A baggage mix-up at LaGuardia Airport leads to a new friendship and more in Middleton’s (London, Can You Wait, 2017, etc.) delightful contemporary romance novel.
Riley Hope, a senior at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, has too much on her plate. She is flat broke; her mother, Maggie, is fighting cancer for the third time; and her three-year boyfriend, Josh King, star of the University of North Dakota’s ice hockey team, has just proposed. There are many reasons Riley doesn’t want to accept, but Josh has promised financial help for her mother’s insurmountable medical bills. And Riley will do anything for Maggie. It’s been Maggie and Riley against the world ever since her father took off. We meet her as she is chasing down a disheveled 20-something who has mistakenly taken her suitcase from the baggage carousel. Ben Fagan, seriously hung over, has just returned from Los Angeles, where he auditioned for a new TV series. The befuddled Scottish lad has no idea how to get himself to the cheap Airbnb he has scored on Canal Street in lower Manhattan. Riley, whose tiny studio apartment is in the East Village, leads him through the transportation maze of New York’s subway system, and the seeds of friendship are planted. Readers will need to wait patiently for that friendship to transition to steamy love. But there are plenty of distractions, both humorous (e.g., Erika Kobayashi’s bachelorette party with male dancers) and serious (Riley’s high-functional depression, Ben’s dyslexia, Maggie’s cancer), to keep a twisty, if occasionally far-fetched, plotline moving quickly. The novel is a stand-alone, although Middleton connects it with two previous books via shared plotlines and characters. While the prose is smooth, carried primarily by fast-moving dialogue, musical references and some colloquial lingo (e.g., FOMO) may be lost on some readers (although a glossary is included).
A good mix of poignancy and sexy fun, with two well-developed protagonists.