3.5⭐️ – Never Say Never is Rachael Sommers’s debut novel and it’s a pretty good start, especially if you enjoy age gap celebrity ice queen romances.
Between college and university, Emily Walker needs to earn money and has applied to be a full-time nanny. She’s new to New York, where she doesn’t know anyone except for her foster sister Cassie and Cassie’s girlfriend Maia. To her surprise, she gets an interview with Camila Evans, television tycoon, single mother to a five-year-old, out bisexual and Emily’s teenage crush. When they meet, Camila is everything Emily expected: gorgeous and terrifying.
The plot is a rather traditional one, which reminded me of Popcorn Love by K. L. Hughes or Coming Home by KJ (still one of my favourite books), among others. What it lacks in originality, this novel – which started as SuperCat fanfiction – makes up with good writing and endearing characters. Emily is plausibly wonderful, she’s sweet, smart, kind, driven. She’s not perfect and I really liked the way Sommers wrote her simmering anger when things went wrong – as they were bound to go. Camila is an ice queen with unending love for both her son and her job. She sucks at communicating on a personal level and at opening up. She’s a respected professional woman who is convinced she blackens everything she touches when it comes to relationships. Camila believes Emily deserves better than her, that she would inevitably hurt her.
I felt some scenes could have been a little more developed and I wish the author had given more space to Emily’s foster mother. I really liked the foster storyline and what it means to Emily and who she is. Also, given her line of work, I have a very hard time believing Camila doesn’t read the news first thing in the morning or that she doesn’t have an alert (or an assistant with an alert) on her own name.
The best part in stories like these isn’t so much the falling in love itself, it’s the struggle the characters face to not give in. The work relationship, the age gap, the fear of failure which is even stronger when a child is involved, everything combines to make them think their love can’t be. There’s angst, heartbreak, longing, stolen touches and a lot of unfulfilled lust. Sommers did a good job at this, even if it felt a tad repetitive at times, in particular in the lies Camila told herself and Emily in her effort to keep the younger woman away.
What I liked best, however, was Emily’s relationship with Cassie and Maia. The sisters have a hilarious love/tease relationship with Maia acting as the adult – most of the time. The scenes with the three of them were fun and lighthearted when possible, poignant when Emily was heartbroken. My favourite scene in the whole book is probably the one at the gym. I’m not spoiling, go read the book.
All in all, a nice read and hopefully, just the beginning of Rachael Sommers’s career as a published author.