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Book Review: When We're Thirty

Will Thorne and Hannah Abbott made a deal when they graduated from college: if they are both unmarried by the time they both turn thirty, they’ll marry each other. Fast forward eight years and Will shows up on Hannah’s doorstep after a five year absence with a huge diamond ring and a proposal. Hannah is rightfully skeptical, but due to her employer not having health insurance, she agrees. Now they have to come up with the rules for being fake married… as well as follow them.

First off, I love the cover. But unfortunately it implies that this book is a RomCom when it’s really more of a family drama with romantic elements. I did not expect high tension family drama that includes but is not limited to: cheating, parental death, parental abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, manipulation, and slut-shaming. It’s a lot. And it was a lot more than I was expecting.

The plot and motivations also didn’t work for me. And here I need to give some minor spoiler alerts.

So, there is a marriage pact but it’s mostly handwaved away. What this really is, is a marriage of convenience romance. On her side, she has a bum knee that may need surgery after a car accident (Partially torn ACL). As someone who has a partially torn ACL, I can tell you that they aren’t going to let you self-diagnose and they are definitely going to hold off on surgery as long as possible. And since her injury was caused by a car accident, her car insurance should cover her… even the lowest levels should cover this. (I say this because I was in a really bad car accident and they covered all of my bills.) So Hannah’s reasons for marrying Will don’t land for me.

Will’s reasons for the marriage were equally hard to swallow. In order to make partner in his family firm, he needs to look stable… but after his older brother cheated on him with his girlfriend, Madison, and they are now engaged he’s having issues concentrating and has made a big mistake. So clearly the way to show that he’s stable and with it is to have a Surprise!Marriage with your former college friend. Again, the reasoning didn’t make sense.

I also found one of the main arcs problematic. Specifically the Madison plot. It reeked of slutshaming and unbelievable pettiness. It also felt like manufactured drama for the sake of drama.

I could have overlooked this if the romance had been on point and believable… but this book suffered from a lack of editing. And by that I don’t just mean copy editing (although it could use that too), but content editing as well. So many scenes – important scenes – petered out and left the reader hanging. A lot of growing together or intimacy scenes were handwaved away while others that had nothing to do with the romance were covered… I don’t need to know every single vow that they made or what kind of coffee everyone drinks. There was too much focus on what felt like inconsequential things and not enough on the romance itself. Hannah and Will were okay characters, but they didn’t do enough together on the page to make me believe the chemistry. The book didn’t need a sex scene… (And it doesn’t have one – all sex is closed door) but it needed more moments of flirting, intimacy, and growing together.

Worse, this is billed as a Romantic comedy and I didn’t laugh once while reading this. And it wasn’t because the humor wasn’t to my taste (I am not a fan of sitcoms/slapstick), it just wasn’t present.

I did like some of this book. For instance I actually liked the realism of Brian’s relationship with Hannah… I even liked how it ended. (Although I felt really bad for the guy… he wasn’t a bad guy just not a good fit for Hannah and Kudos to the author for showing that.) But I was sitting there going… “Hey, maybe get your key back from him.” Which didn’t happen and had me facepalming.

I liked the realism of NYC. NYC and the Hamptons were as much characters as the rest. I also liked Riley, Stephanie, and Daniel who were good support systems.

The thing was, I really wanted to like this book. There aren’t enough marriage pact romances out there. And I actually like the marriage of convenience trope, but this book didn’t land. At least not for me.

And for that I give this:

Two Stars

If this is your jam, you can get it here.

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I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley

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