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by Hannah Brown

Pub Date: May 7th, 2024
ISBN: 9781538756775
Publisher: Forever

Almost-lovers who never quite made the leap search for a runaway bride.

Emma Mae Townsend has given up on Finn Hughes several times: junior prom, that time at the pool, that time in New York, and Katie Dalton’s wedding. Ever since they competed together on the debate team in high school, their chemistry has been obvious, but every attempt at romance ended badly. Now in her late 20s, Emma is dismayed to find herself running into Finn during a girls’ night out in Malibu a few days before her best friend Sybil’s wedding. When Sybil goes missing the next morning, however, her lack of communication and history of failed engagements leads Emma to go on the hunt for her. With neither of the other two members of the “Core Four” girlfriends able to accompany her, however, she finds herself stuck with Finn as a sidekick, and the two set off on a wild-goose chase of a road trip. As they travel across state lines, they’ll discover more about each other, their pasts, and the possible potential of their future. Brown’s debut shows a steady hand in crafting characters, with Emma in particular standing out as a woman who’s been hurt and has, in response, turned caring into armor. The supporting cast is lightly drawn but engaging, with the Core Four feeling like a real friend group, and Emma and Finn’s quick banter is charming. Emma’s relationship with her sister could have been fleshed out more, however, and there’s a frustrating lack of closure on the issue of the runaway bride. Brown is clearly preparing for a follow-up centered on Sybil, but the pivot makes the end of this book feel unfinished.

There’s plenty of heart in this debut rom-com, despite some flaws.