Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.
So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.
But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.
It’s a bane reviewing books by your favorite authors sometimes, because you expect so much from them and you really want to love the book a lot. And then you end up being quite harsh about it, because it didn’t live up to the expectations. That’s what happened with this one. I enjoyed the story and had a lot of fun while reading, but I inadvertantly kept comparing it to Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, which was probably not right on my part.
Millie and her gang of friends Reid, Ed, Alex and Chris are all working as professors or research assistants at UCSB and being very dedicated to their work isn’t conducive for their love lives. While Millie is able to create fun and interesting online dating profiles for her friends, she is not comfortable talking about herself, online or in real life. The death of her mother in her childhood and subsequent mourning by her father left her as an emotionally closed off person, who is very good at listening to others but keeps things very close to her chest. She knows so much about her close friends but their knowledge about her is quite superficial. Being a criminology professor with a fascination for female serial characters and very much in love with her work, leaves her with little time for dating and her aversion to being emotionally open lets her live in her bubble of work and friends.
I really loved the friend group. They are quite frank with each other, are very funny and I loved their interactions. Their group chats and texts are very entertaining and I was really looking forward to more of them. Reid and Millie are best friends and I really liked the comfort they shared in each other’s company; it felt very realistic and natural. The emails that Reid shared with her online alter-ego Cat were very honest and heartwarming and just like Reid, I kept hoping that Millie could be that open in real life. It’s also quite easy to relate to both Reid’s loneliness and wanting more from a partner; and Millie’s unwillingness to be more vulnerable and open herself up to a world of hurt if she loses her best friend in the process.
The humor in this book is on point, very similar to other Christina Lauren books. It was also very interesting to get to know about the modern online dating landscape, and how the reality is so different for women as compared to men – the guys get matched to girls who want to chat with them and get to know them better, Millie gets asked for full body shots or sent dick pics. I also liked that all the characters were in their late 20s, early 30s because it is possible that not everyone has their love life sorted just because they are settled in a career. I absolutely loved the fact that they were all in academia but none of their work, especially Millie’s as a criminologist is developed upon, and that disappointed me. It would have been great to know more about their interactions at work or why they chose their respective fields. I also totally felt the amazing friendship between Reid and Millie and will completely believe that they make a great couple, but there was not much chemistry between them – atleast not the sexy swoon worthy kind; they are more respectful and understanding of each other. And despite this, she remains dishonest with him for a long part of the book and that angered me a little. It makes for a good conflict and angst in the story, but it didn’t endear me to her.
Overall, this book was fun and entertaining in Christina Lauren signature style. But it had it’s problems and even though I loved the friendship dynamic and wanted to be a part of their group, the romance left me slightly unsatisfactory. I think if you are a fan of the author duo, you should not compare this one to their previous works and that might help you enjoy this book more. I also feel that you should take my review with a grain of salt and have fun reading this interesting romcom 😉😉
PS: Thank you so much to Netgalley and Gallery Books for providing me with this advance reader copy. All opinions expressed here are my own and unbiased.