Teddy Spenser Isn't Looking for Love
Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love is a quick read that promised an enemies-to-lovers rom-com but didn’t deliver. I really liked the author’s voice and humour – the writing is really sprightly – and I liked the snarky, awkward and belligerently extroverted Teddy, but the romance happens so fast that it’s likely to give you whiplash, the love interest is pretty bland, and the set-up is so ridiculous that it stretched my credulity to breaking-point.
Teddy Spenser works for a small interior design company, where he spends his days (according to the book blurb) “selling design ideas to higher-ups, living or dying on each new pitch.” Well, I’m guessing he works for an interior design company because it’s not really made clear; in fact the plot revolves around the creation of a single item – a smart vase (yes, really) – and it seemed as though that was the company’s one product as nothing else was ever mentioned. Anyway, this vase is supposed to be all clean lines and simplicity – but while everything is working well, the housing for the software needed to run it is impinging on the design and ruining the look of it. The project is dangerously close to the wire as far as the budget is concerned and there’s no more money to spend, so Teddy’s boss and the owner of Reddyflora tells him that he and the software engineer, Romeo Blue, have to come up with a solution fast, as she’s due to present the product to a high-profile potential investor in three days.
Teddy and Romeo don’t really get on, so this isn’t exactly ideal for either of them. Although actually, it’s not so much a case of their not getting on as it is one of their never really interacting with each other very much and not knowing each other beyond a nodding acquaintance. Teddy – who is the single PoV character – is a snappy dresser with a good eye for line and colour, Romeo wears boring dark suits and his office is devoid of any personal touches; Teddy is confident and fairly outgoing (if a bit neurotic), Romeo is quiet and keeps himself to himself… so it’s all pretty one-sided and the dislike is entirely in Teddy’s head.
As luck would have it, they turn out to be able to get on and work together quite well, so the enemies-to-lovers thing goes out the window quite quickly after that, as Teddy starts to see a different side to Romeo (as well as to allow himself to recognise how hot he is.)
After they present their solution to the software vs. design issue, they then discover that they’re being sent to Seattle to meet with the possible investor, former model, creator of a lifestyle brand and fashion icon, Joyce Alexander. Teddy can barely restrain his impulse to do a Wayne’s World “we are not worthy” while Romeo (or course) has no idea who she is.
Arrived in Seattle – to find that their hotel room has Only One Bed – the story then takes a turn into the truly ridiculous. When Teddy and Romeo meet with Joyce, she decides she doesn’t have enough information to make a decision. (Which isn’t surprising considering she won’t listen to Teddy’s pitch or look at any of the presentations they’ve put together.) But her concerns aren’t to do with either the design or the technology; no, she’s worried that Teddy and Romeo’s personality clash will impact the project (a personality clash that doesn’t really exist) and proposes that they should stay in Seattle for a couple more days and undertake a little test she’s devised so she can see if they possess the three key characteristics she thinks are essential to success. (And she’s not going to tell them what those are.) This made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever and actually felt really unprofessional; if the author was attempting “kooky”, it didn’t work.
And the thing is, even going along with that as the reason for Teddy and Romeo’s enforced proximity, the romance itself happens incredibly quickly. In the space of a week (?) they: a) decide they like each other; b) decide they like each other enough to have sex; c) meet the parents; d) decide to move in together; e) decide to get married. And I haven’t even mentioned that Teddy appears to be hung-up on his ex – who is name-checked forty-one times (I counted) – and preoccupied with showing him how well he’s doing without him, or the fact that both characters come off as much younger than I think they’re supposed to be; Teddy’s relationship with his ex lasted a few years, so I’d guess they’re meant to be late-twenties, but they read much younger than that.
Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love was a big disappointment. Stereotypical characters (Teddy loves fashion, design and musical theatre; Romeo is black and grew up so poor his family didn’t have a TV), a romance that moves at the speed of light and an utterly ridiculous premise (a Smart Vase and a ‘Mysterious Quest’ – seriously?!) earn it a below average rating, and the only thing that saves it from a D grade is the author’s breezy, very readable style.