ARC provided by Berkley Romance in exchange for an honest review.
I really, really wanted to give this book a higher rating. It started as a 5-star read for me, then went down to four… but now I’m sitting at three. I was truly loving it up until the main character did some things that made me so uncomfortable and annoyed.
This book takes place in Columbus, Ohio. More specifically, it takes place in a little part of the city called German Village. I’m a local, so seeing my city represented meant so much to me. Winfrey makes a ton of references to real, local businesses such as The Book Loft (my most favorite indie book store PERIOD), Pistacia Vera, Schiller Park, and so much more. I was LIVING for these and I was so ready to make an aesthetic. Like, give me all the cozy German Village settings PLEASE.
We follow Annie, a grown-ass adult who has really high expectations about how she wants to meet a man. She grew up watching 90’s rom com movies with her mother (who has passed away) so they hold a special place in her heart. But she also has some pretty unrealistic expectations from people she dates, and she wants nothing more than to meet a man in a meet-cute fashion. And I know that all sounds a bit weird, but because this is a rom com about rom coms, I was loving it.
Annie wants to be a screen writer, and she spends her days in German Village at a coffee shop called Nick’s (which I think it based off of Stauf’s, maybe?) But you’re not going to have many film making opportunities in Ohio. However, she currently lives in her old Victorian home with her uncle, Don, and she doesn’t want to leave the house or Don behind.
One day a movie production company moves into German Village and soon Annie lands herself a position as the assistant to the director of the film. The film is a rom com and it stars a famous, hot actor named Drew. Of course, this book being a quintessential rom com, Annie bumps into Drew while on set and spills coffee on him.
Boom. Instant meet cute.
The rest of the book is a lot of back and forth banter between Annie and Drew. Their encounters are funny and cute, and I was constantly rooting for them. I also adored Annie’s friend, Chloe, who was your typical honest/silly/always-there-for-you-BFF.
The thing is: I really did love all the rom com references. While I know that would be annoying to some readers, I knew all the cheesy rom com moments were necessary. And I knew where the story was going. But, because I knew where the story was going, I kept feeling a sense of dread that Annie was going to do a very stupid thing.
Y’all. She does something so stupid, so cringey, so goddamn awful I just want to hide under a rock due to all the secondhand embarrassment. And when that stupid thing is done, and a certain other character feels hurt, she has the audacity to play the victim.
Another thing that I was discussing with my buddy read group was how the author felt the need to bring up, several times, how rom coms lack diversity. And yet… she didn’t include any diversity at all. I really don’t understand the point of her bringing up that topic at all? Why even mention it if you aren’t going to do something about it? Why not have a marginalized main character*? She included one minor character who was POC but their soul purpose was to teach Annie a lesson so that was kinda weird. (*I should note the reason I’m even bringing up why there should’ve been a main POC character was because the film in the book is about an interracial couple and Chloe even mentions how whitewashed rom coms are.)
So while I did love the other cute, cheesy rom com moments and I absolutely adored the setting, I was just disappointed with how the last 1/4 played out. I mean, I enjoyed the very, very end, and I am looking forward to reading Chloe’s story next. But I hope the next installment won’t try so hard to make such bold statements about diversity and then not do anything about it on the page.
But I do still recommend this book if you’re a rom com lover, and I do think you’ll be rooting for Annie and Drew!