Happy Pub day to RomEantically Challenged by Marina Adair. I really liked this rom-com but probably not for the reasons you may think! Thanks to Goodreads and Kensington Books for this gifted ARC for an honest review!
Goodreads describes the story as Three Men and a Baby Meet 27 Dresses and I think it’s a pretty good interpretation. Here’s the main scoop: Physician Assistant Annie relocates to Rome, Rhode Island after her fiancé dumps her, immediately meets someone new, and then steals her wedding date/venue/etc. She moves into a quiet cabin in Rome and is adjusting to life in the new town when the cabin owner (Emmitt) suddenly shows up, back in town after being injured in his photojournalist job. The predictable sparks fly. Additionally, Emmitt’s daughter’s mom has just died, and he struggles to be emotionally available for her after traveling so much for his job. Along with his daughter’s step dad and uncle, Emmitt and company often struggle to rein in their girl and help her work through her emotions. So, there’s a lot going on!
Here’s what didn’t work for me:
Emmitt is the stereotypical macho “player” in Rome. This kind of character trait always makes me face palm a little but his womanizing ways were a little too in my face for my liking. Also, I don’t think their love story wasn’t anything special since it was mostly lust turned to love.
Emmitt’s relationship with his teenage daughter was a bright point in the book. It was pretty funny to see her run circles around her dads. I also liked how Adair explores how each man processes the grief over losing the lady who held them all together. Men grieving and processing their emotions was refreshing and something we need to see more of.
The climax of the book/ big problem and the solution felt a bit forced.
Here’s what I loved:
My favorite theme in this book focused on Annie’s past. Adopted from Vietnam as a baby by white parents, Annie never feels like she truly fits in. She struggles knowing she wasn’t wanted by her birth parents but was wanted by her adopted parents and it’s such a complex dichotomy. Adoption is close to my family so I really loved the complexities with adoption that Adair focused on. In a truly heartbreaking scene, Annie is asked to consult on a patient by a well respected doctor. When she arrives in the exam room, the doctor assumes that because she’s Asian, she can speak Chinese with the patient and wants her to translate. While difficult to read, these are things that I don’t experience as a white women. Being in Annie’s shoes in this humiliating experience is an important lesson.
While the romance of the book isn’t anything extraordinary, I think the themes of grief, adoption, loss of a parent, and realizing that others’ actions aren’t a reflection of you are such important themes.