Title: Love at First Like (review copy)
Author: Hannah Orenstein
Blurb from Goodreads
Eliza Roth and her sister Sophie co-own a jewelry shop in Brooklyn.
One night, after learning of an ex’s engagement, Eliza accidentally posts a photo of herself wearing a diamond ring on that finger to her Instagram account beloved by 100,000 followers. Sales skyrocket, press rolls in, and Eliza learns that her personal life is good for business.
So she has a choice: continue the ruse or clear up the misunderstanding.
With mounting financial pressure, Eliza sets off to find a fake fiancé.
Fellow entrepreneur Blake seems like the perfect match on paper, and in real life he shows promise too – if only Eliza didn’t feel also drawn to someone else. But Blake doesn’t know Eliza is ‘engaged’; Sophie asks Eliza for an impossible sum of money; and Eliza’s lies start to spiral out of control. Now she can either stay engaged online – or fall in love in real life.
Imagine this premise.
A young woman decides to strike back at her ex-boyfriend’s seeming new-found happiness by fabricating an engagement to an imaginary man. She unscrupulously schemes with unknowing hoteliers, bridal dressmakers, travel companies and high society publications, in exchange for social media advertising on her part to conjure up an over the top groom-less wedding and honeymoon, as she slowly loses grip on reality and thinks only of instagram fame and making money. And she entraps an unsuspecting man to become her lover, and then attempts to manipulate him into loving her and to agree to become her husband.
Sounds intriguing right.
A young woman falling victim to the pressures of social media and traditional female roles in society… Completely losing her hold on what is normal and what is fantasy. Could be such a fascinating character study couldn’t it… so it’s a great shame this book tries to pass off this descent into psychosis as a romantic comedy!
A ROMANTIC COMEDY!!!
The blurb promises fake dating but fake dating is only cute WHEN BOTH PARTIES KNOW THEY ARE FAKE DATING!
I just can’t with this book.
This book is an utter mess.
It simply was not written with enough gravitas to fully convey the complexities of emotion that the main character Eliza was experiencing. Instead the book delivered a story that was frustratingly unrealistic and painfully tedious to read.
Look I know when reading romantic comedies you have to do it with a pinch of salt. Because by definition they are always in this perfect little bubble of a world where the path to true and lasting love is runs pretty smoothly…bar a few well timed minor hiccups for a touch of drama!
But this book…
Oh honey no.
The main character Eliza was nothing short of sociopathic. Main characters in romantic comedies are supposed to be cute and quirky! NOT FREAKING TERRIFYINGLY COLD AND CALLOUS!!! She manipulated a man, Blake, into loving her; there’s an actual scene in the book where instead of discussing an awkward situation she tells him she loves him to get out of it EVEN THOUGH SHE DOES NOT and it’s just so deceitful and mean!
And to make things worse her family and friends enable this fraudulent behaviour!
Her sister Sophie even gets jealous of the fake wedding and is all oh I want my happiness too so give me an exorbitant amount of money out of our business for personal reasons (IVF)… like that could have been an incredibly emotional storyline but instead the sister was made to seem as equally irrational as the main character. I was enraged for people who wanted realistic IVF rep.
And then as quick as you can say unnecessary love triangle there’s the utterly bland and doe-eyed Raj who is perfectly okay with all of Eliza’s lying and cheating and just happily waits in the friend zone until a knight in shining armour is required… EYE FREAKING ROLL!
This book was entirely wrong in its genre.
I could read these types of twisted characters happily in a dramatic contemporary. But when I’m promised a cute and fluffy rom-com (as the cover and blurb would have you believe) then this book is an absolute no. It wasn’t even a subversive or darker style romantic comedy because too many things conveniently fell into line for the main character.
The tone of this book was entirely misjudged and therefore it’s a big fat nope from me.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
This edition published 6th August 2019