Sunday, September 15, 2019

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

You know, I took one look at that cover and thought, "Hmm, gee, this looks a lot like THE KISS QUOTIENT and THE HATING GAME." I thought it might just be me, but it looks like someone on Goodreads actually went ahead and compiled a list of all these pastel book covers with cartoonish characters on the front, so I feel totes validated. #NotAllBookCovers #InvasionOfTheChicklit

Chicklit was my gateway into the romance genre, so you could say that I have a real soft spot for it. For a few years, though, it seemed to go out of fashion, but now it's back with a vengeance and I'm so glad-- especially since a lot of the more recent offerings are much more empowering than some of the overworked/underpaid/self-hating women characters that graced many a page in the early noughties, along with way too many cocktail drinks and a ring of supportive girlfriends including -sigh- the obligatory "gay bff." My, how far we've come.

On the surface, WOULD LIKE TO MEET is pretty similar to its early noughtiess forebears. Evie is overworked and underpaid. She works as an assistant to an ungrateful and comically incompetent agent and his childish and irresponsible author, Ezra, who Evie has nicknamed "N.O.B." (number one boychild). She has a supportive group of girlfriends, including, -sigh- the obligatory gay bff, and there are several scenes involving cocktails, something called a "hen do" (which I guess is a bachelorette party in Brit-speak), and, of course, a wedding. What sets this book aside from the rest is a little something called self-awareness. The concept really allows the book to wink at the audience while acknowledging certain tropes as toxic. You see, Ezra/N.O.B. is supposed to write a rom-com, and Evie's totally chaotic dating life has inspired him-- if she sends him IRL meet-cutes to prove that love at first sight is real, he will agree to work in earnest and stop flaking. Evie agrees and proceeds to copy the oh-so-quirky and oh-so-coincidental meet-cutes from various famous rom-coms, with disastrous results.

Evie's group of friends is more developed than a lot of the cast of friends I've read about historically. Each of them have their own personalities, and they call Evie out when she acts irresponsibly (something that will appeal to readers frustrated with authors like Sophie Kinsella, whose heroines act in super psychologically dysfunctional ways and are never called out on it in earnest). And her gay BFF actually gets to have a personality and problems of his own, and isn't reduced to a stereotype. So you know what, okay book, I see you. I also adored one of the friends she makes at a soured meet-cute that involves spilled protein drink and projectile vomiting. Ben and his young daughter Annette are great characters, and end up becoming the peanut gallery at many of Evie's ill-conceived schemes, as well as her biggest cheerleaders when the going gets rough.

I'll be the first to admit that the concept is totally outlandish and not at all plausible, but it was so much fun I didn't care. It's been a while since I read a romance that told me it would be a total laff-riot (note: not the actual words) and ACTUALLY DELIVERED. I laughed so many times while reading this book. I actually started cackling in the middle of the night at 3AM and then had to try to calm myself down while looking around guiltily to make sure I hadn't woken anyone else up. Evie is such a great character and you find yourself buying into her adventures, while rooting for her to find success and/or a happy ending. It's never completely obvious who she's going to end up with, and the author deliciously turns a lot of tropes on their heads in her attempt to show that a happy ending isn't always enough if you don't feel validated for being who you are and doing what you love.

This is one of the best chicklit books I've read recently and I can't wait for you all to read it, too!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!  

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars!

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