Thursday 9 April 2020

#CBR12 Book 17: "Not the Girl You Marry" by Andie J. Christopher

Page count: 320 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

Official book description:
Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he's not sure he wants her to dump him.

Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who's focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she's determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.

Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other. 

Remember back in the early 2000s (soo long ago now), when both Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey were big names in romantic comedies, and then they did one together - How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? Hudson is the bored women's magazine writer having to write "How to" pieces and desperately wanting more serious jobs. She needs a guy she can date and drive away using all the classic mistakes women tend to make in the dating world and will write an article at the end of it all. McConaughey's character is an ad exec who wants a particular job and needs to convince his boss he can make any woman fall in love with him. His work rivals set him up to ask Hudson's character out. He needs a woman to stay with him for at least two weeks, she needs a guy she can drive away. Lots of hijinks ensue and of course, they fall in love over the course of the movie.

Andie J. Christopher takes the nearly 17 year old rom com and gender-swaps it. Jack is the guy who has to write one last "How to" website article, while Hannah needs to prove to her boss that she's in a serious, going places relationship, so she can prove she knows romance and can be trusted to plan weddings. Hannah has had a number of unsuccessful dating experiences in her past, with her last long-term boyfriend burning her deeply by saying she's "not the girl you marry". She has a deeply cynical view of men and dating. Jack, on the other hand, is a bit of a serial monogamist. He falls deeply and tries to be the ultimate partner for any woman he's with. Unfortunately, sooner or later, the women he's dated in the past get bored and move on. He's instantly smitten with Hannah when they meet at a bar, especially because she's so determined to be unimpressed by his good looks and charm.

I really did how well Hannah's cynicism and insecurities was explained in the story. A lot of guys in her past were far too interested in her simply because of her biracial heritage, and she keeps feeling like she's not enough of either side of her background. She feels like her ex dumped her because she wasn't black enough, while at other times in her life, she felt left out because she wasn't white enough.

For much of the book, the two protagonists blatantly lie, deceive and use the other, which took away some of my enjoyment of the story. Ms. Christopher writes the book from the alternating POVs of Jack and Hannah, so the reader comes to understand both of their motivations, but it was still hard to root for two characters who were basically entering into a romantic relationship on a series of lies. Truth be told, while I have always been a huge fan of romantic comedies and am so happy that the genre is having a resurgence (thank Netflix!), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was nowhere near one of my favourites. So I probably was never going to adore a book based on the same premise.

As February was Black History Month, I wanted to read more books written by and about diverse black women. I chose to read mostly romance because even back in February (it seems like years ago and we had absolutely no idea what was coming), I needed comforting reads with guaranteed happy endings. This was the first of several, by no means my favourite, but well-written enough that I will absolutely check out other books by Christopher in the future.

Judging a book by its cover: Like pretty much all contemporary romances out there at the moment, this one has a cute cartoony cover. The story is a gender-swapped version of the movie, the cover heavily mirrors at least one of the more well-known film posters (although I don't remember the dog). The poses of the characters on the cover are pretty much identical to those of the actors on the posters. I hadn't noticed that at first, and it's a nice touch.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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