Elliott is a chef. Madeline works for a cookbook publisher. The two of them meet at the soft opening for a new restaurant and after Elliott gets Madeline's email, they start an email flirtation that blooms into a full scale relationship. The tale of their relationship plays out in their emails and texts to each other and in the side emails and texts they share with David and Emily, their respective best friends. Each phase of their relationship is played out on screens, from first date to the intoxication of early relationship to misunderstandings to fights to conflicted feelings. And that's just between Elliott and Madeline. David and Emily are also present in the relationship, there to offer advice, to help tease out the hidden meaning or intentions behind seemingly innocuous comments, and just generally to prop up their respective friends when things don't seem to be going quite like the fairy tales.
The way this novel was written, with the authors writing emails to each other but being completely in the dark about the side emails written between the friends, gives this a real ring of truth about relationships now. It definitely has the feel of twenty-something dating life for sure. The emails and texts range from funny to terse, casual to intense. While this method of communication highlights the insecurities of the characters, it does make it hard to fully flesh out the characters since they are on their best behavior, guarding their emotions, and projecting their best presence to their partner. Only in the side conversations with their friends do their individual histories and personalities occasionally shine through which makes it hard for the reader to get to know the characters very well or to feel invested in their relationship together. But it definitely accurately captures eight or so months of twenty-first century love and relationship, the drama, the cyber stalking, the apathy, and the uncertainty of it all in its pages. In general, the novel was a quick, short read without too much meat on its bones but fun and light entertainment for all that.
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Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.