Romance-novel connoisseur Tara Chen has had her heart broken ten times by ten different men–all of whom dumped her because of her “stage-five clinger” tendencies. Nevertheless, Tara is determined to find The One. The only problem? Classic meet-cutes are dead thanks to modern dating apps. So Tara decides to revisit her exes in hopes of securing her very own trope-worthy second-chance romance.
Boston firefighter Trevor Metcalfe will be the first to rush into a burning building but the last to rush into a relationship. Love just isn’t his thing. When his new roommate Tara enlists him to help her reconnect with her exes, he reluctantly agrees. But Tara’s journey is leading him to discover his own new chapter.
The more time they spend together, the more Tara realises Trevor seems to be the only one who appreciates her authentic, dramatic self. To claim their happily-ever-after, can Tara and Trevor read between the lines of their growing connection?
Tara Chen just wants her own happy ending like the heroines in all the romance novels she reads. But thanks to modern conveniences and dating apps, the meet-cute style romance she longs for no longer exists. Determined to find the one, she decides to follow in her Grandmothers footsteps and look into her dating past. Dragging her roommate, Trevor, into her master plan, Tara whittles down her past lovers to try and find ‘the one,’ but the more time she spends with them, the more she realises why, exactly, they broke up. Dismayed, Tara feels like she will forever be the side character in her own life, but sometimes romance crops up in the unlikeliest of places and if she wants to claim her ‘happily ever after’ she might have to look a little closer to home.
Having read Set on You by Amy Lea last year and loving it, I was so happy when the publisher offered me the chance to read an early copy of her new novel. Set around the same bunch of characters, Exes and O’s follows Tara, the younger sister of Crystal who was the MC in the first book. After being dumped by her fiance she needs a new look on life, and she quickly finds that when moving into her new apartment and being greeted by her new roommate who is completely naked. An avid romance reader and blogger, Tara knows this is about as far away from a meet-cute as you could get but, Trevor, her roommate, is also as far away from boyfriend material as you could get so she doesn’t really mind. She is full on in most ways of her life, something she owns and doesn’t shy away from, but she is also someone so incredibly desperate to be loved and have someone to spend her time with. She truly grows as a character in this story & I enjoyed following her on her journey.
Trevor is the love interest in this story and is someone who, at the start, is so unbelievably far away from boyfriend material. He spends his nights with one night stands, never being willing to settle down, but the more time Tara spends with him, breaking down his walls, the more we realise his reasoning, and you can’t help but empathise and fall a little in love with him. There are also a lot of cameo’s from characters in the first book, but my favourite by a country mile was Grandma Flo. I adored her in book one, and the more time we spend with her, the more in love I fall. She is your stereotypical Grandma in so many ways, never afraid to ask the awkward questions, stick her opinions in where they’re not wanted/needed, but she’s also an incredible wing woman and I loved all the scenes she was in.
I think one of the reasons I loved the book a little more than the first was the fact that Tara was a book influencer, something I could relate to. She reads and adores romance novels and would love nothing more than to fall in love like one of the heroines in her novels… the smuttier the better. But what I loved was how Lea included little snippets from Tara’s streams which she uses to include some much loved tropes from the romance genre, as well as showing how these apply to Tara’s romantic exploits. She also shows how unrealistic some of them are and how wanting things to fit a certain mould can leave you with blinders to those things right in front of you.
The romance in this book was so incredibly well done. Slow burn, forced proximity, idiots in love… what more could you want. Both Tara and Trevor are a little damaged from past relationships and, while Tara just jumps back in, determined to find her Mr right, Trevor does the opposite and swears off relationships entirely. They are two very different people, and I enjoyed how Lea showed this and, instead of having one personality take over the other, allowed them the chance to express themselves and learn how to work as they are. Their relationship is filled with tension, drama as well as some truly humorous scenes, their first meeting had me in stitches, but it was such a joy to follow them on their journey and seeing them finally come together.
I truly loved this book. It was fun, fast and filled with some brilliantly written characters you will adore. If you’re looking for a wondrously slow burn romance filled with all the tension, a little drama and plenty of laughs then look no further and, while this does follow on from the first book ‘Set on You’ you don’t need to have read it to fully appreciate this book (although you should because it’s brilliant.)