I have a special place in my heart for the British Isles. This love stems, in part, from my own family heritage. Mostly, it’s rooted in years of watching romantic BBC programming. Who doesn’t adore a hero with a sexy accent and a good pair of wellies? A gossipy village, or a heroine who discovers herself while far from home?
Samantha Young delivers all this, and more, in Much Ado About You.
Evangeline Starling is thirty-three years old, single, and just got passed up for a promotion at work. It’s time for a change- a big one. She quits her job, and impulsively books a holiday in an English village. The holiday package even comes with a part-time gig working at a bookstore, Much Ado About Books. A lover of all things Shakespeare, Evie knows this is the perfect place to rediscover herself and make some decisions about her future.
Evie is charmed by the village and its inhabitants- especially the handsome farmer Roane Robson. After Evie saves his dog from a traffic accident, the two become best friends, but it’s clear Roane wants more. Evie is determined to keep her “no man” rule while in England, but how long can she reasonably deny the chemistry between them?
Much Ado About You reminded me of how much I adore a good “friends to lovers” trope. Although Roane is into Evie immediately, she friend zones him for… reasons. Frankly, she was being silly, but there has to be something keeping them apart in a romance. Young draws out their courtships with lots of great character building and sexual tension. The whole village is asking, “Will they or won’t they?” Everyone, especially the reader, is happy when they finally do.
While I enjoyed this book immensely, conflict between them fell a little flat for me. It’s definitely one of those situations where the whole mess could have been avoided with one conversation in the first ten chapters. To be fair, lots of real people avoid hard conversations with their partners, so it’s not implausible. To Young’s credit, I still had an emotive response to Evie and Roane’s low moment, which means there is some great writing happening in this book.
The best part of this read, however, doesn’t come from the book itself, but my life while reading it. My husband and I took a minibreak last weekend for our anniversary. During our walk to dinner, I described Much Ado About You and the village it’s set in, gushing about all the places I’d like to go in England and why I love books set there…. yada yada yada. At dinner, he told me that after secretly saving money for YEARS, he’s saved enough for our own trip to England! Talk about a grand gesture!
Much Ado About You, is a fun, sexy read, but it will forever live in my memory, as the backdrop to the sweetest gift I’ve been given. Maybe I’ll read it again for my flight to England.
Favorite Tropes: Vacation Romance; Friends to Lovers; Bookish Heroines; Heroes with Dogs; Slow Burn; Secrets; Nobility