I really, really wanted to love this one. The hero’s a palaeontologist, the heroine’s a baker and secret dinosaur nerd, the heroine has to deal with complex family dynamics, the hero’s super sweet and understanding… this book has so many incredible elements that are usually my catnip when it comes to romance novels.
Unfortunately, I found myself struggling to get through it. I did end up tapping out and DNF-ing about 2/3 through, so if the story suddenly picks up in the final third, I’m afraid I missed it.
The writing is solid, and the characters are multi-faceted with interesting backstories that help explain why it takes them 300 pages to get to their happily ever after. But I think I just kept hoping for more. I saw how both characters found the other attractive, and I saw a couple of moments where they connected emotionally, but I never really felt the chemistry and connection between them. I see the push and pull happening, mostly from Alisha keeping Quentin at bay, but almost like from a distance, in that I never really quite felt the tension keeping them apart.
I thought the author did a really good job in explaining why Alisha was so hesitant to tell her grandparents about her plans to move to the big city, but the novel also kinda presents her move as a done deal from the start. And even when circumstances make her delay the move, I never quite felt it was a real risk that she’d change her mind altogether. That detracted a lot of the tension for me, because I figure she’d just end up telling them at some point. And from stuff her grandmother says, I also think it’s not quite as big a deal as Alisha’s making it out to be. Not to diminish the complexities of family responsibilities, but this subplot felt more drawn out and complicated than it had to be.
And while I understand why Quentin would have a problem with that, given his romantic history with an ex who kept secrets, I also never quite felt why it would be such a big deal to him? There’s a huge difference between his ex’s secrets and the ones Alisha keeps, and a huge difference in the circumstances between the two. Most frustrating, I think, is that I’m not even annoyed at him for being so unreasonable; mostly, this barrier to their relationship feels too flimsy to take seriously, so it’s just a bit of a waiting game till he figures that out.
Ultimately, interesting hook, and I love that it features nerdy characters. I just never quite got pulled into the story nor invested in their relationship.
Thank you to Thomas Allen Ltd for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.