by Alexandria Bellefleur
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
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.My rating:
With nods to Bridget Jones and Pride and Prejudice, a charming #ownvoices queer rom-com debut about a free-spirited social media astrologer who agrees to fake a relationship with an uptight actuary until New Year’s Eve—with results not even the stars could predict!
After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. Love—and the inevitable heartbreak—is the last thing she wants. So she fibs and says her latest set up was a success. Darcy doesn’t expect her lie to bite her in the ass.
Elle Jones, one of the astrologers behind the popular Twitter account, Oh My Stars, dreams of finding her soul mate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy... a no-nonsense stick-in-the-mud, who is way too analytical, punctual, and skeptical for someone as free-spirited as Elle. When Darcy’s brother—and Elle's new business partner—expresses how happy he is that they hit it off, Elle is baffled. Was Darcy on the same date? Because... awkward.
When Darcy begs Elle to play along, she agrees to pretend they’re dating to save face. But with a few conditions: Darcy must help Elle navigate her own overbearing family over the holidays and their arrangement expires on New Year’s Eve. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a fake relationship.
But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars?
Content warnings: View Spoiler »toxic family (on-page), estranged mother (on-page), cheating (before book starts), grief (in regards to death of grandmother who basically raised characters), alcohol « Hide Spoiler
First off, that cover is GORGEOUS. A Pride & Prejudice-inspired, fake-dating, grumpy/sunshine, opposites-attract wlw romance? Yes, please! It’s an absolutely delicious trope sundae and I absolutely gobbled this book up.
“I think it’s nice,” Elle argued. “If you don’t believe in love, what’s left to believe in?”
Darcy tongue poked against the inside of her cheek. “Sweet in theory, but a bit starry-eyed, don’t you think?”
Was that a dig and a quip about her profession? “I’d rather be starry-eyed than jaded.”
Sick of being set up by her dating app founder, one-true-love believing brother, Darcy lies and says that she and Elle, the last of her disastrous blind dates, are now in a relationship – unbeknownst to Elle, who’s understandably furious and worried that it will affect her contract with Darcy’s brother’s company. But Darcy convinces Elle to play along, at least until New Year’s Eve, when they can happily “break up” and go their own ways. After all, what could two such disparate people ever have in common?
“Snow is pretty.”
She stuck out her tongue. “Oh please. For all of ten minutes before it turns into gray sludge that refreezes into black ice that’s responsible for 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes, injuring over seventy-five thousand and killing nearly nine hundred annually.”
That was depressing and yet, something about Darcy’s ability to rattle off random statistics—morbid as they were—was oddly hot. Disconcerting competence porn.”
Honestly, I can’t think of something much more opposite than an astrologer and an actuary! The astrology stuff went completely over my head, but even I could tell how passionate Elle was about it – and that’s one of the things I loved about Darcy as well. Darcy most certainly doesn’t believe in it, but she knows it’s important to Elle so she makes it a priority to learn about it for her – even if it’s just so she can figure out what makes Elle tick and why Darcy is so drawn to her. Darcy’s had her heart broken before, and she’s buried her feelings so deep that she’s not even really sure what’s going on with Elle. She has a plan to pass a final exam to get ahead in her actuary career, and she doesn’t have time for anything else. Elle is much more of a romantic, on the search for true love and relentlessly optimistic. It’s not that she’s unrealistic, but more that once she finds something that will make her happy, she reaches for it. On the surface, these two are complete opposites, but their immediate chemistry – even during their disastrous blind date – was electric and undeniable. The setup for the fake dating trope was excellent, and every little bit they revealed about their real selves just further cemented them as the perfect pairing in my mind. I may have spent a good portion of the book yelling at Elle and Darcy to just kiss already! This also has some surprise holiday content, including an absolutely heart-eyes scene with a Christmas tree.
“Quit trying to marry me off like I’m some Regency spinster in one of your favorite Austen novels.”
“Your name is Darcy.”
“And I might be a single woman in possession of a good fortune, but I’m not in want of a wife.”
This is very much more P&P-inspired than a straight retelling. For instance, sure, the main characters are named Darcy and Elle, and there’s some definite unfortunate impressions. Plus, Elle’s family members generally display some of the same character traits. Elle’s family, especially her mom, acts like she doesn’t have a “real job” and downplays her accomplishments. She feels inadequate, like nothing she does – short of getting a 9-to-5 office job – will ever be good enough for them. Luckily, Elle has plenty of support in the form of her roommate and business partner, Margot. I loved how supportive she was of Elle, even when she wasn’t sure she was doing the right thing. After the relationship’s dark moment, she doesn’t say “I told you so” or gloat, she just quietly reaffirms that Elle is a good person and deserving of love. Darcy’s brother has more boundary issues – he means well but tends to push harder than he should – but Brendon still cares deeply for her and comes from a place of making sure Darcy’s happy. My only complaint is that I think the book ended abruptly. I would’ve liked an additional chapter or epilogue to show their relationship after their reconciliation.
Overall, I adored this book, and can’t wait for Brendon’s book!