Of course I had to read an actual romance novel during 💔 Achy Breaky Heart Month! 💔. Apologies to Chris Cannon in advance for choosing The Dating Debate. Chris, you may recall that I previously reviewed Boomerang Boyfriend and I’m sorry for any therapy bills you incurred as a result. I remain staunchly anti-romance yet your blurbs keep sucking me in. Excuse me while I continue one of my many
arguments debates with Nina and West.
Me: Hold on. Weren’t you just having an anti-Valentine’s Day rant a few pages ago?
Nina: Yeah, but –
Me: Yet now you’re planning to go to the Valentine’s Day dance at your school with the boy next door, who is gorgeous and can speak fluent Harry Potter.
Nina: Uh-huh, but note that I’m not going with the gorgeous boy who doesn’t get Harry Potter at all.
Me: Okay, so I get the book thing but why are all of the guys gorgeous?
Nina: Well, I am one of the main characters in a romance novel.
Me: Hmm… So, West. Are all the girls in this book good looking as well?
West: Well, duh! Nina is cute, obviously. I’ll bet that even spatula makeup girl is a stunner. Romance novel, remember?
Me: Gotcha. So, West, you’re named after a direction. Are you a Kardashian offspring by any chance?
West: I dunno. Let me go ask my mother.
Nina: Whoa! You have a mother?
Me: So, Nina, back to the whole Valentine’s Day dance thing. You don’t like Valentine’s Day or Valentine’s Day dances and you don’t want to go, yet you’re going with the gorgeous next door neighbour just to be stubborn. Is that right?
Nina: That pretty much sums it up. You want some chocolate?
Me: Obviously! Thanks! [grabs the chocolate and starts munching] Why don’t you just stay at home and read a book on Valentine’s Day? That’s what I’ll be doing.
Nina: Sounds great, but unfortunately as a main character in a romance novel it’s in my contract that my decisions don’t have to make sense and if I stay at home I can’t all of a sudden fall in love with the gorgeous boy next door, then find something to cry over before we decide we’re meant to be together forever due to our mutual love of Harry Potter.
Me: Okaaaay… So, West. Any thoughts?
West: I just hope Nina doesn’t find out my secret. Any chance we can change this from a romance novel to another genre so I can keep my personal business private?
Me: Nope, but I’d love that because I’m sick of watching you two kiss and argue.
West: This is going to end in tears. I just know it.
Me: Yeah, me too, but what can you do. Romance novel, after all. Personally I think the two of you need some therapy to sort out your trust, self esteem and shame issues before you seriously consider dating. I hear Lisa’s mother is a good therapist. Hey, what’s the deal with you two juggling issues beyond your years within your respective families, yet you act like 12 year olds when you’re dating?
West: You’re asking me? I’m just doing what Chris Cannon tells me to do! You’re the one with a choice here! Why are you reading this book when you’re so anti-romance?
Me: Sucked in by Harry Potter, just like you. Chris Cannon found and exploited my weakness – again. [sigh] And she just had to go and include an adorable dog too, didn’t she.
West: Tell me about it! I’m still trying to get dog fur out of my clothes.
Nina: So, you coming to the bookstore tonight with Lisa and I?
Me: Of course! Got any more mini bars of chocolate?
So, Chris Cannon, you sucked me in again. If I can enjoy the non-romance parts of your romance novels then I can certainly understand the appeal for readers who actively seek out that genre. I really enjoy the way you write, despite the genre.
If you ever decide to write a YA book that doesn’t major on romance and holds onto the social issues themes but delves deeper into them, I’ll be front row centre of your cheer squad. Regardless, I’m definitely interested in reading your next book (sorry!).
My Nitpicking: Without giving anything away I think there was more to one person’s mental health diagnosis than what was revealed in the book and would have loved for this to have been dealt with further as they were an interesting character. Unfortunately they came across as though the wheel was spinning but the hamster was dead and I think they were actually a lot smarter than they seemed.
My Nitpicking – The Sequel: Some of the characters without much page time came across as fairly two-dimensional. However, with the length of the book and the issues raised in it, there probably wasn’t enough room to add another dimension to these characters. Their contribution wasn’t pivotal to the story anyway.
Favourite Sentence Snippet:
“then he kissed me again, a slow, deep kiss that scrambled what was left of my brain.”
Vindicated! Kissing in romance novels does cause brain damage in characters!
Content warnings include issues surrounding mental health.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Teen Crush, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
Nina Barnes thinks Valentine’s Day should be optional. That way single people like her wouldn’t be subjected to kissy Cupids all over the place. That is, until her mom moves them next door to the brooding hottie of Greenbrier High, West Smith. He’s funny, looks amazing in a black leather jacket, and he’s fluent in Harry Potter, but she’s not sure he’s boyfriend material.
West isn’t sure what to make of Nina. She’s cute and loves to read as much as he does, but she seems to need to debate everything and she has a pathological insistence on telling the truth. And West doesn’t exactly know how to handle that, since his entire life is a carefully constructed secret. Dating the girl next door could be a ton of fun, but only if Nina never finds out the truth about his home life. It’s one secret that could bring them together or rip them apart.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is not for anyone who has to get in the last word, but it is for all book nerds, especially those who live next door to so called unapproachable gorgeous guys. There’s no debating the chemistry.