Title: An Ex for Christmas
Series: Love Unexpectedly, #5
Author: Lauren Layne
Release Date: November 7th, 2017
Length: 218 pages
Source: Borrowed from my local library
When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.
Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.
I do keep trying to read romance novels, including recommended ones. I’m trying to find ones I like, so I can enjoy the genre. I truly am.
It just….isn’t working well.
There’s nothing wrong with this book. The writing is cute and contemporary, and it’s essentially a Hallmark Christmas movie in book format. If you like friends-to-lovers plots, heroines who put more faith in inanimate objects than themselves, heroes who are unrealistically perfect in every way, and Christmas cheer, you’ll enjoy this. It’s a fluffy, frothy, contemporary romance- probably the romance novel equivalent of popcorn. And that’s not a bad thing! It just wasn’t my bag.
It’s intensely difficult for me to get on board with characters who refuse to have any introspection of self-analysis. Even more so if they dip their toe in long enough to realize there’s something to be figured out, but then staunchly refuse to figure it out. By nature, I’m constantly checking in with myself on all levels, so characters that opposite to me…it feels like they’re making a deliberate choice to be ignorant of themselves. And chosen ignorance is a huge pet peeve of mine.
I’m also not a fan of the perfect man plot device. Seriously, Mark has no flaws. He’s absurdly patient, he’s introspective, he’s a phenomenal cook, he’s a successful business owner, he’s a compassionate dog lover, he’s close with his family, he’s supportive of everyone, he’s a sex god, he’s gorgeous- I enjoy that he’s a Virgo (like me!), but he’s not a character, he’s a wish fulfillment prop. And when that happens (in ANY genre book) it flat pisses me off. How am I supposed to care about the protagonist if their being a decent person or finishing the quest or whatever results in a romance with an improbably prop? That’s not romance, that’s winning a prize. And it’s hugely problematic (in society in general) when we start thinking of people as prizes one earns by doing/being something “good”. Give me a real, flawed set of characters bumbling their way toward happiness, over some 2D mockup of the marketing department’s ideal mate. PLEASE.
So this book, for me, what just OK. I will continue trying to find a romance novel that doesn’t alienate me, and I appreciate when y’all recommend them.