Much Ado About You by Samantha Young
After being passed over for promotion (again), stood up by her flirt of four weeks and feeling like her life has taken a left turn and missed a few key markers, Evie Starling is ready for a break. When she sees an advertisement for a vacation rental that involves managing a Shakespeare-themed bookstore in northern England, she immediately books it. She’s looking for a reset, not love, but there’s something about the town and everything else that just calls to her. Will Evie go back to Chicago, or will she follow her heart (and a sexy farmer)?
Great start, dragging middle and weak finish.
The beginning is basically The Holiday minus Kate Winslet’s character, with the part of Jude Law played by a sexy childless farmer with an adorable Great Dane. Minus the Jude-Law stand-in, I love the beginning. Evie was ready for change, ready for a break after working to death for her boss, taking the hits and expecting payoff when he retired (*cough cough* as a natural shoe-in as his replacement), and when all of her expectations faltered, she just needed a reset. I felt that so much, and I loved her friendship with her best-friend Greer, who had just discovered she was pregnant (totally something that didn’t not affect Evie’s desire to get away), and had high hopes that this once a female friendship would last in the face of a romance.
It didn’t. Not really.
Not that I minded his rugged appearance. He was altogether the most masculine specimen I had ever come across. Even his voice was deep and rumbling. I felt that voice in places I had no business feeling it.
Roane is basically Sex on a Stick™️, with minor personality beyond doing anything that’ll please Evie (a woman he ~literally~ just met and fell in love at first sight with) and help his cousin, Cinderella. He and Evie have an immediate, lustful attraction, but oh no! She’s leaving in a month, he can’t do a fling, and she is trying to keep things light and breezy. So they decide to be friends, and she ends up hanging out as a local in the small town of wherever England.
“Evie, I don’t make a habit of asking tourists out but I can’t help myself. You’re brave, you love animals. You’re stunning. I’m a mere mortal.” His chuckle had a slightly disbelieving tone to it, like he couldn’t understand himself in that moment. “So please have a drink with me tonight?””
People attracted to cis men–if you ever hear something akin to this right after meeting someone, run. It’s a line.
But it can’t be a line, because Roane is All That Is Man and therefore a gem. I think the issue I have with this is that before leaving Chicago, Evie does a Scan The Mirror and highlights all of her flaws, but when she arrives she is literally the Hottest Woman To Ever Walk the Earth. She is Isabella Swan, all grown up (if she hadn’t been vampired and frozen at 18 or whatever). It was…a little much.
Plus, Roane has a cousin named Caro, who has spent the majority of her life verbally, physically and emotionally abused by her aunt, and Roane has never realized that it was that bad for Caro, despite her personality being the flavor of battered graham cracker and her dressing like a pilgrim. Evie helps free Caro from the shackles of the evil aunt, and then helps her blossom out of her forced-modesty and into something that reveals her tiny waist, and also gives her the courage to pursue her passion as a baker.
Anywho, Evie becomes something of a Fixer within the village, and while everyone seems to love this American tourist who descended upon them, it just felt…weird? Like Evie’s extreme exceptionalism immediately pushed past all their misgivings? There’s a village rivalry, star-crossed lovers, and I dunno but I felt that it was weird that a 33-year-old woman was hanging out with early twenty-year-olds.
Plus, the main source of conflict during Evie and Roane’s incredibly smooth-sailing relationship (who eventually get together and try to make it work after Penny the bookstore owner decides to move to Australia and wants Evie to stay on a little longer with the store) is something that seemed…really out of character for previously fairly easy-going Evie?
Sure, he lied to her, but the lie wasn’t anything bad, he was just basically acting like Nick Young and preserving a bit of his family history to avoid someone who could take advantage of it (or another way—stepping outside of his role to experience love with someone who didn’t know his baggage or lineage).
So the majority of this review has been all about the things that I did not like.
Obviously, there were many.
However, I rated this three stars instead of two. Why?
Because despite its irritation and moderately cookie-cutter Mary Sue romance, it was entertaining and enjoyable. Yes, it fell into the flaw where everyone only read classic books instead of modern stuff, but there were books, running a bookstore (the business model is a little sketch but you know, whatever), fascinating side characters in the people of the Anchor restaurant (cannot remember their names), and some really solid insights on sexism and growing up as a young woman.
Also, I’m a sucker for Shakespeare and it kinda pulls off some retellings of some of the bigger plays.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where we tell our kids to be confident and successful and then as soon as they are, we tell them to shut out about it and be humble. Especially women. Guys can get away with cockiness until the end of time, but if a woman is cocky, she is arrogant and superior.
Even worse, women are just as likely as men to condemn a confident woman for not being most enough. The only way we can change that attitude is to change it among ourselves. If you’re successful at something, celebrate that success. If you know you’re smart, then demand that other people treat you are someone of intelligence.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
Much Ado About You releases February 2, 2021 from Berkley