First off, this cover is so eye-catching and gorgeous! I’ve read several of this author’s books before and was very interested in zir take on a friends-to-lovers romance. While this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it was a very fulfilling (and hilarious) romance.
Preston’s been pining over his best friend Art since a drunken kiss in college. So when Art breaks up with their latest partner, of course Preston offers them a place to stay. But every time Preston imagines telling Art how he feels, he freezes. Until one night, instead of working on the Next Great American Novel, Preston starts writing a fictional version of, well, them – a story about one roommate confessing his love for the other. But when his publishing company picks up the book, he realizes this might finally be his chance… if it all doesn’t go wrong.
“In my head? Feelings were this loud, clanging, confused mass of noise. But for Art, feelings were colors and textures, things he could make sense of, could sort and organize. What would he see, if he read my book? Would he see chaos or order? Would he see me, or himself, or both of us, or neither of us?”
It was A LOT being inside Preston’s head. His is the sole viewpoint, and it’s obvious from the start that while others’ allegations of him having no feelings aren’t true by any means, there’s so much chaos in his head that he often acts, well, selfishly. It’s not what he intends – he’s truly a kind, loving person, but he spends so much energy trying to understand himself that there’s not much left over for the vagaries of other people. He’s insecure to the point of being painfully awkward and the secondhand embarrassment at times veered on too much. The breaking point for him, though, as when Art told Preston that he didn’t even known what romance is, basically trampling all over his feelings and leaving him searching for a way to prove that he can, in fact, be romantic. I mean, this is a person who thinks it’s easier to write an entire romance novel about how much he loves his best friend rather than actually have that conversation with them!
If I hadn’t read the author’s work before and trusted zir that the journey would be worth it, I could see where I would’ve DNF’d it. One of my favorite things about romance is the banter, and with Preston’s awkwardness, that was just not happening. That’s not to say the book isn’t hilarious. There’s absolute gems, like the parrot who lives in his work friend’s office or the “mom-towel”. And despite how anxious Preston’s inner monologue made me, I was also rooting for him, even when he was making obvious mistake after mistake.
Romance tends to have certain beats – the meet cute, the “oh no we can’t”, the bleak moment, and finally the grand gesture/grovel that resolves the causes of the bleak moment and ties everything up for the HEA. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler, because I think anyone could see this coming from a mile a way, but the thing most romances would use as a grand gesture? is actually the bleak moment in this one. What happens after is where things get really interesting. Some things – so many things – can’t be solved by simple apologies or standing outside someone’s house holding a boombox, and there’s a lot of frustration, hurt, confusion and downright anger on both sides. But it also lets Preston and Art start the process of having an actual conversation about their feelings, of learning how to successfully communicate with each other. I absolutely adored it.
Overall, while not what I expected, this was a funny, introspective and very unique romance, one that I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for something outside the usual beats.
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.