Dr. Charlotte Rodriguez is single—again—and she blames Jane Austen. She made brooding, aloof men sound oh so dreamy. But after years of failing to find her own Mr. Darcy, Charlotte decides it’s time to swear off dating. She’s going to lavish all her love and affection on someone who actually deserves it: her new puppy, Bingley.
And there’s no one better to give her pet advice than her neighbor and coworker George Leneghan. He’s quiet and patient and, best of all, way too sweet to ever be her type. But as their friendly banter turns flirty, the unimaginable happens—Charlotte starts catching feelings.
Just as Charlotte is trying to untangle what it is she truly wants, George announces he’s contemplating a cross-country move. Suddenly, Charlotte wonders if she’s kept her soulmate in the friend zone so long that she’s entirely missed her chance at a happily ever after. Dear Reader, could it be possible she’s had it wrong all this time?
You ever read a romance novel and think, “Wow, this book is my story–aside from the characters who are preternaturally gorgeous and have more thrilling jobs, of course”? This was that book for me. George–who is as kind and as smart as my own Mr. Hellie–is the proverbial best friend and never the best man. Charlotte, who is kind, funny, generous, and beautiful, just can’t seem to find a good man because she’s constantly chasing ass-clowns. Did I feel a bit attacked while reading this book? I did, dear Reader, but truth often hurts. Finding Mr. Darcy is not the same as trying to turn an ass-clown into a silk purse. And let’s remember, Mr. Darcy had a MAJOR character arc throughout his story, as did Lizzie. So too do the characters in this book–they have to grow and decide they deserve better and in deciding they deserve better, they also need to be courageous and go after the love they deserve.
But while all this heavy character growth is happening, there are puppies and best friends and all manner of hijinks. I fell really hard for George, who is a transplant to Pine Hollow, and after two years is still being referred to as the “new guy.” Watching him stepping out and becoming a true Pine Hollow resident was heart-warming–and yes, I totally wanted to attend a gig where he and the band he’s a part of were playing. It all felt so real and adorable. There were additional characters I longed to see HEAs for, including a pair that I’m pretty sure are going to get their own book eventually.
If you like best friends to lovers, this is your book. Even if it’s not your favorite trope, I think this is the book where you’ll change your mind because you can’t help but read it and think, George and Charlotte belong together. While Emma seems to be the book that is supposed to best represent this couple–George has some Knightly moments as Charlotte is definitely an Emma–there are bits of Persuasion woven in as you see love that has been lingering on the sidelines, just waiting its turn, finally winning the happily ever after. This book is a love letter to the Friends to Lovers trope as well as Jane Austen, who I believe has sent most all of us on this road for love and romance, chasing that high that is Mr. Darcy…and Mr. Knightly…and Captain Wentworth. Well done.
Also the dogs are real cute.