With a lot of personal stuff going on recently, I’ve tried starting a few other books, but they just weren’t keeping my interest. So, I healed my rut by returning to Half-Price Books to sell my latest failure reads. It was there that I found Much Ado About You by Samantha Young.
Just from that title and the cover art, I knew I had found the book to cure my reading rut. I took it straight home and read the whole thing in less than twenty-four hours. It’s been a while since I’ve had a reading sprint, but Lord did it feel good!
Evie Starling is thirty-three years old, in a dating rut, and out of a job (she quit after some yucky gender discrimination). She quickly discovers a bookstore/apartment up for rent in Northumberland, England, and jumps on the chance to escape her life. Naturally, as a lost American in a quaint English town, she makes all kinds of friends and entangles herself in all kinds of drama. Who knows? She might even find love with Roane Robson, the hot farmer who frequents her favorite pub…
I’ve never seen myself more in a character than Evie! We both spent part of our lives in Chicago and northern Indianapolis, are freelancers, avid Shakespeare fans, and dog lovers. How she met her best friend Greer even mirrors how I met my best friend: meeting in college and not letting go of each other since.
Even more amazingly, Evie is tall, but does not have a perfect body. The mere fact that she is an average woman with an average body made her feel very believable (it’s a huge pet peeve when an author tries to pass a woman off as “average” when she is clearly a supermodel)!
Not to mention that Evie is a pretty mature (for the most part) protagonist. For example, you would think that at some point, Evie and Greer would have a misunderstanding that would tear them apart. But their friendship is not that superficial, and it was refreshing to read about two friends actively trying to understand one another’s situation, rather than being selfish assholes causing stupid drama!
I also liked one scene where Evie calls Roane, the hot farmer, out on some bullshit. Something bad happens and causes Roane to go into a bad mood, and Evie tells him, “What, you just going to go off and brood like an emotionally immature Gothic hero?” Thank God there’s at least one literary heroine that doesn’t find brooding hot!
But, once again, I find a romantic escapist book where the main couple is just…okay.
In fact, I kind of felt like I was back in a Meg Cabot book where the characters only know each other for a few months and decide to marry. I used to think that was normal, but here’s my experience: I’ve been with my boyfriend for just over six months, and I’m still not ready for marriage. Perhaps Evie and Roane’s whirlwind romance does sometimes happen, but I don’t find those compelling.
I found it a little off-putting how quickly Roane seems to want Evie. Like, she saves his dog from an accident and suddenly he is thirsty for her. I know I would be grateful if a cute guy saved my dog, but…I would not be pressing my advantage so quickly…
And how many times characters wink-winked at Evie for “only being friends” with Roane when the sexual tension was off the charts? For some reason, I find it incredibly annoying and stupid and cliché when the characters don’t see what’s plainly obvious.
(“So, how about you and Roane, huh?”
“Oh, we’re just friends.”
I swear, it’s the EXACT same exchange every time and it gets old after the fifth time it happens.
Honestly, I was more compelled with Evie pulling some Much Ado About Nothing shenanigans with the townspeople (like I said, she was mostly mature) and helping bring Roane’s cousin Caroline out of her shell. Long story short, Caroline has to escape from a cruel, controlling cow of an aunt, and it’s so satisfying watching Caroline stand up to her.
Dare I say, even more satisfying than any development between Roane and Evie.
Like any romantic comedy, there is a grand misunderstanding between the main leads, and…Evie’s reaction to it was kind of dumb. The reason for the misunderstanding sounded less like a cause for anger and more for surprise. I was kind of taken aback that Evie got as angry as she did. But I guess every romantic comedy has to have some pointless drama to spice things up.
There were definitely things I liked about this book, but the rushed romance was not among them. I like that the characters are aware that it’s fast, but that doesn’t change the fact that some of the smaller side stories were more interesting. I guess in the end it was another run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, but I did (mostly) like Evie, and I did (somewhat) enjoy her adventures. Still, it’s probably not going to be a go-to comfort read.