About Books #82: Dating by the Book

There are so. many. rules when it comes to dating – or at least, there are if you believe the books. So, naturally, guess what – believe the books is exactly what Maddie does. And, as it so happens? Dating by the Book is maybe not quite as simple as it might seem!

I was offered an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are strictly my own.

The story

Six months ago, writer and bookstore owner Maddie Hanson was left at the altar. Since then, she’s had zero interest in romance. And this despite the fact that she runs a book club full of sexy eligible bachelors. But when her latest novel is panned by an anonymous blogger who goes by the name Silver Fox—and who accuses her of knowing nothing about passion? She decides to prove her nemesis wrong by seeking a romance hero in real life . . .

There’s the smoldering rock musician, the bookish college professor, and her competitive childhood friend who may want to steal her bookstore more than her heart. Even Silver Fox is getting in on the action, sending Maddie alarmingly—and intoxicatingly—flirtatious emails. And that’s not all. Her ex wants her back.

Now Maddie is about to discover that like any good story, life has twists and turns… And love can happen when you least expect it—with the person you least expect . . . 

The opinion

Quick disclaimer. I recognised myself maybe a little too much in Maddie’s tendency to treat everything in life as if it had to fit a narrative. As in, that thing people do where they go “oh and now this is going to happen and then they are going to come to that conclusion and…” No? Just me?

Because of that, Dating by the Book is basically the ideal book to read if you want to improve your knowledge of romantic plots and tropes. Because, you know, for just about every single thing that happens to Maddie? She tries to figure out which plot that could fit and – based on that – what will happen next.

And for a large majority of the book, that’s what makes this story tick. You know, apart from the soft burn romance. And the angst you get for whether or not Maddie will be able to make the bookstore work. Oh, and the interesting dynamic and play-on-classic-love-interests.

And then, the final 15% of the book happens. Because, you know, as soon as Maddie figures out who her mysterious reviewer is? She promptly regresses about 100 pages. Where she’d finally learned to think of people as such, and to realise that maybe book romance aren’t all that?

Well, she starts to think of this hugely complicated ruse to try and get the full surprise on Silver Fox – rather than, you know… Tell him? Because at this point in the book – for the reader at least – it’s been pretty obvious who they probably are. And maybe that’s why I got so annoyed at that last bit. Because it felt as if that entire last section could have been cut through the middle.

Looking back, there was one thing in particular that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. A big part of the premises of this book is an author who reaches out – mad, drunk – to a reviewer who gave her to-be-published book a semi-negative review. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what a giant no-no that is. I mean, come on – her roommate-slash-best friend is a reviewer. And we’re supposed to believe it’s just okay that she does that?

Especiallythe fact, that, up to the very end of this book, she aims to continue the ruse? That she doesn’t actually seem to learn from this at all? That it’s up to Silver Fox to tell her it’s okay? Nope.

The rating: 3/5

All in all, I really enjoyed the narration of Dating by the Book, as well as the different male characters and Maddie’s development. If the ending had been edited down a bit, this would’ve probably been a 4-star book. As it is, it’s still a really enjoyable read – and perfect for one of those days where you need a good bit of romance! (Goodreads)