Sunday, May 22, 2022

How Not to Fall in Love, by Jacqueline Firkins

From working in her mother's bridal shop, Harper has seen the very worst of romance.  The whole wedding thing, with its impossible pressure to create The Perfect Moment, brings out people's worst natures.  The various Bridezillas (described in glorious anecdotes)  that permeate this story have jaded Harper's perspective.  Love is a fiction.

But her best friend, boy-next-door Theo, is in complete disagreement.  For him, there is nothing greater than love and he proves it by falling in love every week!  And overtures are spurned, the objects of his affection flee, and his heart inevitably crushed, he picks up the pieces and finds another girl to chase. Theo's hobby (LARPing) with it's drama and romance feeds his obsession and his perpetual optimism.  He loves the whole idea of the grand gesture.

Theo despairs that he'll never be fully happy.  Harper thinks he should stop trying so hard.  She promises him that if he would just relax and stop making such a big deal out of love, he could be happy.  He argues that she is in no position to judge because she's never been in love.  A challenge is hatched:  they will prove each other wrong.  And, of course, since this is a rom-com, it will all go completely off-plan, surprising the two of them when they find each other in the end.

Based on the classic trope of the girl dating the wrong guy in order to find the right one, we have all the basic ingredients in place:  the long suffering (and coincidentally, cute!) neighbor boy, the studly (and wrong) initial love interest, and the supportive BFF who selflessly supports Harper.  Fabulous bridal shop anecdotes provide humor (a function also provided by some brief LARPing).  A very supportive mother helps Harper sort through her adolescent angst.  Some pretty hot sex scenes spice things up.  At the end of it all, a completely over-the-top public confession adds the cherry on the top of this caloric romantic confection.

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