My Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Romantic Comedy
Age Category: New Adult
Type of romance: MF
He keeps everything ordered. She’s all over the place. Together they’re in perfect focus.
Tilly Twomley is desperate for change after her flawed executive functioning has left her burnt out. Interning for her perfect older sister’s start up isn’t exactly top of her list, but at least it means she gets to travel around Europe as she works out what she wants for her future.
Oliver Clark knows exactly what he wants. His autism has made forming relationships hard, but his love of colour theory and design allow him to connect with the world. Plus, he’s secured the perfect internship. But then Oliver finds himself forced to spend the summer with lively, exasperating Tilly, and they couldn’t be more different. And when he starts to feel things for her he can’t quite name, he wonders if maybe he doesn’t have everything figured out after all.
As their connection grows, Tilly and Oliver start to learn that the best parts of life simply can’t be planned.
I was so excited for this book, it just sounded so good. The premise is awesome with two neurodivergent teens falling in love while they travel through Europe. I also love the message of acceptance and accepting who you are and how your brain works. It’s very hopeful and uplifting. The characters are well written and interesting and I liked them as a couple. And sadly despite those things this book just didn’t quite hit the mark for me.
Something about the writing style and pacing felt a bit off to me. I liked how there isn’t a long intro and within a chapter or two Tilly is on the plane to Europe, but then the pace seems to slow and we get chapters about the plane ride which was supposed to be funny, but just felt like a horrible experience to me. After that it settled into a decent pacing, there are time skips, but I felt the author did a great job of making sure every scene had an impact and meaning for the book. The ending then felt a bit rushed and suddenly everything moved fast and got wrapped up quickly. I also felt the moment Oliver and Tilly go form not quite friends to dating was a bit sudden.
The focus is on the characters and their experience and I felt that the travel throughout Europe aspect got a bit pushed to the wayside. There are some scenes and locations I remember, mostly the clog scene, which I thought was very well written. But overall I didn’t really experience their travel through Europe and felt like the setting didn’t really come alive. With the setting seeming to be such a big part of the premise I was a bit disappointed it didn’t come alive more.
Romantic comedy books are a bit of a difficult genre for me as I often don’t really find them funny. I had the same struggle here. A lot of the scenes that were supposed to be funny, felt a bit overdone and didn’t make me laugh. Or some just felt more sad and uncomfortable, like that horrible airplane journey. I had hoped this book would lean more toward contemporary romance, but it has clear rom-com vibes thrown in as well that didn’t quite work for me.
I liked how both characters are neurodivergent and there are plenty of scenes where I could really feel how they experienced their world and how their neurodivergence is part of them. And at the same time I still wanted more. I wanted to see more of how their brains work. And more of those great scenes where they grow closer after talking things through and talking about how they experience the world. I liked the neurodivergent topic and wanted to see more of. I do think the book has some really great scenes like their hyperfocus, Oliver’s special interest and Tilly’s vibrant enthusiastic personality as well as her impulsive nature.
I liked Oliver and Tilly separately and together, but I didn’t really feel their romance at first as it takes a while to develop. For a long time they don’t really like each other and even think the other doesn’t like them. This goes on for a long while and then it feels like suddenly they’re in a relationship. And it was like my brain was struggling to catch on when they forged this connection, there are a few good scenes of them growing closer, but I wanted and had expected more of those and earlier in the book. And then when they’re together I actually really liked them as a couple, but it happened so late in the book I felt like they were only a couple in the wrap up part and I didn’t really have the time to see how they are as a couple. I wanted more of them together and figuring things out and finding out what worked for them as a couple and how their neurodivergent characteristic played a role in how their relationship is. There is a bit of a conflict they have at the end and I actually thought those scenes were very well written as it made so much sense for both of them how they interacted.
I thought the ending wrapped things up well, but also a bit too neatly. Some resolutions felt a bit too sudden and I would’ve liked more progression to get to that point.
To summarize: I was so excited for this book. The premise is great with two neurodivergent teens falling in love while traveling through Europe. The message of acceptance was great and I liked the neurodivergent characters. While I liked reading about these neurodivergent characters, I also wanted more and see more of how their neurodivergence worked in their daily life and how it impacted how they experienced the world. I liked both characters individually and as a couple, although most of the books they spend sort of disliking each other and only very late in the book it turns to romance, which felt a bit sudden to me and I would’ve liked a bit more build up and more scenes of them growing closer. I really liked some of the scenes of them together and would’ve liked more of those and of them figuring out their relationship together. The setting of Europe doesn’t really come alive and I felt the premise of traveling through Europe was more a means to get the characters to meet. I struggled a bit with some of the scenes that were supposed to be funny as I didn’t find them funny and sometimes even more on the sad or uncomfortable side. The pacing could feel a bit off to me, some of the time skips felt well done and other times it took me too long to figure out where they are now and what has happened since the last time. I also thought the start felt a bit slower and the ending a bit rushed. The ending wraps things up well, but I thought it also was a bit too neatly in some ways and I would’ve liked a bit more build-up to some of the resolutions.