Title: Accidentally in Love
Author: Belinda Missen
Trigger Warnings: use of esk**o slur, slut shaming, auto accident mention, loss of a parent to terminal illness, sex and alcohol, physical violence mention, loss of job, divorce, workplace sexism
Genre: Romance, Adult
Publication date: 11 September, 2020
Publisher: HQ Digital
Synopsis taken from Author’s Website:
Sometimes romance blossoms where you least expect it…
In the space of a week, Katharine Patterson has quit her job, decided to move back home, and broken up with the guy she thought was the one.
No big deal.
Because Katharine has a plan. She’s going to open her own art gallery, just like she’s always wanted. What she’s not going to do is worry about boyfriends.
Then she meets Kit, a handsome and talented local artist. He might be the most stubborn person Katharine has ever met. He might also make her feel like no one ever has before.
And Katharine might be about to fall accidentally in love…
About the Author:
Author and sometimes foodie, Belinda is a ridiculous romantic who met her husband after being introduced by a friend two states away.
Residing in country Victoria, surrounded by books, cat-fur, and half-eaten cake, Belinda divides her days between writing rom-coms, baking, and indulging her love of comic books.
Belinda holds a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing from Federation TAFE. She’ll finish her degree one day.
**ARC provided by NetGalley*
Right. Let’s start this book by addressing the first trigger warning. In the first few pages of the book, Katharine is with her best friend Lainey and is describing how good said bff is at her job in marketing. The quote goes:
She’s so amazing at what she does that I have no doubt she could sell ice to Esk*mosChapter 1, Accidentally in Love
A simple google search would have provided the explanation for why that is NOT a good word. Inuit or Yupik or any other specific tribe name is the appropriate way to refer to first nations and native people in the Arctic regions.
Furthermore, I’m pretty sure selling ice to an esk**o is a stereotype. Why the fuck… Anyways. I hope to gods that’s changed in final publication, or at least the digital versions and proceeding print runs after the first if those are already done.
Editors and publishers, PLEASE do some research on common harmful stereotypes and sayings. Authors… take two seconds to THINKKKKKKKKKK.
Thankfully there’s nothing else in the book like that. Not anything that I picked up on anyways. I want to say I could easily ignore a throwaway comment but those are the ones that tend to add up so no I did not ignore it and YES it did affect my star rating. Not by much clearly but I’m also trying to address the story content itself which was good actually.
I really enjoyed the art history and art curation premise of the book. As someone who graduated from the art world myself, this really tickled that side of my interests and kept me hooked throughout the book when things got embarrassing or frustrating. Y’all probably know by now that I will avoid a book for MONTHS if I have to suffer secondhand embarrassment. So having something to tide me over because it held my interest more? Top notch content.
I really enjoyed Katharine’s character, her family, and the romantic interest (Kit or Christoper depending on how far in the book you are). They’re all solidly realistic, with lives and backstories, and existing conflicts that have a place in the narrative of this book. Despite this being a first person POV, I didn’t feel like the narration was selfish. Katharine cared about her family, her best friend, and later on Christopher. She was a compassionate lead and that really endeared me to her.
Her family were an absolute delight. Adam, her brother, was so supportive and such a wonderful human being. Because of his strong involvement and Katharine’s relationship with him, I was genuinely invested in his little side story. Even her father and step mother of sorts (girlfriend) were such delights. The general family dynamics were so precious. They cared for each other, helped out selflessly, spent time with each other, and checked in often enough for me to really FEEL how close their bond was. I wanted the chance to actually spend time with them in a group so I could bask in their weirdo lovey vibes.
Kit… oh Christopher. I really disliked him at first. He comes in, guns blazing, all unsolicited opinions and rude delivery. I get that the main character had some flaws and those needed to be addressed but I really would have preferred they come from family. I dislike when random first time encounters deign to impart opinions in the most judgemental way, especially if they cishet white MEN. I mean he wasn’t wrong but like… maybe say that the third or fourth time you talk to her? No one’s going to take criticism of their career well like that.
Either way, his character does humble himself enough for an apology and the ensuing banter between him and Katharine was an absolute delight. What this book lacked in smut made up in innuendo banter and delightfully light hearted teasing and jabs. I felt the chemistry between them blossom even though they really start to spend time with each other like 60% into the book.
I’m sure hearing that 60% of the book is mostly hate and other things sounds of-putting but I promise you Katharine’s personal life and drama with an ex are interesting enough to keep you hanging on until Christopher steps in. Like I said, Katharine is a really strong main character and she’s actually like not privy to doing shitty things to people around her out of neglect so like… she’s wonderful.
Katharine’s drama with her limbo boyfriend and then subsequent flirtationship/relationship with Christoper were really well done. The contrast between the two really show a stark difference between how she was treated and how she WANTS to be treated. Her active realizations as she experiences these two polar opposite men was some wonderful character development.
Additionally, the conflict between Christopher and Katharine, although still hinging on the annoying misunderstanding trope, is not actually an awful one. It did resolve a bit quickly for my taste but there was no overcompensating grand gesture to smooth things over nonsense. They did admit their love for each other awfully quickly but this is a romance so like..fine.
THE BANTER IS SUPERIOR. Once Katharine and Christopher actually start spending time together. OOF. It’s like ACTUALLY laugh out loud funny. I love a good innuendo and these were frankly amazing. The back and forth really solidified that they were good sparring partners even though they got off to a really bad start during their first encounter.
There’s a bit of a Darcy-Elizabeth thing going on with the whole pride and snobbishness being the two main points of contention between the two romantic leads. I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up on that little tidbit. Nothing else from dearest P&P was actually in the book but I really enjoy this type of thematic conflict so it was nice. Plus, quite frankly speaking, it was really freaking well done. The two of them have mature conversations about their differences, make honest and well constructed apologies when they realize they were in the wrong, and overall TALK things out like a healthy couple should. Even though their ~getting together~ portion of the book was not that significant, I could see how the healthy communication might actually justify such a fast “I love you” follow-up.
The aforementioned slur.
Now I’m a sucker for a good best friend in romances. They’re usually the voice of reason, the kick in the ass that helps set the main character back on their feet and shakes them out of their spiraling anxiety and self loathing. Lainey delivers in the early parts of the book.
She then becomes an utter parasite.
This of course is part of one of the subplots but my god she did not deserve forgiveness. I also was really weirded out by how conveniently it was wiped over with a simple “oh it was a misunderstanding.”
I’m going to dive into some a short list of details here so skip to the part that says *end spoilers* if you want to just read about the opinion part and not WHY I had the opinion.
- Lainey’s getting married and Katharine isn’t the maid of honor but family does come first so ok fine.
- Lainey has Katharine do all of her placecard and menu calligraphy for fucking free. Katharine says it’s a way for her to stay involved in her bff’s wedding but BRO. Not THAT much free labour. And then Lainey just keeps exploiting that.
- Lainey doesn’t do shit for Katharine. When asked to help clean up the gallery her best friend is putting together she just kind of grimaces and LEAVEs. Fine wedding things but really??? Not even a couple of hours??
- And there’s the lack of acknowledgement when Katharine wants to talk. Early on when they’re in the same city she’s fine but apparently out of sight out of mind because after Katharine moves, it’s like Lainey only has her best friend as a calligraphy service and nothing else.
- Katharine gets cut out of the official bachelorette party FOR NO REASON and then gets set up with a slimeball during the “non Londoner” stag-hen combo party. Plus apparently they pitch her to the guy as someone who sleeps around and is only into hook ups. That’s later revealed to be a misinterpretation by the guy and not something Lainey or her fiancé actually said but GEEZ.
*end spoilers* *end spoilers* *end spoilers* *end spoilers*
First off, I’m never a big fan of the best friend fight trope in romances. It’s always done to a point of no return for me. The incident is always something that’s unforgiveable but it’s always written off as something that can be looked past since the relationship is more valuable. My question is, at what fucking point are you going to draw the line and being used and insulted? Cut your fucking losses man sometimes you just have to accept that a long friendship needs to go down the drain.
Now while I was infinitely thankful that Katharine wasn’t the one being selfish and committing grave mistakes in a friendship, I truly didn’t think this one was worth salvaging. No matter that it was a misunderstanding, the way Lainey responded by denying that horrible things were said and then following up not with silence not with apologies but a barrage of texts pointing out Katharine’s flaws too was just inexcusable. The right thing to do would have been address the comment point blank and get clarity on what was said. Nope. Didn’t happen. I’d have a bad taste in my mouth every time I spent time with a friend who pulled a move like that.
I’m eternally annoyed that there are no books that are willing to just drop an offending party when they’re a long term platonic relationship. I stg I need books where toxic long term friendships are cut off and characters realize that it’s literally FINE to leave people behind when boundaries are crossed. Endless patience will be the fucking end of me.
OHHHHHH I KNOW WHAT IT IS!!! This paragraph is being added a whole day later. I spent all this time angry about Lainey lmao. Anyways. About friendship conflicts that ascribe to this misunderstanding blown out of proportion trope (and also crushing on bff’s ex to an extent) don’t address any character development. What this “oh sorry the third party misheard and twisted words” completely ditches the potential for actual conversation. Since it was just a misunderstanding, Lainey doesn’t need to address the fact that she simply exploits Katharine. And (not part of this book but i’ll address it here anyways) the cheating trope also does the same ESPECIALLY when the object of affection is the romantic lead. It’s like all that pain the friend has to suffer is fine because the two people were meant to be. There’s no actual character growth, no genuine apology that addresses issues and promises future change, not actual indication that the status quo will change for the better. I hate that. Why drop the ball on a meaningful relationship like that if you’re not going to actually address the issue? In that case they don’t need to be friends anymore.
Sorry that really set me off. Two whole days pondering why shitty friends are forgiven simply because of the longevity of a relationship. Moving on.
Sumedha and I spent a good while roasting this book in Twitter DMs and getting out our frustrations so these proceeding opinions are only 50% mine although I 100% agree with all of them.
Christopher, although I liked him was a huge hypocrite. He’s waxes on about Katharine being elitist and then goes and tells her his favourite artist is Van Gogh. We all love our one-eared depressed ginger but you’d think a man who drags people for being snooty has a favourite artist who isn’t from the art history canon.
Things were mad rushed when they finally get together. Further up I mentioned that things seemed to progress naturally. They did. They just happened SO FAST???? This whole book takes place in like a span of 6 weeks. Bro. What. Chill. Katharine is 35 and apparently being ready to settle down means she is going to fall in love in like 2 days. HAH. No. The two of them open up to each other in the strangest way too. The day they resolve their drama they’re admitting deep and dark secrets to each other. My MOM doesn’t even know my deep dark secrets how are you going to spill your guts to someone you repeatedly called snooty/arrogant?
Her family kinda encourages this “he’s mean so he likes you” thing when Christopher first meets her and it’s later confirmed that he in fact didn’t know how to act which is why he was a bit of a dick. EL OH EL. Let’s leave that to children who are still figuring out how to communicate complex emotions without the appropriate vocabulary shall we? Wow that’s so annoying to read. It’s actually a surprise that I ended up liking Christopher enough to not toss my phone out the window in anger.
Lastly, what the fuck even is the title. Accidentally in Love?? Fine they fell in love in three seconds okay fine accident yippee. Let’s discuss that maybe. Let’s draw that back around TO the title so it like half makes sense. Maybe. Probably. Preferably. I thought it was going to be like a haha we got into an accident and then fell in love. Oh. OH LMAO THAT JUST CLICKED. The ex wife died in a car accident…was that supposed to be it…. Wow that’s so cheap.
Right. I’m done talking about this I’d like to move on to reading a book I like.
Give it a read if you’re willing to overlook things I took issue with. It’s relatively lighthearted and fun all in all, if a bit fast paced. Leave your thoughts if you’ve read it as well.
tyvm for reading and see ya laterzzzzz