The True Love Experiment
Grade : A

With their latest standalone romcom, The True Love Experiment, perennial dynamic duo Christina Lauren prove, once again, they’re soaring among the best business partnerships ever. Batman and Robin. Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Lennon and McCartney. Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. Starbucks and Spotify. Whether they’re writing smartypants STEM romcoms, angsty YA contemporaries, or heavier adult contemporary romances, they’re definitely at the top of their game.

We first met Fizzy Chen in The Soulmate Equation, when she and her friend Jess were trying out the algorithmically predictive matchmaking company, GeneticAlly. Jess was paired with its founder, Dr. River Peña, and Fizzy was left to her own romantic devices. It’s a good thing, too, because she counts every experience as fodder for her career as a romance author. It’s something she uses to hide the fact she – a bonafide expert in romance -- has never been in love. She’s actually feeling like she may never fall in love.

Fate steps in with documentary filmmaker Conner Prince, who’s been tasked with developing a reality TV show based on Fizzy’s “life work as the central hook.” The authors nearly lost me there because I can’t even with reality TV. But reality TV wrapped in the bubble of a romance novel is entirely different than any number of unwatchable reality shows IRL. The True Love Experiment is what Connor comes up with, and he casts Fizzy as his star. He’s a single father who’s crazy about his daughter, and like Fizzy, wonders if love is in the cards for him. Good thing an experiment requires more than one element to make it pop.

This is a smart story with endearing characters, an enjoyable pace, and a fun premise. I love that Fizzy and Connor have been around the block. They’re in their late thirties and a little cynical about love and happily ever after. That being said, they’re also practical about matters of the heart and the reality of romantic liaisons. Both are employed, have robust friend and family sets, and are generally happy making their way through life. I understand conflict makes for good drama and storytelling, but it’s so refreshing to read about characters who are actually happy in life and satisfied professionally, and decide that taking a risk – both emotionally and romantically – isn’t going to kill them.

This is fun and charming and romantic, and although it’s not absolutely necessary, I found it helpful to go back and read The Soulmate Equation to get the inside jokes between Fizzy and Conner’s squads.

The True Love Experiment is my favorite Christina Lauren book because, as the dedication states, “This one is a blatant love letter to our genre.”  And it is. This upbeat story about love and friendship and romantic relationships will lighten your heart and bring a smile to your face. Every hallmark of a fun romcom is present, from snappy, flirty dialogue to fun, relatable characters. It’s like sitting with an old friend and catching up after years apart.

Reviewed by Dolly Sickles
Grade : A

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : May 22, 2023

Publication Date: 05/2023

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