Do I really need to introduce this book? It’s Felicity Simmons’ story. Felicity, as in Elena Bartell’s chief of staff. If you’ve read The Brutal Truth, you know who I’m talking about. If you haven’t, read it. It’s not paramount to read these two books in order. Since this one takes place during the last half of the other one, the order doesn’t matter as far as the timeline is concerned. Reading The Brutal Truth first, however, will allow you to get the entire measure of who Elena Bartell is and why her approval is so important to Felicity.
The Awkward Truth begins with Elena asking Felicity, who’s about to become acting COO of the Bartell media empire, to investigate a charity tending to homeless people’s pets, that seems on the verge of closing down despite a substantial donation Elena made anonymously. In the process, Felicity meets gorgeous vet Sandy Cooper, who will change her outlook on life and priorities.
Humour is the most personal thing. We obviously don’t all laugh at the same things. The first third or so of this book has a slapstick comedy feel that didn’t really work for me. Now that’s a feeling I’m used to, missing the funny in a scene while everyone around is rolling on the floor. I grew up in a Marx Brothers-loving household. You can’t see me right now but my eyes rolled so far back in my head they might fall off (if my head was empty, which it’s not). Intellectually, I see the talent, I can tell it’s funny, but it does nothing for me. And that’s how I felt for the first third of The Awkward Truth.
Then it shifted to a different kind of comedy that’s a lot more my thing. More than once I was reminded of Katharine Hepburn, whose movies I adored growing up, before realizing how sexist they were. The last two thirds of The Awkward Truth have most of what I love in these films minus the misogyny, and that makes up for the doubts I had at the beginning. Also, a bisexual version of all these Hepburn characters? Teenage dreams do come true.
Lee Winter loves writing ice queens, and what makes me want to read her books is the range of shades she gives them. Felicity is different from Elena Bartell, Catherine Ayers, or Amelia Duxton (I still don’t see Elizabeth Thornton as an ice queen). She’s full of contradictions and Cooper can see right through them. Cooper on the other hand is consistent, in her kindness as well as her desires. I didn’t completely buy the conflict when it arrived, it seemed to me that Cooper was giving up a little too fast, which didn’t sound like her. I also didn’t completely believe what made Felicity cut herself off from feelings so thoroughly, but we all react differently to events, and who am I to judge?
Another issue for me was that most of the story happens over a week. I get that the investigation couldn’t last for much longer than that, but it’s an awfully short time to set a romance in. Even though I’m all for instalust and instalove, it felt rushed.
There are a lot of things I liked, however. Besides the MCs, I liked the mystery arc, which allowed Felicity to show off her smarts, dedication, and humanity, I liked the array of secondary characters, I liked seeing Elena Bartell from Felicity’s point of view, and, of course, I liked all the animals. I’m not sure I’d be able to leave empty-handed if I spent even ten minutes with a bunch of kittens crawling all over me.
I’ve read a few books recently that started as 3⭐️ and that I enjoyed more and more as I kept reading. The Awkward Truth is one of them.