Blurb & Info
Jordan Collins doesn’t need a man.
What he needs is for his favorite author to release another one of her sexy supernatural novels and more people to sign up for the romance book club that he fears is slowly and steadily losing its steam. He also needs for the new employee at his local bookstore to stop making fun of him for reading things meant for “grandmas.”
The very last thing he needs is for that same employee, Rex Bailey, to waltz into his living room and ask to join Meet Cute Club. Despite his immediate thoughts — like laughing in his face and telling him to kick rocks — Jordan decides that if he wants this club to continue thriving, he can’t turn away any new members. Not even ones like Rex, who somehow manage to be both frustratingly obnoxious and breathtakingly handsome.
As Jordan and Rex team up to bring the club back from the ashes, Jordan soon discovers that Rex might not be the arrogant troll he made himself out to be, and that, like with all things in life, maybe he was wrong to judge a book by its cover.
Published: May 5, 2020
Series: Sweet Rose #1
First of all, I’m really glad that I didn’t read this book first in my December romance-reading binge. Meet Cute Club is a romance novel about romance novels, and is really an ode to the genre. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a particularly well-crafted ode, and I wasn’t impressed.
The book is told in dual perspectives, with the POV switching between Rex and Jordan. There is no line break, chapter break, or any signifier of when a POV switch occurs. One paragraph, we’re with Jordan, and bam, the next paragraph is from Rex’s POV. This happens multiple times and is really disorienting. There was one line break to signal a POV switch, but it never happened again and, frankly, I’m not totally sure if that line break wasn’t a formatting error.
Also, this book has no definite sense of time. Time is certainly passing during the story, since Jordan mentions that the Meet Cute Club meetings happen every Saturday and multiple club meetings occur in the story, but other than that I had no idea of how much time passes between each chapter. I was shocked when it was casually mentioned that Rex and Jordan had been dating for two months — if Harbon had a sense of how much time passed between each event in the story as he wrote it, then I don’t think he did a good job of communicating that to readers.
The villain of the story, Alan, is a stock character, the “uncaring, entitled rich man who has blatant extramarital affairs.” He had no depth, and he is never really… dealt with? He makes an impact on the story, particularly on Rex, but appears as a speaking character in only one scene before going away and just not coming back. Alan fuels Rex’s internal conflict, which I feel was very messy and poorly done (but shall not divulge the details of because spoilers), and he was just a very weak spot in the narrative.
Jordan had no internal conflict to speak of. He is mentioned as having problems with anxiety, but instead of this anxiety being dealt with and talked about, Jordan just… makes the decision to not panic, and then everything is fine. I was really irked by this.
One thing I did like about Jordan was how he is definitely a Black character, and moreso a Black gay character who loves romance novels. It isn’t a blind love, however, and Harbon uses Jordan’s background to critique the romance genre and call for more diversity:
“This one looks interesting,” [Jordan’s grandmother] said, holding up a book with a Black couple. “I don’t know when they started putting us on the front of [romance novels], but I like it.”
“Wasn’t too long ago, unfortunately.”
Finally, the ending. I was totally underwhelmed; the whole thing was just a massive stereotype. This book certainly has a lot of heart in it, but because none of it feels unique or truly earned I was not particularly invested and barely had a lukewarm response to it. I did like that the way the relationship was portrayed at the very end of the book, however; Jordan and Rex make a decision together, one which is lasting but not inappropriate for people who have only been dating for two months. That mollified me, at the very least, and even though my final feelings were just “meh” I wasn’t annoyed by the book.
⭐⭐ out of 5