by Alexandria Bellefleur
Series: Written in the Stars #2
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
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:
In a delightful follow-up to Written in the Stars, Alexandria Bellefleur delivers another #ownvoices queer rom-com about a hopeless romantic who vows to show his childhood crush that romance isn’t dead by recreating iconic dates from his favorite films...
Brendon Lowell loves love. It’s why he created a dating app to help people find their one true pairing and why he’s convinced “the one” is out there, even if he hasn’t met her yet. Or... has he? When his sister's best friend turns up in Seattle unexpectedly, Brendon jumps at the chance to hang out with her. He’s crushed on Annie since they were kids, and the stars have finally aligned, putting them in the same city at the same time.
Annie booked a spur-of-the-moment trip to Seattle to spend time with friends before moving across the globe. She’s not looking for love, especially with her best friend’s brother. Annie remembers Brendon as a sweet, dorky kid. Except, the 6-foot-4 man who shows up at her door is a certified Hot Nerd and Annie... wants him? Oh yes.
Getting involved would be a terrible idea—her stay is temporary and he wants forever—but when Brendon learns Annie has given up on dating, he’s determined to prove that romance is real. Taking cues from his favorite rom-coms, Brendon plans to woo her with elaborate dates straight out of Nora Ephron’s playbook. The clock is ticking on Annie’s time in Seattle, and Brendon’s starting to realize romance isn’t just flowers and chocolate. But maybe real love doesn’t need to be as perfect as the movies... as long as you think your partner hung the moon.
I loved the author’s debut book (the absolutely delightful f/f Written in the Stars) and could not wait to read this one, especially after I saw the gorgeous cover. And I was not disappointed! This book is best friend’s sibling and sunshine/grumpy perfection. It’s an ode to love (and to Seattle) as Brendon tries to convince a skeptical Annie that romance isn’t dead, and I had a smile on my face the entire time.
Brendon loves love, so much so that he founded his own dating app designed for people to find their one true loves. So when he finds out his sister’s best friend, Annie, who’s visiting Seattle, doesn’t believe in love, he decides to not just show her around Seattle – he’s going to show her, through a series of rom-com inspired dates, that true love exists. But it’s not too long before feelings get involved, and Annie’s set to move to London soon. Can true love concur all?
“How can you possibly say romance is dead when these movies are proof that it isn’t?”
Her laughter filled the car, sharp and sweet. It tapered off when she realized he wasn’t laughing with her. Her eyes widened. “Are you serious? Oh my God, you are. They’re movies. It’s all fake. It would be like using Jurassic Park as proof that dinosaurs are real.”
“Dinosaurs are real.”
“Were real.” She stared at him pointedly. “And now they’re dead.”
Normally in reviews of m/f romances I start off talking about the heroine, but Brendan is just *chef’s kiss.* He’s such a cinnamon roll that he’s almost unbearably sweet, a little bit impetuous but so good-hearted that it’s hard not to smile every time he’s on the page. I mean, he tries to convince Annie love is real because rom-coms exist. The logic is a bit sideways but it’s utterly adorable. It is a bit ironic that the founder of a dating app hasn’t found his perfect person yet, but he remains optimistic that they’re out there for him. While Brendon is the sunshine and rainbows romantic, Annie is completely cynical. It would’ve been easy to make Annie completely awful, but while she’s a pessimist about love thanks to a series of bad first dates, she does open up to Brendon. She’s terrified of risking her heart, of dealing with the cycle of hope and disappointment as each relationship either crashes or just fizzles out slowly. Annie’s arc is her deciding whether to stay with what’s safe or to take a chance on something that might just make her the happiest she’s ever been.
“I’m having trouble wrapping my head around someone meeting you and getting to know you and not wanting to spend as much time with you as possible. You’re like . . . Lay’s potato chips. You can’t eat just one.”
A sunbeam of warmth flared inside her chest. “Did you just . . . compare me to a potato chip?”
He nodded, face twisted, looking pained. “I think I did?”
Annie and Brendon’s relationship is sweet and slow, with Annie opening up slowly to the possibility of romance, and specifically romance between Brendon and her. She’s still cautious, though, and that caution is one of the primary barriers to their relationship. Should she accept the promotion and the international move for the job she’s realized she doesn’t really like, or should she take the risk of moving to Seattle without a job or a place to land? Are Brendon’s feelings for her real or just a remnant of the crush he had on her years ago? It’s sweet, it’s heartfelt, and the whole thing is relatively low angst.
While the romantic relationship is absolutely swoon, for me, the friendship between Darcy and Annie stole the show. While they haven’t stayed in touch as much as either wanted, and though they’ve both changed, they still care deeply about each other, and the impending move weighs heavily on both of them. In fact, in a complete reversal of the usual “best-friend’s-sibling” trope, Darcy actually encourages Brendon in his pursuit of Annie, to try to convince her to move to Seattle instead of London. It almost felt like Seattle itself was a secondary character. It’s obvious that Brendon loves where he lives, and the book is full of delightful touristy (and not so touristy) vignettes. It was an amazing vicarious experience and it’s got me longing to book a trip to Seattle later this summer.
“You’re telling me you’ve never stumbled across something great? Maybe you weren’t looking for it, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to you? Don’t you think that’s possible? That sometimes we just get lucky?”
Overall, I absolutely loved this book and cannot wait to see what the author writes next! She’s definitely earned a place on my auto-buy list!