I was given an ARC of this by the author. That has in no way influenced my review.
Charlotte Tam doesn’t really leave the house unless it’s to meet her friends at the local cider bar and even then, she sort of resents having to change out of her pajama pants. She mainlines coffee and is clearly the grouchiest and most pessimistic of the friend group, but is starting to miss a more personal connection, having sworn off dating after her former boyfriend proposed to her publically during a baseball game (a genuinely literal recurring nightmare for her, since she saw one on TV when she was a little girl). She’s aware that she’s pretty rusty in the dating department, so one of her friends suggests she ask a male friend for dating lessons, low-pressure “practice dating” to get her confidence back.
Charlotte initially rejects the idea, until she runs into her former childhood bestie, Mike Guo, at the bar that night. Twenty years ago, they lived next door to one another, pretty much inseparable until Mike’s family suddenly moved away one day and Charlotte never heard from him again. Mike is handsome and charming and they pretty much instantly fall back into their comfortable rhythm, so Charlotte decides to ask him if he’ll agree to give her dating lessons. She’s sure that someone as good-looking and easy-going as him has tons of experience with women and dating, and will therefore be the perfect teacher.
Mike is very surprised to meet his former childhood crush at the bar and rather taken aback when she proposes that they go on a series of practice dates to ease her back into the dating game. So happy to finally have reconnected with her again, Mike doesn’t tell Charlotte that he doesn’t really have the suave ladies man image she seems to think he has, rather he’s gone through years of therapy to come to terms with the emotional abuse heaped on him by his parents all through his childhood and he’s never really found a woman who he felt comfortable committing to because deep down, he’s still unsure if he’s worthy of anyone’s love and affection. He really wants to spend more time getting to know grown-up Charlotte, though, so agrees to her dating plan so he can see as much of her as possible.
Of course, the two of them very quickly realise that the practice dates are becoming more serious and they develop feelings for one another. But can Charlotte and Mike get over their former emotional traumas and make a relationship work for real?
Full review on my blog.