Desert Isle Keeper
I have a disorder that could be plaguing other romance readers – instant-gratification-itis. I’ve become so conditioned to expect instant-lust, instant-love, and almost-instant-sex in my romance novels that I forgot how enjoyable delayed gratification can be. I get a little fidgety and uncomfortable when I have to wait for feelings to develop and action to take place, but I’ve found a cure.
Read Penny Reid’s Dating-ish.
This perfectly plotted, beautifully complex, utterly charming, slow-burn romance will remind you why a meticulously built love story can be more satisfying than any instantaneous affair. (Don’t get me wrong; there’s always a place for quickies.) While Dating-ish is the sixth book in the Knitting in the City series, they are all stand-alones and do not need to be read in order, but if you have read the previous books, you’ll enjoy revisiting a familiar cast of characters. Whatever the case, just don’t wait a moment longer, because instant-gratification-itis doesn’t get better on its own.
Journalist Marie Harris is at her wit’s end and fed up with online dating, but she decides to give it one more chance when “FindUrPartner.com” says they’ve found her the perfect match. Judging from his online profile and their brief email exchange, he does actually seem like he’s kind of perfect, so Marie and Mr. Perfect – Derek – agree to a coffee meetup, but it quickly evolves into an epic disaster. Derek is either catfishing her or has dramatically changed his looks, because he’s nothing like his picture or his profile. He’s cute, but she assumes he’s a liar and a weirdo and flees the scene annoyed and exasperated.
Things don’t get better for Marie when she runs into supposed-Derek and discovers he is her good friends’ next-door neighbor and has become chummy with them. At least she can now tell him off and find out exactly what happened, and it turns out that this-Derek really isn’t supposedly-perfect-Derek. He is computer scientist, Professor Matt Simmons, who was filling in for his coworker, real-Derek, in order to obtain data for their joint research study on artificial intelligence. He hadn’t set out to catfish her, but Marie doesn’t think what he did is much better than if he had intended it.
Matt is an adorable genius without the gift of the gab for these situations, and he makes a verbal mess of trying to explain himself. His study is attempting to prove that artificial intelligence could one day replace the need for human companionship and that technology could meet all of our emotional needs. (Think of the film Her.) Marie still thinks he’s kind of nuts and finds him annoying, but she also – begrudgingly – finds him attractive. His hypothesis gives her an idea for an article, and she wants his data. She strong-arms him into agreeing to share some of his findings, and they form an unlikely association.
In her article, Marie explores whether basic romantic needs can be met with robots and paid services like life coaches, professional cuddlers and orgasmic meditation. (Yes, OM is a real thing, and I have a friend who is totally into it.) She sets out to do her own research, and she and Matt become more and more entangled along the way. They inadvertently become their own case study, and discover that they might disprove their own assertions.
Dating-ish is unpredictable, fun, thoughtful and incredibly romantic. The attraction and sexual tension between Marie and Matt builds from the smallest spark into a palpable fire, and their relationship follows a parallel trajectory, where feelings of respect and affection evolve steadily and thoughtfully. This enemies-to-lovers tale is layered and insightful, exploring complex issues such as feeling needed, being relevant and forsaking pride to risk being vulnerable – and this makes it an emotional and moving love story. I was smiling and happy-crying while highlighting passage after passage.
There is simply nothing typical about this gem of a book, and calling it original doesn’t do it justice. Ms. Reid has proven, again, that she is truly one of a kind. Dating-ish will incite laughter, tears and deep thoughts and could be just the romance you didn’t even realize you needed.