I can’t express how excited I was when I first got to know about this book, and that joy doubled when I was approved for this ARC. I don’t know if it was my high expectations or the book itself, but I’m not quite happy with the experience.
Maddie is still struggling to with deal with the grief over her ex-fiancé ditching her at the altar six months ago, while also figuring out how to manage her not so well running bookstore in her small town. I liked that she passionately loves her books and the store, and also wants to find her very own romance hero. But I just didn’t like her as a person. She is so flighty and indecisive and occasionally selfish, and just can’t make up her mind about anything. I’m all for introspection in a character when they are at a critical juncture in their life, but Maddie is not introspecting anything. She just doesn’t want to critically examine anything in her life, always living in her imagination and hoping for someone to come and sweep her away without putting any actual effort.
The side characters were all pretty interesting. Dylan was the typical flirty rockstar but he wasn’t obnoxious and could be very charming. Max came across as very critical of Maddie initially but as the book goes on, we realize he really cares about her and just can’t stop himself from giving unnecessary(sometimes even necessary) advice. Charlie is a literature professor and his conversations with Maddie tended to be more fun and bookish than flirty. While I hated how the initial contact with Silver Fox happened, I definitely enjoyed her emails and messages with him. That was the only place I thought Maddie tried to be honest. Peter, the ex-fiancé is a manipulative jerk and I absolutely hated that she even contemplated going back to him even though his true colors were right there to see.
The writing was actually pretty easy and amusing to read. The plot itself with the anonymous online friend trope and a whole gang of interested suitors was quite promising, but I think it faltered somewhere in the execution. Except for the emails, I don’t think I felt connected with any of the possible couples, so I wasn’t even rooting for anyone. One thing I liked was that I couldn’t guess the real identity of Silver Fox until it was very obvious, and it was impressive of the author to be able to maintain the mystery. I also thoroughly enjoyed the book club discussions because everyone seemed to bring a different perspective to the well known stories, though I was slightly miffed that Maddie seemed to think only classics were the right books for her book club. I also didn’t like the first time she emailed Silver Fox just because he gave a 3 star review. Even though I understand that he could have worded his review better, I hate the idea of an author finding out the email of a reviewer and then messaging them in a drunken rage. It just put me off immediately and that might have totally changed my perception about Maddie as a character and overall, the book itself. We’ve seen enough of this passive aggressive stuff in real life, and I don’t think romanticizing this behavior in a book is the right way to go.
On a final note, I think this book had a lot of potential but it just didn’t work for me. There is an interesting group of characters, some wonderful conversations about books and the lovely setting of a small town bookstore, but ultimately I just couldn’t like the main character and didn’t feel invested in any of the relationships. It was still a mostly entertaining read, which I was able to breeze through quickly and enjoyed some laughs along the way. I guess I was just hoping for something more. It’s not really a bad book per se, so I would definitely recommend that you pick it up if the premise interests you. It might however be better to temper your expectations a bit.
PS: Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are solely mine.