A young journalist sleeps with a sex columnist and finds himself at the center of a viral sensation.
Lucas Callahan, a recent NYC transplant by way of North Carolina, is an aspiring journalist. Stuck at his desk as a fact-checker for Empire magazine, he’s lonely and frustrated. But when he meets a glamorous woman named Carmen at a bar and then spends the night at her apartment, things seems to be looking up…that is, until he reads a column in his own magazine and realizes that Carmen is Carmen Kelly, Empire’s sex columnist. In her column, she refers to him as “Mr. Nice Guy” and eviscerates his sexual performance. Humiliated, Lucas writes a scathing anonymous rebuttal from Mr. Nice Guy’s point of view, including plenty of criticism of Carmen herself. When his response goes viral, Empire proposes a new column: “Screw the Critics,” wherein Lucas and Carmen sleep together every week, then critique each other in print. Carmen, who knows she can write about so much more than just sex, feels backed into a corner. Lucas, however, relishes the opportunity to get his words in print, even if he doesn’t have a byline. Although the two hate each other at first, they quickly become partners in crime as the column becomes wildly popular. But as things progress and their feelings start to become real, the column, their jobs, and their relationship get complicated. Miller (The Year of the Gadfly, 2012, etc.) and Feifer hit all the beats of a satisfying rom-com while still managing to surprise. Lucas can be unlikable, but he always feels realistic as a young man in the city trying to climb the journalism ladder. Carmen is the more outwardly prickly and inwardly complex character, and if there is any criticism to be found, it’s that readers don’t get enough of her point of view.
A fun and fast-paced look at the risk and value of real intimacy.