The Seat Filler
A dog groomer (Juliet) does a friend a favor and ends up sitting next to her biggest celebrity crush (Noah), who she pretends to not know at all. They hit it off, he ends up hiring her for dog care, they fall into something north of lust and south of love and the truth comes out. Will they be able to overcome her lie-by-omission?
It’s been a little while since I opened a review with a summary like that, but for this book, it seemed fitting. The meet cute is creative, but the secret-keeping situation is going to be such a red flag for some readers, I wanted it right up front. I’m not a huge fan of ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ stories, and this one was carried for me on the strength of the world building, and the mood I was in while reading.
When I picked up The Seat Filler, I’d just finished another of Ms. Wilson’s books The Room Maid, which is also full of well-worn tropes that she manages to inject with freshness. Your mileage may vary, therefore, on your enjoyment of the book based on the tropes she employs, and because the publisher’s summaries don’t often identify them, I’ve started being really, really upfront.
Other tropes in The Seat Filler? The ‘business-type arrangement of sexual experimentation leads to true love’ (Juliet gets panic attacks when she kisses someone, Noah offers to help her overcome the trigger), and ‘quirky every girl lands famous dude’ (Noah is fashioned VERY BLATANTLY after Adam Driver).
Speaking of Adam Driver…
In the world of transformative works (otherwise known as fanfiction), there’s a device known as a ‘self-insert’. This is where the author writes an original character and inserts that character into the world of the fandom they’re writing in, for example, writing themselves as a student at Hogwarts. It is really hard to not think of The Seat Filler as a self-insert story, I can’t lie. I obviously don’t know Ms. Wilson at all, but this book follows a lot of the beats of a self-insert. The hero is generally perfect except that he has a broodiness only the heroine can cure; the heroine is the one with flaws that can be fixed by the power of the hero’s love. The author’s note at the end calls out that Noah is Adam Driver and thanks him – but in the way that makes me feel like no one actually sought permission. Which I don’t think anyone has to, it’s just a choice to make it this blatant that I personally wouldn’t have made.
THAT BEING SAID. I had a good time with this book! Juliet was a bag of quirks and Noah brooded with the best of them, but I knew what I was getting going in and enjoyed my time there. Let me know if you felt the same!