Want You to Want Me
Want You to Want Me grew on me. It’s a standalone romance set in the well-developed world of the Minnesota Lund family, and at first I was ambivalent about the large cast of characters. But as the story played out, I grew to like the main couple as well as their family and friends.
Gabriella (Gabi) Welk is moving on from a career as a professional hockey player, but finding the path is not always smooth. Not only is it difficult to find satisfying long-term employment, but her love life is also proving a challenge. After her boyfriend dumps her in favor of her sister, Gabi hits a low point by going out for drinks with her current boss’ brother, only to overhear him saying she’s not feminine enough to be his type while he thinks she’s in the bathroom. Frustrated and hurt by this comment, she runs out on him and hopes their paths never cross again.
Nolan Lund knew Gabi only as the tough girls’ hockey coach at his brother’s ice rink, and although they weren’t really friends, he offered to take her out for drinks when he stumbled upon her mid-dumping. It’s a mystery to him why Gabi left part way through their evening, but he assumes it must be related to her broken heart. Nolan thinks nothing more about it, until a chance encounter at a party has Gabi telling him what she heard. Instantly sorry that his comment was taken out of context and hurt her, Nolan apologizes and the two form a careful friendship. Over the course of many texts and casual favors, that friendship turns into a strong romantic relationship.
I can recall the exact moment I started to like Gabi and Nolan. It was at the party, when Gabi called Nolan out on his previous behavior, and he managed to apologize without being defensive. I wish everyone could manage that! Gabi clearly values herself enough to address issues directly, and Nolan is a genuinely respectful man capable of acknowledging his own faults. The couple grow closer having worked through this difficult moment, and I as the reader, grew to appreciate them and their slow burn romance.
While things heat up for Gabi and Nolan personally, their work lives are also getting busier. Gabi is selected to interview at a sports news agency – which would be her dream job – while Nolan has to step into the role of Interim CEO at his family’s company, Lund Industries (LI). While I enjoyed seeing Nolan challenge himself in the new role and debate whether he is truly ready for it, some of the politics of LI went over my head. Nolan has a large extended family running the company, who have clearly been included in previous books in the series. I liked them as a whole and appreciated that there were still small problems and dramas after people achieved their happily-ever-afters, but I could have done with a little less corporate intrigue.
Want You To Want Me should be a treat for any fans of James’ Lund Family books, as well as anyone new to the series. While Gabi and Nolan are barely ‘frenemies’ at first, they do a good job of addressing their issues without gratuitous drama, and building on their chemistry from there.