CW: emotional abuse, stalking, manipulation, prison system

The romance is very good, albeit a little slow. I think the beauty of this book is that you realize the main characters are in love with each other just a little bit before they realize it themselves. It’s all in the details. By the time the characters realize it they’re well on their way to doing cutesy couple things that are appropriate for romance trope books.

When you first start this book, I think the hardest thing to get past is Leon’s writing style. It certainly stopped me, and I’ve seen other people note it as well. But after you get to know Leon a little, it makes sense why his perspective is written the way it is. Leon is quirky, quiet, and a straightforward guy—which is why O’Leary choose to write in this style. It’s one of those rare books that doesn’t actually require chapter headings telling the reader whose perspective we’re reading because it’s so distinct. There’s a lot of books that don’t put the heading and desperately need it.

I think I was expecting something entirely different from this book because to me it was marketed as a very lighthearted book. But it’s very not, which I ended up loving it for anyway. But it was not what I expected. I think I was expecting something like a You’ve Got Mail type of situation, and it very much channels those vibes. But it stops there, nipping the cheating subplot and also adding a lot of depth with a light, if not surface skimming, commentary on the prison/justice system in the UK (I have no idea how accurate it is—there’s so much I don’t know about the US prison system let alone the UK one) and Tiffy dealing with a possessive, emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend who stalks her.

Personally, I felt Tiffy’s recovery from her ex is handled very well. She goes and sees a therapist and with the support of her friends, begins to work through the gaslighting she’s dealt with. We see how it affects her relationship with Leon, but we also see how she works through it. She constantly questions herself wondering if what she’s doing is too much or if she’s overthinking something, if she’s giving herself enough credit or not—I can 100 percent say that’s accurate as I’ve dealt with manipulative relationships in the past. I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about this book, but I think it’s so important to have characters like this in books. To see someone recovering from emotional abuse and a partner who is expressing the purest kind of romantic love. Leon’s love for Tiffy is patient and kind and all those things that Corinthians talks about. It’s the kind of all encompassing love; we see him constantly put her first and support her. He recognizes boundaries and gives her space when she needs it. When he does mess up, he apologizes and ultimately recognizes how he was wrong. When Justin manipulates the world into thinking Tiffy says, ‘yes’ to his proposal, there’s a reason why Leon is so quick to believe her. When confronted about it, we recognize how his train of thought—but the book does not excuse where he went wrong.

All in all, this was a great debut and I can’t wait to read O’Leary’s second book The Switch that comes out in 2020!