Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other
Grade : B-

It’s no spoiler to tell you that Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other is an enemy-to-lovers story because it’s right there, in the title. If you like that particular trope, as well as small town settings and protagonists with high-profile careers, and you don’t have a problem with feelings developing really, really fast, then this book is right up your alley.

Twenty years ago, Brenda – Bren/Brynn – Cornell ditched the teeny tiny town of Adelaide Springs, Colorado, running away from her dysfunctional mother and towards a career as TV morning show Sunup’s sunniest personality. Unfortunately, years of hard work and paying her dues are destroyed in a few seconds, when an unknown hot mic picks up Brynn dissing her former hometown and all the folks in it. Instead of America’s sweetheart, Brynn is revealed to be America’s Mean Girl. Jumping into extreme damage control mode, Brynn and her cameraman, Cole Hillill, head to Adelaide Springs to make nice with the locals who may or may not hold a grudge against her, both for her nasty remarks and her leaving them all decades ago without so much as a good-bye.

Award winning journalist Sebastian Sudworth exiled himself to Adelaide Springs six years earlier, and he’s grown to love the quirky little town and considers its inhabitants his true friends. He’s made it his mission to revitalize the tourist business, pushing back on the community’s desire to bring back the hokey Revolutionary War-themed “Township Days” (despite the fact that Adelaide Springs is nearly two thousand miles away from where the action took place) to focus instead on the area’s beautiful scenery and relaxing, rejuvenating atmosphere. Seb is outraged when spoiled TV ‘entertainment’ journalist Brynn Cornell craps all over Adelaide Springs, but he sees the value in allowing her to film her Redemption Tour on site and bring some fresh PR to the town.

Seb is certainly not surprised when Brynn turns out to be the diva he expected. As the youngest member of Adelaide Spring’s city council, he’s assigned the job of chauffeuring her about town. He watches as she reconnects with old friends and the facade she’s cultivated begins to fall away and reveal the real Brynn Cornell. And the real Brynn Cornell is a woman he not only likes but actually respects.

As she reconciles with her past, Brynn begins to question her present. She’s run away from what she’d always told herself was a horrible upbringing, but when she begins to examine things more closely, she sees that she’d walked away from people who had truly loved and supported her. Maybe life in Adelaide Springs isn’t something that she needs to forget, but something that she needs to embrace.

Brynn and Sebastian’s relationship moves from enemies to lovers in less than a week. While not a case of the dreaded Instalove, you do have to buy into the idea that two people can learn enough about each other to develop genuine, lasting feelings in a very short time.

Brynn has a bit of a split personality that makes her hard to like at first. Over the course of her career, she’s cultivated the image of the sweet, upbeat, girl-next-door, but behind the scenes, she’s snarky and cynical. When she arrives at Adelaide Springs, the amount of attitude she dishes out is more than off-putting, but with a seeming flip of a switch, she can turn on her cutesy charm. She determines to win Sebastian over by presenting her ‘authentic’ self, but you can’t be certain this isn’t an act as well. It takes a long time to suss her out. Camera man Orly puts it to her clearly:

“Maybe rather than trying to figure out how you can best recover your image after what happened last week, you could try to learn from it.” He leaned in and spoke discreetly. “Maybe rather than trying to make it seem like you’re a good person, you could actually just…be one.”

I did really love the behind-the-scenes flavor when Brynn casually throws out the names of celebrities she’s encountered over the course of her career. When she can’t remember which member of One Direction she had made out with, I laughed out loud.

Sebastian is likable from the beginning. He genuinely cares about Adelaide Springs and the people in it. For far too long, we are kept in the dark about the major implosion that sent him into self-inflicted exile. It truly is a horrific story, but as is often the case, the build up and secrecy create giant expectations that fall a bit flat.

The book contains a ton of pop culture references – a ton! – which is fantastic if you love them and miserable if you don’t. I do like them and understood the vast majority, thankfully, although I did get annoyed by the brand-name dropping. Too, I wonder why author Turner chose to put Brynn’s chapters in first person point of view while Sebastian’s are in third person. And the dialogue waffles between fantastic, believable banter and long paragraphs that no one would ever really say. It’s a mixed bag.

In the end, however, I enjoyed this story well enough to cautiously recommend it as a light read that will provide a few laughs and a sweet romance set in a community that sounds pretty appealing.

Reviewed by Jenna Harper

Grade: B-

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : September 22, 2023

Publication Date: 09/2023

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  1. I read Ulrich’s book several years ago,it was excellent. American Experience on PBS did an adaptation of the book, it…

Jenna Harper

I'm a city-fied suburban hockey mom who owns more books than I will probably ever manage to read in my lifetime, but I'm determined to try.
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