard Thea has had to fight for that cheerfulness. We learn that Rafe’s mopey personality is also well earned, and that the story isn’t at all about Thea cheering up Rafe and making him feel like a Real Man but rather about learning to respect different ways of coping with difficulties and letting go of toxic behaviours that have both protected them and held them back. Also about revenge against actual Alphaholes that is deeply satisfying.
There is a really heartbreaking storyline that follows Thea’s relationship with her parents, and this is the one spot where I think Vinci really copped out, because the resolution, in my view, is entirely unearned and cheap, especially given how well it was built up.
Still, Vinci’s pretty much an auto buy for me by now, the book is genuinely lovely, and I very much look forward to Arabella’s story.