Blurb from Goodreads
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?
• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.
Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.
But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…
I read this book for one reason and one reason alone… because it has illness rep. I needed to read a cute romance novel that fully explored what it means to live with chronic illness and pain. Because as you all probably know by now I live with chronic illness and pain so seeing a lifestyle on the page that I identify with is something that really moves me and makes me feel seen.
And this book 100% delivers on that.
Like truly this book excels at diverse representation:
The main character of Chloe Brown has fibromyalgia and lives with constant chronic pain. The leading man Red is dealing with the aftereffects of an abusive relationship.
And both are handled in a beautiful fashion. There’s no miracle cure. There’s no love healing all. There are instead medications and physiotherapy for her, counselling for him… it’s just great. And I loved that this book features a black romantic leading lady. That’s not a narrative that I have read much of in traditionally popular romance novels so it’s brilliant to see that changing.
The book is very funny. It’s got very likeable characters. There were countless paragraphs that I highlighted on my kindle re the illness rep…. but I didn’t love it. Ooops!
I really and truly wanted to love this book.
And there was so much good in it…
But that ending.
Gosh the melodrama.
I loved the idea of the climax that led to the story’s end just not the execution. To me this book was at its strongest before the lead characters started acting upon their feelings for each other… basically I’m a girl who’s all about the build up, the banter, the sexual tension. That to me is what makes a romantic comedy work. I want all of the build up and a quick happy ever after once they get together! I don’t love the trope that typically occurs 3/4 of the way through a romantic comedy which breaks up a couple just after they get together… and this had that. But at least the melodrama was grounded in good backstory so I can’t be too upset I guess.
I also wasn’t a fan of the steamy nature of this book. It’s not my personal preference to read about sex in such an overt and sometimes quite graphic fashion. Call me a prude or whatever but I’m more comfortable with a PG13 take on sexual activity.
Overall I’m still very pleased that I read this novel as the chronic illness rep was on point.
There were references to having different painkillers for different pain levels and what was especially great was showing how chronic pain sufferers try to keep the strongest pain relief to the rarest of moments and are always trying to save these most intense of prescriptions for that unknown day to come when things will get even more worse than rock bottom.
I also particularly loved how the book acknowledges the brain fog that so many of those of us with chronic illness live with and how we have to be inventive with how we remember important things. If you’ve ever wondered why I call myself “A Little Haze” it stems from my own personal experience of living in a constant brain fog and how everything feels hazy.
And I loved how the book explored the emotional impact that living with a chronic illness has and how the fear of a bad flare up can cause you to live in a constant limbo.
All in all this was a good satisfying read.