Another day, another book I found on NPR’s best books list. Funny You Should Ask (2022) by Elissa Sussman is a contemporary romance novel involving a super star stud of an actor and the reporter who interviewed him. Chani Horowitz grew up in Los Angeles and would love to prove herself as a “real” writer, although for the moment she’s thrilled that she can [barely] support herself with her writing. She gets assigned to write a flattering piece on Gabe Parker, before he begins his starring role in the next series of Bond movies.
The interview turns into an entire weekend, including a film premier and a party at Gabe’s house. The two are obviously attracted to each other, and it’s initially unclear where they ended it. But they go their separate ways, both get married, and they don’t see each other for ten years–until Gabe’s people ask Chani to do another interview. By this point they are both divorced, Gabe has quit the Bond films and is in recovery from alcohol addiction.
But the attraction is still there. After the interview–located in the same bar but ten years later–Chani agrees to go to Gabe’s hometown in Montana for the weekend. There they have the chance to work out all the misunderstandings that kept them apart ten years before and figure out if they could make it work in the present.
So, there’s nothing I really disliked about this book, but I did end up disappointed. The storyline jumps back and forth between the past and present. We don’t know until near the end of the book what actually occurred on that first weekend. And without knowing what happened between them, it’s hard to feel their connection. Even after reading it and knowing all the details, I really didn’t feel they had much of a reason to be together–or even like each other. They spent so little time together, and so much of that time drunk. They couldn’t have one conversation without misunderstanding each other. In fact, most of their conversations were just awkward. They didn’t seem to be having fun together.
One of the reasons I enjoy reading romance novels is the escapism, and it sounded like this would be a really fun read. But I never wanted to be Chani in this book. Chani never understood Gabe’s intentions, so she constantly felt awkward. The initial interview was awkward, she didn’t know if she was going to the premier as his date, and she just sat around by herself for most of the party at Gabe’s house. There’s one scene where there is some heat between them, but they’re both very drunk and it amounts to nothing. Then the rest of the book is them feeling awkward and hurt about that first awkward weekend. Although the writing was fine, I didn’t think this book was much fun.
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