I have read Kate Meader before, and the book I read before wasn’t terrible, but I didn’t love it. I felt like it was middle of the road as far as romance goes. (Flirting With Fire, Hot in Chicago series 1) I rated it 3 stars, which means that it was just “okay”. I went ahead and requested this one because I love a good enemies-to-lovers and the premise sounded interesting. But this book told me quickly what kind of book it is, and I was not a fan.
Immediately, near the end of chapter one, I get this line:
My curiosity rears up like a punch. If it looks like her, it’s my type.
Excuse me? IT?! He’s talking about a human being here. A woman he completely objectifies. I’d like to say that this is just a one-off, throwaway line that doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the book, but alas.
The book repeatedly tries to characterize Max (the real winner I quoted above, who is the male main character of this romance) as a feminist (?) but falls completely flat. We get lines such as:
His grin tells me he knows it was, and hey, isn’t this fun how we’re all in the know? Again, I’m struck that maybe there’s more to Max than he’s chosen to present.
But I’m not some old-school guy who thinks women have their place. Hell, I’m downright encouraging of the women in my life being all that they can be.
But he constantly objectifies her, and slut shames women. He even references his brother’s matrimonial happiness as being a “girl” thing. (“…my goal is to ensure he gets everything he’s ever dreamed of since he was a little girl.”)
Even the third act conflict that drives a wedge between the main characters is contrived and a little stupid. Their initial conflict (wedding planner vs. divorce attorney) is never explored in a satisfactory way, Max ends up just getting swept up in the romance of it all and everyone lives happily ever after. There’s no stakes, no real character development, and Max is a huge jerk. The book was readable, it didn’t take me too long to get through it, but it nearly turned into a hate read because I do not abide slut-shaming jerks who think they are “woke” when they are anything but.