I’m going to start out with the disclosure. I got this book as an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.
Other disclosure: Penny Reid and I are now engaged and you are all invited to our goat wedding.
I’m assuming our goat wedding will involve a goat in a top hat.
Anyway – this book is the sixth in the Knitting in the City series – the series that reignited my love for contemporary romance. I was pretty tired of the same old tropes and sad female leads who just need a man to complete them. Penny’s women are strong, smart, complete women whose lives are enhanced by and not completed by the men they meet.
There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris:
1) She’s fed up with online dating,
2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and
3) She knows how to knit.
After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of humankind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities:
Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services?
But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different—and crazier—solution to her dilemma . . .
As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?
I love the covers in this series – they are consistently fun without being cheesy. (I also love that they don’t have Fabio-esque male models chesting out for our viewing pleasure.)
I’ve done a fair amount of online dating in my life. Most of the people I met online were…not great. (OMG – sometime I’ll do a whole blog post on that.) Sadly, as far as I know, I never went out with a man who was there solely to gather data for his AI studies, though.
One of the greatest things in Penny’s Knitting in the City series is the friendship between the knitting group members. Sassy, smart, accomplished, and unflinchingly loyal. They are none of them without their flaws, but in the contemporary romance world of romantic leads whose flaws are usually faux (the main character is so beautiful that people only [presumably] like them for their beauty, so they’ve shut themselves off from real love until the other romantic lead breaks the Faberge eggshell they’ve built around themselves), it’s refreshing to have people with real human weaknesses take front and center.
The way Matt & Marie built their relationship was fantastic. He was pretty douchey at their first meeting, and she was fake-reading Marquis de Sade. The build-up of the unrequited lust after they decided to be friends was a nice, slow, burn. They’re both very smart and very funny, and although Matt’s obsession with coconut is a little suspect, they worked well together as friends.
As much as I love the knitting group and the way Matt & Marie developed their relationship, the best part was learning about professional cuddlers, orgasm meditation, and the fact that Marie is a Hufflepuff. (I’m Ravenclaw myself, as is the Beer Guy…I may or may not have encouraged him to head over to Pottermore early in our relationship, just to make sure.) Penny Reid is a big ol’ science nerd, and there are few things I love more than someone who knows how to fill a pair of smarty-pants.
Bonus: the word “whoremones,” which is what Maries calls her hormones when they betray her good sense. “Sandra said I was slut-shaming my body’s appreciation for the opposite sex. I told her I was okay with that if it meant I remained free of STDs.” (How do you not love that?)
Ways that this book proves Penny & I are meant to be
Coincidentally, about a week before I read this book, I’d seen a Facebook job ad for a professional cuddler. And then? Professional cuddlers in the book!
Matt calls Marie, “Valkyrie,” which is what I call myself. (It’s on my business cards, even. Also, my PSM made me a Fucking Valkyrie Ice Queen gif once. Cat is totally going to be our flower girl.)
And then there’s chapter twenty-four.
I read this chapter after Penny & I got engaged, but it’s just further proof that we’re meant for each other. This chapter hit most of my buttons for best sex scenes ever.
I highlighted so many passages in this book that it’s difficult to pick just one. So, I’m not going to pick just one. I’m going to pick three.
Are we going to discuss safewords? Mine is Turing test. (Matt)
Funny and nerdy/smart? Yeah…that does it for me.
I mean, if you’re going to send a woman a dick pic, at least send something worth seeing. Not a gherkin dawarfed by hairy potatoes.
I defy you to refrain from a giggle. (If you’ve been a woman in online dating, there’s a chance you’ve been similarly underwhelmed.)
Therefore, in the absence of a consistent exercise routine to combat the deep-dish deliciousness, my roundess was equal parts soft and firm. Bottom line: I loved pizza too much to care about my bottom’s line.
I feel you, Marie. I mean, not literally. I’m saving myself for marriage. But, yeah…food and wine are so nice.
If you like smart women, fun relationships, a healthy smattering of educational sciencey stuff (shut up, spellcheck, sciencey is a word!), and at least in this one, some super sexy stuff, you’ll enjoy this book.
This isn’t your typical contemporary romance (and you wouldn’t have to necessarily start at the first book, but do yourself a favor and read them all-you won’t be sorry); it’s better.