Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Review - - One Star Romance

One-Star Romance
by Laura Hankin
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 18, 2024
Reviewed by Hellie

Natalie and Rob couldn’t have less in common. Nat’s a messy artist, and Rob’s a rigid academic. The only thing they share is their devotion to their respective best friends—who just got engaged. Still, unexpected chemistry has Natalie cautiously optimistic about being maid of honor to Rob’s best man.

Until, minutes before the ceremony, Nat learns that Rob wrote a one-star review of her new novel, which has them both reeling: Nat from imposter syndrome, and Rob over the reason he needed to write it. 

When the reception ends, these two opposites hope they’ll never meet again. But, as they slip from their twenties into their thirties, they’re forced together whenever their fast-track best friends celebrate another milestone. Through housewarmings and christenings, life-changing triumphs and failures, Natalie and Rob grapple with their own choices—and how your harshest critic can become your perfectly imperfect match. 

After all, even the truest love stories sometimes need a bit of rewriting.

Hellie’s Heeds: 

I wasn’t sure how to rate this book. On the basis of a “romantic-COMEDY”--I wouldn’t put this in that category. But honestly I’m so confused by the rom-com category nowadays. I suppose if this book were set next to Bridget Jones’ Diary–which was more painful to read than laugh-out-loud funny, perhaps this fits the category. But I thought Bridget Jones fit the category because in essence, the story-line was a bit fluffy. The stakes were lower–the most Bridget had to lose in most of the episodes was her dignity, of which she had very little. But this story–oh, so many stakes. I decided to rank the book by how I felt at the end–as just a story, neither particularly romantic or comedic, and decided it was worth 5 stars because this book made me FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS. I admit, I hated feeling most of them.  

If a book could be a soulmate, this was my soulmate. I could identify with Natalie hard–the artist writer girl who spends the whole of her 20s flailing around, failing left, right, and center, making incredibly bad decisions and/or not dealing with her issues (mainly because she doesn’t make enough money to get the therapist she so desperately needs.) I shared scenes from the book and tried to explain the heroine to my husband–he hated her. *LOL* And I admit the first third of the book, I didn’t like her a lot either (even if the heroine was me in fiction form.) The hero, Rob, was much more likable, but he had his quirks. There was a point in the book where Rob meets a lovely woman who you think he’ll marry–and you think he should because Natalie is definitely not emotionally mature or available to date him–and for reasons I can only think of as “Hermione-Ron Wish Fulfillment”, they don’t end up together and Rob and Natalie finally work it out…but it felt like a stretch at some points. 

Where this book shines though is Angus. Angus the unlikely hero. I could write odes to Angus, the bumbling goofy guy who somehow ended up marrying way out of his league, but ultimately proves he is more than worthy of her and she is worthy of him. The places I laughed the hardest…and cried the hardest featured him. May we all be worthy of our own Angus one day. (I’m glad to say I found mine.)  

The “romance” between Natalie and Rob is a distant third…or dead-last compared to the relationship between Natalie and Gabby. From the first page, Natalie would be content to keep the Clubhouse girls only. Gabby is her best friend–and she can’t imagine anyone or anything coming between them. But then there was Angus. It was like being stabbed through the heart because Natalie’s insecurities and hurt that her friend had replaced her with “some guy” was something I could relate to. (My husband could not relate to it, but my husband has always been too old for friends, I think. Or maybe it’s a girl thing.) Reading this book healed a lot of hurts I still had; and in a romance sort of way, there is a happily ever after for all involved. No animals or beloved characters were killed in the writing of this book.  

If you are wanting a romance that primarily focuses on the hero and heroine–this is not really the book. Sure 99% of the scenes are either in the hero or heroine’s POV, but the story itself revolves around Gabby and Natalie, or Angus and Gabby, most of the time. It’s how I fell so in love with Angus actually–the real hero.  

If you are wanting a comedy, aside from the fabulous wedding scene, prepare instead to bawl a lot. (Or if you didn’t have a bestie who gave you abandonment issues and you think your girlfriends should automatically understand that they’re just friends while a husband is family, well, you may want to set the book on fire in several spots–I’m not sure you’ll ever like Natalie.)  

But if you want to read about Angus, a hero for the ages, I think you’ll agree he’s definitely worth all the stars. I’m not sure if I want to thank Laura Hankin for this story–or yell at her, “How dare you!” while sobbing into some tissues. I’ll have to check out her other books–I have a feeling they’re all of the complicated variety.



  1. OK - you got me. I will look for Angus. Thanks for the review. And introduction to another new to me author.