ROMANCE

How To Fail at Flirting

Berkley. Dec. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780593101902. pap. $16. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
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DEBUT Three years after leaving her abusive ex, professor Naya Turner still lives her life with the volume turned down. After her friends dare her to try new things, she follows through by letting a stranger named Jake buy her a drink at a bar. The evening progresses, but her attempts at a one-night stand don’t go as expected when they make plans to meet again. Once she’s truly hooked she discovers that Jake is one of the management consultants brought in to help her struggling university. And he’s not the only one who keeps texting—her abusive ex has resurfaced. Naya and Jake fall into an instant rapport with a shared affinity for cheesy puns. Their intense emotional and volcanic physical connection keeps them together as wave after wave of obstacles is thrown in their path. Naya’s painfully realistic and palatable fear over her ex and the damage he still manages to inflict on her rings throughout her first-person narration in this debut rom-com from Williams featuring two fully realized, emotionally mature characters who support and respect each other. Jake does not cause Naya’s personal growth but rather reminds her of joy in a life with the volume turned up, inspiring her to take necessary steps on her own.
VERDICT With a deeper emotional punch than expected, Williams’s banter-filled romance makes her an author to watch.

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