A commitment-phobic woman and a hopelessly romantic man strike sparks in this novel.
In London temporarily to visit her sister, Leia Scott, 26, is sure about a couple of things. One is that “there’s no such thing as true love,” a conclusion reached after a painful divorce; another is that it’s time to focus on her career as a fashion designer who makes upcycled, sustainable clothing. Though Canadian, Leia lives in New York City, supplementing her Frill-Seekers label with a job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. When she bumps into the very attractive (and very rich) Tarquin Balfour at IKEA, he’s immediately smitten with her. Like Leia, he also refurbishes the old, worn out, and discarded, as a property developer in his case. Unlike Leia, he’s tired of meaningless hookups and ready for commitment. Their initial encounter seems destined to fizzle. Fortunately, a business connection through Tarquin’s designer friend brings them together. Before long, Tarquin and Leia begin a thrillingly hot, just-sex relationship, but she eventually breaks things off. It’s over—yet when they meet again, true love may have the last word. In her latest romance, Middleton deepens some standard elements (beautiful woman, wealthy man, fear of commitment, aspirational lifestyles) through strong character development. Tarquin, for example, seeks treatment for his depression, growing in the process. The couple’s shared interest in seeing new possibilities for the old or abandoned also supplies a more compelling reason for their attraction beyond the physical. Not that the physical is neglected: Sex scenes are steamy, well written, and anti-shaming. Humor enlivens the drama nicely, but the narrative crawls sometimes, hampered by extensive backstories and the overexplaining of inessentials.
A slow-paced tale that offers well-drawn, multilayered characters and standout, sex-positive romance.
Pub Date: today
Page Count: 472
Publisher: Kirkwall Books
Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020