I have been rabidly on the hunt for Lockdown on London Lane since January, having requested it from any library source I possibly could. It eventually arrived to me in early April and in the middle of a bunch of other things (and other books) I blew through it. Was I captivated? No. Did I skim a bit? Yes, but by design that’s a thing that can be done without losing the plot. Did it give me what I was hoping it would? Yes, I got the forced proximity romance I was hoping to find, at least in one of the stories. The basic description of Lockdown on London Lane reminded me favorably of The Distance Between Us, but unfortunately for me it wasn’t as good as that fic.
Lockdown on London Lane is the bit of writing that its author, Beth Reekles (known for The Kissing Booth books), did as her lockdown activity. Its episodic, following several apartments worth of people in one apartment building on a one-week lockdown early in a pandemic that sounds an awful lot like the one we’ve spent the past two years living through, though it remains unnamed. The groupings we follow include Ethan and the forced absent Charlotte, where Ethan spends his week alone wondering whether absence really does make the heart grow fonder and that what he wants with Charlotte is permanence. A seemingly innocuous fight about pineapple on pizza becomes the beginning of the possible end of the four-year relationship of Zach and Serena in another apartment. The third grouping is in Liv’s apartment where her weekend of hosting an extended bridesmaids’ party turns into 9 days in tight quarters with four people and a lot of emotions, leaving the group at each other’s throats. Isla and Danny’s new romance of about a month is put to the test as they jump ten steps ahead on the relationship timeline and Isla must decide if she’s willing to drop her remaining facades to keep the relationship that feels so much different than all the ones who came before. And finally, Imogen and Nate’s one-night stand turns into an awkward seven days as Imogen is forced to reverse walk of shame back to Nate’s apartment on the morning of the lockdown after having successfully snuck out in his Ramones t-shirt, upsetting whatever it was that might have been between them if they were looking for anything in the first place.
The story I was looking for, and enjoyed the most, was Imogen and Nate. Imogen is a hot mess of a human, bouncing from one life event to the next all while successfully holding down a teaching job. Nate is a serial monogamist who is looking to break his rut, and a one-night stand with Imogen seems the thing, until he and she must reckon with what comes next, especially as they must share his apartment. Reekles pulls all her various threads together into one final moment involving all her characters, and I didn’t mind it (featuring my third favorite pairing of Charlotte and Ethan, but mostly I love the friendship we see in the sidelines between Ethan and Nate), but I definitely skipped most chapters which centered on the break-up in slow motion between Zach and Serena (but my own life may have been effecting my desire to read that right now) and the bridesmaids, which is a bummer as that apartment featured the only queer plot, but I couldn’t deal with the characters.