I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Netgalley but all opinions provided are my own.
INT: Jessica C.’s house, a white ranch set off the road. Picture a house that looks well-lived in and loved and also cluttered with discarded kid-related things/suffering from some unfortunate design decisions made in the 90s.
The darkened house is lit by the glow of a Christmas tree. A bowl of milk speckled with Cap’n Crunch crumbs at her side, heavily pregnant Jessica C. contemplates going back to sleep, the errands she should run today, and whether her own love story (of repeatedly forcing a borderline antisocial man to talk to her until he gave up the fight and acquiesced to be her partner) is a meet-cute. (She knows it is not.) But she’s feeling particularly proud to be part of the human race this morning, and besides that, she’s still feeling the glow of the lovely Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters, which had an ending that could only be called adorable.
Noise in the background. Someone’s yelled. Jessica’s head springs up alarmingly fast from its focus on the computer.
Jessica: Oh shit. Baby’s waking.
I’m a hugeeeeee fan of the rom-com. And I’m not even that particular. Basically give me any movie with a vaguely romantic storyline and I’m happy. Woman fakes that she’s the fiancée of a man she’s never talked to who’s also in a coma? Two thumbs up! Female FBI agent has to get a makeover before the hot-kinda-asshole-ish coworker notices her in a positive way? Okayyyyy! Just make sure you give her some good music to walk out to post-makeover and end the scene with a funny reminder that deep down, she hasn’t changed. She’s beautiful and awkward!
So Rachel Winters’s Would Like to Meet is a kind of catnip for me. An astute, hilarious rom-com with an irrepressible heroine who has her own distinct style? Sign me up.
Evie Summers is an assistant agent who aspires to be an agent and secretly aspires to be a screenwriter. But she gave up her dreams after receiving some devastating criticism years before, and now she plugs away helping her boss with his clients. Said boss is super lazy and also incompetent (among other things), but hints that she’ll be up for a promotion if she can get their prize client—an Oscar-winning screenwriter—to finish the rom-com he’s already been paid to write.
Ezra is the Oscar-winning screenwriter. He’s a jerk. But he might have hidden depths. But he’s also a jerk.
Evie and Ezra make an arrangement: she’ll reenact a series of meet-cutes from famous rom-coms to see if it’s really possible to meet your one and only in one of those ways, and after each one, she’ll send Ezra a report of what happened. He’ll work on his rom-com script and indirectly ensure that not only does the place where Evie works stay afloat, but she’ll get a promotion.
Along the way, Evie’s helped by widower, single dad, and talented former photographer Ben, who makes it obvious that he looks down on her meet-cute project.
I should say that usually love triangle plots don’t work for me. But it’s pretty well done here. The pacing of both relationships, the way that Evie’s writing renaissance is linked to her meet-cute mission, and the way that her meet-cute mission is linked to her ability to keep her job, make it successful. Throughout the book there are times when I get vaguely annoyed/frustrated with Evie—sometimes I wanted her to throw a drink in a certain someone’s face/go a little farther in discouraging the person—but I could deal because of the aforementioned reasons.
Also, because this book is freaking funny. Evie gets herself into some really embarrassing situations but she’s resilient, positive (but not in an annoying way), and resourceful, and she lights the book up. Her friends are equally amazing. The friendship quartet that Winters creates is fantastic; it’s a no holds barred kind of friendship with LOL-moments and cringe-worthy moments; the friends are sometimes selfish and self-absorbed but also loving and hilarious and generous and all too human. In its capacity to let people be people, Would Like to Meet feels Bridget Jones-esque in some ways.
Though one aspect of this plot seems kind of obvious to me throughout the book, and there was at least one scene when I thought, Evie, are you kidding me?! (and not in a good way), most of it’s a delight, from the chapter openings—which look like they’re taken from a script, to any scene with Ben’s daughter Anette. Would Like to Meet is fizzy and sparkly and joyful, but it’s also substantive. These are people with some real struggles, even if they’re often in some ridiculous situations. And the ending is pure loveliness. I’m sure I had the biggest smile on my face, but really, read the book and tell me if you blame me.
In Would Like to Meet, Evie stands up for herself and is reminded of what makes her happy. She also finds her HEA…and luckily for us, not in the way she expected.
This is kind of a hard one to rate, but I'm ultimately going with 4.5 ⭐️ because what's good here is so good, and reading this book was a happiness-inducing experience.
Give me that HEA, please.
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