I’ve been trying to get into the contemporary romance genre lately so I picked up this book, winner of the 2021 GoodReads romance category. As soon as I started it, I found it kind of cheesy, and then immediately thought to myself that maybe I was forcing something that wasn’t really me. Maybe I won’t ever really like to read contemporary romance.
Then as the book progressed it quickly got better, mainly because of Alex, the love interest of Poppy, the protagonist. He was a character that felt so real that I often wondered whether Emily Henry didn’t base him off somebody she knew. I started enjoying this book so much that I told myself that the ‘friends to lovers’ trope was my favorite trope, surpassing even ‘enemies to lovers’. The chemistry between Poppy and Alex was so spot on.
Up until the two thirds point of the book, I was convinced I was going to give this book 5 stars. But then the last third of the book didn’t really add up to me, and it got a little too convoluted and the plot felt forced, even. The title of this book is ‘People we Meet on Vacation’ because supposedly Poppy likes meeting new people all the time during her vacations, or so she says during this problematic last stretch of the narrative, but during the entire book we never so much as get more than a few glimpses into these other people. It has always been all about Alex and her.
Or when Poppy says, again during this last third of the novel, that she feels unloved and broken on the inside, this feels totally jarring because during the first two thirds of the book she’s this happy-go-lucky, charming and funny person who yes, may have been bullied as a kid, but who seems to have gotten over it and become stronger. So when she says she feels broken and unloved, it totally comes out of the blue. It felt like something the author introduced just to add tension, and wasn’t necessarily cohesive to the rest of the story.
And it is because of things like this that I felt that overall, the execution of the ‘friends to lovers’ trope didn’t really work. But I enjoyed the first two thirds of this book so much before it sadly unraveled, that I am giving it 3.5 stars out of 5. I am sure there are people who enjoy these types of books way more than I do and perhaps they see things that I am not seeing or they see it from a different perspective. But I personally come out of this experience of reading this book with the same thought that I had while starting it… which is that contemporary romance isn’t really my thing. I wish it were, but it’s not, and perhaps I’m forcing things. Or perhaps I just haven’t found that book that really makes it all click for me. I hoped this one would be it, but it’s not. I guess I’ll have to keep looking.