If you are in the mood for a solid young adult romance with a fake relationship plot, then Christina Lauren’s latest is a pretty good bet. Holland Bakker recently completed an MFA program and is kind of biding time working as a go-fer of sorts at her uncle’s theatre while she figures out her next direction. Daily visits, far out of her way, to listen to a handsome subway busker and maybe a bit of a stalker is pretty much her main source of excitement. When an accident leads to Holland and the busker getting a little more up close and personal than just tentative smiles, the plot thickens.
Thickens is probably a poor understatement for “goes completely bonkers.” Coincidences of coincidences, the busker (real name Calvin McLoughlin) turns out to be a classically trained guitarist. Holland’s uncle’s Hamilton-esque play is in desperate need of a lead musician, and everything would work out perfectly if Calvin wasn’t in the US illegally on a years-expired student visa. A green card marriage is the perfect solution, right? No, not at all, but the bonkers plot demands what it demands, so just roll with it.
The beginning of this book is a bit of a struggle. Holland is pretty privileged and it’s hard to relate to her. She eventually turns things around by finding her passion and pursuing it wholeheartedly, but it takes a while to get there. The relationship between Holland and Calvin is superbly easy going. The green card marriage forces them into close proximity. They already like each other, and hot sex on top of that only makes this better. Learning to communicate with each other is their biggest roadblock, but they’re younguns, so it’s not an unreasonable plot point.
I enjoyed the story overall, but it does skew hella young for me. It’s easy to scoff at Holland being praised for her advanced degrees, living in a NYC studio mostly paid for by her rich uncles, and getting to work behind the scenes at the hottest play of the year. She’s not a bad person, just young. Thus, it’s not unbearable, but it’s definitely challenging in spots. Ultimately, I think my desire to read young adult romance is seriously wearing thin. I also think Christina Lauren and I are drifting out of sync, and this will likely be my last new read by her.
From subway to Broadway to happily ever after. Modern love in all its thrill, hilarity, and uncertainty has never been so compulsively readable as in New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren’s (Beautiful Bastard, Dating You / Hating You) new romance.
Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.
For months Holland Bakker has invented excuses to descend into the subway station near her apartment, drawn to the captivating music performed by her street musician crush. Lacking the nerve to actually talk to the gorgeous stranger, fate steps in one night in the form of a drunken attacker. Calvin Mcloughlin rescues her, but quickly disappears when the police start asking questions.
Using the only resource she has to pay the brilliant musician back, Holland gets Calvin an audition with her uncle, Broadway’s hottest musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until his reason for disappearing earlier becomes clear: he’s in the country illegally, his student visa having expired years ago.
Seeing that her uncle needs Calvin as much as Calvin needs him, a wild idea takes hold of her. Impulsively, she marries the Irishman, her infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves and Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway—in the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting—will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?