This book has a plethora of tropes that I adore: opposites attract / grumpy-sunshine, enemies-to-lovers, and best friend’s sibling. It should’ve ticked all my boxes, but unfortunately the romance didn’t work for me.
Rip and Colby have known each other since they were kids, as Colby is best friends with Rip’s sister Monica. After a disastrous date, they put up with each other because of their love for Monica, her husband Brooks and the kids. But when the unthinkable happens, how can happy-go-lucky Colby and rigidly organized Rip hope to raise two grieving kids together?
There are three main plot lines in the book: the relationship between Rip and Colby, how they’re each dealing with their grief, and then the mostly comedic parenting antics. The last is the one that worked best for me as I absolutely adored Ben and Viera. Their antics – weirdly morbid pictures, slime that gets everywhere and extreme preschool dietary restrictions – could have been pulled from when my kids were preschoolers. The hilarity helped balance out the second plot line, the grief. There’s no getting around the fact that the book got pretty heavy (and a little preachy) at times. At times the back and forth between emotions was jarring, but I’m honestly not sure how it could have been better done given the premise. The kids are grieving, Colby is grieving, and Rip is, well, basically refusing to deal with his feelings. Both Colby and Rip want to give the kids as good and stable of a life as they can, though they frequently disagree on what that should look like.
“You’re not a wreck.”
“Yeah.” She sighed. “I am.”
“Then you’re a perfect mess…a perfect wreck…let yourself be the masterpiece of chaos.”
“Won’t that piss you off?”
“Me?” I hugged her tighter. “Nah, I think I’m beginning to think that the truly beautiful things in this world aren’t perfect.”
And then there’s the relationship. Colby and Rip are about as far apart in how they approach life as two people can be. Colby is a mess and generally disorganized, at least in her home life. Professionally, she excels at being a travel blogger, turning out content on a tight schedule for her thousands of subscribers. Free-spirited and generally adverse to being tied down, now she’s stuck doing preschool drop-off and taking care of a rambunctious toddler while still trying to get her posts up. It’s all worth it, though, and she brings her warmth and joy for life to the kids’ lives. Rip, on the other hand, is an accountant, committed to his job, perfectly organized, and a complete and total jerk. Colby feels disrespected by him, and frankly, Rip does look down on her. Part of it is he doesn’t consider her job “actual work”, part of it is her bubby personality (and therefore he thinks she doesn’t take anything seriously), and part of it is, well, dated and sexist. Rip complains about not understanding why Colby can’t manage the kids and keep a clean house and have a nutritious dinner ready when he comes home. You know, while she and the kids are grieving and while she’s still trying to work her job. Rip was so unbearably cruel and harsh, and I never felt like he truly apologized for it. I mean, he had excuses – he was grieving as well, as well as holding some resentment towards her for inserting herself into the life he made for himself and Monica after their parents died – but snarking at her for crying at a wake? Wow. I know there has to be some conflict to make the enemies-to-lovers trope work, but there was just no way I could buy the relationship after that much downright cruelty.
As for other cons, the whole plot line with Heather, who tormented Colby during high school and now clearly has her sights set on Rip, did not work for me, especially the way it wrapped up in the end with her father. It felt messily wrapped up and ridiculously unrealistic, and that’s saying something given the plot of the rest of the book. And that’s not even mentioning the weird fake dating side plot with Rip’s work friend Banks. Despite that, I thought Banks was a fun character and I appreciated the frequent verbal kicks in the pants he gave to Rip.
Overall, 2.5 stars. While there were parts of the book that were excellent, I couldn’t get over how much I disliked Rip to buy the HEA.
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.