CW: mentions of (past) emotional abuse
After a series of books that were either meh or abandoned for not being engaging enough to warrant staying up late (a litmus test that is terrible from the perspective of my sleep schedule but very effective), I’m glad to note that this book has broken the streak!
Is it that surprising that well-written romance novels tend to break my streaks? Perhaps it is because they are emotion-forward novels where the main characters solve their issues via communication, and the stakes are always manageable. They are usually written for people like me. No wonder The Blue Castle was the last book that lit a fire under me, it is also a snappy romance-focused novel.
YA or at least non-paperweight-length fantasy used to also be a reliable winner of a category, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case anymore (with both Inkheart and The Poppy War falling to the wayside). I think mystery/thriller is probably still a good one, but that I don’t read it very often.
SO back to this book. I got this from a Goodreads article that recommended romances by Trope, with this under the category of “Forced Proximity.” Which, while true, is not the whole story! There is also There Was Only One Bed and If They Only Kept Their Phones On and Accidental Running Into One Another (Naked Edition!) and He Just Had To Carry Her, Bridal Style and Rescue and so much other trope-y goodness.
Plus woven in the plot (and not a spoiler, because it’s in the book blurb) is a surprisingly nuanced take on emotional abuse and how gaslighting works on seemingly strong/unharmed/high-functioning people. You catch it at the outset, for sure, and it’s sort of a weird sour note in what’s a lighthearted novel–Tiffy needs a new place because her ex has started seeing someone else–but it’s just a bit…off. And as the book goes on, you see how/why. As a result, Leon’s thing is a bit less internal (his brother is in jail, wrongly) and the book is less about his personal growth and emotions, although his POV chapters do change in a very English Literature 101 type way–at first his chapters are written very brusquely, missing subjects (“I”), almost in screenplay format. By the end, his chapters read as normal prose, with not only subjects but plural ones to boot (i.e. “we”).
And look, there’s a bit of the bad tropes as well, like Tiffy is just this side of a Manic Pixie Dream Woman (she dresses like one, at least, and has the very typical romcom-y description of “red-headed assistant editor at a publishing house that does DIY books with narrative segments, like crochet + memoir”). Leon’s brother is wrongfully imprisoned because even in London the justice system is rarely just, but as soon as Tiffy swoops in to save the day things take a turn for the better!
Also, all the cheers for tall girls as leads! Of course Leon ends up being even taller but such is the luck of the draw.