Author: Rachel Winters (twitter)
UK Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: Romantic comedy, contemporary fiction
Can you fall in love like they do in the movies?
It’s Evie Summers’s job to find out. Because if she can’t convince her film agency’s biggest client, Ezra Chester, to write the romantic-comedy screenplay he owes producers, her career will be over. The catch? He thinks rom-coms are unrealistic – and he’ll only put pen to paper if Evie shows him that it’s possible to meet a man in real life the way it happens on the big screen.
Cynical Evie might not believe in happily ever after, but she’ll do what it takes to save the job that’s been her lifeline… even if it means reenacting iconic rom-com scenes in public. Spilling orange juice on a cute stranger? No problem. Leaving her number in books all over London to see who calls? Done. With a little help from her well-meaning friends – and Ben and Anette, the adorable father-daughter duo who keep witnessing her humiliations – Evie is determined to prove she can meet a man the way Sally met Harry. But can a workaholic who’s given up on love find a meet-cute of her very own?
I’ve mentioned before how I struggle to find romance novels that suit my tastes. Part of this might be due to the fact that having found so many that don’t quite meet my needs, I’m hesitant to take risks on new titles for fear of just being disappointed. However, I know Rachel – in her other life she’s an incredible editor, who has overseen the publication of some amazing books. She knows what makes a book good, so when the news of her novel came out, I was excited. When I saw the premise, I was ecstatic.
I love tropes. I’m such a big fan of seeing the way people interpret them and play with them. Whether they’re playing it straight but doing it really well, or subverting it entirely in a new and original way, I love seeing how authors take them on and give them their own spin. And this book isn’t just one trope, it’s loads of them. Rachel has taken popular ones from romcoms and had fun applying them to her story and characters and she does it perfectly. I’ve heard people say that characters in romcoms are all psychopaths, and behave in ways which are completely outlandish in real life, which is why I delighted in the pragmatism of everyone in this book and the way all the scenes played out.
Evie may well be the romantic heroine I’ve been waiting for. She’s a smart woman, dedicated to her job, funny, normal, and a bit of a feminist. She’s not a caricature, she’s someone I enjoyed spending time with. The same with her friends – and I think Jeremy is probably my favourite – they’re people with strong personalities, and a rock solid relationship. Ben and Annette are perfect as well, the new friends Evie makes while attempting to complete as many meet-cutes as possible for her sexy-yet-maddening screenwriter client.
It’s clear from the start that broody-yet-sexy single dad Ben and gorgeous-but-arrogant Ezra are the two romantic leads in this, and Rachel does a brilliant job of balancing the tension from both sides. Halfway through the book I still couldn’t decide who I really wanted Evie to get with, and could have seen myself happy with whichever ending could have developed. There was something really special about Ben and Annette, their relationship, and the way each of them built a relationship with Evie as the book went on. It was so warm and gorgeous, and it hit all the right notes.
One of my favourite things about the story was the way that no drama was unnecessarily escalated simply because the characters weren’t communicating. At every misunderstanding, there was a bump in the road, but then they talked to each other like normal people. This meant that relationships and characters got to grow past the encounters and evolve based on new understandings. It’s a really natural progression of narrative that meant no-one was spending an entire book operating under a misunderstanding that could have easily been resolved.
The humour was exactly my cup of tea as well. Evie is dryly witty, and finds herself in ridiculous situations but never rises to be ridiculous herself. She remains grounded through chaos around her, and is all the more relatable for every time she stands there and goes “are you kidding me?” as the scene spirals around her. That doesn’t mean she’s passive: she’s brilliantly self-possessed and definitely the hero of her own story, pointedly not taking the back seat in the meet-cutes (as she continually reminds herself), but instead defining the terms of the engagement herself at every stage.
I blitzed through this book in three days, which felt like such a breath of fresh air after I’d struggled for weeks to get into The Sisters Grimm. I had thought I was suffering from intense reader’s block, but I think it just goes to show how much some books just work for some people. I couldn’t get on with The Sisters Grimm, but I inhaled this.
I can’t wait to see what Rachel writes next, because this book was everything I love about romcoms, with some bonus things which I’ve always missed. There were so many things which struck home, made the story seem so real, and parts I still remember and chuckle about. I can’t recommend it enough.
- A smart, funny, relatable romcom for fans of the genre, particularly of classic romantic films. Rachel gives nods to all of the classic movie romance tropes and clearly takes great glee in dismantling them.
- Evie is such a brilliant narrative character and there were so many points where I felt like she could be channelling me. I laughed out loud a lot reading this, the humour is so grounded and recognisable it feels very real. Anyone who’s been stuck on the M1 northbound in the rain will feel that particular scene deep in their very soul.
- The ending is built up to be so deliciously satisfying. It’s triumphant and wonderful and probably even better than when Katherine Heigl reveals what an asshole her sister is in 27 Dresses. It’s fantastic.
Rating: 5/5 – this is definitely going to be one I read again and again. It hit every sweet spot for me and surprised and delighted me at every turn.