Written in the Stars – Alexandria Bellefleur & Lauren Sweet (narrator)

4.5⭐️ – Ending my 12 lesfic books of Christmas challenge with a rom-com seems kind of perfect, even if it’s not exactly a holiday novel.

When her brother Brendon sets her up on a blind date with his work friend Elle, Darcy vows it’s the last time. The date is a disaster despite all kinds of chemistry but Brendon keeps pushing and Darcy ends up declaring it went well. Which leads to her asking Elle to pretend to be her girlfriend. Elle reluctantly agrees, hoping introducing Darcy as her girlfriend to her family will help change their opinion of her. After all, Darcy has the right kind of job – she’s an actuary –, as opposed to Elle and her social media astrology business. If they see her through the eyes of someone who loves her – or fake loves her as is the case – for who she is, maybe they will too?

As you may have guessed from the MCs’ names, Written in the Stars is a Pride and Prejudice retelling but a light one. If you’re an Austen fan or into any kind of fandom, you’ll probably enjoy the references, but even if you’re not, the story in and of itself and the way it’s told are enough to deserve your attention. If you like opposites-attract fauxmance novels, you’re in for a treat.

Elle is kind of a mess but she’s an adorable mess. She loves her job and her best friend and business partner Margot. She believes her one true love is out there and she’ll find her or him. She’s driven, passionate and fights for what she loves and what she wants. She doesn’t settle, neither in her professional life nor in love nor won’t she apologize for loving boxed rosé. She’s fun but also smart and she listens. You don’t have to believe in astrology to fall in love with Elle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, like Darcy, after listening to her talk about her passion, you find yourself just a tad fascinated.

On the surface, Darcy could be mistaken for an ice queen. She’s been hurt, badly. As a child and as an adult. And so she protects herself with everything she has. She stays clear of what she can’t control and doesn’t want to depend on anyone. She enjoys her job because maths make sense and she thrives on logic and order. She loves her brother fiercely, even when she wants him to leave her alone and let her live her life the way she chose, i.e. without falling in love. Again. As Brendon keeps telling Elle, Darcy keeps her cards close to her chest for, you know, reasons.

As much as they don’t want to admit it at first, the chemistry between Elle and Darcy is fire, instalust at its strongest. As is the dislike, based on appearances and stereotypes that are, as they’ll find out, far from the truth. The writing is excellent, the pace is fast and joyful when needed, slows down when it must. The dialogues (both between characters and inner) are full of quips and witty repartee. Even the texts and use of emojis translate well in audio. Kudos to the narrator, Lauren Sweet, for that and for giving each character a distinctive and suitable voice, in an overall excellent narration.

My only complaint about this otherwise enchanting debut novel is that the ending is slightly rushed. A few more pages or, yes, even an epilogue, would have been cool.

It’s worth noting that Written in the Stars is published by a major mainstream publisher (Avon Books is an imprint of HarperCollins, the audiobook is HarperAudio), not a lesfic publisher, as are the majority of the books I review. Bellefleur’s second book, Hang the Moon, will be about Brendon and if you read Written in the Stars, you’ll have a fairly good idea of who his love interest is. I liked Bellefleur’s writing a lot but maybe not enough to read an m/f romance, though Avon Books sells it as another own-voices queer rom-com so maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye. And I wouldn’t mind more of Elle and Darcy. So maybe. In any case, however, if Bellefleur writes another f/f romance, count me in!

5-stars

Written in the Stars @ HarperCollinsPublishers

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