by Luci Adams
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: March 14, 2023
Source: Neon Rainbow
I received this book for free from Neon Rainbow in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Fairytale meets feminism in Luci Adams's Not That Kind of Ever After, a frothy adventure of one woman’s journey to claim happily ever after in times of serial dating, swiping right, and the quest to find your soulmate…
Bella Marble’s life isn’t what she imagined. Instead of an author, she’s receptionist at a small press. Instead of happily married, she’s single, and her lovey-dovey parents are divorcing. And to top it off, her best friend of twenty-nine years, Ellie Mathews, is moving out and marrying the heinously boring Mark. (He’s not worthy of her. No one could be). Bella feels rudderless, only slightly soothed by time spent with Ellie’s (not hot) brother, (he’s not hot) Marty (okay, he’s hot. But he’s also the aggravating brother she never had—right)?
When Marty recommends Bella stop looking for “the one” and just have fun, Bella finds a new, empowered side of herself. But when she posts a fairy-tale retelling of a disastrous one night stand on a storytelling app, all of a sudden, Bella has become B.Enchanted. And she’s gone viral.
Now, Bella’s in a fight with Ellie, her new roommates are so, deeply, weird, and the pressure is mounting to find new fairy tales to write about—but she’s got to live them first.
So, first off, this isn’t a romance. This is more along the lines of a Bridget Jones’ Diary – very British, very wry, very messy.
Everything in Bella’s life is falling apart. Her parents, who had the perfect fairy tale romance, are divorcing. Her best friend Ellie is getting married to a man Bella loathes and moving out with him. Her own attempts at romance are going nowhere, and oh, instead of being a writer, she works the front desk of a small press. But when her write-up of a boring one-night-stand starts going viral, her pursuit of those likes over all else further crack her life apart. Where’s a fairy godmother when you need one?
I spent a lot of time picturing that meme of Marie Kondo saying “I love mess!” while reading this book. Bella is, without a doubt, a complete mess. She has a weirdly symbiotic relationship with her BFF Ellie and sees nothing wrong with crawling in to bed with her – while she’s sleeping with her boyfriend. Bella despises Mark, said boyfriend, though she also freely admits that no one could ever be good enough for her best friend, no matter, you know, whether Ellie is happy or not. I had a hard time believing she was 29 because she just felt so immature to me.
I don’t mind necessarily mind messy and unlikeable heroines, but Bella was also utterly blind to exactly how hypocritical she is. While her experience with micro fiction sites was amusing, she has no problem despising a guy who gets a book deal from writing about his awful dates while simultaneously lapping up praise for her straight-from-RL dates lightly rewritten as fairy tales. So while the fairy tale pieces were initially amusing (the Seven Dwarves one had me laughing out loud), though the mean-spiritedness of it eventually grated on me. With about 20% of the book left, Bella does eventually realize exactly how selfish she’s being and how pretty much all her problems are self-inflicted, just in time for everything to be wrapped up nicely with a bow.
Despite Bella’s… everything… the book was still decently funny. The part I think that let me down the most is that the plot was extremely predictable. There’s no question really who she’s going to end up with, how the giant blow-up with Ellie is going to resolve, or what’s going to happen with her writing. You can basically read the blurb and guess with probably 90% accuracy. For such an interesting and promising premise, it was a definite letdown.
Overall, this didn’t particularly work for me.